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370. North Peak (01/31/04)

Hikers (20): Barbara, Bunny, Cal, Carissa, Chester, Cristina, David, Elaine, Eugene, George, Glen, Gwynneth, Hima, Kay, Kiran, Peter, Ross, Russ, Steve, Tania
Distance: 12 miles
Rating: 4 difficulty, 8 beauty
Park info: Mt. Diablo State Park near Clayton

Write-up by Peter -- Pictures by Russ

Finally, the first decent hike of 2004. After weeks of wimpy hikes, it was time to sweat! We hadn't been to Diablo's North Peak for a long time, so we were certainly overdue for a trip to the famous antennas. I couldn't believe that 20 people showed up for this one! We welcomed newbies Carissa and Chester and hit the trail ...

1, 2, 3 ... INCH!

My original plan was to head east from Mitchell Canyon on a flat trail and up one of the switchback trails to Prospector's Gap and then up to North Peak, but on the spur of the moment I decided to make this a tougher hike and take the group up via the Eagle Peak Trail (that's the good thing about not making up trail maps). Heh, heh, heh!

About half a mile into the hike, Dobby was already cursing me loudly. I was happy to see that I had made the right choice. I showed no mercy and told him to shut up and keep walking, and he actually picked up the pace and began to leave me in the dust. I've always said that if he uses as much energy to hike as he does to complain, he will be up the hill in no time.

We kept on climbing up towards Eagle Peak. At one point we came to a fork and I could see that Dobby had not seen the arrow trail marker that George had laid down and was off on the wrong trail. I called out to him, but to no avail. I figured that as long as he kept going uphill, he'd end up at Eagle Peak, so I didn't worry about it and kept going. Sure enough, the bastard actually beat the rest of us up to the peak by taking the shortcut.


Looking at North Peak from Eagle Peak -- we have to climb up there???

We stopped to rest at Eagle Peak for a while and enjoyed the view. It was a nice crisp January day, and we could see for miles in all directions. The front-runner group took off, and I stayed at the peak with Bunny and Gwynneth. Cal, Barb, Cristina, and the newbies were still a ways down the hill, but we were able to make radio contact with them, so we knew they were OK. We knew we still had a fair distance to go, so we didn't hang around too long and, after a brief rest, headed out to catch up with the others.


A hawk hunting for some INCH stragglers

We made our way down from the peak and along the trail to the Muricho Gap. The towers of North Peak loomed high in the distance. It was hard to believe that we were going to be there in less than an hour. From Muricho, we took the Bald Eagle Trail (my favorite trail in the whole park) over to Prospector's Gap. Radio contact told us the others were still on the right track, so we kept going, up the fire road to the North Peak.


The Man beats Esty to the top (but who took the photo?)

We huffed and puffed the final few hundred steps up the steep incline to the antennas at the top. Whew! It felt great to finally make it. I could see that the front-runner group was sitting off to the side beyond the peak, so I made my way up the steps to the peak, touched the rock, and headed back down. There was a cold wind blowing, so I sought the shelter of some large rocks and a warm spot in the sun. Time for lunch!


Our destination -- the radiation-emitting antennas of North Peak

I sat there enjoying my canned chicken (it was the only thing I could find before running out of the house in a mad rush that morning) as the others began drifting in. I was so tired and hungry I didn't even care to look at the view, but they tell me it was nice.


On a clear day you can see the snow-capped Sierras from the top

After waiting for the better part of an hour, people were starting to get mighty chilly, so we began to head back down. Bunny, Glen, Cristina ,and Barbara had still not made it to the top and we were hoping to intercept them on the way down. We saw Bunny and Glen pretty quickly, going up the steep incline as we were slipping and sliding down. We told them we'd wait for them at the bottom of the hill while they went up and came back.

We waited at the bottom of the hill for another half-hour and Cristina and Barbara finally showed up. By now, the rest of the gang was itching to get going and I almost had a full-scale mutiny on my hands, so I dissuaded Barb and Cristina of trying to go to the top and instead got them to join us on the trail to Olympia Peak.

All right! Everyone was back together again. We headed out on the trail to Olympia. In all my visits to Mt. Diablo, I had never been there, so I was looking forward to doing something new. It was a pretty decent trail, a little gravelly, but otherwise pleasant and it did not take too long to reach the peak. Compared to the Diablo Summit and North Peak, there was not much to see, so we didn't stay too long and began the downhill trek back towards the car.

On the way back, we broke up into multiple groups, and each ended up taking a different trail back. I took Dobby on the toughest trail I could find, going back up to the top of a ridge and back down the other side. Naturally, he was bitching and moaning and cursing up a storm. I loved it. We could see most of the INCHers down below, taking the easy way around the hill. Booooooooo!

Finally back at the car, we rested our tired feet and prepared to wait a while for the others to show up. I had made the mistake of not getting Barbara's car keys, so we had to sit there and shiver in the parking lot while most of the others took off. Damn! Thankfully, they showed up just before dark so we headed out to get a warm dinner and a well-deserved couple of drinks!

Note: George's altimeter showed that we climbed over 4400 feet on the hike, almost as much as going up Half Dome from the valley floor (of course, at lower altitude) -- not a bad day's work!

Milestones:
Carissa's 1st leaf
Chester's 1st leaf
Eugene's 230th leaf



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