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45. Mt. Diablo (11/08/97)

Hikers (7): Cindy, Eugene, Julia, Nanda, Peter, Russ, Taylor
Distance: 13 miles
Rating: 4 difficulty, 9 beauty
Park info: Mt. Diablo State Park near Clayton

Write-up by Peter

We headed back to the Devil Mountain, scene of a couple of good hikes in the past (also home of the East Bay Devil Hash).

Obviously, last week's Triple Moon was not enough to put Cindy off hiking, so she decided to come back for more punishment. One of our hash newbies, Julia, joined us for her first INCH hike. Another hasher, Nanda (a.k.a. Holy Cow) also put in a rare INCH appearance. If you like the hash, then you'll love the INCH!

We got off to a late start -- never a good sign, especially late in the year when the days are getting short. Nevertheless, we forged ahead. Rusty and Julia took the early lead, with Nanda and myself keeping pace, and Cindy, Eugene, and Bun bringing up the rear.

The first couple of miles along the bottom of Mitchell Canyon were flat, then we started the uphill climb towards Deer Flat. Feel the burn! Since it was a nice cool day, it made the climb a lot easier. We all regrouped at Deer Flat, and after a brief rest, resumed the hike.

Peter and Rusty at Deer Flat
(it gets lonely in the woods!)

From there, it was pretty much fire road until we got close to the summit. Julia kept asking how much further we had to go, so I had to keep lying and telling her that we were almost there. I conveniently forgot to mention that the final mile to the summit is the steepest part of the trail. I think that was the right thing to do -- she attacked the trail like a woman possessed and pretty soon Rusty was eating her dust! I had to pick up the pace further otherwise I would have been toast too.

We finally made it to the top. I collapsed in a heap and began devouring my sandwich while Ms. Energizer Bunny decided to go and do a little sightseeing around the Mt. Diablo Museum. The rest of the gang began to drift in slowly.

Julia, Peter, and Rusty at the Mt. Diablo Museum

After lunch, we headed around the mountain to take the long trail back via Donner Canyon. Two problems: First, we couldn't find the trailhead and wandered around aimlessly for about a mile, and secondly, it was already after 3 o'clock and the sun was going down rapidly. I didn't think it was a good idea to have people (espcially newbies) separated and walking around in the dark, so we did the safe thing and headed back down the same trail we had come up on.

The pack got separated into two groups, with the men leading the way and the women walking (and talking!!) a couple of hundred yards behind. Due to the nonstop chatter, we knew they were close by at all times! It seems that Taylor had finally met her match in that department. I'm not naming any names, but all I have to say is that I couldn't hear Cindy's voice very often!

The highlight of the return trip for me was a spotting a tarantula on the fire road at the bottom of the canyon. Naturally, The Man was totally oblivious and walked right by it. In fact, it's probably a miracle that he didn't step on it!

By the time we made it back to the car, it was pretty much pitch black. We had definitely made the right decision to take the short route back and save the longer trail for our next visit.

Highest point in Contra Costa county
Julia's 1st leaf

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