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Messic Mtn is a pretty small bump in the foothills of the Diablo Range, just south of the Santa Clara and San Benito County boundary. It has less than 200ft of prominence, but has an official name which caught my attention. The climb was pretty straightforward, going up 1,000ft in about a mile and half. The hillsides were completely open grass slopes, with only a few oak trees. Though in active ranching country, it did not appear that the slopes we were on had been grazed yet this year. My biggest concern was that the stickers and thistles would be attracted to our socks like magnets now that the hills had browned and the grasses gone to seed. Steve had remembered to bring gaiters where I hadn't, and I had to admit to being a bit envious. It turned out to be no trouble at all - the grasses were primarily of a variety that posed little danger in this regard. In fact, Steve seemed to have more trouble with his gaiters than I did with none.
The climbing was steep to begin with, rising 400ft is short order before rolling off and becoming more relaxed. The lights of the nearby home were evident soon after starting up, an impressive array of driveway and landscape lighting that suggested a very pricey homestead even though all we could see of the home was in shadow. Higher up the lights of Hollister came into view over the lower foothills, eventually becoming a swath of lights stretching north towards Gilroy. It took about 45 minutes to make the climb to the summit at a steady, although unhurried pace. There were a number of familiar peaks visible by moonlight, most prominent was Pacheco Peak about four miles to the north. Steve had climbed that one with me five years ago. About the same distance to the east were Antimony and Mariposa Peaks which I had climbed alone the previous year. The summit was rounded and grassy, rocks strewn about the place, no cairn or other manmade object to mark the highpoint. We stacked a few rocks atop each other to facilitate the taking of a few nighttime photos, including one of ourselves.
After about 15 minutes at the summit we started the return. We were chatting and distracting ourselves to the point where we started down the wrong ridge more than once. A glance at the GPS at opportune moments got us back on track and down the same route we had come up. One thing I've found is that the regular use of the GPS has made me a bit lazier - I tend not to pay attention to the details of the route during the ascent as much as I used to. At the steepest portion near the bottom, we were descending a little too rapidly and each slipped several times on the grass slopes. Luckily there were few hazards and a fall was more humorous than dangerous. We got back to the bridge and our car shortly before midnight, home around 1a. Not a bad outing even though it was short. We were both happy to have a chance to get out once again in the hills by moonlight - a fine way to feed the soul...
This page last updated: Fri May 24 13:25:44 2013
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