Twin Peaks North Fail P500 CC

Apr 29, 2012
Etymology Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile
later climbed May 7, 2012

Twin Peaks are a pair of summits in the Diablo Range, just southeast of San Luis Reservoir. The highest is a CC-listed summits, but both have over 500ft of prominence, rather unique considering they are less than half a mile apart. I had seen them only from a distance when climbing Mt. Ararat and Cathedral Peak, both to the north. Though the peaks both appear to be non-trivial climbs, the crux so far has been the approach - they are not easy to reach. Billy Wright Rd runs more than 15 miles from near the Interstate 5 / SR152 junction, but most of it is on private property. Jasper Rd appears to shortcut much of it, coming in from the SR33/152 junction at the SE end of the reservoir. I initially tried to drive Jasper Rd, but found a gate several miles in. I then tried to drive the Billy Wright Rd, only to find another gate (one I hadn't spotted on the satellite view) after only a few miles. And so I found myself more than 10 air miles from the peaks after 9p on a Sunday night without a backup plan. I decided to try hiking it anyway, suspecting I'd never actually reach the peak. And so I didn't.

With a half moon overhead, I knew the moon would set around 2a, which would be about the time I might be able to reach Twin Peak North's summit. That meant a long walk back by headlamp. The roundtrip distance from the gate is about 26 miles, a long outing indeed. I encountered only a few small herds of cattle during the night and they sauntered off away at my approach without much fuss. I had only two surprises on the portion I hiked, which amounted to about half the distance. The first was a pack of dogs that set off barking as I approached a set of buildings at about the three mile mark. They must have been restrained in enclosures as they never came out to confront me, but obviously could see me in the dark. I half expected a light to go on and someone come out to check on things, but this didn't happen - they're apparently on their own at night. I couldn't figure out what someone would do with 4-5 dogs out here in the middle of nowhere. Ranch dogs? Dog fights? Who knows. But for more than a quarter mile while I walked past on the road I had to listen to them go at it, knowing they'd like to rip my throat out if given a chance.

The second occurred at 10:30p when a truck came out. I had more than five minutes' warning as the headlights were visible from far off, plus they had to go through a locked gate which took more time. I had plenty of time to move off the road and up a small hill to the south where I would be invisible to them but could still keep an eye out. Seemed awfully late for a landowner to be exiting the property.

After I had been hiking about two hours, reaching roughly the halfway point, it occurred to me that it might be easier to reach the peaks from the west side of the range. I hadn't considered this earlier because I thought I'd be able to drive another five miles or so down Billy Wright Rd. I got out my GPS and made some rough calculations starting from Lone Tree Rd. The numbers came in at about 7 miles, one way. Later, a more accurate number was 9 miles, still much better than a 13 mile approach. And I really didn't feel like getting back home around 7a. It might have been better if there was a full moon that would stay out most of the night. So I called it a night and turned around. I did manage to get close enough to make out the silhouette of the north summit off in the distance, though barely. On the way back I tried to avoid setting the dogs off again by going up and over a hill on the south side, but they still managed to detect me and start up again. It was well after midnight before I got back to the car and 2a before I was back in San Jose. I'll chalk this one up as an exploratory effort. At least I learned that the Billy Wright approach is not an easy one.

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For more information see these SummitPost pages: Twin Peaks North

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