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113. Mission Peak (03/27/99)

Hikers (6): Geoff, Jamie, Jane M, Jerry, Russ, Steve
Distance: 6 miles
Rating: 4 difficulty, 8 beauty
Park info: Mission Peak Regional Preserve in Fremont

Write-up by Russ

When this hike was selected, everyone figured this would just be another Mission Peak hike. Boy, were we wrong. This was anything but the normal Mission Peak hike and has become one of the most infamous INCH hikes which we still talk about to this day. And for INCH, it is a day that will live in infamy. It is also known as The Attack of the Killer Cows! Read on to "hear" the tale of horror.

This was the first time that we did the Mission Peak hike from the Ohlone College entrance. This is the easier way to do Mission Peak, but we figured it was time for a change. It took a little bit of time to find our way to the entrance. But we did get to the trailhead and off we went.

1, 2, 3, ... INCH!

The hike started off as most of our usual hikes. Steve took the lead, followed by yours truly, Super Jane, Jamie, Geoff, and Big Jerry. Since this hike has been done many times, I figured I would use my wrist weights to add a bit of a challenge. I was feeling good and we were moving at a good pace. We passed some cows and, of course, thought nothing of it. As everyone knows, cows are harmless. Soon none of us would believe that again.

As we turned the corner, we found ourselves amongst a group of cows grazing on both sides of the trail. Steve quickly walked through the crowd of cows and I was about ten seconds behind him. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a cow trot up to me. It startled me and I turned to look at it. It stopped about four feet from me. I will never forget that cow, a black cow with a white face and a yellow ear tag with the number 54 on it. Seeing that cow so close to me made me nervous and I decided that discretion is the better part of valor. I turned to walk away when I saw another blur of movement out of the corner of my eye. The next thing I know, I felt something hit my butt and I was knocked into the air. I hit the ground and felt a sharp pain in my leg. I took a look at my knee and I saw kneecap was dislocated about one inch from where it was supposed to be. If you think it sounds painful, it felt even worse! I rolled on the ground for what seemed like an eternity, when I noticed the pain had eased. I looked and saw that my kneecap had somehow popped back into place. Now I had a chance to look around and judge the situation. I saw the cow that attacked me was still around and looking at me. I was thinking that it was going to trample me and there was nothing I could do about it. And other cows had started to gather around and had actually surrounded me! That was a pretty scary situation.

Finally some other hiker came by and he helped me up. And then my fellow INCH'ers came: Steve trotted back with a rock in his hand (not to help me, but to protect himself), then Super Jane, Jamie, and the rest of the gang. Super Jane got the story and took off back to the car to come pick me up. Someone loaned me a stick and with help I was able to hobble towards a side entrance which was luckily only one hundred feet away. Of course, the gate was locked. Big Jerry was nice enough to force apart the barbed wire and pad it with backpacks and t-shirts, so I could get through. Then there was nothing do but wait for Super Jane to come get me. In the meantime, we watched other people hike by and get chased by the cows. Especially the hikers with dogs. Later, some horse riders came by and asked what happened to me. When I told them I was attacked by a cow, they thought was joking. It was only a bit later that they realized that I was telling the truth.

An hour later, Super Jane was able to make it to where we were. It was straight to the hospital for me. Super Jane was very cool with the whole thing and made sure that I got back in one piece. I told the rest of the guys to continue with the hike, but everyone hiked back to the car and called it the end of the hike.

Epilogue: The party I had planned at my apartment that evening went on as planned. Everyone came over and kept me company. They were nice enough to get food and drinks for me. And I think the party went pretty well, all things considered. I had to wear a leg immobilizer for about one month before I fully recovered. My knee swelled to the size of a large grapefruit. And the worst part was having to explain to people at work that I was attacked by a cow. I couldn't lie and say it was some sort of skiing accident or attack by a bull or something cool. This hike confirmed all of Taylor's worse fears about the viciousness of cows. And I can no longer disagree with her.

Several theories have been presented about why I was attacked by the cow. One was the cows seeking revenge for my burger and steak consumption of my youth. Another theory was my having congress with cows (see Hike #82). Yet another was since I may not shower before hikes, I produce cow pheromones. The most recent theory is the red triangles on my hiking shorts made a target for the cows. Whatever the reason, everyone has become more careful when it comes to cows.

A final note is that I called the East Bay Park Service and complained about the cow. At first they laughed when I told them what happened, but I finally convinced the phone woman that I was serious. I talked to the person in charge of cow grazing in the East Bay and I gave him a full description of the cow. He called back later and said there was a cow at Mission Peak fitting my description. He said that he could have that cow moved to another park and I said he should. I would have preferred that he send me a steak from that cow, but that was probably asking for too much.

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