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Knives, Guns, and Booze
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So this morning I realised it was going to be an excellent day for a nice fast solo ride, which it did turn out to be. I decided instead of just flatlanding it at balls-out speed (which is my normal pace) that I’d hoof it up Almaden Expressway to Almaden Road, to Alamitos Road, and then hang a right on Hicks Road and trudge up the hill… which I did, actually making it up to the intersection of Hicks Road and Mount Umunum Road (1,200 foot elevation) in pretty good time (somewhere around 30 minutes—pretty good for a flatlander).

With the old military tower (big concrete rectangle structure) atop Mount Umunum in view, I looked at the park/information/trails map stationed at the parking lot, and realised that Mount Umunum peak was 3,486 feet– surely I could make it up to the top, although the first section would see more than 800 feet in less than one mile of distance. “No problem”, I thought.

No problem, at all, actually. I made it to the keylocked gate which is around 2,300 feet up, and proceeded through the pedestrian/equestrian/bicycle gate, and rode further up the hill…

…another 500 feet or so of altitude gain and a couple miles later, it appears as though the county park ends, and private property complete with “No trespassing” signs is the order of business. So, there is this number on the sign, 408 377-2900, which is apparently a number to call to be able to have the right to pass through on the road. Well, amazingly I got great cellphone reception up there so I decided to call. It rang and rang and rang and rang. So I hung up.

Turned around.

Made my way back down the hill.

All I wanted to do was ride to the top where the big concrete block tower thingy is.

Does anyone know what the deal with the whole “private property” deal is? Is a cyclist on a skinny-tire roadbike really a threat? Should I have proceeded ahead anyhow? Does the county maintain the road beyond the county park boundary line? If so, I would think that I would have a legal right to ride my bike on it.

Thoughts?
 

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There was an article in the Mercury News recently about this:

After more than 22 years of bureaucratic inaction, efforts to clean up a former Air Force radar station on a scenic mountaintop above Silicon Valley and open its summit to hikers, bicyclists and picnickers may be finally gathering momentum, locally and in Washington, D.C.

"It feels like all the pieces are coming together and that it's going to happen this time," said Rep. Mike Honda, D-Campbell. "Why should only rich people have a view? It should be available to everybody."

At issue is the former Almaden Air Force Station, which operated from 1957 to 1980 on the top of Mount Umunhum. Named for the Ohlone Indian word for hummingbird, the 3,486-foot peak towers above South San Jose and Los Gatos on the chaparral ridges between Lexington Reservoir and Almaden Quicksilver County Park. But it remains off limits because 88 buildings where Air Force crew members and their families lived and worked sit abandoned — a crumbling ghost town contaminated with asbestos and lead paint.

For more than two decades, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, the public agency that owns the land, has insisted that the Defense Department pay to demolish and haul away the buildings. But the Pentagon did little, disagreeing about the extent of the federal government's cleanup responsibilities.

Now political pressure is mounting.

Last year, the district hired a new general manager, Steve Abbors, who is tackling the problem with new energy.

"This is our biggest priority for this year," Abbors said. "The public paid for Mount Umunhum and they haven't been able to get up there. We want to get it done."

In December, Abbors submitted a request under President Barack Obama's federal stimulus program for the $11 million needed to demolish the buildings, repave five miles of Mount Umunhum Road, and open a small visitor center.

Meanwhile, he and Honda have organized meetings with Bay Area congressional leaders and Army Corps of Engineers managers to sing the site's praises and press for a cleanup. Abbors has even printed color brochures of Mount Umunhum and timelines of its history.

Honda also has pressured the Army Corps to finish studies of soil contamination. A draft report was completed in January. Meanwhile, a team from the Government Accountability Office, the auditor for Congress, visited the site Feb. 6.

The Army Corps of Engineers says it is willing to clean up any contaminated soil, but contends that the buildings were in good condition in 1986 when the open space district bought the land. Yet Army Corps officials say they'll be happy to supervise the demolition now, if the district can come up with the funding.

