Jon Kennedy
Jon Kennedy

Jon Kennedy's 'Postcards from
the Nanty Glo in My Mind

Mount Umunhum, high above Silicon Valley

On Sunday afternoon my friend Michael Masterson (wearing the blue shirt with white flowers in the video) and I drove up Hicks Road from Almaden Valley by way of the rural reaches of Los Gatos toward Mount Umunhum. That landmark, pointed out in several earlier nature walk videos in this series, is the most noticeable peak on the coastal mountain range to the west of Silicon Valley. It is apparently the highest peak in this section of the range and is also made more noticeable by the addition of a structure on the top that may have earlier housed a radar dish that was a major strategic part of U.S. defense during the Cold War. The noises the radar dish made, which Michael recalls everyone picked up on their radios and televisions in the Valley for years, are the source of the peak's unique name. Some claim (but others insist it is not and never has been true) that there is still a missile silo underground on the peak. Now the word is that Umunhum has been demilitarized, but interestingly it is the only major peak in the range that is unlabeled on the maps of the summit. Is that current or a holdover of a now mothballed government policy (or something else)?

Click the play button above for the Windows Media version, or if you are on a platform that is not Windows-compatible, click here to watch the video on YouTube. Double-click to make the video above full-screen.

The video above, which runs under six minutes, was taken from a ridge a mile or more from the Umunhum peak, and the Loma Prieta peak, below which the 1989 Bay Area earthquake was centered, is several miles south of Umunhum. We walked probably two to three miles in a circuit on this ridge, getting spectacular views of Silicon Valley. But the summer haze (better known as smog) limited visibility significantly. On clearer days, the fellow hikers we met there said, it's sometimes possible to see beyond San Francisco to Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, north of the Golden Gate.

The map is more about the places we could view from our vantage point than the small circuit we traversed. The numerals in red show Mount Umunhum (1), Anderson Reservoir to the east of Morgan Hill (2 - it was the end of our previous series of nature walks along the Coyote Creek Trail) and the ridge we were on (3).

— Webmaster Jon Kennedy


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Previous blog: Coyote Creek Trail between Capitol Expressway and Tully Road in San Jose.

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Today's chuckle

To cure being tired as a dog at night, give up growling all day.

Thought for today

A moving picture may be worth a thousand words, but a thousand moving words can sometimes communicate things that, in a movie, would look like a person just standing there, thinking.

— Frederica Mathewes-Green, in her review of the last Harry Potter movie.

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Jon Kennedy's recent book, The Everything Guide to C.S. Lewis and Narnia, from Adams Media, F&W Publications, is available for purchase in support of the Liberty Museum in Nanty Glo and can be ordered here. It is also available on Amazon.