MT. KONOCTI (4,299’) 3X October 16, 2011

Ready already for another little hike, I woke up early on this Sunday morning. I wondered on what to do, and decided to give Mt. Konocti a try. I have climbed it twice before, though as private land. Now, it is a county park. Wishing to make the details known by my website, this was something that I can do, still.

Leaving town after 8 a.m., I filled up with gas, and motored north along Interstate 5. High clouds made the sights more dramatic, for me. I snapped a few photos as I took CA 20 west, over the Coast Range. I came to CA 53 and turned left (south). A fast food eatery allowed a break, with good, free food by the winning game coupons on a drink cup. It was to CA 29 west, and then 14 miles to the Kelseyville Cutoff. This is Main Street through town, and you then turn right (east) on Konocti Road. The peak looms ahead. The road shortly turns to dirt, and all seemed new to me.

In about 3 or 4 miles, I came to the main parking lot. Everything is well signed, and facilities with wash water are available along the way. Starting my hike at about 11:15 a.m., I took the dirt road up through a gate and turnstile. There are no fees. The newly built trail leaves the road to avoid some private land, and I could see that in rainy weather, it can get muddy. It comes to a set of stairs, and the route coincides with the main dirt road, again. I plodded on up, and noted the sights. A junction is passed, and then you come to the maul oaks. Further, more views are gained, and then you get a sight of the lookout tower on top.

Summiting after some 1:50 of hiking, I circled the barbed wire fence that surrounds the lookout tower. Other hikers also declined to climb over the overhanging fence, and I shot the views to the south. My other times, I was able to climb the fence and step up the stairs to the top of the tower. I felt too feeble for that, now. The website says that they are looking for volunteer docents to allow people to climb the lookout, but on a weekend, there was no one.

I hiked back down the road, and found a likely spot for a view, in the brush. About 25 yards down from the top, there is a trail of sorts which leads over the road embankment into the brush. I managed to scramble past the stickers and onto some rocks. I shot some photos, then scrambled a bit further to a better viewpoint. I had to worry about my agility, being that you could easily fall over and break a leg. It was worth the 50 foot distance, as Clear Lake stretched below. I found a steady spot and began shooting with my camera. A trip goal fulfilled! I took some movies, and then scrambled back to the dirt road. Some pink flagging marked this spot, and I advised other hikers of this vantage op. It is about 100 feet past a 40 or 50 foot high jumble of boulders on the right side of the road, as you head up. I prefer to have my summit photos from the very top of the peak, but brush and trees obscured the view from the clearing on the top.

Hiking down the road, I came back to the maul oaks. I took a short side road to more oaks and a shack. These were good for photos.

Back to the main road, more hikers were coming up. I discerned that there might be a better view of Clear Lake from Buckingham Peak, a .81 mile side hike. Having the time, I took the dirt road to this other peak, and hoped for more spectacular views. Topping out, the situation was similar to the main peak, high brush. I hiked about the fenced facility, which warned of radiation hazard. Looking to circle the fences, I turned a few corners, then became ensnared in brush. Believing that I only had a short way to complete my circle, I struggled with branches and logs, then saw some poison oak and largely impenetrable bushes.

Losing my way back, I worried about falling and hurting myself. What would anyone be doing here? Finally thrashing through, I got back to the fence and pathway, and resolved to leave the area quickly. My tail had been whupped!

I had some water, having brought up a liter, and was able enough to take pictures of some fall colors. Two sets of hikers were coming up, and I had to warn them of the lack of a good view. This peak partially blocks the view of the entire lake from the main peak, and maybe someday they’ll build an elevated viewing platform. So many hikers will be disappointed by the high brush to block the vista, and some could get hurt looking, by a dangerous scramble through the brush and rocks.

Back to the main road, I captured a few more images of the sights, then came to the wooden stairs and the footpath about an orchard. To the parking lot by 4:30 p.m., I was glad that I had not had a disaster on Buckingham Peak. I will not count it, as the highest point is within the fence, and it is only about 200-300 feet of gain to get there from the saddle.

I changed clothes to get out of the jeans that may have been in contact with the poison oak, and to be cooler and more comfortable. Some hikers were walking on the drivable road, getting exercise from town, I surmise, and I slowed for them, not to stir up dust.

Back to Kelseyville, I remembered the way back to CA 29, and was shortly zooming east back to Lower Lake. I had washed my face and glasses with water in some jugs in my car, and drank from a bottle. Taking the same way back to Williams, CA, I decided to splurge with a steak and prawns dinner. Stuffed, I did 70 mph over the new blacktop, with exciting music on my radio.

Hiking then 7.6 miles with almost 2,000 feet of gain, I captured about 430 images and movie clips (18.9 MB, 0:42, 1080p HD). I spent about $70 for gas, drink, and food. I had still half a tank getting back home, so figure on another short trip, this midweek, to check out the Sierra fall colors.

My pains had subsided enough to be able to enjoy this hike and climb, and I did drive some 250 miles. A coming doctor visit will see how it goes, and as my peak buddies have gone on into their 70’s for hiking, I hope that I can do the same.