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We found the unmarked trailhead at the end of Little Basin Rd off SR236 after an hour's drive from San Jose. HP has a facility at road's end, but the TH and parking can be found on the left side of the road. The only signs of note were one indicating the state park boundary and another marked simply, "TRAIL" with an arrow.
The trail starts out as an old logging road but soon becomes a single track. There is an old cabin of sorts after a quarter mile and a campfire/meeting area nearby that made for curious side visits. At the halfway point, about 40 minutes in, we came across a cool, arched bridge going across a dry creekbed. Soon after, Jackie started to have doubts about this whole venture.
We took breaks regularly, but these were mostly consumed with her expressing doubts about being able to do this backpacking thing. Maybe it wasn't for her. Perhaps she ought to drive in to camp with Mom instead of hiking in with the scouts. Her shoulders hurt. Her pants were falling down. Things got in her shoes. The flys were annoying. All this and more, tears included, came out on this second half of the hike. I was far more patient with her than I would have thought capable of, and calmly took it all in. The bottom line, I told her, was that I wouldn't have brought her on this hike if I wasn't sure she could do it. She seemed to like that I had more confidence in her than she had herself, and it made her feel better. Even when she was the most complaining, she would turn for a hug and reassurance. That made me feel better, too.
It was nice that the weather wasn't too warm and the shade of the redwoods was greatly appreciated. I pointed out the old growth cuts from 100 years ago and more, showing the cuts made several feet off the ground to insert the boards on which the lumbermen stood to cut the trunks higher up. It was also obvious that a ring of new sprouts had sprung up around these old trunks and the forest was recovering nicely. She enjoyed the blend of history and a happy ending for the forest. It took her mind off her troubles. By now she was very good at spotting poison oak and I never had to point it out to her. The madrones and manzanita were her favorites since they have such smooth bark, cool to the touch.
The trail, winding its way up the north slopes of Eagle Rock, eventually popped out onto the service road that led to the summit only a few hundred yards away. Her sense of relief was instantaneous and she turned to give me a another hug. Life was suddenly much more tolerable. I pointed out that the easy route to the summit was a half mile hike up from the service road's start a short distance to the south. She wondered why we didn't take that route if it was easier. "Because we're tougher than that," I explained. We took our packs up to the summit of Eagle Rock and took in the views in the ample sunshine. There was a benchmark but no register. We spent about half an hour having snacks and resting, all the while taking in the sun and scenery. I pointed out several other nearby summits that she had visited in the past several weeks, which came as some surprise to her.
Before starting down we hiked over to the old lookout tower a short distance away. No longer maintained, it is slowly falling into disrepair, the insides gutted and loaded with grafitti. The stairs were in good enough condition to check out the upper story - equally in disrepair as the lower one. There was no way to reach the outside deck that we could find - too bad, because it would have had a fine view.
It took little more than an hour to descend back to the TH. Only a couple breaks were needed on the downhill. Once Jackie was back at the car and had taken the pack off, she had that feeling of lightness that makes it a joy to take a pack off after a long hike. Before heading home, we drove up to the summit of Ben Lomond, no hiking involved. It was one of the highest named summits in the range I had yet to visit, but it was mostly a disappointment. The summit is large, flat, and though it is an accessible grassy field, it is surrounded by trees and development that offers no views. The CDF runs a training center that was open to allow me to drive in the short distance. Just to the east of this is a CC prison facility of the low-security variety. A man in an orange jumpsuit along with another man who may have been a guard or prison employee watched us from the boundary fence between the two properties. I got out my GPS to verify the location, but that would have been impossible for the two men to discern from the distance they watched us. Probably they thought we were lost or nuts. I walked out to the middle of the field and satisfied, got back in the car and drove off. Next up: Summer Camp!
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Eagle Rock
This page last updated: Fri Jul 30 13:52:43 2010
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