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362. Mission Peak (12/06/03)

Hikers (28): Andy, Cal, Charles, David, Eugene, Gwynneth, Hima, Hoy, Janice, Jinglan, Kay, Kevin T, Kiran, Less, Miwako, Moki, Nancy K, Padraig, Pauline, Peter, Ross, Russ, Steve, Sue, Tania, Taylor, Wei-Kai, Winnie
Distance: 6 miles
Rating: 3 difficulty, 8 beauty
Park info: Mission Peak Regional Preserve in Fremont

Write-up by Steve

It was exactly Russ's birthday, so it was time for his traditional Mission Peak B-day hike. It was also his turn to plan a hike, so he played the birthday card ("Why do I have to plan my own birthday hike?"). Since I've been known to play the birthday card for an entire month, I could hardly argue.

Despite the threat of rain, 28 people showed up for the hike. Perhaps they thought there would be cake? Nope, that would be next week.

1, 2, 3 ... INCH!

The Mission Peak trail was re-routed earlier in the year, and seems to be easier. Just to add a little "kick", I have started taking the Horse Heaven trail around the back of the mountain. The path isn't any harder, but it is a little longer. I didn't want to take everyone up this trail, so I told fast-hikers Tania and Kay that if we all got far enough ahead of the rest of the group, I would take them around the "back door" route. I figured nearly everyone has done the straightforward Mission Peak before, so there was zero chance that anyone would get lost.

My plan was a bit of a bust, as Kay and Tania were so busy chatting that they failed to create a large enough gap between themselves and the next group. In fact, it was Ross (who we had "picked up" at the trailhead) who was the first to meet me at the Horse Heaven trailhead. By the time the other two got there and we set off, others (David and Gwynneth) could easily see us on the "side" trail and followed. Fortunately, the next group stopped (realizing something wasn't right) and saw me gesture toward the normal path. After that, the rest of the INCH train took the normal route. Whew! All my scolding of Kay and Tania was for naught. (Forget the fact that I was the negligent party for deviating from the normal route!)

We got to the top around the same time as the lead group from the normal path. After touching the post, we all got on the lee side of the rocky crest, because the wind was gusting hard, even by Mission Peak standards. It was nearly as bad as Maguire Peaks, although it was still possible to walk in a straight line. Once everyone got to the top, we were happy to get out of the wind and start going back down. (Although I did escort Winnie back into the gale force winds to maintain the tradition of touching the "official" MP post!)

Not everyone went down the same way, though. Since Kay's round-trip from Sac-town to Mission Peak takes longer than the hike itself, she, Hima, and Tania decided to extend the hike toward Del Valle along the Ohlone Trail. I've heard from them since, so apparently nothing terrible happened.

The wind stopped pretty quickly once we got off the peak. From there, it was an easy hike down with nary a drop of rain. The more we expect rain, the drier it seems to be this year.

Milestones:
Gwynneth's 30th leaf
Hoy's 30th leaf
Moki's 1st leaf
Padraig's 20th leaf
Ross's 1st leaf



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