Gilroy BM P500

Fri, Nov 12, 2010

With: Steve Sywyk

Story Photos / Slideshow Map Profile

This unofficially named summit has about 600ft of prominence and lies at the southeasternmost end of the Santa Cruz Mtns overlooking the town of Gilroy and points south in the Santa Clara Valley.

Steve and I drove down on a Friday morning to Gavilan College, just south of Gilroy. Our leisurely start had us at the campus by 9:30a. Most of the college was closed and there were few people around. Our route followed on the nature trail west of campus alongside the hills. When we were below a large water tank situated a few hundred feet up the hillside, we headed cross-country for the tank, hopping an old fence just before a road that leads to the tank (we were unsuccessful in finding our way up this road that comes in from the north). We found a very nice use trail on the backside of the tank that went just where we wanted it to - a stroke of luck, that. It followed steeply up the grassy, oak-studded slopes to more open terrain above. The trail went through a second fence and then up to a small saddle just north of Pt. 1,028ft. Easy cross-country along a fenceline led to the main dirt road that follows the ridgeline to the summit. It took about an hour to reach this point.

Once on the road, we were more exposed to discovery. The road looks to have moderate traffic by the ranchers that own the land here. To the south is Castro Valley, an active farm and ranch area. We could see vehicles driving in and out at various times, perhaps a mile away - we would have been evident if someone had been looking up this way. Even if someone had seen us, it is not clear that they would have bothered to do anything - it would probably be at least fifteen minutes before someone could drive a truck up to accost us.

On our hike towards the summit we spotted several groups of feral pigs. The first was just two adults, grunting and running from us as fast as their legs could take them (pretty fast, as it turns out). A second group was an adult female with a litter of 4-5 piglets trailing behind, but they had scampered out of sight before we could get a picture of them.

We reached the summit by 11:20a, a bit less than two hours altogether. We did not find the benchmark as hoped, but instead a small memorial to Gary "Rainbow" Stone who died in 2008 at the age of 70. It may have been placed directly over the benchmark, or in its place.

From the summit one can see Loma Prieta to the northeast, the Diablo Range and Santa Clara Valley to the northeast and east. To the southeast lay Hollister in the far distance. Monterey Bay could be seen to the southwest, just visible over a lower, tree-covered ridgeline in that direction.

We followed the same route back down to the college, taking about an hour and a half. An easy outing, but highly enjoyable with fine Fall weather, blue skies and good visibility.


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