Sat, May 27, 2023
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I'd spent the night camped in the Jeep on the west side of the city of Napa, along Linda Vista Ave. This through street has ample parking without setting up shop in front of someone's house, and I thought I might be left alone for the night. Around 11p I heard a loud thud on the side of the Jeep and immediately got up to investigate. As I suspected, someone had tossed an egg from a speeding vehicle, hitting the driver's window. I went outside with a jug of water and a rag to wash it off, then drove off to find a quieter street. The joys of urban camping...
So far, I'd spent about an hour and a quarter, but now the real fun would begin in making my way to Peak 1,133ft. Cross-country in Napa and Sonoma Counties is often a real adventure, and this one did not disappoint. It had a little bit of everything that one has come to expect - a mix of brush and grass slopes, steep terrain, old forgotten roads and fences, and a healthy preponderance of poison oak. The initial descent to a gully went fairly well as others had found, a mix of open grass slopes, some lichen-covered rock scrambling, a bit of weaving through the brush higher on the slope. I went across the tiny creek at the bottom, and then started up the slope on the other side that would prove the most challenging section. Here the brush gets thicker, the poison oak more pronounced. A partially-open slope I had spied from the saddle never materialized as I zigzagged my way up the slope, reversing course numerous times, finding the cut downfall Andrew lamented, thrashing through much brush, and finally reaching the summit ridgeline, about 45min after leaving the flagpole. The summit ridge has an old road that is a godsend, because a continuing thrash for the additional half mile to the north would have sapped anything I had left. The road was quite old and overgrown in many places, with downfall and more poison oak, so no picnic. Still, it would only take an additional 20min to reach the highpoint. There are no views, no register that I could find, and really no place to sit for a rest with so much poison oak about. The hike on the ridge has some views to the west where vineyards dominate the slopes on the opposite side of the wooded canyon. A dirt road can be seen below, and would surely offer a better route to the summit if it could be accessed. I spent most of the next hour reversing the route back along the ridge, down and up the small canyon to reach the flagpole once more (I was glad I had stashed my poles here, as they would have been next to useless on the cross-country portion). It was then an easy jaunt back down the old road to the cemetery parking, using a few grassy shortcuts to bypass some of the switchbacks in the road. The 4.5mi outing came in at about 3.5hrs. Fun stuff.
On my way to Sonoma Valley, I stopped by the Artesa Winery for what I thought would be an easy ascent of Milliken Peak just to the north. I found close parking in the employee lot on the northwest end, but didn't get much further. The whole area is surrounded by a high, flimsy deer fence that I did not want to risk messing up in order to surmount it. I checked out a long section of the fencing, but could not find any breaks in the fence or other ways through it. I noted there had been several ascents on PB, so I'll have to contact one of them to see what they did to reach it.
I decided to head back down, this time taking Andrew's track, which was indeed less brushy than the route I'd taken from the climbing wall. I was hobbling badly down the slope, and similarly when I reached the trail. Others passing me must have wondered what I was doing out there, barely able to walk. I got back to the Jeep by 1:45p, the day now shot as well as the rest of the trip. I managed to take a shower in a corner of the nearby group campground, then headed off for home. Thankfully, it was only a two hour drive back to San Jose, so I didn't have to be uncomfortable driving for too long. It's been a few days since the fall and my leg is feeling better, but hardly enough to start hiking again. I'm afraid this 62yr-old body doesn't heel up quickly any more...
This page last updated: Tue May 30 15:15:48 2023
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