987. Sarah's Special Dumbbell Loop (06/13/15)
Hikers (9): Alan, Brad, Chinyet, David A, Giulia, Nick, Peter, Steve, Yipeng
Distance: 18 miles
Rating: 3 difficulty, 8 beauty
Write-up by Peter -- Pictures by Chinyet and Peter
Sarah scouted this trail a few months back and specifically requested me to schedule it before the weather got too hot. Well, thanks to my dilly-dallying and pussy-footing, it got scheduled for mid-June, just in time for the first major heat wave of summer. Only eleven people were brave/crazy enough to sign up for this one.
1, 2, 3, ... INCH!
By looking at the map, it was clear why it was called the Dumbbell Trail -- one loop at each end with a long connector in-between. And of course, eleven dumbells on the trail.
I knew I was going to be at the tail end of this fast group all day. I managed to keep up with Sarah, Alan, and Yipeng just long enough to hear about the gory details of Helen's recent rappelling injury, then fell back to a slower pace. David was also hanging back with me. Neither of us does well in the hot weather.
As I approached the top of the ridge, I saw Sarah sitting off to the side of the trail. She wasn't feeling too well -- understandable due to the heat -- and was debating whether to continue or turn back. I managed to convince her to turn back, and David volunteered to go with her (I didn't have to twist his arm too hard).
I stopped for a lunch break at the top of the ridge and rested my tired feet. I knew the hardest part was over. After that, the trail got easier and a nice breeze picked up, so I was finally able to pick up the pace. The backside of the ridge had nice views in all directions, and the Coyote Trail led through a beautiful lush green gulch -- very refreshing!
But that was pretty much the end of the shade. The last 5-6 miles would be out in the open, with the sun beating down mercilessly. At least it was mostly flat.
It must have been 95 degrees out there ... if I tried to go fast, it would make me drink more water, but if I went too slow it would drag out the torture longer. I knew somewhere Big Henry was smiling. I ran out of water with about 3 miles to go, but the thought of the cold beer at the finish line kept me going.
In truth, the hike was not very difficult -- hence the Level 3 rating -- but the friggin' heat made it a lot tougher. It felt great to finally sit down in the shade with a cold one -- cheers!!
Honorable mention to David and Sarah for doing a good portion of the hike before turning back.
Alan's post-hike note: The story is not as bad as it sounds, although my face is worse than it looks in the picture because the glasses are hiding the black eye. Yipeng, Guilia, and I were hiking together as we had been most of the day after Sarah disappeared and DavidA left a little before we finished lunch. We went through the merciless valley with no shade or breeze for 5 or so flat miles and were 3/4 of a mile from the finish when we came to at least a 50 foot hill. We pulled over into some nearby semi-shade to check the map to see if we really did have to climb the giant hill. I was grumbling that Sarah had said there was no uphill on the way back, Yipeng was grumbling that the map said we were at 350 feet and the finish was at 250 so how could there be a hill, and Guilia was just pining for a cold drink. We took off our packs and sat/leaned against a branch of the only nearby tree to look at the map. I made the mistake of leaning over to get a water bottle from my pack, and the next thing I new I was on the ground, so I must have passed out - Yipeng said one moment I was sitting next to her and the next I was flying through the air. I thought it was heatstroke, but I had no other symptoms and had been taking electrolytes and drinking all day to avoid cramping, at which I was successful. After about 10 minutes and a consumed water bottle, we got up and proceeded up the giant hill to the finish without incident. I was feeling fine afterward, and the cold beer did taste great! I was pretty confident I did not have a concussion because (1) I was not dizzy or disoriented, (2) Steve and Peter's repartee still sounded as inane as ever, and (3) I could still count 6 fingers on each hand. I drove home without a problem - maybe got flipped off a few times for cutting off other cars, but that's under average. I was sure the heat that caused this incident and Sarah's retreat would at least get Peter to make the hike a level 4, but The Man shows no mercy!
Sarah's post-hike note: So it was 75 degrees already when we started at 9am. At the end of the hike there was some debate among the beer drinkers under the willow trees in the parking lot about how hot it was at 3:30. My car temperature gauge registered 102 degrees -- I had had all the windows open for twenty minutes. I reached into the pockets of the console for my chap stick, pulled off the cap and had it contents pour all over my arms and steering wheel. It was 92 in Walnut Creek and at the western mouth of the Caldecott Tunnel it was 64 degrees!
Steve's note: I cracked my windows and moonroof after finishing the hike, and proceeded to be one of the aforementioned "beer drinkers" in Sarah's comment. Much later, when we left to visit Altamont Beer Works, the temperature gauge in my car registered "100 F" for the next 15 miles.
Chinyet's 70th leaf
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