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58. Vista Point (03/21/98)

Hikers (6): Cap'n Dave, Eugene, Jinglan, Peter, Steve, Taylor
Distance: 8 miles
Rating: 3 difficulty, 8 beauty
Park info: Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve in Cupertino

Write-up by Peter

This one became an INCH hike by accident. Three of the four founders were supposed to be out of town this weekend, so Esteban was just going to hook up with a Mensa group at Rancho San Antonio for a quick hike. But fate is a fickle dame, and two days before the hike I came down with a stomach and throat virus and had to postpone my trip.

I was too sick to travel, but not to sick to hike!

Our little group assembled at Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve at noon. Since it was going to be a short, easy hike, we had decided to start later than usual. Cap'n Dave had brought along a newbie, Jinglan, for her first hike. She has the distinction of being the 50th hiker in the history of INCH.

We waited around a while for Esteban's Mensa buddies to show up. Sure enough, they gradually filtered in, looking lost and confused. This is supposed to the high-IQ club? Esty had hooked up with them in the hopes of finding a supermodel with a genius IQ, but he found out that much like the dodo bird, this species is only the stuff of fairy tales.

I have to say they did seem like a decent bunch people and one of them even came over and joined in our cheer:

1, 2, 3, ... INCH!

The first mile was a cakewalk, as evidenced by the hundreds of joggers and families out for a day in the park. But as we got further from the entrance, the crowds started to thin out. As we passed the Deer Hollow Farm, it began to drizzle -- the park started to empty in a hurry. All right! Bring on the rain!

A half-mile past the farm, we split off from the main trail and began working our way up the switchbacks to the top of the Wildcat Ridge. Finally, some elevation gain! By the time we reached the top about 20 minutes later, it had stopped raining and we could look back and enjoy a great view of Silicon Valley. This place actually looks nice when you're not sitting in traffic!

From the top of the ridge, we could see the power lines leading along the PG&E Trail on the next ridge and up to the Vista Point, our lunchtime destination. Inspired at the thought of food, we continued on. The march up to the top was uneventful, except for a quick Full Moon initiation for Jinglan. This one also caught Cap'n Dave off-guard, teaching him a valuable lesson: You have to be alert at all times on an INCH hike!

Up at the top, we parked our butts on a nice, wet bench under a power pylon. I thought this was going to be a pansy hike, but it was actually a decent climb, and the bench did come in handy (except for Wholesome Dave, who hadn't even broken a sweat). Just about the time we finished lunch, Esteban showed up. His Mensa group had given up on the hike after 15 minutes because of the rain, so he had hiked up the PG&E Trail alone. That'll teach you to desert the INCH!

Time to head back down ... five of us headed down the PG&E Trail, and Esteban took the Wildcat Trail. True to its name, he actually did see a bobcat on trail! We had only seen some deer on the way up. We also did see some huge blue jays on the way down. These birds were about the size of parrots! It's strange (and wonderful) that wildlife exists so close to the Valley.

I am certainly glad that I chose to spend the day hiking at Rancho San Antonio instead of breathing exhaust fumes on the freeways in LA!

Jinglan's 1st leaf

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