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318. North Mine Hill Loop (05/17/03)

Hikers (20): Barbara, Blinky, Bunny, David, Dori, Elaine, Ernie, Eugene, Glen, Gwynneth, Janice, Loc, Nancy, Padraig, Peter, Sergei, Stevie, Sue, Sue B, Taylor
Distance: 10 miles
Rating: 2 difficulty, 8 beauty
Park info: Almaden Quicksilver County Park in south San Jose

Write-up by Peter

Although we had hiked this park a few times before, this was technically a new hike. We started at the McAbee entrance at the northwest corner of the park, a place we had never started from before. Unlike the other entrances which have large parking lots, this one requires parking on the street in a residential neighborhood.

We felt bad for the local residents that have to put up with all these visitors in their streets every weekend. I guess that's the price they pay for living next to such a great park. At least they get to enjoy it all the time. In fact, it seemed that most of the people coming in and out of the entrance were locals.

Twenty people showed up for this one ... we are definitely getting more popular.

1, 2, 3, ... INCH!

After a short visit to the Senator Mines to take in some of the mining history of the park, we headed out on the Mine Hill Trail. The first part of the trail was a short but steep uphill that soon had us huffing and puffing. After a brief rest at the top, we continued on the trail.

People were starting to think this was going to be tougher than the advertized Level 2 difficulty, but the next couple of miles were mostly flat, so we made good time. Sue's son, Steve, was not up for a long hike so they had to turn back early, but they still get a leaf for making a good effort. The major highlight of this portion of the hike was coming across a nice fat king snake sunning himself at the start of the Randol Trail. He stayed there for a few minutes and let us take some pictures before deciding to head off into the brush.

We assembled at the foot of the Prospect Trail and made sure we had not lost anyone else. So far, so good. Onward! This portion was the steepest uphill of the day, but was also fairly short. The total length from start to finish was a little over half a mile. A couple of folks had to stop and rest in the middle, but most made it to the top without much trouble.

Less than a mile to the lunch location ..... I had chosen Providencia Pond as the lunch place, despite never having been there. I wasn't even sure if there would be any water there. It could just be a patch of dry mud for all I knew. I was having visions of an angry mob shouting for my head, but my fears were unfounded. As we turned down the Providencia Trail, I could see a nice pond at the bottom of the hill. This would be a great place for lunch. Whew!

After enjoying a leisurely lunch in the beautiful sunshine along the banks of the pond, it was time to head out. The original plan was for us to head back up to the Mine Hill Trail, but as we were leaving the pond, I saw a different trail going off to the side. It did not appear on the map, but seemed to be heading in the right direction, so I decided to take a chance.

The trail was somewhat overgrown, and the footing was uncertain in many places, but certainly passable. It looked like some type of vehicle had come through and cleared this a long time ago, but it had fallen into disrepair. We pressed on, but about half a mile in, things started to become more hairy. At this point, a solo hiker who we had seen back at the pond came walking towards us. I asked him where this trail lead, and he told me it was supposed to go to an old mine but was very overgrown, so he had turned back. Not wanting to incur the further wrath of the group, I decided to turn back as well. I placated everyone by telling them they'd get credit for an extra mile on the hike.

Back on the Mine Hill Trail, things went smoothly the rest of the way. We took the Guadalupe Trail fork and walked along the side of the reservoir for a couple of miles. Mount Um loomed across the water ... we definitely need to hike that one of these days. That inspired us to hike faster and finish up strong, in plenty of time for the ladies to get ready to go see Mamma Mia!

Loc's 1st leaf
Stevie's 1st leaf

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