Nesbit Ridge

Sun, Dec 28, 2014

With: Steve Sywyk

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It had been more than year since the last time Steve had joined me for a night hike. I had spent many of this year's full moons away from home and hadn't had much time to organize a local outing. The afternoon was wearing on and I was thinking of going for a bike ride when I considered it might work out to get a hike in this evening. The moon was only half full, and while that makes for poorer photos, it's usually enough light to see by for hiking. Nesbit Ridge lies in the Diablo Range just east of the Santa Clara Valley and above Coyote Lake. The county park that encompasses the lake is open to camping, fishing and other recreational activities year-round, including hiking. When we pulled up to the pay machine around 6p we weren't really sure what to pay. A $6 day-use pass is only good until 7:30p. We weren't camping, fishing, or launching a boat which comprised the only other options available on the menu. So we paid nothing. I decided it was unlikely anyone would come looking for us at the far northern end of the lake where we parked our car on the dam.

It was a cold night, in the low 40s when we started and grew steadily colder as the night progressed. It was probably the coldest night hike we'd ever done in the Bay Area and one of the coldest hikes I can recall anywhere. I had a long sleeve tshirt, a fleece, jacket, balaclava and gloves for the entire hike which included more than 2,000ft of gain. We had expected to peel off layers when we started uphill, but it was just too cold. The half moon proved sufficient to allow us to hike without headlamps though we would bring them out occasionally to read a sign or see some particular feature in better detail. Our route followed the road leading north and downhill from the dam, crossing Coyote Creek over a concrete bridge that is slowly being eroded by the water, then a steady uphill gradient, some five miles in all from the start to the summit. The road was one of the better graded dirt roads I've encountered in the range - someone had done an excellent job of surveying the route to provide a very nice gradient that made walking it a pleasure. Views opened up to the Santa Clara Valley as we climbed, eventually revealing the myriad of city lights once we climbed above the height of the lower ridgeline on the west side of the lake. The county park property ends at the concrete bridge we crossed, but there are no gates or fences to cross as we transitioned onto private property for most of the climb. A fence is encountered not far below the summit where the private property gives way to state lands that are part of Henry Coe SP. This part of the park is not yet open to the public but we didn't let that bother us much. Though cold and windy at the summit, the views are quite grand and probably that much better by day. The roads we traveled appear to be little used - one could probably do the entire hike in the daytime without worrying about running into someone. There are no homes, ranches, or structures of any kind that we noted along the way. In all we spent about 4hrs for the 10mi hike, easily getting us back home by midnight.


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