Ascent of Mount Isabel on 2020-04-18
|Other People:||Solo Ascent|
|Date:||Saturday, April 18, 2020|
|Ascent Type:||Successful Summit Attained|
| Elevation:||4230 ft / 1289 m|
Ascent Trip ReportNote: the attached GPS track should only be used for reference as there was some unnecessary cross country traverse.
I would have really enjoyed a trip to snow-capped Sierra peaks. However, due to COVID-19 Shelter in Place, I had to accept a change of scenery, and a change of color too, from the pristine white of the Sierra snow, to the lavish green of rolling hills. The latter turned out not too bad, with the bonus that I did not need to drive far to see it. This was my second weekend in a row coming to Joseph D. Grant County Park. I came here in the previous weekend for a trail run. I found that its wide open space allowed me to run freely without worrying social distancing. Then I read the post by Dmitry Medvedev about his trip to Mount Isabel two weeks ago so I decided to bag this peak this weekend. Upon consulting with my Peakbagger app, I noticed two minor peaks 3312 and 3709. So I planned to pick up these peaks as well, since they are not far from trail.
I arrived at the Twin Gates parking lot of Joseph D Grant Country Park slightly past 8:30am and was surprised to find mine was the first car on this Saturday. I started my trail run at 8:50am. It was still foggy and slightly chilly so I had to put on a windbreaker. I took Bonhoff trail. After two hill climbs and 20 minutes later I descended to the junction of Foothill Trail and Mazanita Trail. I had the mental image of choosing the left branch but after a few minutes I realized I was on the wrong trail because I had not seen the expected CalFire Station, which is the start of Smith Creek Trail. I stopped and took out my phone to check the app, and realized that I have missed the turn to the CalFire Station. I decided to continue the same direction (East) and at an appropriate point, break off from the main trail to head directly towards Peak 3312. A short while later when the Mazanita made the 90 degree turn South, I saw a faint cattle track continuing East and decided to follow it to see where it led. The track stopped at a dirty pond and I continued on with the cross country hike, descending down to Smith Creek. The creek had good flowing water but was narrow enough for easy crossing. I climbed back up on the other side, and bagged Peak 3312.
After the peak I joined the main trail, heading East. The trail was fairly wide and flat, until below Peak 3709. I made a very slight detour to 3709 and then followed the ridge to go down. There, a picnic table surprised me. It looked aged but still standing. A backpacker was unpacking, whom I met earlier on the ascent to 3312, when my cross-country climb cut across the trail he was hiking on. He wanted to stay the night there. We exchanged pleasantries and I continued on. The trail became narrow and was right on the left side of the barbwire fence. Soon at elevation 3750 I lost track of the trail. I spent quite a bit of time trying to find the trail, not thinking the trail actually continued on the other side of the barbwire. I bushwhacked quite some time. The bushes were so dense I almost gave up. Even turning back was difficult so I finally decided to hop over the barbwire and then I quickly located the trail. the trail descended to an old (no longer maintained) Jeep road and it was not eventful following this old Jeep Road till very close to the summit.
The Jeep road circumvented the Southwest side of the summit. To reach the summit, one would come to the south side of it, leave the Jeep road and hiked up and north along the ridge towards the high point. There was a fairly flat plateau, good enough to set up a couple of tents but probably not a good idea as this seems a private property. The highest point was marked by a stack of rocks. It was still fairly foggy when I was at the summit (11:15am). However, shortly after, on the descent down to Smith Creek Trail, the sky cleared up and I could see Mount Hamilton and the telescopes of the Lick Observatory vividly. I followed Smith Creek Trail to Smith Creek. The water was wide here and I soaked my running shoes while crossing. This was an easy crossing and one could have just take off their shoes, in order to have a pair of dry shoes for the remainder of the journey. However, I decided not to bother. The trail took me to CalFire Station. From there I switched to Mazanita Trail, which took me to the junction where i missed the turn in the morning. There, I switched to Banhoff Trail that took me back to the Twin Gates trail head. I ran a big portion of the descent.
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