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Hiking Stats as of 11/21/2018
Total Trips:
Total Distance:
Total Elevation Gain:
 325
 3,891.68 miles
 1,060,050 feet

Mar 30, 2014 - Rocky Ridge / Ramage Peak

 

Partners: Jerry Kohn

Distance: 8.79 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,696 feet

Trip Time: 4:20

Maps and Stats:
While winter never really arrived in California, the onset of spring has brought some much needed rain, finally turning the hillsides green and dropping snow into the Sierra. I'm not sure my Sierra season every really stopped this year, but with the unsettled weather calling for rain on Saturday I was not really sure I was going to do anything this weekend. Not having any plans, opportunity arose when my hiking buddy Jerry, who was with me when we were kicked off the private land around Discovery Peak two weeks ago, asked if I was up for a hike. I was only up for something minor, and when he mentioned an interest in visiting some peaks east of San Ramon (not even on the CC list) I was up for the adventure.

We agreed to meet at the Bollinger Canyon Staging area in Las Trampas Park at 10 AM. I had requested the late time in order to allow me to walk my two dogs their typical full weekend allotment of 6 miles in the morning, a nice way to start the day for the three of us. I had mapped out the days route, although as it turned out, there was very little difficulty in route finding on the day. We started up the popular trail to Rocky Ridge right around 10 and were a bit surprised with how popular it is and also with how short the trip is to the top. We crested on the ridge about a thousand feet up after only a half hour. This was looking all too easy indeed. The views from the ridge top showed why this is such a popular trail, and the green hillsides added to the scenic atmosphere.

Rocky Ridge has three points vying for the title of being the highest. To access these areas required crossing over into EBMUD lands, rating perhaps a 1.1 on a 1-10 scale of trespassing danger. Once on the other side of the fence, we made our way up to the first summit, marked by a tower. Once on top of this summit we could tell that we were not on the highpoint, although this was the summit as marked on the the TOPO maps. The views were outstanding, particularly over to San Francisco. From the summit we could see the second competing highpoint about a quarter mile further to the north, marked with a lone tree on top. It was a quick 10 minute stroll over to this summit, where this old tree created its own little summit environment. Having bagged these first two summits, we set our sights on the third summit, which was nearly a half mile back around to the south. Rather than circle back towards the first summit tower, which would have added to the mileage, we took the direct route across the ridge. We could see that there was a bit of a steep drop between our current position and third summit, but weren't too worried as we figured we could manage it. This plan worked fairly well, although we had to take a faint use trail down, and ultimately wound up taking a steeper descent than had realized. It was fun though, and once at the bottom of the descent we came across a drainage which served as our escape route back up towards the next summit. Once we emerged, we could see the summit above, and it was a an easy trek to the rocky high point.

This third summit presented one difficulty that we knew was coming but had hoped would be less of an obstacle than advertised. The summit block is about 9 feet of class 5 rock - beyond either of our abilities to safely navigate. Making matters worse was a gap in the base of the rock which would have made any fall potentially injury-causing. Absent this gap I think we both would have felt better about at least giving it a better effort. We spent maybe 25 minutes circling the rock looking for any way up but eventually concluded that we could not get up this third potential highpoint. Disappointed, we turned our sights towards Ramage Peak, about a mile and a half away. We easily located the Ramage Peak Trail, which doesn't actually lead all the way to Ramage Peak but gets you within a quarter mile or so. With all of the recent rains Jerry and I had commented about what great condition the trail was in - until now. This part of the trail between Rocky Ridge and Ramage was steep and in the flat areas the water seemed to accumulate. We tried to walk along the edges of the mud pits, and in truth there were only a few sections that were really troublesome. We descended down from 2000 feet to under 1200 feet, where the only real routefinding challenge occurred at the junction of a fire trail. We followed the fire trail which led to a gate .

On the other side of the gate there was a clearing where it was easy to see the final approach to Ramage. But spicing things up, off to the left of where we were is a nudist resort, and following our eviction from private land near Discovery Peak 2 weeks ago we were a bit nervous about this part of the hike, as we would be somewhat visible from this point up to the summit. As we started up the steep hillside of Ramage, we found that there were minor trails which started and stopped randomly, and with a mix of brush and poison oak, it was a bit of a struggle to get up. Near the top we encountered a barbed wire fence, which we first tried to go over before realizing there was a bit of a gap that we could use to go in between the bottom and middle strands. On the other side was a fire road leading up to near the top, and it was an easy walk up to the summit. For such a low elevation peak the views are quite nice. We sat and ate lunch on the summit, staying for perhaps 15 minutes, and then took summit shots of ourselves before starting back down through the brush.

The trail back up to Rocky Ridge is a bit of a challenge, having to climb back up 800 feet in maybe a mile or so. I kept up a fast pace, as I normally do on the uphill stuff, and Jerry waived me on to keep going and that he would catch up. We have similar paces on flat terrain, and he is faster on the downhill stuff so it all works out. Back on Rocky Ridge we made our way back to the popular trail (we so nobody in the time we were off of Rocky Ridge), and for the easy descent back to the cars. In total we covered a bit under 9 miles with 2,700 feet of gain/loss in about 4 1/2 hours.

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