I work in a small city with a lot of big city problems. Two blocks from where I work, the city stops abruptly and farm fields start with row crops of different cool season fruits and vegetables. One mega block from there, the ranches start. But the wilderness creeps into those ranches and a herd of Thule elk can sometimes be found along the road (just not when I have my camera). From where the ranches start, the Gabilan Range rises quickly to Fremont Peak.
The peak is named after John C Fremont, an early American explorer of the west. I was confused by the information that I have read about Fremont because no 2 stories are alike. What is consistent is that he was on his third expedition, exploring and mapping Alta California when it was a Mexican territory, when he found himself in a battle near the peak. When I first read the story of Fremont’s expedition, I was working on the other side of the Gabilan range and spent a lot of time running and hiking through the hills. There is nothing there to indicate the history of the expedition. There is no fort. There are no ramparts. It is only through recorded history that I was learning of the events.
Accessing the peak is easy once you make the 11 mile drive up the 1 1/2 lane road to the Fremont Peak State Park. It’s a quick walk to the summit where you are afforded 360 degree views from anywhere you stand. The whole Monterey Bay from Pacific Grove to Santa Cruz is visible on a clear day. San Juan Bautista lies just below the peak to the north. On the east side, Hollister and Bear Valley are framed by the mountains that separate the Central Valley from the coast. The beauty of hiking here in winter is seeing green everywhere. After years of drought and inconsistent rain, it’s a great feeling to see the lush green grass.