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The weather was overcast, light drizzle having fallen during the night and parts of the drive. This left the ground wet, but not soaked. There would be little sun today, but at least no rain or mud. The road leading to the communications tower is partially paved. The thin layer of pavement has worn away in many places, but the road is still in good condition. It took just under an hour to hike the road to its end at the tower. Once past the first half mile that get s one above the canyon, the views begin to open up both east across Reliz Canyon and west to the higher portions of the Santa Lucia Range. Pinyon Peak is the highest summit around at over 5,000ft (it blocks the view to the even higher Junipero Serra behind it).
Once at the tower, Peak 2,450ft can be seen to the west across a saddle. There is no road joining the two and heavy brush is encountered on the north-facing slope of the connecting ridgeline. But the south side is more lightly vegetated and animal trails can be used to reach the highpoint with only minor brush to contend with. A fence runs the entire length of the ridgeline and on the way to the summit I crossed the fence several times to take advantage of clearings on one side or the other. On the way back I found that I could stay on the south side of the fence for the entire distance without need to jump back and forth. I picked up a handful of ticks on my pants as I made my way down from the tower, but they were easily flicked off and were unable to bother me much. There would be more ticks whenever I was away from the road, but they never became a problem like they had the week before in Sonoma County. At the saddle there is a dirt road leading north onto the property of the hunting club. It does not see much use. An old gate at the saddle has been unused for years. The barbed-wire has been clipped in a section of the fence, probably to allow game to travel onto the club property.
I reached the summit of Peak 2,450ft by 7:20a. I should have looked around, taken a few photos and retreated at this point, but for some reason I thought the highpoint was another half mile further to the northwest along the ridgeline. It looked lower, but the route I had marked on my GPS said I still had some distance to go so off I went. The fence continues along the ridge out to Pt. 2,437ft, but the brush is heavier here than the earlier portion and some of it was downright annoying. I spent some time crawling and scratching my way through it, only to reach a very uninteresting point amidst the chaparral that had poor views and nothing much to speak for it. Having taken an an elevation reading at Peak 2,450ft, I found this other summit to be 5-6 feet lower when I'd found the highest ground. I probably wasted a total of 45 minutes on this extra excursion, the scratches up and down my arms and a few extra ticks about all I had to show from it.
In returning back to the tower, I paused along the way to take a few pictures of the fine yellow flowers that were growing on the south side of the ridge. There were also abundant displays of lupine growing along the road that would have looked even nicer with a little sunshine. The sun did manage to break out in a few places, but never where I was hiking. Aside from the wildflowers, the views west to Vaqueros Canyon and south to upper Reliz Canyon were probably the most picturesque on the outing. In a few places one could see northeast to Pinnacles with North and South Chalone Peaks, but the overcast conditions made these views rather hazy. The grassy portions of the surrounding hills and valleys were very green at this time, giving them the appearance of verdant luxury, rather than the hot, dry country that more accurately describes this area for most of the year.
I jogged much of the road heading back down, getting me to the van before 9a. After picking up Ryan and his friend in Arroyo Seco, I was very tired on drive home and probably could have used a boost of caffeine. The boys themselves slept most of the way, tired from their own camping activities. I would get my own nap for a few hours once back in San Jose. Luxury, indeed...
This page last updated: Tue Mar 5 16:35:10 2013
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