Ganja Rock

Apr 19, 2024
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX

Every now and then I discover a PB-only summit that I feel is worthy enough to write a trip report about, even if it's a short missive. Kudos to Mike Toffey who submitted this one back in 2020. I'd taken note of it over the past few years and thought I should pay it a visit since it's in my neighborhood. The feature has about 30ft of prominence and lies in the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve on the north side of the Santa Cruz Mountains. This part of the OSP is not open to the public however, perhaps due to lack of funds. The feature is clearly visible in the satellite views sticking above the brush and forest cover. There is an old road on the NE side of the rock, accessed from near the spillway of the Guadalupe Reservoir. The topo map shows this road going up an adjacent ridgeline to the east of the one upon which Ganja Rock sits. At paved Hicks Rd, the old road is gated, locked, and signed for No Trespassing, and sees almost no foot traffic. The first third goes pretty smoothly and openly, along the old roadbed and passing through an opening in a fenceline before climbing higher. The route then begins to devolve, at first with short sections of brush connecting to more open grass slopes, but these eventually peter out. The biggest issue is the poison oak that grows abundantly on these slopes as well as most of the range - cross-country travel is done at one's own risk. At first it is easy to avoid, then one is ducking and contorting the body to avoid it, dancing around patches and eventually stepping directly on the stuff that carpets the ground. By the time I was level with the summit and now SE of it, I had to turn west and northwest to make my way across a shallow drainage between the two ridgelines. Ganja Rock was now visible and unmistakable from its surroundings. This drainage crossing had the heaviest brush to work through, but thankfully only a moderate amount of poison oak. I had to thrash through some sections, turning to avoid the poison oak when it was too thick. Eventually I reached the other ridge where I was now south of the summit. There are two nearby homes visible to the west across a larger drainage. I kept on the east side of the ridge to avoid being noticed, now easy going to the north across grass slopes and more open forest. There is more poison oak at the base of the feature, but easily avoided. The scramble to the summit is class 2-3 on the south side. The open top is above forest and brush and offers nice views of the Santa Clara Valley to the north, the Guadalupe Reservoir below, and unfortunately, those pesky homes to the west. I could hear construction noises in that direction and would be easily visible at the summit from either home, so I stayed just off the east side while I took a short break.

Mike had made a loop of his outing which seemed a brave, adventurous thing to do with all the poison oak. I decided I would dance with the devil I knew and returned the same way, regularly pulling out my phone to check the GPS track I'd started on the PB app (I had just recently gotten a newer phone since my TCL Ion had a horrible GPSr - the Pixel phone is far superior). In all, I spent about an hour and a quarter on the outing. When I got home, I gingerly removed my boots and then all my clothing (which I assumed to be contaminated, even if it was probably only the boots, socks and lower pant legs) before showering. Hopefully, no rashes will result...

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This page last updated: Fri Apr 19 15:57:03 2024
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