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38. Murietta Falls (07/26/97)

Hikers (2): Peter, Russ
Distance: 12 miles
Rating: 5 difficulty, 9 beauty
Park info: Ohlone Regional Wilderness south of Livermore

Write-up by Peter

The INCH trek to Murietta Falls -- a July tradition!

Once again, Rusty and I found ourselves to be the only ones dumb enough to take on a long hike on a hot summer's day. Our mission was to go back to the dried-out falls and find the bottle caps we had accidentally dropped in the water on our last visit (see Hike #23).

After picking up lunch at the Safeway in downtown Livermore, we arrived at a deserted Del Valle Regional Park. No need to fight for a parking space!

1, 2, 3, ... INCH!

We headed out at a brisk pace, but not too fast, because we knew what was coming up soon -- a mother of a climb! There are some things in life that just get the heart pumping: winning the state lottery, the opening kickoff of the NFL season, and the first big uphill on the road to Murietta Falls.

After making it up to the first gate, we rested for a while. We had made sure to bring plenty of water this time, so we just sat there and guzzled it down between deep breaths. OK ... let's get the show back on the road!

The remainder of the outbound trip was fairly uneventful. We headed up to the top of the ridge, down into the gulch (which was almost dry, except for a couple of small puddles), back up the other side, and out to the dried-up falls. Needless to say, we did not see another person on trail the entire way.

At the falls, we looked around for our bottlecaps without any luck. Some kind soul had probably picked them up a while ago. Satisfied that we had given it our best shot, we backtracked up to sit under a shady tree and have lunch (the same tree we had stopped at on our first ill-fated trip to visit the Ghost of Murietta).

On the way back, we finally saw a couple of people. They did not seem to be carrying any supplies and were just happily walking along dressed in tank tops and wearing regular sneakers .... just out for a stroll in the park! Very strange.

As per Murietta tradition, we stopped at Schlieper Rock on the way back. Rusty had missed it on our last visit and I could tell he was thrilled to see it. From there, it was a quick trip back down into the gulch.

After stopping at the gulch for a long rest (another Murietta tradition) we began the steep uphill back. This is my least favorite part of the entire journey. It's not a long climb, but the combination of heat and fatigue always does me in at this point. The good thing is that once you make it to the top, it's all downhill the rest of the way.

Having an ample supply of water really does help offset most of the misery, and the rest of the way back was a piece of cake. The high point was seeing a deer carcass off to the side of the trail. I don't know how we missed it on the way up (it looked like it had been there a while). At least the mountain lions had some food in their tummies and would leave us alone!

As we got closer to Del Valle, we could hear the noise from the valley below. Obviously, thousands of people and their screaming kids had arrived for a day in the park since we had set off. We rested briefly, showered off the dust from the trail (that was a welcome treat), and then said goodbye to our buddy, The Ghost, and hit the road. We'll be back to visit him in the spring!

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