Sunday, June 10, 2007
Where eagles dare
There a line in a song from my college days, “This mountain I must climb, feels like the world upon my shoulders”. No, things are not that heavy but I could feel every pound of gear and every pebble beneath my feet as a hiking partner and I tackled our first hiking challenge of the summer as we made the Eagle Peak/Mitchell Canyon Trail loop on Saturday.
On the map it doesn’t look that bad but ahead of us was a 14-mile, 2,200-foot climb and descent over Mount Diablo State park’s Eagle Peak. Topping out at 2.369 feet we had a day’s work ahead of us. Armed with a digital camera, two lenses and my Komperdell hiking poles I fell into line as we headed up the mountain.
My friend and hiking coach Alice DeLaurier-O'Neil is a veteran of Mount Diablo and chose our course. We would climb up Coulter Pine Trail to Eagle Peak Trail then we would head to Deer Flat and make the return to our starting point along Mitchell Canyon Road. It really doesn’t look that bad on that map but as they say looks are deceiving.
The trail up the mountain was steep and loose rock and dirt made for treacherous footing. We paused often to catch our breath and take in the stunning views from the ridge, which was perfect for some sweeping vistas through the wide-angle lens.
Still making our way to the top of the ridge almost three hours into the climb and various parts of body are threatening to mutiny. More stops for air and pictures as my knee and calves cry foul. I take a picture of the uphill section of the trail remaining to remind me later my joints ache so much.
We crest the top of the ridge and are rewarded with the site of another trail in loose rock to start our way down. We finally reach the roadway and meet a hiker getting in shape for a Mount Whitney climb. He has 45 ponds of barbells in his backpack as he trudges along a trail. I thought I was insane packing my camera gear until I met that guy.
Finally eight hours after we struck out on our climbing adventure we finally see the parking lot in the distance around the last bend. The camera has long been packed into the Think Tank belt case as
Photography has become a distant thought. The last three miles along the road my feet are throbbing and the only think I can focus on is walking instead of the views around me.
Fourteen miles, a couple thousand feet and eight hours on the trail, not bad for a chunky, 43-year-old photographer. Alice has told me our next couple of hikes are going to be easier. Sounds good to me, more time for picture taking!