Peak 1,190ft P750
Lions Peak 2x

Thu, Jan 29, 2015

With: Steve Sywyk
Marty Sexton

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Lions Peak previously climbed Tue, Apr 7, 2009

I had planned to do a short road trip a few days before meeting my wife and daughter in Sacramento for more volleyball mayhem, but have been dealing with a refrigerator problem since the beginning of the year. The unit isn't even two years old and suddenly starting making some awful noises before quieting down and working improperly ever since. I didn't bother trying to fix it myself since I had paid good money for a 5yr extended warranty. Problem is, the repair technician is rather incompetent and has been unable to identify the problem after several visits. I've been trying to get the warranty company to replace the unit since it'd been three weeks since I first called and still no resolution. I got a call in the afternoon that they'd like to come in and try again the next day. I had no confidence that they'd be able to (in fact, they failed a third time), but didn't want to provide any excuses as to why it was taking so long to repair. So I canceled my plan to leave that day but still wanted to get out for a hike. I sent out an email and got positive responses from both Marty and Steve for a night hike.

Peak 1,190ft, though lowly in stature, has some 770ft of prominence, making it the most prominent summit in Santa Clara County that I had yet to visit. It's located just west of San Martin, a small community between Morgan Hill and Gilroy in Santa Clara Valley, nestled between the Santa Cruz Mtns and the Diablo Range. It's really a foothill of the Santa Cruz Mtns on the east side, surrounded by encroaching development. At the east end of this hill is the named Lions Peak which Steve and I had ascended via a completely different route some five years earlier. Tonight's starting point would be from the junction of Watsonville and Uvas Rds. With the Oak Dell RV Park on one side and a few private residences on the other, our route climbed steeply up the West Ridge between them, only a few yapping dogs in the distance at all aware of our presence.

The route required climbing over an initial fence about 30ft up the embankment but was mostly clear of brush as we hiked through tall grass under an oak canopy. Where the slopes changed from grass to chaparral, we were fortunate to find an old road cutting nicely along the ridgeline making for a pleasant walk. We took about 40min to cover the first mile to the top of Peak 1,190ft where we found a brisk breeze and donned extra clothing. After some deliberation we decided to continue on to Lions Peak, another mile further along the ridge. We were happy to find the old road/trail continuing through more chaparral (undoubtedly we'd have turned around if it hadn't) until the brush gave way to more open grass slopes. Because it was open in all directions, Lions Peak had the better views overlooking the lights of Santa Clara Valley. We stayed but a minute before heading back the way we'd come. The most fun came when Steve and I, walking out front, tripped over a dilapidated barbed-wire fence. Steve fell flat on his face, his back foot kicking up a rock that flipped forward and struck him on the head. I ran into the fence where it was a bit sturdier and found myself hunched over like I was trying to touch my toes with three strands of barbs poking me in both legs. We shouted out in pain and surprise as Marty ran up to try and help us. But we were both laughing by that point, having got over the shock of what hit us. Somehow we had missed the fence when we stepped over it earlier on the way up. And now I know what's it's like to walk blindly into a barbed-wire fence.

In all we spent about 2 1/2hrs on the 4mi outing - a most enjoyable time...

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