Hayes Hill NN
Mt. Saint Helena-South Peak NN
Table Rock NN
Peak 2,758ft
Coyote Peak NN

Wed, Dec 27, 2017

With: Jim Burd
Jackie Burd

Table Rock
Coyote Peak
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 Profiles: 1 2

During an email conversation with a number of other Bay Area peakbaggers regarding the CC list, it was brought to our attention by David Sanger that the SF Sierra Club had recently released their own peak list, cutely titled the Nifty Ninety. It was generally agreed that the list was weak, seeming a bit too easy, but still, it was the first Sierra Club-sanctioned list we'd seen for our area. Comprised of many popular summits and points around the Bay, most of us had already done more than half the list. In first place, David had done all but five of the summits. I was a close second, needing only seven, but I was in the Southland for the holidays with family and unable to rise to the challenge. I jokingly cursed David for being unable to exact my revenge, to which he responded with "do we get a pony at the end?" I watched on PB as David set out on Dec 26 with a climb of Mt. Madonna to start whittling away at his remaining five. But I would have my revenge after all as I returned to the Bay Area with the family that same day and immediately plotted my strategy. As David was picking them off one by one over the course of five days, I set off on a two-day blitzkrieg that would land me all seven summits before David even knew I was home. The pony would be mine.

My brother and daughter joined me for this first day, knowing in advance that there would be much driving and hiking. About 18mi of the latter and 4-5hrs of the former. The total mileage for the seven peaks was around 28mi, far too much to do in one day with all the ensuing driving that would take me in a circle around the Bay, first to San Francisco, then to Napa County, then Solano County, then down the East Bay for the last two. The plan was to do six of the peaks on the first day and then do the longest hike, to Schlieper Rock, on the last day. With my two companions in tow, our pace was slower than I would have liked and it grew dark while we were still in Napa County. I was going to do the one in Solano County as a night hike by myself while they waited in the car, but other obstacles presented themselves and in the end two full days would be needed.

Hayes Hill

Located in the heart of San Francisco, Hayes Hill is a small, rounded bump with little prominence. The highpoint is located within Alamo Square, a picturesque city park, adjacent to the famous Painted Ladies on Steiner St. We spent about an hour driving from San Jose to the City in the early morning hour - it probably would have taken longer and been more stressful during regular rush hour traffic but we were saved by the holiday lull between Christmas and New Years. The city was steeped in heavy fog so we didn't have much in the way of photos, but still we managed to have fun.

Mt. St. Helena-South Peak

Next up was an hour and a half drive north to Calistoga in Napa Valley. Jim had never been over the Golden Gate Bridge and was looking forward to the treat, but it was terribly disappointing with the fog - nothing to see here, move along... We drove to Fulton, just north of Santa Rosa, before turning east towards Calistoga on a county road through the hills. We quite suddenly found ourselves in the midst of the destruction from the Tubbs Fire that swept through the area. There were lots of trucks and workers on task clearing debris and removing burned out vehicles, but there were dozens of places that were left as they were since the fire came through, a very sobering view of how much damage a fire can do in so short a time. From Calistoga, we headed north on winding SR29 to the top of the pass and the TH for both Mt. St. Helena (to the west) and Table Rock (to the east). Both are located within Robert Louis Stevenson State Park. The western half of the park has been officially closed since early November, also due to the Tubbs Fire. The trails and roads have been cleared and the towers at the summits re-established, but all was quiet today. There were half a dozen cars in the parking lot on the east side of the road. After watching another party enter the closed zone, we decided it wasn't that closed, and followed after them. By a combination of trail and dirt road, we hiked 3.5mi while climbing nearly 2,000ft up through forest to the south summit. In places the slopes were absolutely scorched without a single green leaf remaining while other places were left untouched and you'd never know there was a fire that burned only a dozen yards away. There is an FM radio transmitter at the highpoint with other towers scattered about the lower slopes to the south. To the northwest rise the higher summits of Mt. St. Helena and the East Summit (the Napa County HP), but these would remain unvisited today - I had other places to be. We returned to the parking lot shortly before 1p, taking a snack break to recharge our batteries before continuing the quest.

Table Rock - Peak 2,758ft

Just after 1p we set off on the 2.2mi trail to Table Rock, a popular destination it seems, especially when the larger western half of the park is closed. There were dozens of folks along the trail coming and going. Around the midpoint of the trail, one comes across a large, flat acreage of rock art, with many hundreds of rocks carefully arranged in mazes and other fanciful pathways, all for some mystical purpose or perhaps, more likely, just for fun. It took us most of an hour to find our way out to Table Rock where we found the highpoint at the end of a short class 3 scramble that Jackie and I enjoyed while Jim was content to take photos from below. Volcanic in nature, Table Rock is a sort-of flat area at the north end of a larger rocky feature known as The Palisades. It overlooks Napa Valley and Calistoga with a dramatic drop on its western flank. After checking out the various views, we returned back over Peak 2,758ft via the same route we'd taken. I paused to pay a visit to the highpoint, a short class 3 scramble with a bit of brush. Jackie declined to follow since she was in shorts, but it turned out the approach from the north side of the rock was considerably easier and less brushy than the south side I first ascended.

Coyote Peak

We returned to the van for the second time shortly before 3p. We spent another 20min driving south through Calistoga to Bothe-Napa Valley State Park. His feet spent, Jim elected to stay in the van while Jackie and I went off to climb Coyote Peak. We started from the Redwood Trail TH, following this up along the south side of Ritchey Creek before eventually climbing about 1,000ft in a little less than two miles to the summit. No views from this one, but there is a nice clearing where one could have a picnic. On our way back I got a text from my wife asking what our ETA for dinner was. I replied that we were hours away and I would be feeding Jim and Jackie somewhere in Napa Valley. She came back with, "What happened to 5p? I had a tri tip going." This devolved very quickly into me getting in hot water. A hasty phone call did little to help, finishing up with, "I knew something like this was going to happen, so I didn't start the roast!" before abruptly ending. Jackie was amused by all this since she's often been the brunt of a mother's wrath and enjoyed the sideline view of it this time. "Is she just messing with me?" I asked her. "Didn't she just text me that the tri tip was going?" Though I was acutely aware of it, Jackie informed me that a woman's scorn can be petty at times. Ah well, such are the tribulations of marriage. I had hoped to do the Solano County peak on our way back in the dark, whether or not my two companions planned to join me since it would save hours of driving the next day. Now I figured getting back by 7:30p instead of 9p would save me from further wrath-ness, so I punted on that plan and headed for home. Hopefully I could still get the list finished off the next day...


Mrs. Burd comments on 01/19/18:
If you're going to air your laundry, you're missing the part of the story where you'd initially given your wife an guestimate arrival time of 5p. I'd been marinating that tri-tip hours before bake time, only to be surprised with no-shows for dinner that evening.
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This page last updated: Fri Jan 19 11:04:31 2018
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