Mission Ridge rises abruptly on the southern and eastern side of the San Francisco Bay Area and is a major landmark of that region. It's also visible from my Newark neighborhood rising in the distance slightly above the nearby rooftops. I work in southern Fremont where the massif makes an impressive and morale boosting backdrop to my daily morning drive.Hiking up the various peaks of this ridge has long been a staple of my hiking routines ever since my first trip up Mission Peak in 1980. This ridge is my 'go-to' place for whenever I get too lazy to take a longer drive to other less frequently visited (by me) areas. Such was the case on this particular morning in early December. My original plan was to visit Morgan Territories Preserve for an attempt on Marsh Benchmark, but at the last minute, decided to change my destination to Sunol Regional Wilderness for a repeat of a hike up Mount Allison via the Ohlone Regional Wilderness Trail- an enjoyable hike that I'd only done once before from this side.
The weather was clear as I started out from my truck- the only vehicle in the parking lot. The air temperature was a chilly 40 degrees- never to rise above 60 for the entire hike. Recent rains left the trail damp, but rarely muddy. It was a fine late autumn day.
In short order, I reached Calaveras Road which is posted as 'closed due to the Calaveras Dam Project' down below. I took a picture while standing in the middle of the road- something that would have been somewhat risky if the road had been opened to the public. I went through the gate and climbed steadily while enjoying very clear views all around.
I came across a small group of livestock that had gathered on the road. There were adults and calves. Upon seeing me, most of them reluctantly moved slowly off the road and down to the slope below. A couple of calves decided the best way to escape the lone human was to continue up the road away from me, but in the same direction I was going. I hiked relentlessly behind them as they realized their error and tried to find an easy way down off the side of the road to rejoin their parents and comrades. This went on for quite a while until at last they huddled together in fear as I passed them.
Eventually, the grade eases up and the trail bursts out of the shady woods and onto the relatively open hilly areas east of Mission Peak. The peak was now visible for the first time on the hike. Even though it still lay a little more than a mile away, I could still see people on the summit climbing the 'pole' to pose for pictures.
The trail crosses over a couple of minor ridges and arrives at the eastern foot of Mission Peak. At this point, I left the Ohlone Trail and headed south on another trail toward Mount Allison. Instead of staying on that trail to the crest of the ridge just south of Mission Peak, I followed a spur trail that seemed to offer a more direct route to my main objective. The trail passed a couple of cows as it wrapped around a small high point and followed a fenceline up a shallow ravine. The trail then backtracks along another fence to a gate, so not really a shortcut, but a nice way to go for some variety.
Interestingly, as I followed the shallow ravine mentioned above, a World War II vintage fighter roared up from the southwest and banked toward me flying very low just above the crest of the ridge. I watched nervously as it flew by seemingly a stones throw away. I suppose that if I'd been the enemy, I wouldn've had a chance.
At last I was on the Bay Trail which I followed toward Mount Allison. Eventually, a semi-paved road is followed from the Bay Trail to the top of the peak. A nice bench is located on the top near the benchmarks. As usual, it was windy and quite cold so I donned my shell parka as I took the usual obligatory photos of the view. Much of the Bay Area to the north was very clear as far as Mount Saint Helena more than 90 miles away. To the south, there was more haze and the views south of San Jose were rather obscurred. I was pleased, though not surprised, to see the snow of the distant Sierra Nevada far to the east.
I ate a granola bar and drank my energy drink before I began the long journey back to my truck. I took another trail that I'd never been on before across a high shallow valley. The route may have been slightly shorter than the usual Bay Trail that I normally follow. I guess I was in the mood for at least a little variety.
Mission Peak was looking somewhat impressive and not as crowded as usual, so I decided to make a slight detour to tag that summit as well. The cold wind likely keeping the crowds down to a reasonable level. This was the first time I'd ever combined both Mount Allison and Mission Peak into the same trip, so I was somewhat pleased when I arrived on top. I spent just enough time to take a couple of pictures before heading back down.
The hike back down the Ohlone Trail was mellow and pleasant. The late autumn sun was now mostly hidden low to the west behind me. It lit up the mountains of Sunol Wilderness very nicely causing me to pause frequently to take several photographs. It was a little after 3pm when I arrived back at the shadowy trailhead and my truck. Another fine hike in one of my favorite areas.
Mount Allison, Mission Peak
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