I woke up early Wednesday and decided to try out Hicks Road in Los Gatos. First, my review. This is a fun road to drive with some great corners that you can take at decent speed. Elevation changes are predictable though there are rock slides (dangerous not just for large rocks but because gravel and dirt on the road surface cause skid conditions which I encountered several times). The route I followed took me past Quicksilver Park and through New Almaden, a quaint little burg with the stars and stripes hanging from every telephone pole. All very pretty indeed.
So that’s the review of Hicks Road. But here’s the story: I was driving uphill and just rounded a sharp corner to find the road blocked by a fallen tree. I was able to stop the car but sat there on the steep incline trying to grasp my situation – do I have to back up? Can I drive around? Is there a chance someone is going to come around the corner behind me and hit me? And then for the first time in all the months I’ve been driving around Silicon Valley’s hills and valleys in the dark of night I felt something. The Creeps.
I’m out here alone in the dark…
Miles away from anything…
And no one in the world knows where I am.
Then I noticed that at some point someone had driven through the top of the tree which laid across the opposite side of the road and onto what little shoulder there was. I stalled the car trying to launch on the hill but was able restart and get moving. I drove slowly through the debris of the fallen tree, dragging branches under my car for at least 2 miles. I didn’t feel like stopping on another steep hill and groping around under the car for branches. Another 4 or 5 miles later I saw a couple of pedestrians (not hitchhiking, just walking) and thought that was weird considering it was 5:00AM.
It was only later when I casually mentioned my morning drive to co-workers that I heard more about Hicks Road: San Jose teenagers have been going up there for decades to get creeped out, there’s a creepy old church and abandoned insane asylum, the disused mercury mines, the whole road is supposedly haunted and home to a commune of albinos who some say are violently protective of their privacy and swarm cars unfortunate enough to stop on the road at night. A Google search for “Hicks Road San Jose” will turn up various and entirely dubious legends for you to read as I don’t care enough to sort it out myself.
I’m likely to go back and drive Hicks Road again but I’ll probably do it during the day. Not because I believe in superstition but just because it’s a little too remote and poorly maintained for midnight driving.
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