Dan's Outside

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

Tom Mangan on Mission Peak

Tom Mangan posted a link to his Mercury-News article on hiking at Mission Peak, one of my favorite destinations. (Though, now that I think about it, I haven’t been up there for several months. Soon, soon…)

One of my favorite parts of the description: “A few hours at Mission Peak Regional Preserve might make you wonder if the United Nations has a West Coast hiking club.” How true! One of the wonderful things about this peak/park is that everyone from everywhere hikes there; this gives me hope that more and more segments of the California population can and will (and do!) enjoy our natural heritage.

A paragraph is loaded with points of connection for me:

Keep your distance from grazing cattle. Dress for working up a sweat, and have a jacket to block the powerful winds at the top. Wear sunscreen; there’s no shade. Park legally – the citations are expensive. If you park on the street off Stanford Avenue, never leave valuables in your car; break-ins are common.

Yes, the cattle… Normally I hike past cattle with barely a thought, but on a couple of occasions I’ve felt threatened by these beasts on some of the less-travelled trails in this park.

Regarding temperature and wind… This time of year, if you hike up on a sunny afternoon you may actually be able to convince yourself that it is summer – it gets that warm on some of the sunny slopes. On the other hand, I’ve experienced gloriously awful conditions on the peak as well: snow, winds blowing so hard I could barely remain standing, thick fog, rain.

And, yes, park legally… In particular do not park in the small parking area just outside the entrance gate on Stanford avenue. It is a spot along a fence that appears to be a perfectly serviceable parking area, and it is obvious that cars park there all the time. In addition, a confusing sign on a nearby fence suggests to reasonable people that there is no parking restriction here. Given the number of well-intentioned park visitors – yes, including me once – who park here, it should be obvious to the city of Fremont that better signage (or some way of blocking this area) would be in order. Perhaps Fremont would rather have the easy income? In any case, if the lot at the trailhead is full, go back down to the bottom of the last hill and turn right to find legal parking.

One final thought: Tom correctly points out that the main trail to the summit is not a place to find solitude. (I’ve even encountered surprising numbers of hikers an hour or more before dawn!) However, there are some ways to escape the hordes if you are willing to try different routes. As an alternative to the main “road” trail there is a footpath route via the Horse Heaven trail that is very nice, though it can be quite muddy during the wet season. Also, from near the summit you can follow a trail south along the ridge toward Monument Peak; you’ll typically encounter very few other hikers up here.

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December 21, 2007 - Posted by | Commentary

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