El Sereno P750

Mon, Sep 5, 2011

With: Jackie Burd

Story Photos / Slideshow Map
previously climbed Sun, Nov 1, 2009

My 12yr-old daughter Jackie announced she wanted to go hiking with Dad. Her stated reason was that she wanted to catch up with her brother who was well ahead of her on Dad's climbing partner list. The real reason was that she wanted to catch a lizard that she could bring home and keep as a pet for three weeks to fullfill one of the requirments for the Reptile and Amphibian Study merit badge that she had been working on at summer camp a few weeks ago. I'm pretty much good with any reason that one of my kids might have for hiking with me, so the next morning we set out for the hills above Los Gatos in the Santa Cruz Mtns.

I had been near El Sereno's TH with Ryan a few years ago in an effort to reach the summit. We had explored the knoll indicated with the summit label on the 7.5' topo map, only afterwards finding this is not the highpoint of this ridgeline. Other websites had given the point about a quarter mile to the southwest with more than 700ft of prominence as the summit and I tended to agree. Both are located in the El Sereno Open Space Preserve, with paved road access to within half a mile from both the west and east sides. We parked at the end of Montevina Rd off Hwy 17, the same trailhead I used with Ryan.

Our entire hike was just about two miles total and would have been less if we hadn't overshot the summit and wandered down to the west side trailhead. The dirt road goes up and over the summit, not at all obvious, and with pretty lame views. Mostly one can stare at the 8-foot wall of chaparral that lines either side of the road. The actual highpoint is on the north side of the road a short distance into the chaparral, but you'd have to be a stickler for exactness as well as a masochist to try reaching it. The views north are completely blocked by the chaparral. To the south one can see the rather unimpressive main crest of the Santa Cruz Mtns blocking views to the coast. The only decent views are during the ascent where one can see southeast to Lexington Reservoir and the surrounding environment. Behind this scene, we could see the coastal fog covering Monterey Bay and then some of the mountains of Ventana and Big Sur in the distance.

Our lizard hunting did not go well. Jackie carried a box for bringing it home. Inside the box she brought Plunko and her merit badge booklet. On the drive up she was reading to me about the various venemous snakes and lizards that can be found in the Western US. Luckily we have only the rattlesnake to worry about in California. We saw only two lizards, and the first one shot off into the brush before we knew what we had seen. A second lizard, only a few inches long, came along later, but it stayed under a bush next to the side of the road and could not be coaxed out to open ground despite our best efforts to scare it from behind. It too, eventually took off out of sight into the manzanita. It was must too warm to sit around and wait for more lizards to frustrate us, so we took off. We discussed alternate plans for finding a reptile pet on the drive back which seemed to cheer her up.


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