Peak 1,268ft

Apr 5, 2017

With: Colin Gregory
Sean Casserly

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It had been a very long time since my last night hike. Somehow I had gotten out of the habit of watching the moon cycle for opportunities to head to some of the local highpoints on private property. I was quite happy to receive an email from Sean inviting me for an easy outing in the Milpitas hills northeast of San Jose. I had met Sean once before at the Whoa Nellie during the Sierra Challenge but had never hiked with him. I had recently noted his name in the Maturango summit register, having visited only a week before Brian and I had. We included his friend Colin who happens to be the son of my next door neighbor - which is the original trajectory from which I had come to know of Sean.

Peak 1,268ft is a local highpoint in the foothills of the Diablo Range. The hilly terrain is used primarily for ranching though homes have been popping up in small developments for some time. We parked near the corner of Piedmont Rd and Landess Ave, utilizing an undeveloped stretch along Piedmont just north of Landess so as not to disturb the neighbors (the original plan to start off Old Piedmont Rd might have worked too, but there is a home at the end of the road there that has 3-4 extremely bright outdoor lights that discouraged us). For the most part the terrain was pretty tame in springtime, with grassy slopes and no serious brush, at least on our ascent route. After crossing the barbed-wire fence along Piedmont, we made our way over to an old road shown on the topo map that doesn't appear to be used any longer by vehicles. A cow path along this road made for easy walking for more than a mile as we climbed steadily upwards, taking in the spread of city lights behind us. A few cows wandered the slopes, but they didn't seem to pay us much mind. The road/trail ended before reaching the top, the last part an easy stroll as the gradient rolled off as we went over the top. The highpoint appears to be the easternmost of two competing hillocks, near where a fenceline runs across the summit area. We paused here to take in the views, snap a few pictures and enjoy the delightful temperatures. High clouds overhead obscured the moon somewhat, but there was more than sufficient light to navigate by.

On the way back we decided to explore the north side of the fenceline in search of the Pueblo benchmark shown on the topo map around the 980-foot level. Search as we might, we had no success in finding the benchmark amongst all the fresh green grass. Following this, we stumbled into a bit of a morass, finding a large section of weeds at head level with some prickly varieties and steep slopes underfoot to trip us up. We flogged our way a bit blindly through this stuff, wondering what happened to the nice green grass and exactly which of us was to blame for our troubles, before Sean hit upon using the satellite view on his phone to find the least-troubling route through it. I was skeptical that he could discern such information from a photo taken in another season from a very great distance above the terrain, but I'll be damned if it didn't work out as he predicted, despite how silly the effort must have looked if someone were watching us. Eventually we found a mowed stretch of ranch road that we used to get us most of the way back to the fence we had started over. In all we spent about 2hrs on the outing, a very enjoyable way to spend a Spring evening...

Colin comments on 04/06/17:
Thanks for joining us Bob! I had a great time on my first true night hike, looking forward to the next time!
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