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95. Volvon Trail (11/21/98)

Hikers (9): Eugene, Jamie, Jane M, Kenny, Peter, Pistol Pete, Russ, Steve, Taylor
Distance: 6 miles
Rating: 3 difficulty, 8 beauty
Park info: Morgan Territory Regional Park near Livermore

Write-up by Peter

We chose a short hike for benefit of those (Rusty) who wanted to make sure they'd get back early for the big college football rivalry games. Of course, nothing is ever guaranteed on an INCH hike .....

We headed out to a park we had never visited before -- Morgan Territory Regional Preserve, on the northeast side of Mt. Diablo. The trail we chose is named after the Volvon, one of five historical Indian nations in the Diablo area, who were well-known for driving Swedish-made automobiles. The hiking bible said it would be "an excellent hike, demanding at times, rising along the park's sandstone hills to a ridgeline (2000 feet) with an excellent view." It was an offer we couldn't refuse!

The park entrance was located on a twisty, winding road about 10 miles north of Livermore. I enjoyed the drive, but suffice it to say my passengers did not share my enthusiasm for the road! Other drivers included Kenny, who had made a rare INCH appearance and got conned into giving some of the moochers a ride in his new Lexus, and Jamie, who brought Jake along to kick some butt as usual.

1, 2, 3, ... INCH!

We headed out on the Volvon Trail. Not much to report here -- just your standard East Bay fire road, with a gentle grade leading a few hundred feet to the top of the ridge over the course of about 1.5 miles. The view from the top of the ridge was great -- Mt. Diablo to the left and the endless Central Valley stretching out beyond the Altamont Pass to the right.

After another quarter-mile we arrived at the Loop Trail -- a quick one-mile loop around the peak of the Bob Walker Ridge. For some reason, we got separated into 3 groups in this one-mile stretch. Esteban went off by himself (as usual), a second group consisting of Jamie, Jane, Taylor, and Eugene was up ahead, and the laggards (Rusty, Pistol Pete, Kenny, and myself) brought up the rear.

Our group decided to make things a little more interesting and took a couple of little side loops along the way. By the time we arrived back at the beginning of the Loop Trail, there was no sign of anyone else. I guessed (correctly, it turned out) that Esteban was up ahead on the trail that we had planned to take back (the Coyote Trail) and the second group had headed back on the same trail we came in on. Just once I wish everyone could follow the mapped-out trail!

But all that was secondary. The important thing was that it was time for lunch! As is the INCH custom, we decided to seek the highest point in the park for our lunch spot. We blazed our own trail through the tall grass up the side of the hill to the Bob Walker Peak (2317 feet) and found a beautiful lunch spot under a mighty blue oak. Great view, nice lunch ...... this is what it's all about!

As we sat there, we could see Esteban making his way along the Coyote Trail off in the distance. No one was in a big rush to go and join him. Even Rusty seemed to have forgotten about the USC-UCLA game. A nice day in the country will do that to you!

Eventually, we worked our way back down and onto the Coyote Trail. We thought this would just be a cakewalk back to the car. Wrong! It was actually the toughest part of the hike! First, the wily Coyote Trail led us out into an open meadow and promptly disappeared. After poking around a while, we eventually found the trail again and continued on. Then, it led us along the steep side of a creek. This didn't look like anything on the map. Could it be possible that INCH was lost???

We pressed on ...... this trail was beautiful (which we love), hikers-only (which we love), mysterious (which some of us love), and very non-flat (which some of us love sometimes!). The trail continued up and down along the side of the creek for about 1.5 miles. This definitely did not look like anything on the map. I could tell The Man was somewhat nervous. I was just hoping he wouldn't have a Dipsea flashback and start freaking out on me!

Well, the worries were unjustified -- we suddenly found ourselves out in the open, with a view of the road and trailhead where we had started. That was a nice trail!!

Back at the trailhead, we hooked up with the rest of the gang. Esteban had taken an extra 2-mile hike in the western half of the park on the other side of the road. Good attitude! I had originally wanted to include it as part of the hike for everyone, but cut it out because of time constraints. It just means we have to return and make sure we all do it next time!

Milestones:
Eugene's 50th leaf
Peter's 90th leaf
Steve's 60th leaf



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