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I parked at the Badger Hills TH off SR68 and rode my mountain bike along a series of gravel/dirt roads - Guidotti, Skyline, and Barloy Canyon Rd. These took me through the drier SE side of the national monument which is really just a bunch of brown hills looking very much like most portions of the Diablo Range further to the east. Closer to the coast and out of the rain shadow, the area is somewhat wetter, supporting oak forest and chaparral, but not all that impressive, really. The area is popular with hikers, runners, bikers and equestrians, though this morning mine was the only mountain bike in this part of the monument. Barloy Canyon Rd is an old paved road, now closed to motor vehicles, that abuts the Laguna Raceway. Today was Mazda Miata day, several hundreds of the roadsters filled the pit area of the raceway for a series of races involving only this model car. I watched a couple of laps of one race but the speeds were not overly impressive - these are not professional, just Miata enthusiasts who like to have a chance to race their babies.
After the long climb up to Skyline Rd and the raceway, I enjoyed the long, easy descent north on Barloy Canyon Rd. This road runs along the eastern boundary of the closed area, leading to a gate at the junction with Eucalyptus Rd. I turned right here, following this latter road which marks the northern boundary of the closed area. Luck was not with me as I found after the next mile that Merrilis Hill is just inside the closed area on the north side. Rats. I cased the possible approaches, noting the paved/gravel Riso Road as one possibility, but settling on the shortest possible approach - cross-country - from Eucalyptus which would be a mere 0.15mi. I decided the risk of detonating an unexploded ordinance was exceedingly small. I had no data or evidence of any kind to back that up, really it was more of a rationalization - how dangerous could it really be? After waiting for some cyclists and runners to pass by, I dashed up to the summit, took a few photos looking south and north and retreated. The "hill" is really just a low-level ridge not much higher than anything else around it. I had to laugh at myself for my willingness to risk either blowing my foot off or getting hauled before a military magistrate in order to "summit" such a pathetic hill. I really had to wonder if there was anyone else I knew (or didn't know) that would have made the same choice on this one. The odds seem rather low.
Following my successful ascent, I returned via the same series of roads to the TH and then drove to Toro County Park to watch the XC races. It was far more exciting than running through munition hazard lands, I decided. Ryan's school took first place in all four boys divisions (Frosh/Soph/Junior/Senior). He placed 4th for his school in the senior race - looks like he may get his chance to run in the more competitive Varsity races in the coming months - might provide me with more excuses to visit some other hills around CA. :-)
This page last updated: Sat Sep 6 16:20:38 2014
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