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16. Mt. Diablo (09/21/96)

Hikers (6): Eugene, Melik, Peter, Ram, Russ, Taylor
Distance: 14 miles
Rating: 4 difficulty, 9 beauty
Park info: Mt. Diablo State Park near Clayton

Write-up by Peter

Our first attempt at hiking Mt. Diablo was thwarted by fire danger (see Hike #12), so we waited a few weeks for things to cool off, and then went back. I had just returned from some great hiking in Colorado (perfect hiking country) and was pumped!

We stopped at the Clayton Safeway and got sandwiches made to order with our favorite sourdough rolls, then headed straight for Mt. Diablo. Since we had been there before, we didn't waste the usual two hours of driving around aimlessly. There were no fire danger warnings posted this time, so 1, 2, 3, ... HIKE!.

On the first part of the trail, we were entertained by Eugene pointing out various types of animal droppings. Fascinating! Rusty had gone up ahead, but hadn't marked the trail, so we weren't sure which path he had taken. We flipped a coin, and the pack pressed on.

The first few miles were pretty uneventful, mostly a straight 1800-foot uphill climb on wide trails. We caught up with Canteen Boy at the Deer Flat picnic tables. Lunch time! Eugene was already starting to grumble about being tired ...

After lunch, we pressed on upwards towards the summit. Russ and Melik were in the lead, Ram and myself were in the middle, and Taylor and Eugene were in the back. Without his dogs to worry about, Ram was holding up pretty well. The trail was straightforward (or so most of us thought), but at some point Taylor and Eugene went off on a side road. After not having heard any noise for a while, I went back to look for them. All I got for my troubles was having my ass chewed out by Taylor. In anger, I banished Taylor from all future hikes, but everyone else knew this wouldn't hold up!

The final half mile of trail up to the top led through some thick bushes and shaded thickets. We made it all the way, only to find carloads of people who had driven up there. When Eugene found out he could have driven to the top, he was pissed!

The book said the lookout from the top was one of the best in the world (second only to Mt. Kilimanjaro in terms of the amount of earth surface that is visible from the top), and it was certainly true. Looking out from the 3800-foot summit, you can see from the Pacific Ocean to the Sierras. On a clear day, Half Dome is supposed to be visible too, but it was too hazy for us to be able to see that far. The only knock on the place is that the there are too many people up there -- it would be perfect if there was no road to the top.

We decided to take a long loop back -- the perfect opportunity for more whining from Eugene. The trail down was steep and dusty. At the bottom of Donner Canyon, we walked along a dry creek with shady trees providing us with some well-deserved respite from the hot sun. Some of us were debating taking a side trip up Eagle Peak, but in the end we decided that we'd walked enough for today, so we headed back for some cool drinks and a nice rest for our weary tootsies.

Highest point in Contra Costa county

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