111. Flag Hill Trail (03/13/99)
Hikers (7): Eugene, Jamie, Peter, Russ, Shameem, Steve, Taylor
Distance: 8 miles
Rating: 3 difficulty, 8 beauty
Park info: Sunol Regional Wilderness near Sunol
Write-up by Steve
Sunol seems to attract new hikers like flies to a bug zapper, and the results are often the same. The newbie today was Shameem, an innocent new hire enjoying a couple months of sunny California before being sent off to rainy Portland. Previous Sunol hikes have been heavy draws, perhaps due to Little Yosemite, or perhaps it is the lower level hikes (i.e. not 4-5). Whatever the case, we were mixing it up a little this time around by hiking up to Flag Hill for the first time before resuming our normal loop.
1, 2, 3, ... INCH!
The path to Flag Hill was unexpectedly steep, and we quickly started separating. After weaving through a large group of Japanese hikers (many old enough to make us look bad), I reached the top followed closely by triathlon-training Taylor. Looking back down we could see our group was spread way out and intermixed with the other hikers. Once everyone made it to the top, there was a quick roll call resulting in the cry: Where in the world was Shameem? Piecing together data suggested that Shameem might have turned back (or had burst into flames from wearing jeans). Whatever the case, we couldn't wait forever and decided that he was a big boy and could make it home himself. Welcome to INCH hospitality!
From Flag Hill we caught Cave Rock Road and eventually took Cerro Este (no relation) down to Little Yosemite. After climbing around searching out optimal rock perches, we munched on our lunches and enjoyed the roaring creek. Although the valley in no way resembles Yosemite (except both have rocks and water), it is a nice place. It's also a lot of fun to climb around on the rocks. One bit of entertainment was provided by a family who was pushing their huge dog up the steep trail out of the valley (and having a hard time at it).
After lunch we took Camp Ohlone Trail back to the parking lot. I was going to switch over to McCorkle to make it a little longer, but was afraid to become the second lost hiker (plus I couldn't find the turnoff). Upon reaching the parking lot, who should be wandering around but Shameem, looking fresh as a daisy. He had ultimately made it to Flag Hill via a different route and had rested generously along the way. He fully expected us to ditch him. He didn't feel betrayal AND could read a map: good qualities in a new hire. As everyone else trickled in, Shameem was forced to tell the same story again and again. . .
In retrospect, the Flag Hill route will become the trail of choice for future Sunol visits. It adds a nice view and a good kick right from the start, something that the ol' Indian Joe Trail doesn't. For those who want a nice hike that even Grandma can handle, take the Canyon View trail to Little Yosemite, a quick two mile trip with almost no elevation gain and lots of aesthetically pleasing views.
Shameem's 1st leaf
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