Two days later, I was back in Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve, heading to the
same summit, El Sombroso. This time I approached via the Woods Trail, starting
from Hicks Rd to the east, a slightly longer route. The trail traverses low
around the north side of Mt. Umunhum,
visible from several vantage points along
the trail. Shortly before reaching El Sombroso, I noted the start of the old
trail to Mt. Thayer shown on the topo map. I had used this same trail back in
2005 to reach Umunhum and Thayer when the two were not open to the public.
Though it lies in the OSP, Mt. Thayer is still closed to the public since there
is no all-public route to reach it. I wondered if the trail was still usable
and wandered into the brush to find that it appeared to be so. It seemed like it
would make a fun addition to the plan, so I first went up to tag El Sombroso
(again wandering into the poison oak-laden summit crown of brush) before
returning to the start of the old trail.
The old trail was overgrown
to start, but it had seen some grooming within the
past 3-4yrs, I guessed. I had to crawl short distances in a few places, but it
was quite navigable. On that previous visit, the trail had ended abruptly after
less than half a mile, leaving me to thrash for several hours the remaining
distance. To my surprise, the second half
of the route has seen more recent
grooming, probably in the last year or two, and was a breeze by comparison.
Upon emerging on Loma Almaden Rd, I was only about a quarter mile from Mt.
Thayer's summit. I followed the road west and then a spur road that takes one
to the highpoint, only a short bit of easy cross-country at the end to claim
the top. Nice views looking around,
and I was happy the trail nicely skirted
the restricted area to the west where telecom installations occupy a large
clearing between Mt. Thayer and Mt. Umunhum. Or so I thought. I had passed a
brown Outback parked on Loma Almaden Rd on my way up, the occupants on the
hillside below to the south, looking to be surveying for flora or fauna. On my
way back, they were at the vehicle and one of them asked if I had permission
to be there. When I replied to the negative, he berated me for my intrusion,
warning me of large fines and whatnot for my trespass. I tried to explain that
I had come via a trail from El Sombroso, not through the gated roads at Mt.
Umunhum, but that seemed only to exasperate him more, "So, an UNMARKED trail,
right?!" "Yes," I replied, but that didn't make things better. I had planned
to walk the road to Mt. Umunhum, but I asked if he'd prefer I went back the
way I came. Yes, he would, he indicated, but it seemed what he really wanted
was for me to drop dead. I would have loved to explore further why he was so
upset, perhaps unhappy that I was destroying the pristine mountaintop and his
private fiefdom, but that hardly seemed productive. I left them, returning to
the trail and then back along the connecting ridgeline to the Woods Trail. I
was pretty tired by the time I returned to the TH, but it had been a good
training hike, almost 15mi with something like 3,500ft of gain.
> perhaps unhappy that I was destroying the pristine mountaintop and his private fifedom
About on par for the residents of Soda Springs/Loma Almaden Road. I think they hate the idea they're going to eventually have to share Mt. Thayer with the public sooner rather than later. I believe the folks up there still do patrols in shifts to keep locals out. Cyclists say there are cameras on the road which people watch.
Amusingly if the home owner had their car on Loma Almaden Road near where you joined it (based on the GPX track), they were risking a fine as well. That section is closed by the OSP. Probably what made them extremely mad. If they did follow through on the threat of calling the police, they'd face the same fine you would. I don't think they were residents, I'm guessing biologists or similar.Jason Chiu comments
Mount Thayer is still one of the south San Jose peaks where a bit of solitude can be found. A MidPen board member told me that they cleared the saddle from El Sombroso in 2017 for a firefighting exercise. Apparently the second half of that trail was cleared even more recently. I also found that no different than any of the single tracks on Mt Tam.
Fortunately, I did not trip any of the cameras, and was able to enjoy nearly an hour lunch before heading over the KKUP antennas. The gate on Umunhum Road is locked from the inside also, so I had to go about 100 yards to the east before climbing up around it to the road. See mile 9.4 of https://www.alltrails.com/explore/recording/afternoon-hike-2b8501a--414 . Then, not having had enough chardonnay and feeling bored, I ventured down Guadalupe Creek which was a punishing 40 minute per mile bushwhack to Barlow Road. Easier to take the ridge off Umunhum. Next time, I guess ...