Peak 2,305ft P900
Peak 1,815ft
Buck Peak P900 CC
Cold Spring Mountain P1K

Sun, Dec 17, 2017

With: Sean Casserly
Asaka Takahashi
Dean Gaudet

Buck Peak
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 3 4

Sean had sent out an email regarding a CC-listed peak in Mendocino County that lies on private property. Through tenacious detective work he had found the owner of the property on Facebook and contacted him. It took the owner a year to respond, but he seemed happy to give his permission. Of the large group of like-minded peakbaggers he'd sent it to, only Dean and I were able to join Sean and Asaka for a visit on short notice. I was supposed to pick up my wife at the airport that day but hastily made alternate plans (it's not as bad as it sounds - our kids were home from college for the holidays and she'd much rather see them than me). I made the 3hr drive up to Boonville the night before and camped in the back of the van along Mountain View Rd a few miles from the property entrance. It was a chilly 34F that night, but I slept comfortably enough and it would be a fine day weather-wise soon after the sun came up. We made plans to meet at the entrance at 8a and afterwards would drive together to Cold Spring Mtn, a P1K in the area.

Peak 2,305ft

I was up at 6:30a with the intention of tagging this P900 before the others arrived. It's located about 6mi west along Mtn View Rd, a few hundred yards from the pavement. The trick is that it's a rounded hillock located in a vineyard. I found a place to park off the pavement and after scaling the perimeter fence along the roadway, walked though forest understory for 100yds to the edge of the vineyard. From there I played the silly game of finding the likely highpoint among the rows of dormant vines, eventually settling on a location I reached just before sunrise. There's a fine home found a few hundred yards further east down the hill, so an early morning visit seemed prudent. I was in and out in less than 10min.

Peak 1,815ft

On my way back east towards Buck Mtn, I noticed a bonus peak just off the north side of the road less than a quarter mile away and stopped to pay it a visit since I still had some time. The area is laced with old logging roads and there is evidence that the slopes used to have some rather large redwood specimens though only much smaller versions can be found now. The summit is located deep in the woods with nary a view, but the short, steep climb to reach it got my heart pumping and my legs working. There are no fences or signs indicating private property, though it likely is. I returned after about 20min. Almost immediately after I had gotten in the car, Sean came driving by, slowed, and stopped to let me know I was a few miles from the meeting spot. He had driven in from an AirBnB in Manchester at the coast where he and Asaka had spent the night. I sheepishly told him I'd just stopped by for the bonus peak which didn't surprise him much and provided some amusement.

Buck Peak

We continued the drive east to the entrance for the Hanes Ranch (Ward Hanes is the gentleman Sean had contacted), a private hunting club that includes a collection of homes that are occupied year-round. Dean joined us right at the appointed hour and together we drove in about half a mile to an electric gate where we parked. From there our hike was less than 2mi with only modest gain along well-maintained roads. This was the first time Dean and I had met, so we had lots to talk about under clear skies and a warm sun, with occasional views overlooking the blue and green folded ridgelines of Mendocino County that define this part of the coastal ranges. There is a short, signed trail branching off the dirt road that leads conveniently to the summit where one finds a 1938 USFS benchmark (though there is no USFS lands anywhere nearby) and a short but stout wooden pole that has been wrapped in metal casing for protection (possibly a survey tower, but who knows). The summit is open to views in three directions, fairly decent, too. We milled about the place, scrounging together the makings of a summit register that we left under the rocks surrounding the pole. Afterwards, we set off on another road intending to visit Cambell Ridge, about a mile to the east across Larmour Creek. We followed the road down until we encountered one of the occupied homes with smoke coming from a chimney and a dog barking in the yard. We stopped short and retreated some to consider our situation. Though we had gotten permission, we weren't sure we'd want to deal with unleashed dogs and other owners who we'd have to explain ourselves to. We thought we could bypass this first home by cutting steeply down a slope to our right to pick up the road further below past a turn, but there were more homes below and at least one dog that I could see looking up at us. We decided to head back the way we came along Haynes Ridge to the north, avoiding the residences and leaving Campbell Ridge unfinished. We were back to the gate just after 10a, having seen nary a soul and making for a rather casual two hour hike.

Cold Spring Mountain

We drove our vehicles back down Mountain View Rd to Boonville where we left two of them and piled into Dean's car for the drive up to Cold Springs Mtn. Google Maps will do a good job of getting you there and we had the route dialed into my GPSr for backup. Approaching from the north off Greenwood Rd, we followed Signal Ridge Rd for a number of miles as it winds its way uphill with dozens of private roads branching off to the various isolated residences. The pavement eventually gives out, turning to good road which can be followed to the summit. The last mile appears to be signed for No Trespassing, but that seems to be the trick of the adjacent property owner trying to keep the riffraff from using the public roadway. A formidible fence surrounds the property at the summit which includes several telecom towers, a lookout tower and the large summit rock. Three of us were able to squeeze through the narrow gap at the locked chainlink gate to reach the summit rock where the benchmark is located. Dean wandered around the perimeter before finding where the fence had been compromised, allowing him to visit it as well. This one takes all of about two minutes, car-to-car, unless you need to find the opening in the fence on the backside. Afterwards we made a few half-hearted attempts to visit a bonus peak in the area, but the area is pretty much all private property and our efforts went for naught as we hit one dead end after another. Eventually we drove back to Boonville to go our separate ways. It would take another three hours to drive back to San Jose, making for far more driving than hiking, but I'd had a fine time regardless...

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