Dan's Outside

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

High Winds and Aggressive Cattle

Yup, that was my morning on Mission Peak.

I ascended via the Horse Heaven trail again this morning, starting a bit earlier this time. It was extremely – and surprisingly – windy right at the parking lot, and it just got windier as the morning went on. But first, the cows…

The route I followed cuts off to the right just after the start of the trail and then ascends steadily through range-land on a dirt road. Eventually the trail goes straight ahead and becomes a regular footpath as the road winds off to the left. After ascending a short section of switchbacks and cutting up through a little ravine, the trail momentarily levels off. There is a fork here; last week I went left and straight up the hill so this time I thought I’d try the straight ahead route. I passed a big cow and a moment later she started bellowing. I didn’t think much of it at first but when I looked up I realized that the trail was heading through a bunch of calves, and she didn’t seem to like this. I looked back and she was heading my way so I headed off the trail to go around the baby beasts – but she kept coming. At this point I decided that perhaps that other, steeper trail was looking a bit more inviting so I backtracked and took that fork.

Fifty feet up this trail another big cow started heading my way and didn’t back off until I yelled “hey!” at her. Strange. Perhaps the high winds had them on edge.

I ascended the first part of this steep trail and picked up some very strong winds, especially going across a low saddle before a descent to a creek crossing. Above the creek the trail again ascended steeply, eventually on a completely exposed spine of hillside. The wind was blowing me off balance and once or twice I stopped to wait for it to diminish. After joining the main (?) trail I crossed another windy saddle before descending to the Moore Grove trail junction and a sheltered area.

From here it was only a short distance to the ridge on a trail that was largely protected from the wind. But the sheltered area ended after I passed through the cattle gate and climbed to the open saddle below Mission Peak. The wind was screaming through here – enough to stop me in my tracks at a couple points. At first I thought of descending into the valley on the other side to escape the wind but not knowing where that trails ends up I finally decided to try the ridge. Where the trail was to the left of the ridge the wind was relatively calm, but where it followed the ridge top or crossed to the east side I was hit by a gale. Needless to say, I did not stay long on the summit – just long enough to notice that there were very few people up there today to enjoy a view that extended all the way to the snow-covered Sierra crest.
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February 5, 2006 - Posted by | Trips

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