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430. Mt. El Sombroso and Bald Mtn (01/22/05)

Hikers (11): Bobbie, Carissa, David, George, Oliver, Ross, Rudi, Russ, Sabine, Sparky, Steve
Distance: 14 miles
Rating: 3 difficulty, 8 beauty
Park info: Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve near Almaden

Write-up by Steve

This hike was nearly identical to our last visit, except with different people and no rain or hail.

1-2-3 INCH!

Everyone showed up at the correct parking lot this time, and we set off nearly on time. The trail proceeded gently upward, with a little kick toward the end at El Sombroso. I had brought my GPS to make sure we didn't miss the top. . .but I left the GPS in the car along with my water and food. Finding the peak a second time was no problem, and Ross was already there by the time I showed up. I stayed on the side of the trail for a while to wave in Oliver and George, and after that, everyone showed up in a group.

After I pathetically mooched lunch off of everyone, we set off back down the hill. The hard part of the hike is actually Barlow Road, which connects Woods Trail to Umunhum Road. The trail goes steeply up, then down, and then steeply up again, before coming back down. We waited at the apex of the trail for everyone to re-join. Ross and George took a side road near the top to see if they could find a path to Mt. Umunhum (didn't work), but even after that adventure, we had to wait a bit for Rudi and Bobbie to show up--it's a tough little climb.

Once re-grouped, we immediately set off on the downhill (no rest for Bobbie) to Mt. Umunhum Road and Bald Mtn. We saw two obvious use trails that probably head up to the painfully close Mt. Umunhum (Sparky told us that those routes are notorious for poison oak). I had talked to someone at the Midpennisula Open Space District earlier, who told me that the famous gun-toting "guard" for the peak was actually a land owner (not employed by the district). This made us all think that, by bypassing the main road (and private property), it would probably be pretty "easy" to reach the peak (easy, not legal). But, of course, we would never do that. . .just crazy talk!

Bald Mountain, as always, gave nice views of the surrounding valley, and from there, it was a mile or two down a paved road back to the cars. Another fine hike in the record books.

Back in the parking lot, I was responsible for the humane deaths of several of Carissa's gummy bears. This was in stark contrast to the cruel and unusual demise offered by Carissa, who systematically beheaded and dismembered the colorful wretches. Hmmm, it has been a while since we've seen Chester on a hike. . .

Milestones:
Oliver's 30th leaf



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