A new section of the Bay Ridge Trail was opened to the public recently that starts along the High Ridge Loop Trail in eastern Garin / Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Parks. I was happy about this because it would make the local prominence point known as Walpert Ridge more accessible. Prior to this opening, a hike to Walpert Ridge involved miles of crossing through ranches and other tracts of land not open to the public. The new trail would bring the publicly accessible lands to within two miles of the summit. The weather forecast on the Sunday before Thanksgiving was for rain and possible thunder storms in the afternoon. I hoped that there would be enough time in the morning for an attempt on this peak.I arrived at the May Road staging area at about 8:30 wishing that I'd gotten up earlier. The sky was already overcast and threatening, so I wasted little time donning my gear and hitting the trail. There was still plenty of mud from previous rains especially on lower portions of the High Ridge Loop Trail. One section in particular had mud so slick that it was difficult to stand even with my trekking poles. Indeed, I did slip at that spot upon my return- with only my poles keeping my rear end from landing in the mud.
Before long, I reached the new Whipsnake Trail junction and went through the gate. I enjoy exploring new trails and areas so I was excited albeit apprehensive about the weather. To the west, the San Francisco Peninsula was becoming obscured by the approaching rain showers. I picked up the pace.
The trail crosses a couple of low ridges separated by some shallow valleys. Finally, I reached the gate that I'd read about on someone's trip report. It was signed, "Restricted Area Keep Out". As usual, I hesitated looking around for others such as rangers or ranching vehicles. It was not private property beyond the gate, but rather a section of the Open Space Preserve that was not yet open to the public. Getting caught would likely result in an annoying fine. Was it worth the risk? I decided that it was, but I still didn't climb over the gate...
The dark clouds and rain I'd seen in the distance were much closer now- obscuring Coyote Hills. Drat! The storm would be on top of me in no time. I didn't mind the rain so much, but I was concerned about the possibility of lightning. I didn't want to be up here on these ridge tops during those predicted thunderstorms. Reluctantly, with only about 1.6 miles to go to reach my goal, I began to head back.
As I often do, I tagged a couple of local low prominence peaks along the return trip. Neither had any significant prominence or anything else to recommend them, but they were better than nothing. I would try to bag as many as possible until the rains started. The first peak had several piles scattered randomly about the summit area. Very curious. I wondered if they were related to the ancient stone walls that abound further to the south.
Just as I reached the foot of Point 1382, the rain began in earnest. I put on my poncho and began to head straight back to the trailhead. In spite of the rain and my failure on Walpert Ridge (and the a fore mentioned slip in the mud) the hike back was surprisingly enjoyable. It had been too long since my last rain hike thanks to the drought. I was somewhat annoyed that the worst part of the storm only lasted about an hour and was then followed by only a light shower here and there until I reached the trailhead. I didn't hear any thunder at all. I reluctantly realized that I probably could have reached my goal without any significant problems. D'oh! Oh well. It wasn't the first time I erred on the side of safety (aka, 'chickened out') and I'm sure it won't be the last.
Walpert Ridge Attempt
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