It was a little surprising just how quickly Covid-19 could upend a whole lot of
lives in the US. San Jose is part of the six Bay Area counties that were the
first in the nation to enact a Shelter-in-Place order. There isn't enforcement
preventing folks from pretty much doing what they want at this time, but it
does seem like travel should be one of those things we should curtail. As a
result, I decided against continuing with plans for a 3-week desert trip that
I was about to embark on. Luckily, outdoor exercise is one of the exemptions as
long as we practice our newly-learned social distancing skills. So off I headed
to the Altamont Pass area east of Livermore to tag a couple of unnamed summits.
Neither was very long, but it was nice to get outside and enjoy the green spring
scenes in the local hills.
Found on the south side of Interstate 580 off the Flynn Rd exit, the hills here
are topped with large wind turbines, cattle grazing quietly underneath. Other
peakbaggers have used spur Comstock Rd to the north of the summit for
access, but I found the place a bit busy. The area just off the
freeway is a popular resting spot for tired truckers, with about a dozen parked
there at any given time. Smaller vehicles would drive up Comstock Rd where I
was parked, hang a round a few minutes and then leave, keeping me from having
the quiet I was looking for to go over the fence. It felt like it was a gay
pick up spot like the one I encountered in Griffith Park some years ago. I
ended up driving further up Flynn Rd where it was quieter and approaching the
peak from the east side. This was a moderately steep but
easy grass slope, less than half a mile each way. There is
a turbine at the summit in a cleared area, the highpoint found
just to the west on the edge where it hadn't been bulldozed.
A few cattle grazing here eyed me carefully but held their ground as I
topped out, took a few pictures, and returned.
This summit is found on the north side of the Interstate, just west of the
Altamont landfill. I drove up the landfill road and parked on the east
side of the road, across from a locked, unused ranch gate. Cattle graze
here, too, and seem a bit jumpier. Most of them ran off as I went over the gate
and started up the slope. This, too, is an easy half mile hike to
a rounded, grassy summit with open views across the Livermore area to
the west and the Central Valley to the east. There is a fine view of
Brushy Peak to the west as well. As I was descending back down, the
rumble of a small motor could
be heard behind me. I turned to see a rancher approaching me on his camo-painted
ATV. I stopped and waited for him to drive up. He pulled alongside me and turned
off the engine at which point I started,
"I'm sorry to bring you out here."
"Oh, you didn't bring me out, I just happened to be out and about and spotted
you." He didn't seem upset, a good sign. "What are you doing out here?"
"It's going to sound silly, but I was just hiking up to the knoll to take a few
pictures and then returning." There seemed to be no point in making excuses. I
told him I knew I was trespassing and shouldn't be there, and was sorry to
trouble him about it.
He kinda half-smiled and said, "Well, I guess I don't have to lecture you about
it. I'm sure you didn't damage anything." He wasn't exactly giving me a free
pass on the property, but he was going to let me go without making a big deal
of it. I really appreciated that - one of the nicest encounters I've had on
private property. After we finished our short conversation,
he drove off and I
continued back to the road, slipping under one barbed-wire fence and then over
the gate at the road to finish up.
This is an exceedingly small hill in the middle of Livermore, originally one of
the earliest cemeteries in the valley. It ceased being a cemetery back in the
1960s and was converted to a city park when the high school
was built next
door. I think those early pioneers are still buried there, but the headstones
and monuments have been removed. The park has seen better days and it
appears to have been decades since anyone has made any improvements to it as it
slowly moves to a more naturally vegetated state. Several dozen large
eucalyptus trees still occupy space about the hill. An easy hike that takes
only a few minutes, but no views.
Miss you! Coming home soon! -AD