602. Maguire Peaks Loop (01/26/08)
Hikers (8): Diane, Iyad, James W, Meera, Mikael, Patrick K, Stella, Steve
Distance: 10 miles
Rating: 2 difficulty, 8 beauty
Park info: Sunol Regional Wilderness in Sunol
Write-up by Iyad
The hike started with low expectations since the description read 11 miles only, including the two meager 1688' and 1360' peaks of Maguire and Flag Hill, respectively. We were surprised to the contrary.
The days before the hike were marked with heavy rain, pouring non-stop for days. The forecast on the day of the hike promised fair weather, although looking out my living room balcony, it was hard to predict what to expect. The sky was still gray, and there was a chill in the air. With skepticism, I filled the drinking water receptacles, packed some food, and then headed to the carpool meeting place to gather with others and head out to the wilderness.
First Steve arrived at the carpool, then I joined him. We waited with anticipation for the two new comers, Meera and Stella. After some time, our minds started wondering, what possibly could have happened? Traffic? Not finding the big sky-blue and white building? Or God forbid they decided not to hike in this miserable weather? It was already 2 long minutes after 9 when we decided we could not take it any more. We picked up our bruised souls, and drove off. Steve was in no condition to drive, so he suggested that I do the driving, so I did. Confused and disoriented, I got the car out of the parking structure but did not know which way to go, left or right. God bless Steve with his gentle soul, he politely told me "Where the $#%* are you going, turn right so we get on to Montague." We got on Montague, then 880. At Mission Blvd exit, as I got confused and disoriented again, so Steve with his empowering voice said, "Go straight you ?@^!". [Editor note: No expletives were uttered, nor was Steve in "no condition to drive"!]
Finally, we made it to our destination. After paying our dues for the salvation of our beloved park system, we met with Diane as she was waiting for us at the trail head. A short while later Patrick joined us, then James. This was Patrick's first hike, and James' second with INCH. We waited for a short while longer in case Meera and Stella may meet us. But it was not meant to be.
We gathered at the bridge to perform the hike ritual; The hands joined together, and with deep strong voices everyone chanted "1 2 3 INCH".
The hike up to Flag Hill peak was steep, but did not take long as it was around 1.5 miles. Around the 1/4 mile point we met with another hiker. After the customary greeting "Hi", and some inquisitive questions, we were pleasantly surprised to meet Meera. She told us that finding the carpool place was a problem for her, and she managed to get there 15 minutes after 9. Stella joined her, and they both decided to drive to the trail head, and started the hike assuming that we already did. My hat goes off to those ladies for there determination and courage to do the hike without the group. A few minutes later we caught up with Stella.
At the Flag Hill peak, we gathered to enjoy the scene of various landmarks. Before continuing with the hike, Steve performed the pre-hike ritual with the new comers, and invited the rest to join.
Our spirits were high and we were ready to conquer Maguire peak without fear. We marched on through up hills, down hills, and switch backs. The ground was muddy, slippery, and filled with cow poop. But this will not be a reason for us to give up, not even the intimidating looks by those cows with piercing eyes along the trail. Finally, we reached the base of Maguire peak. The climb looked formidable, as the peak stood 200', maybe 300' straight above us. The debate raged as to which way to go to the top. Steve, Diane, Stella, James and I took the first visible trail up to the peak. Even thought the weather was improving, there was strong wind blowing at us as we went up. Finally we reached the top. It was worth the effort. Meera and Patrick came up different trail near a bench, having missed the first trail.
This is the half-way point of our hike, and so far we had the park mostly to ourselves. Steve's gadgets indicated that we had covered 5 miles, and were 5 more to go. The remainder of the hike was pleasant as the air got warmer. Along the way we got a treat of seeing an old barn with classical style usually seen in Western movies dating back to the late 1800. There was a water tower nearby that is ready to fall down--probably an unwise place to seek shelter during an earthquake Surprisingly, we ran into a patch of cactus plants just outside the picnic area. It is unusual to find such desert plant in a wet climate zone like the bay area. It is remarkable how humans insist that they know better than mother nature.
It was a little disappointing to reach the end of the hike without a single drop of rain. Why do the rain gods forsake Steve? After all, we were looking forward to the most miserable conditions to hike in. As a punishment, the hike was downgraded to a two mostly because the weather was downright comfortable; but it's a tough 2 considering the two steep hikes to the Flag Hill and Maguire Peak.
Now, you might wonder why Iyad wrote up this hike. I believe it was to prevent me from telling the story about his bovine coprophilia. . .so I won't.
Meera's 1st leaf
Patrick K's 1st leaf
Stella's 1st leaf
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