"Without money, we're just another agency saying we'd love to help. We're like the guy with the cardboard sign saying 'Will work for money,' " said Jerry Vincent, who supervises cleanup of former military bases for the Army Corps office in Sacramento.

Next month, Honda plans to seek $4 million as part of the 2010 defense appropriations bill to fund the cleanup. A similar request failed last year. But this year, Honda said, his chances may be better because he's requesting the money go to the Army Corps rather than the open space district. Additionally, he introduced language into a defense bill this month allowing the Army Corps to also accept money from private donors and state parks bonds to help pay for the cleanup.

Since the 1970s, the open space district has spent $52 million to acquire 17,400 acres along Mount Umunhum's flanks. In 1986, it purchased the Air Force land for $260,000. With the summit closed, only about 20 percent of all the acreage, which it has named Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve, is open to the public. The district is finally finishing work on a master plan for the preserve — including where trails would go and what uses would be allowed — which it hopes to release early next year with the goal of eventually opening up about 80 percent of the mountain, said district spokesman Rudy Jurgensen.

Mount Umunhum is known to most Silicon Valley residents only for "the cube," a square concrete building visible from the valley floor that once had a giant red and white revolving radar dish on its top. The few people who have been to its summit have enjoyed a jaw-dropping panorama of the Pacific Ocean, Silicon Valley, even buildings in downtown San Francisco.

Some South Bay leaders, including Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, say they hope "Mount Um" can become for Silicon Valley what Mount Diablo is for Contra Costa County and Mount Tamalpais is in Marin County.

"I've been up there. It's an incredible vista," Lofgren said. "It would be very nice for people to be able to hike and drive to."

<b>A longtime feud between former open space General Manager Craig Britton and Loren "Mac" McQueen, whose family owns 800 acres near the summit, also stalled progress. But Britton retired last year and McQueen died in 2007. In October, during a reunion of former Almaden Air Force Station veterans, McQueen's son, Scott, said he supports allowing the public to drive to the top, and likes ideas such as stargazing programs and a visitor center.</b>

"I'm very hopeful. Five years ago I would have said there's no way," said Basim Jaber, a San Jose sales engineer who has researched the history of the radar station and who organized the veterans' reunion. "Today, I think we're a lot closer."
 

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Naso Unicornis
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Hi Leopold:

Which way did you come down from Hicks? Did you come back down to New Almaden or down to the reservoir? Also, how was the road up Mt. Umunum. There are some nasty grades up there, which can make the ascent difficult but the road quality can make the descents right down dangerous.

Thanks,
CHL
 

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Knives, Guns, and Booze
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
CHL said:
Hi Leopold:

Which way did you come down from Hicks? Did you come back down to New Almaden or down to the reservoir? Also, how was the road up Mt. Umunum. There are some nasty grades up there, which can make the ascent difficult but the road quality can make the descents right down dangerous.

Thanks,
CHL
I came back down Hicks such that I ended up at Camden. Mount Umunum is very spotty, with lots of potholes. The grades weren’t too tough, surprisingly (I heard it was really hard, but somehow I managed just fine), but going back down I had to swerve and bunnyhop lots and lots of potholes (and two cattle grates). Yes, descending can be dangerous.

Well, I can only guess that in time people will be allowed to take the road all the way up to the top, according to that Mercury News article (thanks for posting that). For now I can say that I’ve been almost all the way up.
 

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It's been a while since I rode up that way, but some nutjob used to paint all over the road "No trespassing, private property, keep out!"

Nice little hill, the Los Gatos side of Hicks.
 

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Those cattle grates SUCK! I remember my first time out there and I almost ate crap!:mad:
 

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About a year ago I went passed the no tresspassing signs and up until
there is a serious gate, that would be hard to pass. (But not impossible).
However, there are a couple of cameras pointing at it which put me off.
It was still a way horizontally from the top, but not that much verticle.
I have a photo somewhere, i'll post if i can find it.
 

