www.MountainHiker.org

Hiking Stats as of 11/21/2018
Total Trips:
Total Distance:
Total Elevation Gain:
 325
 3,891.68 miles
 1,060,050 feet
With the rains finally coming to California my options were quite limited for a weekend hike. Going the Sierra was out of the question, and even local hiking carried the threat of misery if a downpour were to catch me. Saturday was forecast to be the rainier of the two weekend days, and after getting barely any rain that day, I decided Sunday was looking good, but to be safe I decided to go after some easy summits that would help me along in my peak lists. Today's primary target would be Black Mountain, significant in that it is listed in the "Everest by the Bay" list (in addition to the CC list). I had completed all 8 of the other Everest by the Bay peaks, so Black Mountain would give me full completion of the list. Because the hike to the summit and back was only about 9.5 miles and 2,600 feet of gain, I studied the CC Peak list and realized there were 2 extraordinarily easy peaks within short driving distance of Black Mountain that I could go tag after I was done on Black Mountain. Those other two peaks were Borel Hill and Windy Hill.

I took the dogs on a 6 mile walk in the morning, and left for Black Mountain around 11 AM. I drove through San Jose and up through Sunnyvale and Los Altos Hills arrive at the trailhead by 12:30. There was only room for one more car at the TH, and as I would see throughout the hike this trail is very popular with the trail runner crowd. The weather was holding up well, and I started up the trail, gaining maybe 600 feet over the first mile. This was about as steep as it would get all day, and after that first mile the trail crested and wound through nice forests with pleasant views of the Santa Cruz mountains all around. From these lower slopes the views toward the Bay were somewhat obscured by the cloudy and misty conditions, so I decided to try to wait to get some pictures of that scenery until descent. The trail was really quite gentle, with the switchbacks being overly tame.

By 2 PM I could see the towers just off the summit, and at the higher elevation the mist turned into a steady rain. I could see that San Jose and the lower elevations were enjoying partly cloudy skies, but the top few hundred feet of Black Mountain was experiencing something different. I made my way to a gate just shy of the towers, which I was happy to see did not signify private property. I bypassed the towers and a couple minutes later could see the summit ahead. I reached the top a little before 2:30 in a steady downpour with obscured most of the summit views. The summit itself is quite flat, and as such probably wouldn't offer the greatest views anyway. I took a self shot in the downpour, and then started back down.

On descent the rain lessened and was gone within 15 minutes, and would result in some fantastic scenes in and around the mountains. A stunning rainbow appeared over the Bay, which would stay in place for the rest of my time on Black Mountain as well as Borel Hill and Windy Hill. I finally had some better views of the Bay Area on descent, including San Jose, the Bay, and Stanford University. I was back at the car by 4 PM, and began 20 minute drive over to Borel Hill which is located off Skyline Boulevard. This part of the Bay Area is mountainous and scenic, and is home to some of the richest real estate in the country. The parking lot off Skyline which I used for the trailhead to Borel Hill had amazing views, basically no worse that what could be had by hiking up Borel Hill.

I would have never heard of Borel Hill nor even considered it for a hike if not for the CC Peak list. But since I was in the area I though I might as well knock them off the list. I certainly would never drive all this way for such a minor highpoint. I was at the TH at 4:26 and could pretty much see the summit basically up a wimpy little hill. The best part of the hike was the ever present rainbow which remained spectacular to left. At 4:36 I was on the final approach, and less than 1 minute later (it was still 4:36) I was on the summit, enjoying what was now a double rainbow. This summit was even easier to reach than the dubious Carpenter Hill (the highpoint of Sacramento County). I felt silly counting this as a summit, but somehow it is on the CC list. I found the benchmark, took a couple of summit shots and then made my way back to the car at 4:47.

I then drove 10 minutes north on Skyline to the TH for Windy Hill, an only slightly less dubious summit than Borel. Again, I was happy to see I would continue to have my rainbow views on this quick walk. The trail was so tame that I could see that the hiker in front of me was a mother carrying her child. I wanted to cover my face as I went by, a little ashamed of my low peak bagging aspirations. Like Borel Hill, I left my pack in the car, and I made quick work up the hill, enjoying the admittedly great views to Oakland, Stanford and to San Francisco along the way. I arrived at the summit at 5:07 after a 10 minute "hike" and again felt no sense of accomplishment at getting another CC Peak. I took a few more summit shots and the embarrassing view down to the trailhead before starting down. I was back at the car at 5:20, and started on the 1.5 hour drive home, heading down from Skyline through Woodside and San Mateo and over the San Mateo Bridge back towards Tracy.

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