Rose Peak 2x CC / NN

Fri, Apr 18, 2003

With: Matthew Holliman

Etymology Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 Profiles: 1 2

Rose Peak is the highest named point in Alameda County, lying in the Diablo Range of California, south of Livermore Valley and north of Mt. Hamilton. The peak is little more than a bump along a grassy ridge, hardly identifiable from anywhere in the surrounding area unless one knows specifically where to look. So why the attraction? It also lies near the center of the Ohlone Wilderness Trail which at 28mi in length is one of the longest continuous trails in the Bay Area. The trail wanders though oak forest and along grassy ridges, going more through undeveloped pastureland than through true Wilderness, but it is an enjoyable trek nonetheless. I had previously hiked the trail both ways in three different installments, but had hoped to be able to do it one way as a dayhike. While out hiking in Ventana with Matthew, he indicated a similar desire, and so one day in April we made plans to hike the trail in opposite directions.

We met at Stanford Ave in Fremont at 5a where I left Matthew and my car, driving Matthew's car over to Lake Del Valle. It was quite dark when Matthew set out for the climb up Mission Peak, but by the time I had driven the 45 minutes over to the reservoir, it was plenty light out that I didn't need a headlamp at the start. Daybreak came about 15 minutes after I'd started up the trail, at the same time the moon prepared to set. The morning was cool with some overcast, but a fine day day for a long hike. This first section to Rose Peak is probably the most interesting, with plenty of wildflowers in bloom, rugged canyons with babbling brooks coursing down their centers, and magestic oaks and even a good number of pine trees in the higher reaches. What started off with just a few high clouds at the start with the promise of a fine day, soon became considerably more cloudy. By the time I reached the summit of Rose Peak at 9:30a, I was completely in the clouds, devoid of any sort of view either west or east. Reaching the top was terribly anticlimatic. Oh well, it wasn't the peak on this outing, but the long one-way hike that was the focus.

Heading west and starting downhill, I ran into the first person I'd seen since the entrance booth to Lake Del Valle. At first I thought it might be Matthew as he was travelling with just a daypack too, but it turned out to be another individual altogether who was dayhiking the same route in the opposite direction, same as Matthew. He was training for the Ohlone Wilderness 50K run in a few weeks that follows essentially the same route. He asked if I was doing similarly, but I replied that no, I was just out for a stroll - I didn't even know about the upcoming run, though I'd heard of it in the past from another hiking friend named David who'd participated. We parted. About 45min after leaving Rose Peak I was back under the clouds and they had begun to dissipate. It looked as if the higher terrain was what had created the heavier cloud cover which were just hanging around the upper 500ft or so on all sides of the summit. I ran into several backpacking groups, the largest a group of about 15-20 scouts who were strung out in clumps over several miles. Several asked me if I knew where the lake was to have lunch, but I had seen no lakes on my route, let alone have any idea what their lunch plans were. I was happy to not be carrying a pack as I left them, sweat dripping down their faces, must of them just putting up with organized suffering. Since I had left Rose Peak I had been jogging most of the downhill sections, and I was making fairly good time. I was well past the halfway point and could tell that I'd be done before Matthew even though he'd started earlier.

About an hour from Calaveras Road and Sunol Regional Park, I nearly missed Matthew in passing as we were about 50 yards apart on slightly different routes in the Backpack Area. The area has a number of side trails to Eagles Aerie (which by the way has nice view) and several camp locations and was one of only a few places we could have missed each other. It was a good thing we didn't because I had Matthew's keys to return to him. We exchanged words for less than a minute and went on our separate ways. The area around McCorkle Creek had some beautiful lupines, but in general the lower portions of the trail heading down had scant wildflowers in bloom.

I got some more water at Sunol Park, then headed up on the climb to Mission Peak. Not steep, but a steady five mile uphill grind, and I was really beginning to feel the effects of the long day. I had planned to climb Mission Peak, but I was a bit disoriented when I got to the backside of the peak to the east that I was less familiar with. I had hiked a half-mile past the peak to the trail junction well around to the north side when I realized my error, and by then I was more interested in getting back to the car than to tag the summit of a peak I've been up a dozen times already. The downhill jog to Stanford Ave was quite enjoyable, a sunny afternoon that brought a surprising number of hikers out on a Friday afternoon. Near the bottom there was a row of hanggliders in the process of being disassembled, the end of a class that appeared to have taken place before I got there.

I made it to the trailhead and my car at 1:45p, after almost 8hrs on the trail. Not quite marathon time, but pretty good. Matthew had added a few extra miles going his direction by climbing Mission Peak, getting lost and detouring to Little Yosemite, and an intentional detour to see Murrietta Falls. It was dark again before he had returned to his car at Lake Del Valle, something like a 14hr mini-epic that had seen him run out of energy after topping out at Rose Peak. One might think that's enough to persuade anyone to take a few days off to recover, but Matthew somehow succumbed to the allure (most folks might call it insanity) of another attempt on the Ventana Double Cone dayhike the following day with yours truly. I really like this guy... :)


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