Telegraph Hill

Fri, Mar 25, 2011
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This outing was notable only in setting the low-water mark for 2011. Or at least I hope it doesn't get any lower. I was with the family in Rocklin, a short drive from Sacramento, for Jackie's volleyball tournament on Saturday. Ryan and I had hoped to drive up to the snow on Friday for some snowshoeing, our first visit to the snow this season. Unfortunately we found Interstate 80 closed at Colfax due to zero visibility somewhere ahead and it would remain closed until late in the afternoon. There was little snow around Colfax, so we drove north on SR174 to Nevada City, but found both SR20 and SR49 closed for similar reasons. It was very disheartening. We ended up on one of the local roads in Nevada City that was high enough to have some snow to play in, though I was barely parked off the roadway - the plows were just trying to keep the roads clear and would not be making turnouts and such until sometime later. Ryan played in the snow for an hour or so while I mostly read my book in the van - I found the whole situation somewhat frustrating - all this snow in the Sierra and all we could reach was some heavy, wet snow at barely 3,000ft of elevation.

Back in Rocklin by noon, I looked online to see if there were any nearby hills I could reach without driving. The nearest was Telegraph Hill, about six miles away, with the distinction of being the lowest named summit in Placer County. It makes a small island in the vast suburban sprawl that plagues the Sacramento area, though it too is slated for eventual development that will pave over its entirety. The housing bust in 2008 brought a temporary halt to the work on the hill, but it is obvious that its days are numbered.

One can drive to within a quarter mile of the summit from the west via Whitney Ranch Rd, though doing so would have made the outing even lower. To keep it more sporting, I chose to run from where we stayed in the Howard Johnson's near I-80. It took me more than an hour to cover the distance over a series of circuitously connected roads that meander through the suburbs, the weather decidedly cold and windy with threatening clouds overhead. I reached the grassy summit just as it was starting to rain. I barely had time to stop and needed to keep moving to ward off hypothermia. The summit was hardly remarkable. Several large bulldozers lie by the side of a dirt road that was graded across the hilltop but not yet paved. The views were unremarkable primarily due to poor visibility. The only tree on the hilltop was a poorly disguised antenna tower, one that was supposed to look something like a pine tree but instead appeared wan and lifeless. I was lucky that the rain never developed beyond a light drizzle and didn't last more than about half an hour, leaving me mostly dry by the time I got back. At least it was better than sitting in a motel room all afternoon...

William T comments on 04/05/11:
Personally, I enjoy spending afternoons sitting in motel rooms, but I really enjoyed your reflections on suburban development in this report.
Robby comments on 08/17/11:
I have frequented this area due to the fact its one of the last remaining unpaved hills in this scenic area of south placer county. I really wish they could of left more open space to enjoy, especially a hill for people to enjoy views and such. I've been taking pictures to document the area before it gets paved over (sadly). Its interesting that you are greeted with a lonely cell tower at the summit, kind of unique imo. I'll be posting some pictures to Panaroamio if you decide to revisit your trip.
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