On the heels of the previous week's enjoyable outing to the Cache Creek area, I decided
to make another foray into Wine Country to tag some more summits. Like the previous trip,
I came armed with beta on CC-listed peaks as well as those with 900ft+ of prominence.
This time I would explore areas further west, some in the Mayacmas Mountains and others
between US101 and the coast. For the first day, I would explore an area known as The
Geysers in the southern part of the Mayacmas. The name is a misnomer as there are no
actual geysers, just superheated steam. While it doesn't provide the excitement of Old
Faithful, the steam is ideal for power generation and much of the area has been
developed by the Calpine corporation for geothermal energy. The plants can be seen from
many vantage points with their steam rising from buildings at a number of locations
across the landscape.
I had driven north from San Jose the previous evening and spent the night parked at an
overlook off Geysers Rd above Alexander Valley and Healdsburg. Sometime after midnight I
was awaken by a couple of gentlemen asking for directions. According to their story, they
were lost, low on gas and wanted to get back to civilization. I asked if they had driven
up or down the road, to which they had replied "Up." I informed them that civilization
was below, back the way they'd come, and pointed to the city lights that could be seen
below. After thanking me, they got back in their car and continued driving up the
road which I had already told them went nowhere but back to US101 many miles later. I
went back to sleep thinking they were a couple of clueless caballeros, but in retrospect
I don't think they were lost at all. I think they were trying to take an opportune moment
to ransack an (apparently) stranded car, or perhaps shake down its owner for some cash.
Of course I presented the look of a homeless guy living out of his van, so perhaps they
didn't feel I was worth the bother.
Black Mountain / Geyser Peak
I have been asked by the property owner to remove descriptions of these two summits. Please do not trespass on these properties without permission. Please see the email text below.
Back at Geysers Rd, I drove north through Mercuryville and past the turnoffs
for the power plants, driving out to the north end of Alexander Valley where I
reached the junction with Pine Mountain Rd. I drove almost 12 miles to the end
of Pine Mtn Rd which dead ends atop the crest of the Mayacmas in the southeast corner of
Mendocino County. There are a number of residents living on the edge of the
grid back here, some better off financially than others. Mahnke Peak lies about three
miles southeast of the end of the road. It can be reached by gated dirt roads
reaching to the summit. Exactly who owns what land back here is hard to determine, but
it appears to be nearly forgotten by the rest of civilization. The land appears to be
used primarily by hunters, though there seems to be far more target practice than actual
hunting taking place, judging by the selection of casings found all over the place. This
is about as redneck as one can find in California. Clear Lake can be seen
well to the north along with the distinctive Mt. Konocti. I took
about an hour to reach the summit. The top is crowned by an old
wooden shack, with the scattered remains of old technology inside
and out, for what probably used to house the controls and batteries for a
communications tower. The summit offers fine views in all directions. To the east is
Mt. Hannah, and along the crest to the southeast is the highpoint of
the range, Cobb Mtn. Behind it in the distance can be seen Mt. St. Helena. To
the south and west stretch out the western flanks of the Mayacmas,
reaching across Sonoma and Mendocino Counties.
The namesake for the road upon which I drove caught my attention on the drive back. The
ownership of the mountain and the access to it is uncertain at best. I found
a gate at an old road, but the surrounding fence was dilapidated and partially
missing. There were no signs indicating private property or no trespassing. I followed
this road, paved with fallen oak leaves, up to a repeater tower
shown on the
7.5' topo, then further up on dirt roads not depicted on the maps. Immediately to the
west is a a collection of vineyards under cultivation and it appears
my route was just ouside the boundary. Portions of the land I traveled over
appear to be in the process of grooming (which amounts to bulldozing the
chaparral and laying a carpet of hay) for the expansion of the vineyard, but again, no
signs or fences were crossed all the way to the summit of Pine Mtn.
The top, crowned by a few pines and a stately manzanita, overlooks
the vineyards and a home for the owner/caretaker. In
other directions, the Mayacmas roll on for many miles without signs of
civilization. In all I spent just over an hour to reach the summit and return.
This small summit overlooks Lake Sonoma, about six miles south of Cloverdale on US101. I
had come to the lake to climb Pritchett Peaks whose highpoint is a P1K. Access turned out
to be problematic. The shortest route from the north via Kelly Rd is extremely brushy and
the road is private to boot. I intended to approach from the longer, but non-brushy
route from the south in the vicinity of the dam, but all access to the dam is
restricted post-9/11. I would need to do more research before attempting this one. As a
consolation, I paid a visit to Bummer Peak which can be reached via a network of
publicly accessible trails. On the north side of the historic bridge that
crosses the lake, I parked at the No Name TH and spent about an hour plying
the trails to the peak and back in about an hour
around sunset. It was a lovely time to be out and about, with scenic vistas of
the lake and surrounding hills. The summit itself offers
no views thanks to the trees that
partially cover it. That made little difference really, as the views from the trails more
than compensate for the poor summit vistas.
I'm reaching out to you regarding your post about Geyser Peak. The peak and property that lead up to it are owned by my family. We have our family home on this property and run a family business from the peak.
We have had an influx of people trespassing up to the peak over the last few years, nearly all of them saying they were referred by your post on this website.
I'm not one to discourage hiking on beautiful public land, but Geyser Peak holds our family home and our family owned small business.
The peak has video surveillance, and our clients are unhappy with the amount of trespassing near the communication equipment on the peak due to liability and vandalism concerns. This trespassing is now endangering our client relationships and our family business.
Additionally, we have a problem with armed marijuana growers on the property. When we are out hiking with our kids, it is very uncomfortable seeing unknown trespassers on our property and a major safety concern trying to determine their purpose.
I ask that you please delete your pages on Geyser Peak and Black Mountain as these are both family owned property that support our small business. Deleting this page is vital to protecting both.
Let me know if you have any questions, and I greatly appreciate your understanding and support!
-Matt Remmel comments
Very nice respectful request!! Thank you for wording this in a way to help us peak baggers understand your position -- though, we are really glad Bob climbed the peaks because we are hopeful one person will be able to accomplish the goal of climbing more than anyone ever has before. Again, very nice note. Best of luck to the Remmel family in the future and thank you for your understanding up to this point of how important peak climbing is to many people. We will put the word out to avoid your property from here on out and respectfully request if access changes in the future, please let us know as we love climbing all peaks...... Sincerely....the peak climbing community