A Beautiful Hike On Mt. Umunhum, Plus a Setback

Mt. Umunhum is a distinctive landmark in the San Jose area. It is the fourth largest peak in the Santa Cruz Mountains at 3,486 feet, and is topped by a distinctive white concrete box. The box is the foundation for a cold war era radar tower and is 8 and 1/2 stories tall. The mountain is now a part of Midpeninsula open space district, which has built a very nice 3.7 mile trail to the top from the Bald Mountain parking area, with an elevation gain of 1150 feet.

I did this hike last Wednesday with the San Jose Midweek hiking meetup. I’ve hiked it twice before but this was the first time on a really clear day. It was beautiful late spring weather, not too hot. The fog had not burned off yet at the beginning. View of another tall peak, Loma Prieta through the clouds from the start of the trail:

Starting out towards Mt Umunhum:

Looking out on Santa Clara Valley, still covered in fog, from an overlook partway up:

Near the top. Just climbed the steep sets of stairs that are the final approach. I still get a kick out of doing that because the first time I did it I had to stop and wheeze at each landing (still not fully recovered from heart valve operation). Now I took pleasure in motoring right up, leading the group. A docent told us big cranes were used to load electronic and computer equipment in the early 60s through the large windows. Miniaturization has improved a bit since then πŸ™‚ .

View of Santa Clara Valley from the top, fog now burning off:

After a nice lunch break at the top we started back down. That was a pleasant easy hike until about 2 miles down when my feet slipped out on some loose gravel. It happened so quickly I didn’t have time to do anything with my poles to stop myself. It would have been minor except my bad shoulder slammed into the ground. At times like that it’s good to be hiking with friends, several people helping me up and making sure I was OK. There didn’t seem to be any permanent damage, collarbone was ok, but the shoulder was inflamed, It seems to be calming back down now, 3 days later. I’m getting the range of motion back and hope to be 100% in a couple of more days.

I’m not sure what lesson to take from this. I was already being more careful because of my incident at the Pinnacles two days before this. I don’t think it was a balance issue, my feet just slid out to the side because the trail had loose stuff on it and was tilted. The only issue I found was comparing the soles of my trail running shoes I was wearing to my hiking boots. The trail runners (right) are pretty worn and I think the Vibram soles on the hiking boots are much better suited for trails:

In any case- no hiking for the time being. It’s just as well because my left achilles had gotten inflamed from ramping up my hiking too much this past week. I can bike with my foot further forward on the pedal without bugging the achilles, and need to avoid strength work with my right arm till the shoulder forgives me. I think my take away is that stuff happens, we’re not always in control. I’ll continue to take measures to minimize risk, like wearing better rough-terrain shoes, using my poles, and doing balance training. When minor setbacks happen, don’t get discouraged and keep moving forward πŸ™‚

Happy Mother’s Day!

31 thoughts on “A Beautiful Hike On Mt. Umunhum, Plus a Setback

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