Rose Peak killer hike


Saturday, 17 May 2014

Washing my car is one of my least favorite ways to spend time, but I’m willing to do it, once every year or thereabouts. This time, I was urged onward because of a big ugly splotch that I thought indicated a visit from a very large and very ill-mannered bird. But it was sticky. Even the car-wash goop on a wet sponge did nothing more than smear the stickiness. Spray stain remover from the laundry room worked, also on specks of tar on the rocker panels. I suppose the paint will now come off, but it sure looks nice for a few days.

I have been increasingly unhappy with my GPS receiver, which is a few years old. So I blew a large pile of money on a Garmin 650t. Big hunking thing, but the screen is at least large enough to see. It even has a camera, geotagging of course, which leads me to the thought that Garmin should get together with either Google or Samsung, or maybe both, and make a ruggedized GPS receiver smart phone. (If it happens, you saw it here first.)

Sunday, 18 May

I wanted to try out the new GPS receiver, of course, and haven’t been to Rose Peak yet this year. A cool, overcast morning, breezy and actually chilly.


This is just about as late in the season as I’d want to do this hike. Much of the trail is overgrown with grass, some of it chest-high, and the seed is fading to brown and starting to fall off. Another week or two and you’ll need gaiters to keep this stuff out of your boots.

And it turns out that today is also the running of the Ohlone Wilderness run, 50k and almost 8000 feet of gain. They started at 8 from Mission Peak in Fremont, and are going to Del Valle near Livermore. I started at 8:10 or 8:15 from Sunol. There is no chance I will make it to Rose Peak before they catch me, but it would be good if I could get past the single-track trail onto the fire roads that form the more distant part of the route.

And so it was. The first of the runners passed me only a few hundred feet from the widening of the trail. Near Goat Rock, I passed an aid station. They offered me calories and electrolyte, but I wasn’t really in the market. I told them I’d take them up on their offer if they were still there when I returned. They estimated that they would be packing it in by 1:30; it was 10:30 and easily an hour and a half to the top. Marginal. Well, it would be nice, but I hardly need an assist.

They tell me that registration is limited to 250, and they got 170 or so today. Some of them are training for the Western States 100, a hundred-mile race in the Sierra Nevada. One woman of not inconsiderable age told me this was her 112th ultra-marathon. These people are just amazing.

Not a whole lot further along, the two runners ahead of me veered to go around a rattlesnake. I had my camera out and ready by the time I came up. I warned a runner coming up behind me to keep to the other side of the trail.


The snake was completely unconcerned, which is just fine with me. I don’t want to be around an excited rattlesnake. It made a slow slither across the road and into a hole, the beginning of which is visible at the right side of the picture below.


The first rattler of the season. I’m not even sure I saw any last season. They’re not all that common.



The higher country is still mostly green, and very pretty.


And there is a micro-climate right at Rose Peak itself with these double-headed prickly flowers and their pink neighbors. Didn’t see either of them anywhere else.


Got to the top right at noon. Runners crossing over, picking up a wrist band from a volunteer stationed there, as a token of achievement. From now on, I’m facing into the traffic, and I imagine that, by the time I reach the single-track trail, the lanterns rouges will have passed, and I’ll have it to myself.


And so it was, again. I got to the aid station about 1:15, just as they were packing up, but they gave me water and calories. Thank you, friends!


Really pretty country, especially when there’s still some green to be seen.



These little wildflowers were also localized to a small area. No idea what factors create a habitat that they like, but something clearly does.


I didn’t see it until I got this photo (above) onto the big screen, but notice that spider lurking hopefully for some innocent insect to come along!


And here’s the high view of the dam construction. The old dam was seismically deficient, and was drained completely — the pond is just the low area below the foot of the old dam. I’m told that the new dam is now estimated for 2019 completion, and opening hours will remain at 8 until then.

19.16 miles, 5002 vertical feet. Even on a cool day, it counts as a killer hike.

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One Response to “Rose Peak killer hike”

  1. In the Stillness of Willow Hill Says:

    Lovely photo journal. I head to the hills of California quite often, either with hiking boots or horses. Love those oaks!


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