Ascent to Berryessa Peak-38.6869, -122.2065 on 2019-06-15
|Other People:||Solo Ascent|
|Date:||Saturday, June 15, 2019|
|Ascent Type:||Unsuccessful - Turned Back|
| Motorized Transport to Trailhead:||4x4 Vehicle|
|Point Reached:||Berryessa Peak - 38.6869, -122.2065|
| Elevation:||1878 ft / 572 m|
| Remaining Elevation:||1179 ft / 359 m (35% left to go)|
Ascent Trip ReportI knew it was a bit late in the season to attempt this peak. I had hoped that a relatively mild forecast (highs in the low 80s) and an early start would let me bag this one quickly, avoiding the worst of the afternoon heat.
Unfortunately, the trail is in terrible condition after last year's County Fire. Most trail signs, wooden steps, and the neat stile at the fence crossing are all gone. I counted four downed trees across the trail, and several washouts. Much of the trail is obscured by tall grass, waist-high or higher in many places. Route-finding in the sea of grass is an issue in a few places. One is often simply walking on flattened grass, which obscures the ground underneath. Is the next step going to land squarely on the bench cut, slide down the slope, or perhaps stumble over a hidden rock? The grass is also full of thistles, which covered my legs with hundreds of tiny puncture wounds through my pants.
On the bright side, what appears to have been a serious bushwhack below the cliffy area on the SE end of the first ridge is now just a few blackened branches that are easily pushed aside. Also, I was surprised to not see a single tick.
After hours of slow going, with the temperature rising and little or no shade to be found, heat exhaustion finally got me in perhaps the worst possible place, just past the bottom of the canyon between the two ridges. Not only is this a particularly shadeless area, but it left me with a 400', 1 mile climb on rough trail to get back out of the hole, while feeling dizzy, weak, and nauseous. It took me 2.5 hours. Oh, this was also when I discovered I was down to my last liter of water, and had to bust out the iodine tablets to purify some scummy creek water. On top of all this, the cold I thought I had beaten a couple days ago decided to take advantage of my weakened state, and I started coughing and snorting out gunk. Needless to say, hiking out was miserable and even slower than the hike in.
All that said, there are some really beautiful views along this trail. I plan to come back in cooler weather, hopefully after a trail crew has had a chance to do some major work.
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