Hike up Mount Umunhum
My weekly ramble #29
If you read my post Q is for… (weekly ramble #26) you know that this was my second attempt to hike up Mount Umunhum. This time we found a parking spot and successfully hiked the 8.2. mile loop up and back down the legendary summit. It was perfect hiking weather, the air was cold and crisp, but the sun warm and the sky Californian blue. I could smell the Manzanita trees and fell in love with their red bark.
The history of the Mount Um
That’s how the locals refer to it. Umunhum comes from the Ohlone and means resting place of the hummingbird. Mount Umunhum was not accessible during all the years I’ve been living in San Jose.
In the late 1950s, the United States government procured Mount Umunhum to build the Almaden Air Force Station, an early warning radar facility that operated from 1957 to 1980. The station was constructed as part of a west coast network that scanned 250 miles out over the Pacific Ocean. The operation kept watch over United States airspace during the Cold War in search of possible airborne nuclear attacks from Soviet bombers.
As many as 125 military personnel and their families lived and worked on Mount Umunhum. The 84.5-foot tall concrete tower that remains here was the foundation for what was one of the largest rotating military radar ever built. The locals call it “the Cube” or “the Box”. Advancements in technology – by some of the very same people who came to work at Almaden Air Force Station – ultimately made the radar here obsolete and eventually led to the permanent closure of the station in 1980.
The restoration of Mount Umunhum
The summit was closed to the public due to hazardous materials and unsafe, partially demolished structures from the former Air Force station. Plans were made to clean it up and restore it for public use. The demolition of the tower was considered, but in May 2016, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors listed it on the County Heritage Resource Inventory, giving it official historic status and protecting it from demolition. And on September 18, 2017, the road, a mountain biking and hiking trail to the summit were opened. The trail is part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. We already made plans today to hike the 375-miles (and growing) loop one day, probably when we’re retired 😉
On this website Mount Umunhum – Sierra Azul you can find a lot more information about the area and a 23-minute long you tube video Stories of Mount Umunhum. We will probably do this hike again before Christmas and this time I will download the Audio Tour, too.
1 – The Amah Mutsun – who were descendants of the Ohlone – consider the number four to be sacred. In their opinion good decisions are made when the four elements align: heart, mind, body and soul. I will keep that in mind. 2 – Looking for a good image for the four elements I found the blog heart soul mind body. And the author is following my blog as well as a lot of other expat blogs I know. This is such a weird coincidence. Or maybe not?
I’m linking up with Jo’s Monday walks. You can check them out here: