Bills Hill P500 NN

Wed, Apr 22, 2009

With: Steve Sywyk

Story Photos / Slideshow Map

Sitting at home, I got a call from Steve just after 8a wondering what I was doing today. I knew he had plans to hike with another friend today, so I correctly guessed those had fallen through. With only five days left before he starts his new job, Steve was trying to get in as much recreation as he could before the prison date starts. I was only too happy to oblige him. "Come on over while I look at the maps," I told him. It wasn't five minutes before Steve came waltzing in the house - he was already on his way over when he called me up.

We headed down to Gilroy and Canada Road to investigate Bills Hill at the southwestern tip of Henry Coe State Park. It was no surprise that signs along the fencelines indicated no access "until the lands can be made safe to the public" but we didn't let that bother us. We parked just past the junction with Jameson Road at a small turnout in front of a rusty gate that didn't look like it got opened very often.

Not even bothering to bring water, we took only our cameras before hopping the fence and heading up the grassy slopes. Though used regularly for grazing, the grass was six to ten inches high and plentiful. Though other hills in the area were starting to take on the more customary brown, these hills were a lush green. The grass was full of seed pods at the height of their growing season and would soon start browning as well if we have no more rain. There were two small man-made ponds along the way, one filled with algae and other aquatic plants, the other a brownish affair, seemingly the lesser inviting. But it was this second pond that teemed with large frogs that jumped into the water upon our approach. They didn't allow us to get close enough to photograph them, but from the adjacent hillside we could count a dozen or more of the amphibians floating in the water with just their heads popping out, watching and waiting for us to leave.

We followed a combination of cow trails and old road beds to reach the summit in about 45 minutes. There was no bushwhacking at all, but there were plenty of poison oak patches to be wary of, particularly near the summit. The top was a rounded, grassy affair, no rocks, no benchmarks, no sign of humans at all. A large oak tree crowned the summit off to the east side, and we had nice views in three directions, south, west, and north. Aside from a minor slip that brought Steve down among a thicket of thistle, the descent was mostly uneventful. I had half expected a nearby rancher to notice our car conspicuously parked where it was and to offer us some grief, but we saw not another soul (save the cows and frogs and a few vultures) during the brief hour and a half that we were there.

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This page last updated: Wed Apr 22 17:11:18 2009
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