Peak 4,735ft P300
Peak 4,700ft P300

Fri, Jun 14, 2019
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX

I was heading to Santa Barbara to retrieve my daughter from UCSB for the summer. She wouldn't be ready to go until late the following day, giving me a couple of days to tag some summits in the San Rafael Mtns of the county's vast backcountry area. I didn't leave San Jose until 11a and had some business in Cambria (I'm trying to find a way to visit Pine Mtn above Hearst Castle, but so far, no luck), and didn't get to Cachuma Saddle until 6p. That was a rather late start for the 12mi effort I had in mind. The two unnamed peaks are located along the crest of the range climbing east up from Cachuma Saddle, between Cachuma Mtn and McKinley Mtn along a dirt road long closed to vehicles. I'd brought my mountain bike to make this work, hoping to finish before 9p when it starts to get dark. The effort started off terribly. I found the dirt road had been recently resurfaced with a bulldozer, removing ruts, rocks and debris, but leaving the ground soft and difficult to ride, especially uphill. I had to mostly push the bike for the first two miles as the road gains about 700ft. Several dozen flies buzzed around my head and I sucked several of these into my throat with my heavy breathing. It was warm and I was sweating more than usual. Things improved when I found the bulldozer parked off the roadway, the upper part of the road not yet regraded. This allowed me to start riding the bike and make good progress uphill. Luckily the road isn't too steep and I was able to ride a good portion of it. The flies persisted, but fewer were able to keep up with the pace, leaving me less distracted. I followed the road around the north and east sides of Cachuma Mtn and past Peak 4,700ft to reach the base of Peak 4,735ft, the furthest of the two summits, by 7:30p. The NW Ridge has an old firebreak running up it, a bit brushy but with a use trail threading its way up the ridgeline. It took a little more than 10min to reach the open summit with views stretching south across Lake Cachuma and the Santa Ynez Valley with the Santa Ynez Mtns in the background. To the east rises McKinley Mtn, an HPS summit some 1,400ft higher still. To the northwest could be seen both Peak 4,700ft and Cachuma Mtn, both just slightly lower than the summit I stood on. I returned to the bike and rode about 2/3mi back down the road to the start of the SE Ridge rising up to Peak 4,700ft. This, too, was a ten minute effort along the same firebreak. It was just after 8p and nearly sunset as I stood on the summit, taking in the views that would soon begin to fade.

I wasted little time returning to the bike where I took a last photo before packing up for the ride down. This was the most enjoyable part of the day, now that the flies had gone, the temperature had cooled nicely and the failing light made for an exhilarating ride back down. I had to dodge rocks and brush as I cruised down some 4.5mi of the road with only a few short uphill sections. The looser ground of those last two miles that had been graded made the ride a little squirrelly, but still fun since no crash was involved. It was getting pretty dark by the time I returned and since I had nowhere particular to be that night, I decided to stay camped where I'd parked near Cachuma Saddle. It was a pleasant, quiet place to rest up with a cool breeze blowing most of the night through the saddle, rocking the jeep ever so gently...


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