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Day 2 of Local Peaks Week saw some failure. I had mapped out an ambitious plan to reach Santa Rosalia Mtn in the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park in the Santa Cruz Mtns via an approach from the north out of Uvas Canyon County Park. After climbing through the county park, the route travels some five miles through private property along a collection of dirt roads along the crest of the range to reach the highpoint of Nisene Marks. I didn't make it.
I didn't get started until nearly 10a because I had spent some time trying to drive up to nearby Loma Chiquita, a non-descript point along a ridge extending east from Loma Prieta. That road (Little Uvas Rd) deteriorated when I was still 3-4 miles away from the summit, so I backed off. I will need another plan (or a 4WD vehicle) for Loma Chiquita.
At the entrance to Uvas Park, I tried to be a good citizen and pay the $6 entrance fee. They have an electronic payment machine that accepts cash (but gives no change) and cards, though what type of cards it didn't specify. I tried a credit card at first, but it was repeatedly rejected as not acceptable. I tried a debit card next, but with the same result. The only cash I had was a $20. I went into the nearby ranger's office, a small enclosed trailer parked to the side. The two rangers inside were more interested in their conversation than the only park visitor they were likely to see all day, but were friendly enough. I explained my problem, but they knew nothing about the mysterious workings of the fee collection device outside. I got the impression they weren't terribly fond of the darn thing. They were also unable to make change for my $20 bill. They came to the conclusion that the best they could do was put a sign on the machine saying "Out of Order" and told me to go park inside anyway since I had at least tried. I was half afraid I would find a citation on my car when I got back later, but thankfully did not.
It took about 50 minutes to hike the Knibbs Knob Trail out of Uvas Canyon and up to the crest at Summit Rd marking the upper boundary of the park. I turned south on Summit Rd and was immediately met with an unwelcoming set of signs indicating it was not for public travel. Optimistically I ignored it and continued on. A large part of this area outside the park had been badly burned in a fire the previous summer and it still bore the scars and skeletons of the chaparral and trees that were consumed in the blaze. I passed by some residences that were above the road, spared themselves, but all the land around them burned. I heard voices above on a patio deck, but stayed to the inside of the road to keep out of view as much as possible. When I had gone about a mile, passing the entrance to a residence on the downhill side, I heard dogs barking furiously behind me. I scrambled up the embankment on the uphill side of the road, looking around for a rock or stick with which to defend myself. I glance back to see a large black lab charge up the road, then stop when it caught sight of me. It was probably just waiting for his partner to catch up before working up the courage to press the attack. I used the momentary pause to pass through the brush on the uphill side and drop over the crest a short distance. Thank the Maker for the fire, or it would have been impenetrable. The dogs continued to bark furiously, but they did not venture past the road and into the brush. I paused to consider my situation.
Santa Rosalia was still some four miles via roads to the southwest, and I had a pretty good view of it from where I stood. It was 11a, and I would have to get back to the car by 2p in order to get home in time to get the kids from school. I think I had planned poorly on time. The dogs were another problem, and it was possible I would run into more before I reached Santa Rosalia. I decided the better approach for the peak would be the long way on public lands through Nisene Marks State Park. But not today.
I stayed on the west side of the crest as I turned north and picked my way through the burned remains of the chaparral until I was well past the dogs that had caused the aggravation. As I was walking back along the road a truck came by, pausing as we waved to each other, but didn't seem concerned by my presence. On the way back down through Uvas Park I made the short detour to hike to the top of Knibbs Knob. This was going to be the bonus peak for the day, but would be the only summit I would reach. It did have the honor of being the highest named peak in the Santa Cruz Mtns that I had yet to climb (#14 on the list).
The peak is just a small bump on a ridge dropping down from the main crest, possessing all of about 140ft of prominence. An old road winds its way to the summit where a picnic bench rests under the forest canopy. There are some views out towards the northwest where Loma Prieta rises as the highpoint of the range a few miles away. After a short break at the picnic bench I headed back down to my car and drove back home. Tomorrow I think I shall head out to the Diablo Range for a change of scenery.
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Knibbs Knob
This page last updated: Wed Jan 28 14:42:59 2009
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