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285. Mission Peak (09/21/02)

Hikers (12): Auri, Cal, Changhong, Chetan, Gina Y, Hussam, Janice, Less, Oliver, Peter, Steve, Taylor
Distance: 6 miles
Rating: 4 difficulty, 8 beauty
Park info: Mission Peak Regional Preserve in Fremont

Write-up by Peter -- Pictures by Janice

In honor of the full moon falling on a Saturday, I decided that the 20th INCH trip to Mission Peak should be an evening hike. Since Rusty, who is afraid of both cows and the dark, was out of town, there was no objection.

We showed up at the trailhead in the late afternoon, only to find a large sign saying the park was closed due to fire danger. Bummer! We began to discuss other options, such as moving the hike to Alviso Slough or Pleasanton Ridge, but none of them seemed practical at this late juncture. At this point, Jinglan and Patrick bailed out, saying they did not want to stick around. On Steve's recommendation, we rewarded them with a Black Leaf of Shame for their weasely behavior.

After some additional discussion, we decided to just go for it and hike the peak. We could see that a number of other people had done the same, and seeing as it was close to sunset and things were cooling down, we didn't think it would be a problem. As we were gearing up to head out, I saw Cal over by Hoy's car waving his hiking poles around. Turns out she had just locked her keys in her car and he was trying to fish them out. Cal was unsuccessful, so we had to leave Hoy behind to deal with the AAA while we headed out (no Black Leaf for her, but no INCH leaf either).

1, 2, 3, ... INCH!

We welcomed four newbies -- Auri, Chetan, Hussam, and Less -- to the hike. This hike is a good test for newbies. Very often, they don't come back!

About a mile into the hike, Hussam and Less were doing fine, but our other two newcomers were starting to slow down. I guess I should mention that Less is actually Janice's dog. I remembered that we'd had a couple of canine INCHers in the past (see Hike #4), but hopefully this experience would be better than the last time.

We continued slogging up the hill in the late afternoon heat ... Taylor and I had hiked this trail twice a week for the past month as part of the great Steve-Taylor 2002 Weight Loss Challenge, so I was just going on autopilot. About half-way up the hill, I turned back and saw Auri and Chetan way down near the first gate. They had stopped and seemed to be discussing whether or not to continue. I had a feeling they were going to turn back.

We pressed on ... I made it to the top about 5 minutes after Steve (he seemed genuinely surprised that I had made it in good time), followed by Cal, Oliver, Hussam, and then the rest of the gang. Unlike the previous times when we'd be shivering at the top, we were able to sit there for a long time and enjoy a beautiful warm evening with a great view of the Bay Area as the sun disappeared over the horizon.

First group of INCHers at the top, from L to R: Changhong, Peter, Gina, Taylor, Steve, Cal, Hussam, Oliver. And don't forget Less the Dog.

After the sun set, we began to make our way back down. Before too long, we came across Auri, and a few minutes later, Chetan. They had proved us wrong and kept going -- excellent job!!! I give both those guys an "A" for effort. We need more INCHers like them.

Sunset from Mission Peak

The rest of the way down was uneventful (just they way we like it, especially in the dark). No midnight cow attacks to report. Unfortunately, the full moon was on the other side of the peak, so we could not enjoy it on the way down, but we did get a nice view as we were driving home!

Auri's 1st leaf
Chetan's 1st leaf
Hussam's 1st leaf
Less's 1st leaf

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