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We got off US101 at the Betabel exit, parking on the east side of the frontage road called "Y Rd". It was 4:45p and the sun had just set though it was not yet dark out. We hopped a fence and started up a 4x4 track leading up to the main ridgeline. The area appears to be used solely for cattle grazing, fencelines sectioning off the hills into half a dozen different ranches. There were cattle grazing on nearby slopes, but none where we were hiking. We saw a handful of deer as well, but these scattered quickly upon discovering us. The first fifteen minutes or so had us exposed to view from below along the road or the freeway. After this time our chances decreased both with the gain in elevation and the falling darkness.
It was colder than it's been in months and we kept our hands in our pockets or up our sleeves to keep them out of the wind. I offered gloves and a balaclava to Ryan that I carried in my pack, but he declined (as did I). Toughing it out has some merit, too, I suppose. Our road deteriorated until we were just hiking a steep grass slope following a fenceline for the last several hundred feet. At the junction with the main ridge we hopped another fence and found ourselves on the more traveled dirt road found there. By now it was quite dark, the moon playing hide and seek through the fog layer overhead. A half hour of undulating ridgeline led us to the highpoint, just uphill and north of the road, across another fence.
Breezy and chilly, fog drifting overhead, waist-high thistle (the cows don't seem to like this variety), city lights off in the distance. We found a USGS benchmark labeled 'SARGENT'. There is an old station near US101 that was given this name for an area farmer and stock breeder when the railroad reached it in 1869. The low hills west of the Highway are called the Sargent Hills.
The moon now hidden for good, we beat a retreat back the way we came. There was sufficient light even without the moon to navigate by without headlamp, though barely when we started down the fenceline. Ryan was impressed that without map or GPS I could find our way back. "If it was up to me, we'd be totally lost," he commented. "I've had lots of practice," I replied. Some of the tall thistles and grass would whack us as we walked by if we weren't being too careful. A large black mass jumped up some 20yds from us and ran off. Startled, we realized it was just a deer that had bedded down and been surprised when we came by.
Back by 6:40p, our outing had lasted just under two hours. Ryan had to pee but had trouble undoing his pants because his fingers were so numb. After fumbling with it for a few minutes he asked if I could help. I laughed. Besides, my own fingers were numb as well. He solved the problem eventually. Good thing, because I wouldn't want to have an accident in the car on the ride home. We stopped at the Sonic Burger in Gilroy on our way back, our reward for our troubles. Nice!
This page last updated: Fri Nov 19 15:38:33 2010
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