Tassajera Peak 3x P300
Mt. Lowe 2x
Peak 2,620ft
Peak 2,742ft P300
Peak 2,380ft

May 10, 2024
Etymology
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profile
Tassajera Peak previously climbed May 9, 2024
Lowe, Mount previously climbed Jul 3, 2009

Continued...

The family had plans to spend Mother's Day weekend in Pismo Beach, for which I headed down a day earlier for some peakbagging. I had spent the night camped at the end of TV Tower Rd in the Santa Lucia Range, atop Tassajera Peak. The road is a popular camping option in the San Luis Obispo area, with probably two dozen folks camped along the same night. I had a very quiet spot at road's end and had no one disturb me in the evening or morning. Up around sunrise the next morning, I walked the short distance to the peak's summit to claim a second ascent in as many days, merely stat-padding at this point. My main objective was a longish hike on East Cuesta Rd on the east side of Cuesta Pass. There is a divide across the range starting from Mt. Lowe, separating drainages for the Salinas Valley, San Luis Obispo Creek, and Arroyo Grande, with two summits east of Mt. Lowe that had no ascents recorded on PB or LoJ. Older topo maps show a 4WD road along this divide, but I think it was a firebreak that is now part of the Santa Lucia Wilderness. I had been to Mt. Lowe back in 2009, but the route along the divide would be an exploratory effort to see if it would work.

Tassajera Peak

My visit to the Tassajera Peak highpoint was a short one, finding a register in a glass bottle that was completely soaked - I didn't even bother to open the booklet to see when the last entry was made. Someone left it exposed to the elements. There were some very nice early morning views along the crest of the range, SE to Tessajera BM and NW to Cerro Alto. After returning to the Jeep, I spent most of the next hour driving back out to US101 at Cuesta Pass and making the very dicey crossing of the highway to the east side parking for East Cuesta Rd where the main event would begin.

Mt. Lowe - Peak 2,620ft - Peak 2,742ft - Peak 2,380ft

It was shortly after 7:30a when I started up the road on foot (closed to vehicles save for the folks who own property along the route). I spent the first hour and a quarter plying the well-graded road to Mt. Lowe, a little over three miles from the pass. There were several groups of runners that passed me on their way down, an impressive early morning run. The highpoint of Mt. Lowe is found inside a perimeter fence, but I was able to squeeze though the gap in the entrance gate. After doing so, I realized the fence is trivial to walk around where it ends about 10yds east of the gate. I took a few photos of the towers and the view to the east where the more adventurous part of the route would go. I could see the old firebreak easily, but it was not clear at all if there was a trail through it.

I hiked back down from Mt. Lowe's summit to a bend in the road that connects with the divide of interest. There were two USFS signs here, one marking the Wilderness boundary, another forbidding bikes on the divide. This seemed promising. Peak 2,620ft was less than half a mile from the start of the old firebreak, and it looked like it might work. I found a use trail heading down to a saddle, easy traveling despite years of regrowth along the firebreak. It seems some folks have used this trail in the past, perhaps hunters, perhaps curious folks like myself. It took barely 15min to make my way to this first stop, helping my confidence in the route. This would turn out to be the easiest part of the divide as the route grows brushier after leaving Peak 2,620ft. I encountered the first of several sections of poison oak as I dropped off the east side of the peak, spending more time looking for any semblence of trail through the firebreak. Old slash had been left covering most of the route, so it was not a simple matter to push through it. Still, I did find some sections that looked like use trail that helped keep things going. I had several intermediate bumps to go over, and though the route ahead looked more difficult, I still found ways through it. The final section up to Peak 2,742ft from the last saddle looked toughest of all, but it, too, worked out. In all, I spent about an hour between the two unnamed summits, covering a distance of around a mile. I collected some rocks about the summit to make a small cairn and leave a register on this furthest peak. It looked like one could continued further east, but I'd run out of summits along the divide - time to go back.

The return went more smoothly now that I had some knowledge of the route and knew it would work, and I found my way back to Mt. Lowe and the good road by 11:40a. I still had almost 4mi to return to the start, and I was feeling pretty beat now that temperatures were warming into the 70's. Still, there was another LoJ summit that I might tag on the way back, Peak 2,380ft. Karl Fieberling and a few others had reported ascents up an old firebreak, so I thought I'd give it a go. As I was walking back down the road, I spied what I thought was the firebreak the others had mentioned, but I misjudged the location of the peak. I found the start of the wrong firebreak running up a SE Ridge, but was heading to a lower point west of Peak 2,380ft. The firebreak was easy to follow and I was nearly to what I though was the highpoint when my GPSr told me otherwise. It took a few moments to get my bearings and realize the peak was orthogonal to my direction of travel. I thought I would have to abandon this last peak, but I noticed the firebreak turned northeast and then ran up the NW side of Peak 2,380ft - maybe it would work after all. In fact it worked well enough that it might have been shorter than the SE route others had used. It took me less than 25min to reach the nondescript summit. I only briefly considered returning via the correct SE firebreak when I concluded it would be no faster t han returning the way I came, possibly slower.

It would be 11:45p before I had returned to my starting point at Cuesta Pass, making for an outing exceeding 6hrs - one of the tougher ones I've done this year at more than 11mi. This was more than enough to call it a day. I reparked the Jeep so that I could take a welcome shower by the side of the highway, after which I headed to San Luis Obispo to spend an hour or so before I could check into our hotel in Pismo Beach. Mom and daughter would be joining me shortly following their drive from San Jose.

Continued...


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