Tue, Mar 17, 2015
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I had one more summit to conclude a short roadtrip in the coastal region of southern Mendocino County. Gube Mtn is a CC-listed summit at the end of a serpentine ridgeline extending southeast from Fish Rock Road. I had spent the night parked near the summit where the road goes over a saddle separating two creek drainages. The ridgeline I followed crosses through several different ranch properties, but most of the route was along old roads no longer traveled. This made for a fairly relaxing and enjoyable hike. Heavy fog had moved in during the night leaving the ground and most everything else fairly wet when I awoke sometime after 6a. It made for an interesting morning that transitioned to partially clearing skies as the day wore on and the fog began to break.
I had some trouble locating the start in the dark when I arrived the evening before and had almost had given it up. But right at the saddle is a narrow opening on the south side of the road that leads steeply up about 40ft before leveling off. The road passes by a plastic water tank used by a nearby residence before moving away from Fish Rock Rd towards the south. As the road breaks out onto a easterly vista it was necessary (or so I thought) to leave the road and drop steeply down a grassy hillside to begin following the ridgeline to the southeast. On the return I found that a fork in the road about 1/4mi further would have taken me to the same ridgeline without the unnecessary cross-country. I needed a headlamp to see the rough footing while I was descending the slope in the weak, early morning light, but upon reaching a gate at a property boundary found that the headlamp was no longer needed, nor was the fleece I had put on to ward off the chill.
From this gate my route was along old, forgotten ranch roads that followed tenaciously up and and down the undulating ridgeline for about two and half miles. There were huge madrones and even larger oaks found along the way, though most of the forest canopy was douglas fir and redwood. There was a good deal of downfall blocking the road at various locations though none of it was hard to get around. Banana slugs and newts could be found crossing the roads over damp forest duff. Feral pigs rooting in the grassy areas would snort and run off when I came upon them unexpectedly. Over all of this the fog permeated, blowing across the ridgeline while keeping colors subdued and a chill in the air. After the 2.5mi I reached a crossroads with more traveled roads. All three of the other branches showed signs of regular use. My route continued east at this juncture and for the next two miles I was that much more cautious, listening for signs of vehicles. There was scant evidence of cattle grazing along the way and no recent droppings, but there were obvious signs of horse travel. Oddly, I didn't notice hoof prints along the road but I did find many instances of horse poop, some of it less than a week old. This could pose a bigger risk, as it would be virtually impossible to hear a horseman approaching unless he had a partner and was engaged in conversation. Luckily none of this proved an issue as I continued to find nary a soul the whole morning.
The last half mile to the summit required cross-country travel as there was no road going there - the road I traveled veered right around the west side of the mountain and continued south to nearby Snook Mtn. Though there was some heavy brush along this last stretch of ridgeline, one could travel on the north side through forest understory or even better, on the south side traversing grass slopes. I reached the top around 8:45a under a mix of fog and blue sky. Another 500ft would have seen me above the fog layer, I think, and perhaps another hour or two would have had much of the fog dissipate. As it was I got partial views from a summit that was devoid of trees for vistas in all directions. On a clear day one could easily see 13mi across the hills to the Pacific. To the east the views would be dominated by the Mayacama Mtns, but today it was mostly fog. It had taken just under two hours to reach the summit and would take an equal time on the return, getting me back to Fish Rock Rd by 10:40a. I would have almost 4hrs of driving to get home to San Jose, but I especially enjoyed the first hour of this on SR128 south to US101 at Cloverdale. This rural highway meanders a great deal and by no means is a quick way to get from A to B, but it has delightful scenery along the way, made ever more picturesque by the green springtime hills.
This page last updated: Thu Mar 19 19:08:29 2015
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