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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
With the early season rain and higher elevation snows continuing to restrict access to the high county, Kyle and I decided to pursue 3 more CC peaks in the Sonoma wine country, in nearly the same locations as we had been when we hit the Sonoma Mountains highpoint and Hood Mountain back on November 1. These would be #'s 53-55 on my CC Peak list count, on the way to 300.

Bennett Mountain

I drove up to Kyle's and we left his place at about 9:45 to head for the TH to Bennett Mountain where we arrived at about 10:50. We were happy to see this was a real trailhead - room for parking and a well defined trail to take. The trail goes through a series of trees, most of them covered in green moss and brightening up would would otherwise be groves of trees with no leaves. The trail continued to be well marked, and well graded, and was somewhat popular with the biking crowd, despite the recent rains. We wound up taking wrong turn at a trail junction, incorrectly assuming we should be going up at a point where the trail actually descended and wrapped around the hillside. Once I discovered the error we simply course corrected by going cross-country for a bit until hooking back up with the trail.

The trail gets quite close to some nearby residences, including one that we didn't even go by but had 2 dogs which barked furiously for a good 10 minutes. A half mile later we could still hear them. On these upper reaches the trail had quite a bit of standing and running water, and would not have been suitable for biking. We followed the trail all of the way to a fenceline marking the park boundary, although the fence had a massive gap in it where we simply walked through. There was little doubt that this approach is frequently used, as a well defined trail continued on up from the fence toward the summit. This part was quite steep and a bit unexpectedly so. We had had an easy time of it until the last quarter mile or so. It took about 1:45 to cover the five miles to the top where we saw two competing highpoints about a tenth of a mile apart. The furthest one held the benchmark and so we assumed was the proper summit. The views were nothing special due to the all of the vegetation which even covered up the rocks on top. Before heading down we decided to tag the competing highpoint, since it was basically on the way back down and required little effort. On top we saw what looked like a summit cairn, although no register was found. We did seen the remnants of a memorial that had been tacked to a tree a couple of years ago and reported in Bob Burd's trip report.

With that we needed to get down, since we still had 2 more peaks on the days agenda. By this time the fog began rolling in, especially at the higher elevations. I had noted a shortcut that Bob Burd took on his descent, and we elected to try a similar descent which wound up cutting off nearly a mile from the trip. It was a surprisingly easy cross country excursion, especially because of all of the debris which helped stabilize the ground and keep our pace in check. By 2:15 we were back at the car and ready for the second half of the day.

Red/Bald Mountains

It was a very short drive over to the Sugar Loaf Ridge State Park, where the attendant at the toll booth was very interested in talking about my car. Not the license plate, but the actual car itself, as she wanted to know how long I had owned it, how I liked it, and who made it. I told her that my car make is not at all uncommon, but she said it was the first one she had ever seen. Anyway, even an interesting car wasn't enough to avoid the $9 parking fee, which I paid before parking in the spacious lot at about 2:40. We followed a trail up the first 3/4 of a mile or so as the fog continued to intermittently cover the tops of the surrounding peaks. Maybe 15 minutes in we connected with a paved road which led us all the way up to the saddle between Red and Bald Mountains.

We elected to go to Bald first, since it was the highest and we preferred getting as much of the work over with as quickly as possible. The trek up Bald is straightforward, but unfortunately the fog caught up with us near the top, so when we arrived one hour into the hike we didn't get the views promised on the summit placards. There was a bench on the summit, but not much else. No summit register or benchmark was found. We quickly descended, and started up towards Red Mountain. We could see a summit tower most of the way, and not surprisingly there was a locked gate barring entrance to the facility. This was not a problem, since the actual highpoint seemed to be on a small knoll on the far side of the building. We didn't linger, as we wanted to get down before it got too dark. On descent we found ourselves back out of the fog , and arrived back at the TH by 4:45, making for a quick 2 hour trip up to visit these 2 peaks.

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