Monolith Encounter
August 23, 2009
Mikey's Moments > Monolith Encounter
Everyone who drives around the South San Francisco Bay Area will be familiar with 3,486ft Mt. Umunhum even though they may not know its name. It is the one hill looking south that has an interesting rectangular shape on the top that some locals call the monolith after the famous object in Arthur C. Clarke's 2001 A Space Odyssey. Umunhum, by the way, is an Ohlone Indian word meaning "hummingbird resting place".

In fact the 'Monolith' on Mt. Umunhum is actually a six-storey building which was a US Military early warning RADAR station from 1958 until 1980. The building used to have a large RADAR antenna on top. The site is now closed to the public due to asbestos and lead poisoning.

I have seen the monolith from a closer distance at Almaden Quicksilver County Park and want to get closer. I have seen that this is possible by hiking the Woods Trail at Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve so today I head up there to do just that!
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The hike is easy - only one trail - as can be seen here...


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I arrive at the Hicks Road Trailhead just before 8:00AM and wait for the rangers to come and open the gates to the parking lot. I get a map and decide to hike out as far as Mt. El Sombroso


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The morning sun lights up the eastern hills quite beautifully


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Always ready for a nature shot I find this lovely thistle too enticing to pass up


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As I continue along the Woods Trail Mt. Umunhum and the monolith are watching my every step....


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This cricket is exquisitely camouflaged and blends in really well on the trail. Though like most insects he likes having his photo taken :-)


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As I draw closer to the monolith it really becomes apparent that it is six storeys high - from down in the valley it looks so small! Apparently the complex includes the RADAR tower, officers´┐Ż quarters, mess hall, a shop, a one-lane bowling alley, swimming pool and a gymnasium!


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This gorgeous butterfly was quite difficult to get a shot of! I think it is a Mylitta Crescent butterfly


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Another shot of the RADAR tower. Apparently the new stimulus grant might allocate money to clean up the Mt. Umunhum summit - one article that I read said it would cost $11 million! But it would be wonderful if it was cleaned up and the site opened to the public. For sure I will be up there quick as a shot!


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Another Mylitta Crescent butterfly - yeah yeah I am a sucker for cute butterflies :-)


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People may say that my head is in the clouds for taking this photo - but what can I say - it is rather pretty isn't it?
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