My son was scheduled to run in a XC meet at Crystal Springs in San Mateo County
just before 3p, so I set out around noon from San Jose to do a little trail
running to tag a few peaks in the nearby Santa Cruz Mtns. Neither peak is
particularly difficult and each features similarly poor views, but
they are both on public lands which is a nice change after our outing
in the Santa Lucia Range a few days earlier. Bald Knob is the highpoint of
Purisma Creek Redwoods Opens Space Preserve located on the ocean side of the
range's crest in San Mateo County. A 24-mile network of trails that are equally
popular with hikers and mountain bikers is found in this good-sized park of
more than 4,700 acres, mostly covered in second-growth redwood forest. It had
been years since I was last to the park, more than 20 in fact, and was one of
the first dates I went on with my then girlfriend, now wife. She was impressed
that I could keep up with her regular mountain biking friends, particularly on
the uphills. Her guy friends were laughing that my bike featured a kickstand,
but after I beat all but one of them back to the parking lot, it didn't seem to
matter so much.
The shortest route to the summit is about 2mi one-way starting at
a small TH located on Tunitas Creek Rd. There is parking
for about 4-5 cars here with signs for private property found on both sides of
the road and around the TH access gate. I came across two signed
trail junctions along the route, taking the left fork
both times to end up on the Bald Knob Trail. This trail, one of the few not open
to mountain bikes, eventually deadends in the SW corner of the park. Before
that, it winds its way via several switchbacks up and along the east and south
sides of Bald Knob before dropping in elevation to become the Irish Ridge Trail.
There is a good use trail on the SW side of Bald Knob that reaches to the
summit. Though no longer maintained, one can find old signs along its route
indicating it used to be one of the park's trails. The newer trail with
switchbacks has an easier grade, but no longer goes to the top. There's not
much of a view, so it doesn't matter a whole lot. For fun, I followed
the old trail NE off the summit. Though overgrown, its still usable and
a somewhat faster route to and from the summit. I spent just about an hour
covering the four miles roundtrip.
A few miles NE of
Bald Knob is the highpoint of Kings Mountain which lies on the crest of the
range. It is about as lame a summit as it gets. Highway 35 was built going
right over the very flattish summit, such that the highpoint is found just off
the sunken roadway on the SW side of the road. The NE side is part of Huddart
County Park, and from the maps it would appear the highpoint should be just
off the roadway on this side. In fact, the highpoint is found in a
clump of redwoods
on the other side, next to the road. Mountain homes grace this side
of the road but there is an easement and trail found between the homes and the
roadway making the highpoint publicly accessible. Yay. Not that it really
matters... I spent probably 10min wandering around the area checking elevations
with GPS to verify the highpoint before satisfying myself that I'd found it.
And with that - it was time to head for the XC meet.
I had introduced my son to running (against his will) while he was in
middle school, sometime around 7th grade. Because very few kids ever really run
before high school, he had a leg up on his classmates when he started 9th grade.
This got him into the upper running group when he started, allowing him to
train with the faster upper classmen and motivating him to work hard. It also
helped that his school has a very strong XC program and they have won most
meets they enter. I never had to push or cajole him to run after that - he and
his buddies motivated each other.
As a senior he's now running on the varsity squad, finishing
4th today for his school, 9th overall. They are currently ranked #2 in Northern
California and #6 in the state. I love watching them
run their hearts out,
virtually collapsing from exhaustion when they've finished the 3mi course in
16min. By comparison, a 10hr hike seems pretty tame. I'm looking forward to the
state meet in Fresno at then end of the month...
Great that one's kids follow the parent into fitness and accomplishment! My own were never much into exercise and health, one drinking and smoking, with only negative sanctions limited to not divorce like I would now. One of my regrets is having bad genes as far as eyesight, forcing me out of athletics due to probable loss from broken glasses. However, with technology, that may soon be rectified. Hurray for accountability!old_CCS_runner comments
Much respect to your son for running Crystal Springs in 16 minutes. That course was my nemesis in HS, and I was happy to break 18:00!