Peak 2,091ft P1K

Sat, Apr 19, 2014
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Returning from Sacramento, I was heading to the Mendocino NF for a couple days of peakbagging in a part of the Coast Ranges I had yet to visit. I'd spent the day watching my daughter play volleyball, leaving Sacramento after they had finished with mom and daughter heading back to San Jose in a separate vehicle. Though late in the day, I figured I might still get some hiking in after sitting on my butt all day in a high school gym. Peak 2,091ft is a P1K in the foothills adjacent to the Central Valley and west of Williams, located on private ranchland. The summit is the highpoint of a six mile-long, north-south ridgeline. It seemed well-suited for a nighttime visit, though the moon would be of no help. Some days past full, it would not rise until after midnight, well after I expected to finish. A headlamp held below waist level would do fine to illuminate the route after dark.

I chose to approach from the south off Leesville Rd, an excellently graded gravel road that sees only occasional traffic. A shorter approach can be had from the east, but this goes directly by at least one occupied ranch home, something I had no desire to do if it could be avoided. By starting up from the south I was far from any homesteads. The only real chance for detection was at the very start where I had to climb a terribly steep, grassy slope to reach the ridgeline nearly 1,000ft higher. The route is open to observation from vehicles below on Leesville Rd and since it was just at sunset that I was starting out, it was possible for me to be seen. A truck towing a boat did come by, but I simply sat down and waited it out, continuing up once it had driven by. During the ascent, there is a nice view of the lower Freshwater Creek drainage to the southeast and of Antelope Valley to the southwest. Once on the ridgeline, I was virtually invisible from below and I was able to relax more easily.

It became a much more pleasant hike too, now that the steepest part of the climb was done with. The entire route has about 2,000ft of gain, which is to say it's an undulating ridgeline, but the gradients were much easier than that first one. The terrain is grassy virtually the whole way and cow trails make it even easier. After about two miles a property boundary is reached where a ranch road can be picked up to follow most of the remaining mile to the summit. The last 100yds or so are back to cross-country on grass slopes, no bushwhacking required. I watched the lights of the Central Valley grow brighter as the sky overhead grew darker. It was quite dark by the time I reached the summit around 8:40p, using the headlamp for that final stretch and most of the return as well. The summit has a class 2 rocky perch with views both west and east off the ridgeline. At almost exactly an hour, the return was only ten minutes faster than the ascent. The steep descent at the end was fraught with loose dirt and rock and could not be descended safely at speed, so it ended up being only slightly faster than the ascent. Back to the van by 9:40p, I showered and dressed in fresh clothes before driving into the Mendocino NF to find a place to spend the night. With the preliminary show out of the way, I was set for a full day of adventure in the National Forest after getting some rest...

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