[Adam is a twit because this SSI is broken] Monument Peak and Mt. Alison from Ed Levin County Park [Adam is a twit because this SSI is broken]

Monument Peak and Mt. Alison from Ed Levin County Park
(Sunday, June 30 in Milpitas, CA)

See also my photo album from this hike.

Start area at Sandy Wool Lake I arrived at Ed Levin County Park in Milpitas a bit before 10:30. I was briefly worried that I didn't have exact change for the automatic parking permit machine at the park, but they took credit cards (only in Silicon Valley!). This was going to be another solo hike, everyone else being out of town, so I got myself together, and hit the trail at 10:30. This was my second hike with my new REI superlite trekking poles and my 100oz (3 liter) CamelBak bladder. The forecast (hottest day of the summer so far) made me glad that I'd dumped a couple of trays of ice into it!

First view of Monument Peak The Agua Caliente trail immediately went steeply up the hillside. A nice elderly woman asked me about my poles - she was about to embark on a several-month-long hiking journey in China - cool! After more steep'ish climbing, I ran into a couple other hikers, but they went to check out the parasailer who was preparing to take off nearby. The trail continued non-gradually upwards after I turned onto the Monument Peak Trail. I'd heard this was a pretty steep hike, and I had heard correctly! I got my first view of the summit. It didn't look all _that_ far away, but the trail wasn't even close to being a direct route up.

A group of 10 or so hikers who had started a bit after me were catching up, so Scott Creek I stopped for a few at the Scott Creek (I think) crossing to let them get ahead of me. This was one of the few shaded areas of the hike, and it was very pleasant out of the sun. The creek burbled merrily, if not forcefully. After I was sure the group was a ways ahead of me (and enjoying the opportunity to let my heart rate settle down - did I mention this is pretty steep?), I continued on my way. There were thistles all over the place, so I took a few pictures of them. After some more climbing, I finally saw the first sign that I was getting close to the summit - a large group of satellite antennae. One of many thistles

The big tower on Monument Peak It still took a good while to finish the climb up to the top of Monument Peak. The trail didn't let up too much the whole way up, though I'd later learn that I'd taken the easy way up! The large'ish group of hikers who had passed me earlier was sitting in the shadow of the tower, so I went onwards to another tower and enjoyed the views. It wasn't quite as panoramic as the Mission Peak view, but was still very nice. To the north was my next target, Mount Alison, and beyond it, Mission Peak. I didn't linger too long, and soon caught the Bay Area Ridge Trail north towards Mt. Alison. A mountain biker passed me as I crossed the saddle between Monument and Alison. He would be the last person I would see for quite a while. Unfortunately, it looked like one cannot legally climb Mt. Alison, as its surrounded by fences and signs forbidding trespass. Ah well. Me just north of Mt. Alison I continued hiking a bit farther northwards until I came to a sparse rock outcropping and decided that was a fine turnaround & snack point.

I ate a Clif Bar and a Power Gel, noticing that I was pretty far behind on my calorie intake. I hung around a few, trying to get some artsy pictures (they all sucked ;), and being tempted to continue north to Mission Peak. I finally decided that it would be just too far for the time being (its almost 15mi round trip from Ed Levin to Mission Peak and back), so I headed back the way I came on the Bay Area Ridge Trail. It seemed to take much longer to get back to Monument Peak than the other way, probably because I was starting to fatigue a bit. It was also getting pretty warm, somewhere in the mid-90s, I'd guess. I was glad to have 3 liters of water with me, since there is none to be had anywhere on the trail! Mt. Diablo I had a decent view of Mount Diablo behind me, and Mount Hamilton ahead of me as I re-crossed the saddle. After what seemed like entirely too long, I was back at Monument Peak. Since I like to avoid out and back trips whenever possible, I decided to take the Bay Area Ridge Trail back to the park (also known as Agua Caliente - I hadn't realized it went all the way to the top of Monument Peak).

Trail & Hills The trail descended VERY rapidly - this was clearly the more difficult route (and better-suited to climbing than descending - even with my trekking poles, it was pretty punishing on the joints!). This was also a more scenic trial than Monument Peak Trail, following a canyon down the mountain. For some reason, there were a ton of seagulls milling around for much of the descent. By now, I was ready for the hike to be done with, as I was hot and tired. Unfortunately for me, there were still a couple/few miles to go. I figured that as long as I had water, it was all good when I went to take a sip and discovered that I'd polished off all of my water - ack! Oh well, it was only a couple miles to go and I figured I'd be fine, having conusmed so much water already.

Cows on the trail The trail came out on a gravel road with no hints whatsoever as to which way one should go. I started to head down the gravel road, but then remembered all of the signs I'd seen earlier admonishing hikers to stay off of the roads and on the trails, so I backtracked a little bit and eventually regained the Monument Peak/Agua Caliente junction. A little ways down the path, I was blocked by some cows standing smack in the middle of the trail! After making sure I wasn't going to get between a mother and her little ones, I slowly approached and they moved out of my way. Pheew! I was getting thirsty by now, but I could see Sandy Wool Lake not too far below. I passed two other intrepid (or foolish) souls hiking the other way, and finally arrived back at my car and soaked my head in the bathroom sink.

This was a harder hike than I'd been anticipating. By and large it was quite steep, and almost totally exposed. One of these days it'd be fun to hike from Ed Levin to Mission Peak and back, but only on a cooler day when 3 liters of water would actually be enough. It was a little bit scary running out of water, especially since there were so few folks around, but no harm done. My car thermometer read 93° at the park, and it was definitely hotter in the more sheltered portions of the trail - no wonder I drank so much...

Hike Stats:
Distance: ~11mi
Total Time: 5h 47m
Total Climbing: 2500+ ft
Difficulty: 7
Scenery: 6
Trail condition/markings/etc: 4
Overall rating: 5

Last modified 08 February, 2011 MST
Copyright © 2009 Adam R. Paul