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68. Sunol Loop (05/30/98)

Hikers (24): Analy, Beth, Bill, Brian, Doug X, Eric, Eugene, Giri, Henry, Jamie, Jane M, Julie X, Kevin Q, Kim, Mei Chen, Nicole, Olivia, Pete, Peter, Pistol Pete, Quinie, Ram, Steve, Taylor
Distance: 6 miles
Rating: 3 difficulty, 9 beauty
Park info: Sunol Regional Wilderness near Sunol

Write-up by Peter

The largest INCH turnout ever -- two dozen people! Welcome to newbies Brian, Doug, Henry, Mei Chen, Nicole, Olivia, and Pete and a couple of nice folks, Bill and Julie, who hooked up with us at the trailhead. The other amazing part was that it was almost a 1-to-1 male-to-female ratio!

Gathering round to do the INCH cheer was a major task. Every time we tried to do it, someone was missing. After many attempts, we finally got our act together. Squeeze in tight and keep your hands to yourself!!!

1, 2, 3, ... INCH!

Ram was the only one who had been here before, so we put him in front and told him to lead the way (Side note: Ram was also supposed to do this damn write-up. Eight months later, still no write-up, so I had to do it myself. Does he owe me a beer or what?). He muttered something about the Indian Joe Creek Trail, and we followed him like lemmings, scrambling back and forth across the creek bed while being led to our doom.

After less than a mile, our fearless leader suddenly turned off-trail and began scrambling over some rocks. Three or four fools followed him. Looks like we wouldn't be seeing those guys again!

A little further up, Esteban got into an exchange of words with some people who were riding horses down a steep hikers-only trail. Naturally, they tried to play dumb and claim they hadn't seen the signs, but Esty couldn't let it slide without some smart-ass comment. I was too far back to catch the actual line, but the image of his head bobbing from side to side with a big grin on his face is vividly etched in my mind.

After sweating it out on the Indian Joe Trail for a mile, we ended up on a fire road. At this point, Esteban branched out to take a longer route, while the rest of us continued trudging up towards our ultimate goal, the nameless high point of the park (2038 feet).

It was a warm day, and as we headed up the trail, some of the slower hikers started to fall further and further behind. At the next junction (the Esteban-less Cerro Este), we waited for the main pack to regroup before heading up to the high point.

As we headed up the road, Pistol Pete kept us entertained with stories about his crime-filled teenage days. Just when you thought you knew the guy, he comes up with something wackier than before!

About a quarter-mile from the peak, we saw Esteban running to catch up with us. He looked like hell -- pale as a sheet and sweating like a pig. I thought he was going to keel over and die, but he claimed he was fine. How bizarre, how bizarre!

We found a nice spot just off the peak and settled down for lunch. The side of the hill was covered in wildflowers and the view of the valley below was beautiful. There was only one thing that could possibly add to the beauty of the moment. Yes, you guessed it, initiation time for the newbies!! Enjoy the view, suckers!

After a long, lazy lunch, we packed up and headed down towards Little Yosemite. Boy, this place was even more beautiful! It really did look like a little Yosemite, right in our own back yard. Water was cascading between the huge boulders, creating waterfalls everywhere. The sound of the rushing water drowned out the chatter of the large group (at last!).

This place was great! We spread out across the boulders, each picking a nice spot to rest for a while. I took off my boots and cooled my heels in the ice-cold water. Wow! I wasn't able to hold my feet in there for long, and I gathered up my stuff and climbed on top of a huge flat boulder, looking out across the valley below. The view was picture perfect, just like a postcard. I wanted to sit there forever. Egg was sitting on the next rock and seemed to be enjoying it as much as me.

We stayed there for a long time. Eventually, the rest of the crew found us, so we had to head back. Too bad it had to end. My only consolation was that I knew that (a) I would come back again someday, and (b) I had cold beer waiting in the car.

Despite my earlier grumblings about Ram, I have to thank him for picking one of the all-time best hike locations! Just for that, he gets a tree!

Milestones:
Bill's 1st leaf
Brian's 1st leaf
Doug X's 1st leaf
Henry's 1st leaf
Jane M's 1st leaf
Julie X's 1st leaf
Mei Chen's 1st leaf
Nicole's 1st leaf
Olivia's 1st leaf
Pete's 1st leaf
Ram's 10th leaf



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