Sat, Jun 16, 2012
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I parked at the entrance to the Fairmont Ridge staging area found off Fairmont Dr. The smallish parking lot holds about about a dozen cars and they were more than half taken when I arrived around 7:30a. There isn't a whole lot to this part of the park - most of it is found to the east and north, surrounding the large reservoir. Almost every party I passed by on the way to and from the summit had one or more dogs with them - it seems this might be the local dog exercise park. There is a paved road leading from the TH to the summit, used by service vehicles to the communication towers. A small network of trails is found to the west of the road providing views to the East Bay under the shade of some old eucalyptus trees that line the ridge. The distance to the summit is just under a mile. Haze obscured views both east and west, the result of a high pressure system that had just recently moved in over the area. It was forecast to exceed 90F in the area today, so it was good to do this early in the morning. It was already feeling warm and very bright.
It was not hard to breach the fence around the summit thanks to a gap in the main gate held together by more than a dozen locks. The highest point was found at the north end where some geologic instruments were set up under one of the tall towers. I had no luck locating the benchmark. I did find some broken concrete that might have held a benchmark, or perhaps just held a steel fencepost at one time. The abandoned buildings around the area were boarded up with badly peeling paint. They looked to be remnants of the Cold War, perhaps a small military installation overlooking the East Bay from the 1950s or 60s.
Back outside the fenced area, I found a circular stone memorial at an overlook site, dedicated to the children of the East Bay communities that have died violent deaths due to crime. There is a plaque for each year since 1994 listing the name, age and city of the many victims.
I walked back to the parking lot using the grassy trails under the eucalyptus trees, returning by 8:30a, barely an hour after starting out, a nice little diversion on a Saturday morning...
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