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57. Monument Peak (03/15/98)

Hikers (9): Eric, Eugene, Jamie, Kim, Peter, Russ, Steve, Taylor, Wei-Kai
Distance: 8 miles
Rating: 3 difficulty, 8 beauty
Park info: Ed R. Levin County Park in the Milpitas foothills

Write-up by Peter

If you like mud, this was the hike for you!

From Sandy Wool Lake, we began to slog our way up the hill. At the first gate, a sign was posted telling us that the trail was closed because of a fallen tree and some mudslides. Being the Intrepid Northern California Hikers, we ignored the warning and kept going.

The initial part of the trail, which was normally pretty wide, was quite overgrown and we had to walk single file for most of the first mile. After this, things only got worse.

The last time we did this hike, it was hot day in July, and the trail was baked as hard as a rock. This time, it was a swamp.

Before too long, we were all up to our ankles in mud and water. Any time you stepped on what looked like a dry spot, it gave way and your foot sunk deep into the glop. Good thing I washed those boots before the hike! Rusty did even better -- he wore his good pair of boots for this hike. High Bone Density!!!!

We just kept slogging along at a snail's pace, hoping that our boots would not get sucked off as we tried to lift our legs out of the muck. Shiggy!!!

After another mile, we arrived at the spot where the tree had caved in and created a big hole. Luckily, there was some roots to hold on to as we made our way along the narrow ledge, so we were able to continue.

The group began to drift apart. Esteban and Rusty were up front, followed by a middle pack of Jamie, Weikai, and Eugene. The Eggs, Taylor, and myself struggled along in the rear. Taylor was already starting to complain that she was tired, and Kim's formerly white sneakers were now a nice shade of dark brown! Needless to say, the women were not happy. Sensing the anger, Eric wisely took off and left me back there to deal with the women. What a guy!

Hoping to improve our turtle-like pace, I took Taylor's backpack and began carrying it. This worked OK for a short while, until the sudden appearance of the Killer Cows. Now in addition to Taylor being tired, she was also scared. I was beginning to question why the heck I had chosen this hike. Oh, yeah ... I thought it would be fun! How quaint! How naive!

The trek continued ...

After an eternity, the antennas appeared. Not a moment too soon! Knowing that we were almost at the top, the girls picked up the pace. I thought we were home free ............... but, lo and behold, another group of Killer Cows appeared. So close and yet so far!

My only choice was just to shortcut straight up the hill to the top. Naturally, the others who were already at the top began to rain down the abuse on me. Esteban and Eric even gave me a Double Moon salute, but I didn't care. I just wanted to get the ordeal over with.

Aaaaaahhhh!!! Finally a chance to relax. We stayed up there for a long time, just kicking back, enjoying the warm sun on our backs, and admiring the view. The bad news was that most of us had figured that this would be a short hike, so we had not brought lunch. Time to head back down!

We took a different trail back down. It started out great, with no mud anywhere in sight, but things went rapidly downhill from there (so to speak). Before too long, we were back in the quagmire. I just love the feeling of mud mixed with cow droppings squelching between my toes!

We finally arrived at the last gate. The official hike trail looped around from here and led back to the lake through two more miles of mud. The shortcut involved hopping the fence and heading back to the lake on a half-mile paved road. What do you think we did?

The first order of business upon getting back to the car was to throw my socks into the garbage can. No point in even trying to wash those suckers!

It was only a seven-mile Level 3 hike, but I think everyone truly deserved a leaf for this one.

Russ's 50th leaf

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