18-Apr-2006 -- The frustration caused by the unsuccessful visit to 36°N 120°W was soon forgotten during the glorious drive across the hills: Due to the recent heavy rains in California, all the hillsides were gloriously green, instead of the normal burnt brown.
I made one big mistake however: When I got to San Ardo I found the Lockwood San Ardo road and followed it to the turn that's closest to the confluence, instead of either carefully reading the previous visitors' narratives or at least take a look with GoogleEarth.
Both of these alternatives would have shown me the beutiful trail along the ridge west of the confluence, instead I made several attempts to find a way through the mesquite brush directly down into the nearest valley. On my third attempt I just fought through, and finally managed to drop down into the much nicer valley bottom. From there I just ran along the paths made by grazing cattle until I got to the open grassland near the confluence.
The one good thing about arriving from this side was that I had good GPS coverage nearly all the way to the point, and with the new SirfSTAR III chipset in the 76CSx I didn't get a single dropout, maintaining lock with 9 satellites underneath the dense brushcover at the confluence point.
On the way back to my rental car I tried to find a shorter route, directly to the spot where I first parked and tried to find a path down. This worked out pretty well, except for the last 20-30 m, where I finally had to crawl on my belly to find a way out of the prickly bushes.
Total time for the 6-km trip was 1 hour 4 minutes, during the last part of the very steep final ascent I was totally wasted, even though I drank a lot of Gatorade before starting. Using the ridge path would have been a lot better!