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225. Fremont Older's Drunken Hike (08/04/01)

Hikers (9): Alex, Changhong, Damon, Eugene, Gina Y, Jodie, Peter, Steve, Taylor
Distance: 8 miles
Rating: 3 difficulty, 10 beauty
Park info: Fremont Older Open Space Preserve in Cupertino

Write-up by Steve

While looking for bike-free parks to hike, I ran across the Pichetti Winery on the Midpeninsula Open Space District web page. It is a small park, but is adjacent to Stevens Creek County Park, which itself is adjacent to Fremont Older--great potential for a tri-park hike. Only snag appeared to be the lack of an official trail linking Stevens Creek to Pichetti, but it looked possible.

After sending out the note (and mentioning the potential for wine tasting), eight other people signed up. These guys were either intrepid or alcoholic--and it would be about four miles until the truth would be known.

1-2-3 INCH

The hike to Pichetti isn't too bad, but without a map, it is easy to miss the only trail in Fremont Older that links to Stevens Creek. Once that step is out of the way, there is a short hike up to the rim of the reservoir, and then all the way down to the creek itself. As we were heading down the steep Stevens Creek Trail, it was clear that we'd have a tough hike on the return route.

Providence led me to take an unmarked trail to the left, which leads to small picnic area. From there we crossed Stevens Canyon Road and then crossed the mighty Stevens Creek (via stones, logs, and hops). On the other side was the Zinfandel trail--the main route to Pichetti. Everything was working out perfectly. "Set up the bar, 'cause here we come!"

After 1.5 miles of ridge hiking (with a nice view of the reservoir), we made it to the winery. Pichetti Ranch is listed on the National Registry of Historical Places, and looks every bit like it belongs. The winery allows up to five sample tastings, which we enthusiastically partook. We continued the enthusiasm by buying a couple additional bottles to enjoy with lunch outside in their peacock-filled picnic area, a tradition which continues as I write this in the summer of 2003.

On the way back, we plucked some "wild" pears from an abandoned pear orchard near the winery (left over from the ranch days). The pears themselves weren't very sweet, but they hit the spot. Several homonymic jokes were made with reference to a co-worker named Per, which I blame on the wine.

The unique aspect of this hike was that the wine puts you in an "elevated" mood. This makes the steep section out of Stevens Creek seem much easier, and by the time you get to the top, you've sweated yourself to sobriety. From there, it was mostly downhill back to the parking lot, where the drivers inspected their cars for dents from the nearby golf course. Once that was done, we parted ways and headed for the nearest 7-11 for less potent (but every bit as delicious) frozen beverages.

Alex's 1st leaf

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