Yolo County Highpoint Trip Report

Little Blue Peak

Date: November 19, 2004
Author: Garrick Meeker

It is possible to traverse the east ridge (Little Blue Ridge) maybe 3/4's of the way up, but I wouldn't recommend this route because there are sections where I had to slide on the ground because there wasn't enough room to crawl. An entry in the register mentioned taking the east ridge, so I'm not the first. However, I doubt many people have had such miserable an experience on this peak. It took me 6 hours to the summit, and 19 hours round-trip. This report is a story of what can happen when you don't listen to the warnings in previous reports. In short, stay in the creek and don't be stupid.

I ditched work and reached the trailhead solo at about 10:00 after getting stuck in the morning Santa Rosa traffic, leaving me about 7 hours of daylight. I was curious about the creek route after reading previous reports and I didn't really want to cross private property (especially since that route also requires bushwhacking). After a short distance (a little before the barbed wire, I think), there was a relatively large clearing and I thought this might be where the route temporarily exits the creek.

I discovered that my pack had been pulled open by the brush and that I had lost my map. (I later lost my windbreaker and, on the return trip, my loppers. I wouldn't even know where to begin looking for them.) It seemed pretty clear, so I hiked higher and higher up the ridge. Yes, the previous trip reports warned about this, and I no longer had a map, but by the time I realized that this wasn't going to be easier than the creek, I had already crawled under several stretches of chaparral. There wasn't a clear path back into the creek and I didn't want to retrace my route.

As I pushed on, it got worse. The were clear stretches separated by strips of chaparral. Some had game trails where I could crawl through but sometimes I had to climb over, slider under, or cut through the brush. I was glad it was November because I was still sweating in the cool weather. Here I lost my windbreaker but I still had a thick shirt on. I reached the road at the saddle way past my turn-around time (because the easiest way out was forward). It was almost dark but there was no way I was going to come back here so I followed the road and summited at 4:00 (6 hours).

At this point, without a jacket, close to dark, and freshly out of water, I headed down the private road. It was nearly dark and I wanted to be on BLM land when using my headlamp. I followed what seemed to be an obvious path which turned into a small branch of the creek heading steeply downhill and wound up back in Davis Creek. I figured I was right near the jeep trail but once I crossed the barbed wire I knew I had a long way to go. It was surprisingly warm when I was out of the wind (except for my cold, wet feet).

I left the creek briefly to bypass a rough section and got so hopelessly lost that it took an hour to get back to the creek (when I was probably 20 feet away from it). This brush is nasty during the day but completely impossible in the dark. I vowed to stay in the creek the rest of the way. I laid down a few times in clearings but I was still tired and dehydrated. I had extra food but listening to the creek was driving me crazy. Finally, about 1am, I drank some untreated creek water (since I didn't see many animals I figured it wasn't too risky and I didn't get sick). Finally I had some energy and made some progress.

The creek started to head east and my altitude was getting too low. It was obvious that I had missed the exit. I decided to keep following the creek until I came to a road because I was at least making progress. (Looking at the map now, there appears to be a fork in the creek. I must have followed the east fork toward Rayhouse Road. It's probably a good thing I didn't turn around or I might have headed back to the peak.)

Finally, sometime after 3 am I found a large clearing that led to a small cabin. I had crossed BLM land and wound up on private property in the east! No one was around. I followed a jeep trail to Rayhouse Road. It was 4am. It took an hour to hike back to the trailhead and my car, for maybe two miles. From 10am to 5am, and it was finally over. I'm guessing it was about 12 miles but it felt like 30. As my numb feet warmed up, I discovered that I had the worst blisters I've ever had.

I did so many things wrongs that night but, for anyone planning this hike, I'd say: don't go alone (if you twist an ankle in the creek you could be there a long time); stay in or near the creek (it's really not that bad once you get used to it and I wasted a lot of time on some very short sections of brush); go during the cool months (November was perfect); considering bringing a water filter; and get an early start. It might also be a good idea to close your pack with twist ties.

Finally, even after this experience, I'd recommend sticking to the BLM route and staying off private land. The creek might be rough but it's not as bad as the east ridge. In the creek you're at least clearing the route for future highpointers, while the private bushwhackers won't follow exactly the same trail. Peter Maurer wrote that he cleared a lot of brush and it seems to still be pretty clear.