Hi Mountain P1K CC

Fri, May 7, 2010

With: Jackie Burd

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Hi Mountain is a CC-listed peak found in the Los Padres National Forest in San Luis Obispo County. It is located in the lower regions of the coast ranges about 45 minutes east of the town of San Luis Opbiso. An old, restored lookout sits atop its summit at nearly 3,200ft with a dirt road running to the top. A gate blocks vehicle access about a quarter mile from the summit, after almost six miles of dirt road from the small town of Pozo to the north. While vacationing in Pismo Beach, my daughter expressed an interest in a hike by headlamp, and this one seemed to fit the bill. We started driving at 4a, getting to the Hi Mountain campground in an hour and a half. We managed four miles of the dirt road in our van, including a small creek crossing, with some tough sections where the rains had dug nice troughs in the road. This allowed us to get within two miles of the summit which still made for a good hike for 11-yr old Jackie.

She was nervous about the drive in, but excited with the healamp that she got to use for the first time. Unfortunately it was already growing light and we only got to make use of them for about 15 minutes. No matter, we still had much fun. As always, Jackie was a good sport about the hike. It was 36F when we started, but the road was steep enough to warm us up quickly and I hiked in my t-shirt while Jackie added her brother's fleece. The area is typical central CA chaparral, oaks in the lower reaches along the creeks and north-facing slopes, a few pines atop the very ridges where they can catch moisture from occasional fogs. It was sunny quickly and a strong breeze picked up as we neared the summit, sending me for an additional layer. The road was lined with much poison oak on the north slopes, with enough wildflowers to hold our interest.

It took us about an hour to make it to the summit where we found the lookout cabin locked, as expected, but the viewing platform around it open. We had fine early morning views of the seemingly endless array of ridgelines stretching off in three directons, the Pacific Ocean clearly visible to the west. I don't think there was a single peak among hundreds that I could identify definitively - an area of the state I have explored very little of. I knew Garcia Mtn and Machesna Mountain were somewhere to the east. but exactly where I wouldn't have ventured to bet on. I'll have to come back again to explore the area further.

Jackie was well-satisified with the hike and our wildlife count - a dozen deer, another dozen quail, buzzards aloft, a wild turkey, a couple ground squirrels chipmunks, a sleeping ladybug, and millipede tracks in the dirt - a good haul.

Unfortunately I forgot a camera, so we have no visual record of our trek.


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