Dan's Outside

I go, I see, I do, I walk, I think, I like…

The Cows of San Francisco

MissionCows2006|01|29: Cattle. Mission Peak. January 29, 2006. © Copyright Dan Mitchell.
Cattle. Mission Peak. January 29, 2006. © Copyright Dan Mitchell.

Today’s hike took me up a very muddy trail, largely through range land – and past this small herd of cattle on a hillside overlooking San Francisco Bay.

A little more about this hike…

Last week when I climbed the main trail to the summit of Mission Peak, I noticed a few people going up the trail that branches to the right very close to the beginning of the climb. I was reminded that I had descended this alternate route several times in the past, and I thought it might be fun to try going up the mountain that way some time.

I started up the main trail this morning at about 7:15 with the plan of following the main trail to the top again, but when I reached the junction described above I just decided to take it instead. In drops to the right, crosses a creek to travel towards a corral, and loops to the left as it starts to ascend.

It didn’t appear than many people had hiked it since the last rain. For the most part I saw tracks of cattle and horses and possibly some deer. The soil in these hilly grasslands turns into a slippery, sucking paste when it is wet, and this trail had plenty of that today. In most sections I could avoid the worst of it by walking on the edges of the trail. In a few cases, such as a narrow section after some switchbacks, I had to actually leave the trail.

After passing through a very narrow, muddy section at the top of a set of three or four switchbacks, I turned left onto a less-used trail that seemed like it would take a more direct route toward the summit. Of course, this meant that the climb was steep and continuous. It was in this section that I passed the cattle in the photo above.

This trail finally joins the main Horse Heaven trail shortly before crossing a high point just below Mission Peak and then descending to a small creek. Right about here, what had been a clearing day suddenly turned into a very foggy day as clouds whipped up the side of the peak from the west. As I finally arrived at the ridge and passed through a cattle gate, there was sun to the east and above, but otherwise a lot of clouds all around.

I took a few pictures here before ascending the ridge to the peak. I sat down on the southeast summit (which I swear is a few feet higher than the northwest summit where everyone else stops) and had a snack. Clouds quickly enveloped the peak and soon I couldn’t see the 50 feet to the other summit. I descended on the main route in thick fog which didn’t clear until a good distance back down the mountain.


January 29, 2006 - Posted by | Mission Peak

1 Comment

  1. Great picture. I would not have thought of taking a picture of cows on a hike, but this perspective and composition is interesting. This is my first visit to your blog, but I’ve added it to my links of outdoors related blogs, so I’ll likely be back again.

    Comment by mike in Arkansas | January 30, 2006

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