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52. Mission Peak (02/14/98)

Hikers (2): Russ, Steve
Distance: 6 miles
Rating: 4 difficulty, 8 beauty
Park info: Mission Peak Regional Preserve in Fremont

Write-up by Russ

I know. You're saying, "Not another Mission Peak hike." This wasn't your ordinary Mission Peak hike. What was supposed to be an easy hike to stick it to The Man while he was gone turned into a fight for survival. A battle against the elements.

It had been raining in the morning and Esteban and I had initially cancelled the hike. By late morning, it appeared that the skies had cleared. We decided to go for it. Off we went. As we were approaching the park, we could see the clouds get darker and darker. When we started the hike, a light drizzle was coming down. Maybe it would be a good idea to skip it. Not when there is a chance to gain a hike on The Man!

1, 2, 3, ... INCH!

And away we went. The killer cows were out in force and giving us dirty looks. Like we had anything to do with the rain. The trail was a quagmire and getting worse by the moment. By this time the rain was really starting to come down. At the one-quarter point to the top, Esteban started to pull away from me. He was navigating through the slop much better than I was. He was wearing his fancy, smancy Reebok hiking boots and I had my $20 hiking boots on. I wasn't going to get my good boots muddy. Half way up, I could see Esteban on the horizon. The rain was really starting to come down and the wind was really picking up. I was thinking any sane person would quit and call it a day. But we aren't that smart, which is why I didn't even bring a jacket on this hike.

On and on it went. Fighting the wind and rain the entire way. I gave into temptation and short cut part of the way. I just wanted to get this miserable hike over with. Short cutting was almost a disaster and several times I almost slid back down to where I came from. At this point, Esteban was way ahead and I was just hoping he remembered the way to the peak. I certainly wasn't going to look for him.

Finally the last push to the top. All of the elements were going against us. Pelting rain, 40 mph wind gusts and fog. Luckily we have been to Mission Peak so many times, I didn't have to worry about getting lost. Almost at the top, I ran into Esteban. He beat me there by about 10 minutes. He had thought I turned back. No chance. The both of us went to the peak and touched the marker. And then turned right around and went back.

Esteban was going down much faster than I was. My usual problems with downhills was compounded by the mud. Esteban crouched behind the trash cans to get some shelter from the storm while he waited for me to catch up to him. Esteban finally decided that the weather was bad and took off his windbreaker and put on a squall jacket. He was nice enough to loan me the windbreaker. It was worth more to me than the finest mink coat on the planet. Off we went again.

My greatest fears were realized. We had to face the slippery mud all the way down the hill. Esteban again raced off without me. I did short cut at the same point as before. This time I fell down about 3 times in the mud. Not a pleasant experience. After what seemed like forever, I made it to the bottom. At the last fence I had to climb over, the strap holding the Red Canteen broke. Oh no! I looked at it for a couple of moments, not registering what had happened. Heartbroken, I picked up the Red Canteen and continued back to the car.

Again, I had to suffer though the evil eye from the killer cows, who had now decided to stand in the middle of the trail. It actually was a bit scary. At least it seemed to finally stop raining. Walking to the trailhead, I managed to slip a couple more times in the mud. At the very end, the rain became a downpour and I realized that I was stupid enough not to bring a change of clothing with me. No time to think about that now. I jumped into the car covered with mud.

Quite an adventure, and I was glad that Esteban and I managed to live through it.

I left Mission Peak vowing that the Red Canteen would return.

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