Abandoning a snowshoeing trip to the Sierra because it was really cold, I decided to instead head to the Ventanta Wilderness area down Monterey County way and climb "Pimkolam" (the native's name for it, which I tend to favor), aka "Junipero Serra Peak."
Some random notes:
- The road to the trailhead is great! Nicely paved, not too many twists and turns. No traffic. It took me 2:40 driving time to get there, a few minutes more on the return.
- The trail is in danger of being overgrown with brush on the explosed slopes and in the manzanita forest, in places. The Ventana Wilderness Alliance clears it now and again, thank goodness. Not much poison oak (the trail is wider where that grows).
- Little or no water along the way. I carried 3 liters for me and Raleigh and there was one stream crossing where Raleigh drank.
- The trail is a pretty nice steady grade, all in all. Unrelenting, though. It reminded me a bit of the climb up Mt. St. Helena in terms of distance and climb. The terrain was very similar to Wildrose Peak (in Death Valley), although not quite as steep a climb as that one.
- It took me 4 hours to go up, 2 hours down. I kind of bonked the last half mile on the way up. I needed something to eat, but I didn't want to stop before reaching the summit.
- Saw one guy (military, he was studying Korean at the language school in Monterey) at the top. Two guys heading up while I was on my way down. Once was carrying a full pack but said he was just training. The other guy was carrying nothing. I told them it was still 1000' to the top (this was at 2:45) and I had doubts they could make the top and return before dark. But off they went.
- A couple other cars in the lot (I saw two people on the sandstone cliffs near the trailhead).
- The ocean was a bit hard to discern. There seemed to be a cloud bank over it. It did reflect the sunlight pretty brightly, but that might have been off the top of the fog, too.
- The Sierra (I think) was barely visible in one gap towards the east. I had to use my monocular to see it, and it might have been a band of clouds. I'll have to go back on a clearer day (although it wasn't too bad). I need to visit other areas so I know what I'm looking at.
- I took my real camera but the battery (freshly charged, I thought) was dead. So all the pictures are from my phone. Not too bad; I'm pretty happy with it as a backup camera.
I felt great; I had some concerns about such a major effort but I made great time until the lunch came due. And I about ran back to the car.
I'm going to have to get back here to climb some other peaks. Looking at the topo, I see Ventana Double Cone, Cone Peak, Anderson Pk, Pinyon Peak, ...
Hike: 12 mi, 3900' elevation gain(!)
2007 totals: 31 mi, 7100' elevation gain