For years, the inscrutable gray monolith had loomed over us from the summit of the forbidden mountain. Now the curse has been lifted, the prohibition ended – how could we not hurry to visit the newly opened summit of Mount Umunhum?
When I moved to the Peninsula, Mount Umunhum was an off-limits Air Force base, directing the surveillance of the wasp-tailed submarine chasers flying out of Moffett Field. With the end of the Cold War, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District purchased the summit and its surroundings, but it was still off-limits, poisoned by toxic waste left from its radar and other installations. The Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 damaged the radar tower, making the location still more hazardous.