Saturday, March 20, 2010
We have been on a lot of tough hikes and our latest adventure is added to the list. Looking for a strenuous hike to give us a workout we headed to Mission Peak Regional Preserve for a climb to the top of Mission Peak.
Alice had spotted a story about this trail described as a grueling climb to the top of the peak where hikers would find a post marking their ascent. The hike was described as best done in cooler weather so with the first day of spring we headed out to the trailhead.
Our first sign that this is a popular place to hike was the parking lot, filled by 8:30 am as were the neighboring streets. We found a spot a half mile away and set out to the trail. The course up would be pretty simple, Hidden Valley Trail form the parking lot, stay to the left and one right turn near the top to steer us to the peak summit.
The trail was crowed as we headed up, young, old, a few bikes and some hikers with the dog. There were a lot of new hikers on the trail as they really didn't know the hiking etiquette rules, where to pass, which side of the trail to hike on. The trail itself was hard dirt fire road sometimes with gravel and other parts rocky.
This was going to be a pretty tough hike. First of all there was no shade, not a speck the entire time. Then there was the footing, slick in spots and hard on your feet as we pounded away up the trail. But hardest of all was the fact that the trail was one big up. I don't think we had one level flat spot anywhere the whole time. You were either headed up or heading down. Crossing a cattle gate the trail slope increased as we began or 2,000 foot climb
The scenery was pretty much the same any direction, rolling hills, a few trees and the never-ending trail winding upward. The bay area loomed in a light fog behind us as we trudged away. It became a matter of winding up the trail past the slower hikers as we headed for the peak. At rest stops we would hear other hikers wondering if they would make it to the top as they labored on the lower approaches.
An hour and half into the hike we finally got a glimpse of our destination. Rounding a bend we got a sight of the peak in the distance and the trail curving up to the rocky outcrop marking the peak. We knew we still had a good deal of work ahead as continued with the trail narrowing and getting rougher. We could see a line of people making their way to peak looking more like pilgrims heading to a shrine than hikers on a Saturday afternoon.
A little over two hours and we were in the toughest part of the hike scrambling over the rocks and stone ledges just below the peak. Hiking poles came in handy to help with the treacherous footing. Arriving at the peak we found the post and a large crowd enjoying the view. We stopped for photos at the post and to enjoy the views of the mountains surrounding us including Mount Diablo and Mount Tamalpais.
After carefully making our way down the rocky ledge we settled into a long descent back to the parking lot on what we thought was probably in the top 5 of toughest hikes we have done. All the effort and sore legs was worth the view from the top on the peak, a great day with great views on our Mission Peak hike.