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360. Mt. Diablo (11/28/03)

Hikers (17): Bunny, Cal, Cristina, Elaine, Eugene, George, Glen, Hima, Janice, Kay, Kiran, Luiz, Nancy, Peter, Sparky, Steve, Taylor
Distance: 13 miles
Rating: 4 difficulty, 8 beauty
Park info: Mt. Diablo State Park near Clayton

Write-up by Peter

Mt. Diablo is one the best places to go the day after Thanksgiving. While everyone else is battling it out in the malls, you can take to the hills and work off those turkey day calories in peace. I was happy to see that sixteen other INCHers shared my point of view.

1, 2, 3 ... INCH!

It was starting to sprinkle as we headed out along the Mitchell Canyon Trail. Esty decided he needed more challenge, so he opted to take the Eagle Peak Trail to the top instead. I was hoping to get this hike over with before the major storm blew into town, but something told me that would not be the case. I don't know if it was because of too much turkey and stuffing the day before, but the group seemed a little lethargic. I guess we would just have to get soaked.

As we made our way up to Deer Flat, the sprinkles started to turn heavier and out came the rain gear. I hate wearing the rain jacket going uphill because I sweat up a storm inside there (aren't you glad I shared that with you?) but I guess it beats walking around in soaking cold clothes all day. At least I was wearing the wicking shirt. Wick, baby, wick!

I made it to the Flat in pretty good time and, together with George, waited for the others to show up. After a short while everyone had made it, so we prepared to head out and get some shelter from the rain at the summit. I once again gave directions to the slower hikers so we hopefully would not have anyone lost today.

It was not to be ...... at our next rest stop, the Juniper Campground, there was no sign of Cristina. We waited for a long time, but still no luck. Unfortunately, she didn't have a 2-way radio and the cell phone reception was spotty at best. George decided to go back and look for her, while I stayed at the campground in case she took a different trail (or the road) up, and the main group continued on up to the summit.

A long while passed and still no sign of Cristina. George radioed to say he had gone down as far as the last fork and not seen any sign of her and was heading back. We assumed she must have turned back, so we began heading up the trail to the summit. The long layoff was not good -- my legs had tightened up completely and it was tough going up the hill. I had to take baby steps for fear of pulling something or cramping up.

After what seemed like an eternity, I reached the lower summit parking lot. The main group was already at the summit. I really wanted to stop and rest my legs, but I figured it would be tough to start up again in the cold and rain, so I kept going. Thankfully, it didn't take too long to reach the top. I joined up with the gang in the little observation room above the museum and counted the heads. Esty had gotten there a while ago, so all were accounted for except Cristina.

We stayed at the top for a while and enjoyed lunch and exchanged stories while looking out at the gray horizon. What a beautiful miserable day for a hike! I just wish we knew where Cristina was ......

As we headed back down in the rain towards the lower parking lot, there she was! She had taken a wrong trail but eventually found her way to the top. Good going! I was relieved to see that she was OK and proud of her for not quitting. I wanted to give her some time to rest, but she insisted she was fine and so we began heading down the back trail towards Prospector's Gap (which Elaine was sure was the wrong trail because we had gotten lost here once before).

I'm happy to report that we did indeed take the right trail back to the car, and nobody else got lost the rest of the day. Moral of the story: If you want to go at your own pace, that's fine, but bring a radio!

Highest point in Contra Costa county
Cal's 60th leaf
Luiz's 1st leaf

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