Peak 1,564ft P300
Peak 1,262ft P300
Oak Knoll

Thu, Mar 19, 2020
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX

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.

Peak 1,564ft

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.

Peak 1,262ft

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.

Oak Knoll

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.

Jackie comments on 03/19/20:
Miss you! Coming home soon!

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