Lake Mountain P300

Tue, Apr 8, 2014
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Following in the previous days' schedule, I had planned to do two other P1Ks in the Sierra foothills before heading home. Jesse Morrow and Campbell Mountain sit on either side of SR180, the first hills encountered when driving east from Fresno. Both lie on private ranchlands (though unhappy signs in the past have indicated there is a mining interest in Jesse Morrow). The routes I investigated both start from SR180, but are quite open to observation from almost any direction. I decided they were better done as a moonlight hike and gave up the idea of doing them in the morning as planned. As I was driving home I considered it might be a good opportunity to climb Lake Mountain, about 4 miles north of SR152 in the Diablo Range. The peak sits just off the entrance road to Henry Coe SP's Dowdy entrance, but parking along the roadway is not allowed between SR152 and the Visitor Center. The road would be gated closed on a Tuesday, but hikers and bikers are still allowed to use it. The only risk would be if a rancher spotted me for the short time it would take to leave the road and climb to the summit.

After parking the van, I started up the road at 9:30a. The gravel road starts off low in a vale as it leaves Bell Station, but soon climbs onto a ridge between Pacheco Creek's North Fork and Cedar Creek. Views open up wonderfully to P505>green hills in all directions. Behind to the south stands out Pacheco Peak overlooking SR152 and Pacheco Creek. To the west rises Kaufman Ridge whose highpoint is Gulnac Peak. A few friendly horses are found under the shade of an oak alongside the road at the 3 mile mark. They'd been in the same place the last several times I'd driven up this road. Lakeview Mtn comes into view around the same time and by 10:30a I had reached the turnoff point. A few trucks had driven by during the hike, one from the State Park service, others from local landowners. This next section was the only place I was concerned about getting in trouble. After checking the roadway ahead and behind, I went over the fence and over a small knoll before dropping down the other side out of view. My route was partially protected by this knoll until I climbed higher up the south side. There was a short section of exposure (to view, not to falling) before I moved under cover of oak trees, and followed out of view the rest of the way to the summit ridge. I picked up a ranch road and followed it to the summit.

The rounded, grassy summit provides nice views in three directions, those to the north blocked by trees. I noticed a pair of vehicles making their way up from the south, stopping at one point before continuing on. I waited behind cover of the oaks before starting back down through the trees and the exposed section, eventually back to the road. It was not long after noon before I returned to the van parked at the entrance, a total of about 3.5hrs, a nice morning hike. Time to head home... comments on 04/29/14:
Have you ever been shot at while climbing, especially at night ?!!?!?!
Reply: No.
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