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Knives, Guns, and Booze
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Today I called that “access control” telephone number (408-377-2900) and explained the situation and my concern. I was told by the person on the other end that the reasoning was because eventually I would come to an impassable locked gate anyhow, so why bother going up to where it is. So, I asked, “Does the county maintain that road? As in, paving and slide repair? If so, I would think that I would have a legal right to ride it right up to where the impassable gate is.”, to which his reply was along the lines of, “Uh, well, ummm, well you know, well uh…”. Yeah, thought so. Not so “private” afterall, eh? **** it. This Saturday I am riding it all the way up to the impassable gate. Anyone want to ride up to that point with me? I plan on getting it done before noon.

Oh yeah, but he was able to confirm that the large concrete structure on the top of Mount Umunum is unreachable since it’s been closed down since being deemed unsafe many years ago. Bummer, as I hear the view from the top of it is outstandingly unimaginable!
 

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Will bump for post count

Today I called that “access control” telephone number (408-377-2900) and explained the situation and my concern. I was told by the person on the other end that the reasoning was because eventually I would come to an impassable locked gate anyhow, so why bother going up to where it is. So, I asked, “Does the county maintain that road? As in, paving and slide repair? If so, I would think that I would have a legal right to ride it right up to where the impassable gate is.”, to which his reply was along the lines of, “Uh, well, ummm, well you know, well uh…”. Yeah, thought so. Not so “private” afterall, eh? **** it. This Saturday I am riding it all the way up to the impassable gate. Anyone want to ride up to that point with me? I plan on getting it done before noon.

Oh yeah, but he was able to confirm that the large concrete structure on the top of Mount Umunum is unreachable since it’s been closed down since being deemed unsafe many years ago. Bummer, as I hear the view from the top of it is outstandingly unimaginable!
When I get to 10 I'll post a link for a petition to keep the cube...
 

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The good old days...

So this morning I realised it was going to be an excellent day for a nice fast solo ride, which it did turn out to be. I decided instead of just flatlanding it at balls-out speed (which is my normal pace) that I’d hoof it up Almaden Expressway to Almaden Road, to Alamitos Road, and then hang a right on Hicks Road and trudge up the hill… which I did, actually making it up to the intersection of Hicks Road and Mount Umunum Road (1,200 foot elevation) in pretty good time (somewhere around 30 minutes—pretty good for a flatlander).

With the old military tower (big concrete rectangle structure) atop Mount Umunum in view, I looked at the park/information/trails map stationed at the parking lot, and realised that Mount Umunum peak was 3,486 feet– surely I could make it up to the top, although the first section would see more than 800 feet in less than one mile of distance. “No problem”, I thought.

No problem, at all, actually. I made it to the keylocked gate which is around 2,300 feet up, and proceeded through the pedestrian/equestrian/bicycle gate, and rode further up the hill…

…another 500 feet or so of altitude gain and a couple miles later, it appears as though the county park ends, and private property complete with “No trespassing” signs is the order of business. So, there is this number on the sign, 408 377-2900, which is apparently a number to call to be able to have the right to pass through on the road. Well, amazingly I got great cellphone reception up there so I decided to call. It rang and rang and rang and rang. So I hung up.

Turned around.

Made my way back down the hill.

All I wanted to do was ride to the top where the big concrete block tower thingy is.

Does anyone know what the deal with the whole “private property” deal is? Is a cyclist on a skinny-tire roadbike really a threat? Should I have proceeded ahead anyhow? Does the county maintain the road beyond the county park boundary line? If so, I would think that I would have a legal right to ride my bike on it.

Thoughts?
In the late '60s (1960's) me and my high school chums ranged (mostly on motos) all over those hills; only the AAFS itself and upper Soda Springs were off-limits. This all changed in the early seventies as landowners along the ridges started occupying their properties and took exception to what should have been public right-of-ways.

The county didn't want the responsibility of maintaining the roads so let them become private.

Access to the trails above Los Gatos which nobody seemed to care about became too easy when the PG&E power lines went in so this access was gated and posted. Finally re-opened when MidPen took over. "Overgrown" is the only trail from the old days that still gets use although there are bits and pieces of trail in St. Joes.

Ramble on....
 
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