Saddle Peak P300

Sep 11, 2023
Etymology Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX

I was in Pismo Beach for a short vacation with my wife, one of our go-to spots that we both enjoy. I was looking at the PB app the evening prior and noticed that there were now a handful of entries for Saddle Peak, all since 2022. The peak is the second highest summit in the Irish Hills, found between the Pacific Ocean, San Luis Obispo, and the Pismo area. I had made a half-hearted effort to reach it in 2015 after visiting the Irish Hills HP, but had gotten off-track and ran out of time. Back then, there were no reported ascents on PB or LoJ. It seems Perry Way and his friend Jeff, both locals, had made attempts starting in 2017. Rebuffed on their first try, Perry came back to cut a trail, and after several efforts, made an ascent with Jeff in 2020. He came back again in 2022 to leave a register, and since then a collection of the usual PB suspects have found their way to this peak.

After breakfast the next morning, my wife was kind enough to drive me up See Canyon Rd, dropping me and my road bike off at the unsigned TH. She headed to San Luis Obispo for a pilates class, while I would do the hike and then ride back to Pismo Beach. I locked the bike to the cattle gate and headed up the dirt road. I spent about 40min hiking two miles of the road, with some views to the north, others of Davis BM and then Saddle Peak from the northeast. When I reached the turnoff for Saddle Peak, I headed off the good road and onto a decent trail that I followed downhill for about a quarter mile. It was around this time that I recalled this was the same mistake I had made back in 2015. This trail is shown on old topo maps leading south to a dirt road traversing Irish Canyon, but not actually going to Saddle Peak. I backtracked to nearly the starting point, then found the use trail described by others, leading along the ridgeline in the proper direction heading west.

This use trail has seen no maintenance - Perry saved his efforts for the hardest part at the end. For the most part, the ridgeline is easy to navigate with no real bushwhacking, but it is impossible to avoid the poison oak that grows abundantly here. Little of it grows above knee level, but the first half of the trail appears to be paved with the stuff. To avoid skin contact, long pants are a must, and one should consider their pants and shoes contaminated upon exiting - take appropriate measures afterwards to avoid contaminating other things and people further. After giving up the futile effort to dance around the poison oak, I tried to step down on it wherever possible, content that the soles of my boots would be wiped clean before I got back to the bike. The second half of the ridgeline traverse was relatively free of the stuff and far more relaxing. When I got to the edge of the oak forest and the start of the cut path through chaparral, I was really able to appreciate Perry's efforts. The trail is wonderful, even three years later it is pretty clear. I imagined what it would have been like had I taken the correct route back in 2015 - I think I would have turned back at this point, disappointed. In all, it took me less than an hour and three quarters to make my way to the summit, well worth the 8yr wait. I found the summit register box tied to a cord, hanging from the manzanita. The lid was open and its contents spilled upon the ground, but otherwise not much worn for the exposure. I decided the weak latch holding the lid shut was not suitable to the hanging position, and untied it to be left on the ground for the next visitor. I collected the contents, photographed the entries, and put it all neatly away. I was sitting on the ground resting for about five minutes while doing this, before noticing the red ants that were now crawling on (and in) my shirt, hat and head. Argh. Some cursing ensued, my shirt was removed and shook out, and I got myself put back together with only a few bites for my foolishness. I took some photos from the summit, including one with a tiny view of the Diable Canyon facility to the west, and then headed back down. The return went much smoother, getting me back to the pavement and the bike in only an hour and a quarter. I would spend most of the next hour riding the 11-12mi back to Pismo Beach, happy to call it a day once I arrived. The weather had been a bit too warm for most of the hike and I was feeling pretty worn for only managing the one summit...

I didn't have my usual GPSr or camera with me since this outing was a bit last-minute. Instead, I relied on my cell phone, possibly the cheapest and crappiest available. The pictures weren't horrible, but the GPX track was pretty abysmal. I've included the track in this TR so others can see just how crappy it is. I recommend everyone avoid TCL phones.

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This page last updated: Sun Oct 29 15:29:42 2023
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