Sunday, April 12, 2009

Heavenly view

It had been about a month since Alice and I hit the trail and we were both itching to get out and hike. We pondered what would be a good Saturday adventure and then settled on a hike we had been thinking about tackling. We planned to return to the rugged slopes of Mount Diablo State Park for a trip to the top of Mount Olympia.

There are five major peaks in Mount Diablo, the Summit, North Peak, Eagle Peak, Twin peaks and Mount Olympia. We had scaled all of them with the exception of Mount Olympia. It stands just under 3,000 feet high with a narrow one-man-wide trail guarded by think brush and poison oak. Our hike would start from a trailhead just off Marsh Creek Road so we were looking at a climb of just about 2,400 feet to reach the top.

This would turn out to be one of our more difficult hikes. The narrow trail of dirt and loose gravel wound steadily up the slope at a fairly steep angle. We had to watch our footing and the patches of poison oak that grew along side and across the trail. The scenery was what I have come to know from Diablo, jagged rocks straining to reach skyward from grassland and brush.

We walked for some time as the trail lead us to the base of the mountain where we got our first glimpse of the mountain. Jutting up before us on the Olympia trail it looked like a massive wall before us. Spring wildflower dotted the trail as we began our climb up Olympia.

The path up was strenuous to say the least. The trail dropped off steeply beside us as we trudged up the dirt trail. We reached a small plateau where we could finally see the summit with its marker. Storm clouds rolled above us as we watched them cast shadows on the valley down below.

With one final push we reached the top and were rewarded with a gorgeous 360-degree view of the park and communities neighboring the park. North Peak loomed next to us across a small saddle gap while the Summit and Eagle Peak stood off in the distance. At 2,946 feet the view was spectacular as we took turn taking each other’s picture at the summit marker. A few poppies growing among the rocks were our last photo opportunities.

With a steep descent we packed our camera gear away as we made our way down the trail in case of a fall. We picked a less poison oak infested loop to rejoin the trail to the road as we finished our 7-hour hike. It was a long hike but those views from atop Olympia were well worth the effort.

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