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313. Mission Peak (04/13/03)

Hikers (5): Eugene, Peter, Sergei, Steve, Taylor
Distance: 6 miles
Rating: 4 difficulty, 8 beauty
Park info: Mission Peak Regional Preserve in Fremont

Write-up by Peter

This was a rare Sunday hike, due to Per's wedding being on Saturday. The weather had been crappy all week, so I was expecting a small turnout. Even The Man came up with some lame excuse about having to get a smog check on the Russmobile, and bailed on us. I know the truth is that he doesn't like hiking in the rain and is also afraid of cows.

The parking lot at the trailhead is usually jam-packed on weekends, but when Taylor, Dobby, and I got there this time, the place was empty. A steady drizzle was coming down and the lot was flooded in spots. Among the so-called intrepid hikers, only Sergei was there, sitting in his car. A few minutes later, Esteban showed up too. Without further ado, we hit the trail.

1, 2, 3, ... INCH!

Things were not too bad in the early going. There was the expected mud and glop, but overall the footing was reasonable and it was actually quite pleasant to hike in the cool rain. Maybe this wouldn't be too bad after all.

Things continued to improve as we made our way up the hill. Around the halfway point, there was break in the clouds and the sun actually came out. It started to get pretty warm, so I took off my rain jacket and tied it around my waist. I hate carrying a jacket -- it doesn't feel right tying it around your waist, it's a pain to carry in your hand as it keeps flapping about, and I was not carrying a big backpack to stuff it into.

As it turned out, I didn't have to worry about this issue for too long. As we passed through the final gate and made the turn to head up to the summit, a wicked wind kicked up. Thank God I had brought the jacket! I could see Steve up ahead also quickly donning his bad-weather gear. As we continued up to the summit, the wind got stronger and stronger. Actually, it was blowing horizontally and it was hard to stay on the trail without getting pushed off. To make matters worse, the rain started up again, only this time it wasn't just rain, it was hail. We were getting pelted with ice, but we kept going. Visions of ascending Mount Everest were going through my mind!

Steve beat me to the summit (naturally), but I was not too far behind. I think this was one of my better times. I'm sure the cold weather had a lot to do with it. The hail had now stopped, but the wind was still blowing hard. We took refuge behind a rock and waited for the others.

Thankfully, it did not take the others much longer to get to the top. I was proud that nobody had turned back (even though that would have been the smart thing to do). Good job by the truly intrepid hikers!

Now it was time to head back down for a well-deserved hot shower and some warm clothes. I can't think of a better way to spend a rainy Sunday, other than watching football!

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