Ascent of Palo Escrito Peak on 2020-02-17
|Other People:||Solo Ascent|
Only Party on Mountain
|Date:||Monday, February 17, 2020|
|Ascent Type:||Successful Summit Attained|
|Peak:||Palo Escrito Peak|
| Elevation:||4467 ft / 1361 m|
Ascent Trip ReportI had been kind of kicking myself for years because I probably could have got unambiguously legal access to this peak. I had just happened to be scoping out the east side access the day after a long climb elsewhere in the Diablo Range when I met the son of one of the property owners. He was friendly, and even gave me advice about which roads weren't gated when I had asked if it were possible to drive up into Palo Escrito. I'm pretty sure that he would have let me walk across his property, but I was so tired that I wasn't thinking clearly.
So, for a few years, I've been scoping out access. Everyone, who has seem to have done so, has done it from the east side. But, every time I've passed through I've always got a ton of stuff in my car, and in my conversation with the guy, I learned that property crime is a chronic problem. This seems to be why the landowners are somewhat vigilant and uncooperative. So, I was disinclined to use the Sanchez Rd route that everyone else had used because I'd either have to park my car in a potentially vulnerable spot or park it in a place where it would be pretty obvious that I was trespassing.
So, prior to my latest drive through the area, I scoped out possible routes using Google Maps. I would have a bike with me, which would make more options available. The priorities were to not cross into posted private property and stay away from homes. With these constraints, I identified two candidate routes, one on the east and one on the west. The east side access would, in theory, stay comfortably far away from homes and hopefully not have any "no tresspassing" signs. But, to be fully confident that my car would be safe, I'd have to park it at the mission. So, it would be longer and have more elevation gain. The west side access would be rather direct utilizing the extensive ranch road system. The access gate was not posted in Google Street View, but the route would briefly get closer to a home than I would like. With these options in mind, I planned to scope out the west side the night before and ride up early in the morning if it looked good.
I reached Carmel Valley Road a little after dark and satisfyingly found the gate to still not be posted. Much of the private property along Carmel Valley Road has various signs saying no tresspassing or hunting, but the road I was interested in said nothing. So, I found a place to sleep on the side of the road and got up about 45 minutes before dawn to get started. Much to my surprise, on the Monday of a three day weekend there was almost continuous traffic going toward Carmel at 6:00 am. This gave me just barely enough time to grab my bike and hop over the gate without drawing suspicion.
Once on the ranch road, I discovered that it isn't used frequently. It's quite bumpy because the cows beat it up when it gets wet. I had a spied a faint jeep road in satellite photos that conveniently keep me away from the home, but in the dark I had trouble finding it. On my way down, I would discover that it doesn't really exist anymore. So, I followd the main road and was careful to veer off cross country when I thought I was starting to approach the home. For about 30 seconds my path was in view of the home, but otherwise there is enough relief and vegetation that my passing would be entirely innocuous. Through the area called Mascorini Place on the topo, the road was ok, but would be an absolute morass if it were muddy. It's only used by cattle for some years. However, this section is short and my route joined a major ranch road making the going easy.
There is an important junction at 2600'. I opted to take the right fork, since it's what I had scoped out via satellite. The left fork is the major artery and is probably easier. However, it did have recent tire tracks from trucks. My route also had tracks, but they were only ATVs from people out likely just having fun. The road climbs aggressively, crosses a few gates, and eventually reaches the ridge. The ridge isn't flat and I lost some elevation heading north toward the summit. Multiple roads are braid through the area, and I took a lesser traveled one that stayed on the crest. Within a few minutes, I reached the final gate and scamped up to the summit carin.
The descent was fun and thoroughly tested my brakes. I frustratingly spooked some cows at one point and kept chasing them down the road. After passing the house, I continued cross country and found the old road I missed in the morning. It led to a fence and abandoned gate after which point I had to ride cross country to get back to lesser road leading to my car. Thankfully, back at Carmel Valley Road my car was unharmed.
I will note that there is poison oak out there, and despite not doing any bushwhacking I managed to get into some. I guess my focus was elsewhere.
|Summary Total Data|
| Total Elevation Gain:||2953 ft / 899 m|
| Total Elevation Loss:||2953 ft / 899 m|
| Round-Trip Distance:||14.1 mi / 22.7 km|
| Route Conditions:||Road Hike|
| Gear Used:||Bicycle|
| Weather:||Pleasant, Calm, Clear|
| Gain on way in:||2641 ft / 804 m|
| Gain Breakdown:||Net: 2284 ft / 696 m; Extra: 357 ft / 108m|
| Loss on way in:||357 ft / 108 m|
| Distance:||7.3 mi / 11.7 km|
| Start Trailhead:||2183 ft / 665 m|
| Time:||1 Hours 5 Minutes|
| Loss on way out:||2596 ft / 791 m|
| Loss Breakdown:||Net: 2284 ft / 696 m; Extra: 312 ft / 95m|
| Gain on way out:||312 ft / 95 m|
| Distance:||6.9 mi / 11 km|
| End Trailhead:||2183 ft / 665 m|
| Time:||59 Minutes|
|GPS Data for Ascent/Trip|
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Peaks: climbed and unclimbed by Connor McEntee
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