Laurel Hill

Mon, Sep 20, 2010

With: Steve Sywyk
Bruce Ramstad
Tom McClaughry

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2

As another full moon approached, it was time again for a moonlight hike. The plan was to tackle Twin Peaks in San Jose for a second time. We had tried two months earlier via a route from the east, but been stymied by the lack of a trail and the presence of poison oak. With kids in tow, it seemed a foolhardy mission and we turned back. This time we would try a route from the west, harder, but at only 3mi one way, hardly difficult. The problem would be in depending on Google satellite view to pick out the route. Some of the dirt roads were obvious and good, but others were old and potentially overgrown.

We started at the northwest end of Uvas Reservoir where a gated road goes over the creek to the northeast side of the reservoir. A rock wall was easily scaled and then just past the bridge we scooted under a chain-link fence to gain access to dirt road that contours around the lake on that side. The road was open and clear and quite a pleasant hike by moonlight. We could see cars on Uvas Rd only 100yds a way on our right, but it would be impossible for us to be spotted if we kept our headlamps off. We followed this road for about a mile to a waypoint I had marked on the GPS, then took a left fork heading uphill. This steep road started off quite promising, but began it deteriorate after about a quarter mile and then became a bushwhack another quarter mile later. The presence of poison oak made it unpalatable to me and some of the others. Bruce seemed the most energetic in seeking a way up our brushy ridgeline, so we were happy to let him explore possibilities looking for a trail until he had exhausted those. I checked the GPS and found we were still half a mile from the top of the ridge where I knew we could pick up a good dirt road, but none of us wanted to bushwhack for that distance. Back down we went.

As a consolation prize we drove north a few miles on Uvas Rd for a very easy climb of Laurel Hill. Less than a mile from the road, I had picked out this peak for a climb with my daughter a few days earlier, but it was too light out at that time to hazard the dirt road that skirts a residence near the start - so we had bailed. Tonight we could see a light on at the residence, but no dogs thankfully, and it we were able to hike by on the road unnoticed. The road climbs steeply to a saddle south of the summit before veering away. We climbed under a barbed wire fence and climbed the steep grassy slope cross-country to the summit. There were trees blocking some of the views, but it was still a pleasant place to reach with views north towards San Jose and southeast to Morgan Hill. A moderate breeze was blowing over the summit, the first chill we'd gotten on an otherwise warm evening. We returned via the same route without incident. I am getting more determined now to find a way to Twin Peaks. Twice I have been rebuffed on a peak not even 2,000ft in height - we will return...


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