I was due to meet friends in Pismo Beach later in the afternoon and was looking
for some peaks to keep me occupied for the day. I found a handful in the
Gabilan Range, a combination of hiking and Jeeping that made for a pretty fun
Peak 1,993ft - Peak 1,937ft
Peak 1,993ft had first come to my attention about ten years ago when I was
going after P900s across California. It lies on the east side of Reliz
Canyon in a corner of the Los Padres National Forest. There are numerous
private inholdings along the canyon and it's difficult to discern where the
public lands end or start. The locals don't make it any easier, making
generous use of No Trespassing signs to discourage outsiders. I ended up
parking along Reliz Rd almost due west of Peak 1,993ft. I assumed the signs
on the east side of the road were overzealously placed, but in hindsight it
appears these are accurately private property. The NF lands don't start until
one gets on the east side of Reliz Creek, which means it is entirely
surrounded by private property with no legal access.
I started out at 9a, first crossing the nearly-dry creek
before heading up the West Ridge. The slope is incredibly steep
and covered in rough brush. Cattle have grazed the slopes, leaving many
trail threads that allow one to work through the brush without any real
bushwhacking. The slope relents some about 2/3 of the way up, and eventually
an old road (no longer driven) is reached that can be followed the rest
of the way to the top. It took less than 40min to cover the mile distance to the
summit. A serviceable road comes up from the south where a flat valley
at head of Monroe Canyon holds a sizeable ranch. At the summit there was
a covered wooden structure that looked to have been built for picnics with
a view. There is also a barbed-wire fence running between
Peak 1,993ft and Peak 1,937ft, about 2/3mi to the northeast. The better
road is on the SE side of the fence, but I stayed on the NW side to follow
the crappier road to the NW (at this point I was confused about the
ownership - the maps showed both sides of the fence as NF lands) because that
side looked neglected and less likely to bring me trouble. It took less than
20min to make it between summits.
This second one was definitely outside the
NF lands, but there was no way to tell that judging from the roads and fences -
it all looked like private ranch lands. I was back down to
Reliz Canyon less
than 2hrs after I'd started out. I was happy to see no vehicles, no people,
and no notes left on my Jeep. I changed out of my boots and headed off soon
I returned to US101 and headed south, turning off at San Ardo to follow
the dirt Lockwood - San Ardo Rd into the
BLM's Williams Hill Recreation Area.
I had also been to this area 10yrs earlier to visit Williams Hill, a P1K.
Peak 2,430ft is located on the north side of the road on a fun BLM road that
goes all the way to the summit. The Jeep had no trouble driving to
the top where one can't help but be disappointed that the entire summit
is littered with shooting detritus. The redeeming feature I found to be the
continuing road which would allow me to continue the Jeeping adventure some
additional miles to the north.
This summit is located on the north side of paved Lockwood - San Lucas Rd, about
four miles northwest of the previous peak. I enjoyed the drive along
ridgecrest that separates the Salinas Valley from Lockwod/Ft. Hunter Liggett.
It does not seem like this section of road beyond Peak 2,430ft gets much
traffic as I found plenty of encroaching brush that would help keep the dust
off the side of the Jeep. I was happily driving along until I came down the
last slope to the paved road, only to find a locked gate blocking my escape.
This was a bit puzzling because I had come across no gates, no fences, no
signs anywhere along the route. Later I found that the BLM land does not
extend bewteen the two roads as I'd hoped - it seems that the land adjacent to
the paved road is private (as signed on the other side of that gate). I
thought I might have to drive all the way back to the Lockwood - San Ardo
Rd, but there was an alternative escape on a little-used side road that went
through two closely-spaced bushes and onto the pavement with no fanfare - nice!
A short distance west on the pavement is the BLM road going up to Peak 2,577ft.
I had been to this summit once before, but had to walk the 1.5mi to the summit
since I had no Jeep at the time. This time I drove right to the top
like the previous
peak, but thankfully no primitive shooting range. Like the previous peak, I
noticed the BLM road continues to the north. It seemed worth exploring, if
nothing other than to enjoy the drive.
Like previously, the BLM land ended after another mile or so, only this time
there was a gate indicating private property at the boundary. I noticed
Peak 2,528ft was not much more than a mile to the west, and decided to see if I
could pay it a visit. It turns out I could, and no bushwhacking required. There
is a whole network of roads on the private property past the BLM lands none of
them showing any recent use. The locked gate had been circumvented by driving
around it, but I decided not to drive on the private property I would visit - I
feel like an owner would be less pissed to find me on foot as opposed to driving
my Jeep in there. And it turned out to be good idea for another reason - the
continuing road has
seen almost not traffic for years and is pretty overgrown - I'd have had a
hard time turning around where the road got bad. But on foot it was fine, and
I spent about 45min to reach the summit via a series of roads that crossed
several property boundaries. I did make one wrong turn and ended up with about
100yds of brutal and equally unnecessary bushwhacking, but that was
entirely my fault. An old and no longer driveable road led up
the last 1/3mi to the summit. It was nothing special, but it
felt pretty remote and I left a register there, the only one I left on
the day. I reversed the route and was back to the
Jeep by 2:40p. I was a little surprised how enjoyable the whole day was. The
very fine weather probably had a lot to do with it...