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Ascent of Mount Stakes on 2016-02-28

Climber: Patrick Bergeron

Date:Sunday, February 28, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Stakes
    Location:USA-California
    Elevation:3804 ft / 1159 m

Ascent Trip Report

Heads up - the preserve does get some daytime activity as evidenced by fresh tire tracks.


The gated trailhead to Upper San Antonio Valley Rd is at 37.326880, -121.475544, which has space for a couple of cars. If you're paranoid like me, you might prefer parking 1,000ft to the west of the gate, on the south side of 130 next to the cattle guard at 37.327784, -121.479442. It's a 4min walk from the cattle guard to the trailhead.

Temperature at 7am read a brisk 0C as we left the car. Chilly! So chilly that a poor gartersnake lay comatose in the road.

Four minutes later, we found ourselves facing the gate signifying the beginning of the 0% Route. On the Hwy 130 side of the Ecological Reserve, the signage, oddly enough, doesn't touch on the topic of trespassing. The signage entering the eastern side of the Ecological Reserve, however, does say No Trespassing. Lesson learned.

In either case, I dare say we were treated to a gorgeous morning. Birds were chirping, flowers were blooming, wild hogs were foraging, creeks were flowing, and I was loving it. In my mind, this's why we do this thing we do. How else would we be able to enjoy moments like this if we weren't out exploring the remote areas of California in pursuit of these ridiculous lists?

From the San Antonio gate, the entire route follows a wide 4WD road. I found navigation very easy and intuitive, not requiring constant checks on a GPS:

Route details
Mile 0.0: Head south from the Hwy 130 gate
Mile 0.6: Turn left at junction with a sign on the tree pointing left (east) to PONDS 11-10-9. Continue east past signed ponds 9 and 10
Mile 2.0: Pass through the first gate, which had been left opened. Continue east, gaining a few hundred feet
Mile 3.1: Cross the second gate, which marks the boundary between the Ecological Reserve and The American Outdoorsman property
Mile 3.3: Begin the final 1,500ft of climbing, passing the third gate, which we saw as opened
Mile 4.6: At the four-way junction (37.322385, -121.41764), you'll see Stakes come into view. Continue right (due east)
Mile 4.9: Take either path at this Y junction, following the obvious path up. Both eventually take you to the summit. The route on the left (east) follows the road the whole way; the route on the right (southeast) is more cross-country following the fence and passes by the Stakes BM (37.3205925571, -121.410306897)
Mile 5.3: Summit

A small cairn + marker + wooden post marks the true summit of Stakes. We saw no register, and though I had brought one, we decided to just leave the area as-is.

I had wanted to add another 1.5mi r/t and tag Black Mountain to the north, especially since it had taken us just 2hr from the trailhead and we were ahead of schedule. Alas, my partner wasn't too keen on the idea because he was concerned about making it back to the Bay Area in time for an afternoon event. Instead, we ended up hanging out on Stakes and taking pictures for half an hour. D'oh.

One interesting anecdote--on the way down, he made a detour into some brush and stumbled onto an old campsite. Scattered around the site were a couple dozen old flat-top beer cans (before the pull tabs), and I found one with the label still legible: Olympia Beer. Did some research when I got home, and the cans date back to circa 1956. They've been sitting out there for 60 years!

Cell reception: 2 bars 4G at the top of Stakes. No reception otherwise.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:2244 ft / 684 m
    Elevation Loss:2244 ft / 684 m
    Distance:11.6 mi / 18.7 km
    Grade/Class:Class 1
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike
    Weather:Cool, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:1994 ft / 608 m
    Extra Loss:250 ft / 76 m
    Distance:5.7 mi / 9.2 km
    Route:0% Route
    Trailhead:Hwy 130  2060 ft / 627 m
    Time Up:2 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:1994 ft / 608 m
    Extra Gain:250 ft / 76 m
    Distance:5.9 mi / 9.5 km
    Route:0% Route
    Trailhead:Hwy 130  2060 ft / 627 m
    Time Down:2 Hours 20 Minutes



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