FREMONT PEAK (3,171') 2X March 17, 2004

Choosing to celebrate this St. Patrick's Day with vistas of green, my hiking companion and I carpooled to take CA Highway 152 over Pacheco Pass to visit this fine State Park. I normally have problems with counting such easy ascents as a peak, but there is a great view, undeniable prominence, and some historical significance.

We first motored over to the mission at San Juan Bautista, CA, where we strolled about. The gardens were in bloom, and I enjoyed the historic buildings along the town's main street. Hundreds of school children were led about by their teachers, with various tourists. There is a museum and store, with donations taken for upkeep. The CA State Park System charges a small admission to the nearby historic buildings.

Driving across the main highway here, CA 156, I drove us up the narrow paved road to the top of Fremont Peak. It is 11 miles from the main highway, and I had visited this peak, for my first time, fairly recently in my peak career. We came to the highest parking area a bit after 12:30 p.m., and I thought it might be pleasant camping up here, with nighttime views of a lot of civilization below. The self-service day use fee was $3.

The summit trail is only perhaps a half mile with 300' gain, and well signed. Oaks and madrones constitute part of the woodland ecology, and bright orange lichens marked the schists that formed rocky outcrops. Some rock stairs are built to assist hikers, then even a class 2 scramble is needed to reach the highpoint. A plaque with a flagpole marks the top.

Shooting photos of the vistas, which ranged from Monterey Bay, the green hills of the Gabilan Range, plus the towns of Hollister, Salinas, and San Juan Bautista, I was confident that my software would correct the haze of the distant features. The summit rocks are photogenic, and sparsely mottled with orange lichens. We had little else planned but to enjoy the summit stay.

My companion snoozed for a bit on the warm rocks, and I tried for some inspiration to get a great photo. I found a lizard sunning itself, and then snapped some close-ups of the toprocks. We were to hear or see only one other party up here for our hour, or so, time up here. At 2:08 p.m., we started down. Back to the car by 2:27 p.m., we tarried not, driving out.

I wished to walk about the historic part of the town of Hollister, CA. There are various claims to fame, including apparently being the basis for the 1950's motorcycle film in which gangs take over a small town. This is primarily a farm town, and also the northern approach to Pinnacles National Monument. The buildings have a unique architecture, with colorful painted fronts.

With other things to do, we motored back to our carpool point, and parted ways. Such an easy day! My total stats were maybe two miles walking, with 300' total gain. I shot some 210 photos. Used about a full tank of gas.

There were a few poppies, and leaves were sprouting on the trees and shrubs. No ticks, and only some small bugs to flutter about us. I never even carried a daypack, or needed to drink out of a canteen. T-shirt and shorts weather, again. I needed to use some a/c on the drive.