Tuesday, August 10, 2010

View from the top

I figure I had to do something during my vacation so why not climb a mountain?  I packed up headed to Mount Diablo this morning for a solo hike to the summit.

Early August isn't really the time to be tackling Diablo.  It is hot, dry and the sun baked  trails are murder on your feet.  But I really wanted to test out my knee and see how far the healing has come on the torn meniscus has come.  So with about 5 liters of water my trusty Leki hiking poles and a good dose of stupidity I arrived at the Mitchell Canyon gate shortly after 7:00 a.m.

I new this wasn't going to be a normal hike.  A think blanket of fog shrouded the canyon and the first leg of my journey I shivered my way along the fire road.  That ended as soon as the sun burned the fog off as I negotiated the switchbacks leading to Deer Flat.  The trail was heating up fast and I labored my way to the rest area at Deer Flat for a break.

A long haul up Deer Flat Road would tax my endurance as I neared Juniper Camp.  I tried to push a fast pace but the heat was starting to sap me.  I reached the trailed to Juniper and  began the last climb to the summit.

This would be my fifth solo climb of Mount Diablo, my second this year  and overall the sixth time I have trekked this route.  I have wanted to break the 3 hour mark from bottom to top but it just wasn't going to happen.  Chubby photographers take breaks on the trail to much and the time slipped away quickly.  Huffing and puffing my way up from the lower summit I stepped foot on the summit at three hours and five minutes into the hike.  Close but no cigar.

The fog was still a thin veil in the distance but the views were spectacular from the observation deck.  All that was left was a slow descent through the gravel trail back to my car some eight miles away and about 3,400 feet below me.  I was falling way behind on my hydration and as my head pounded and legs ached all I could think about was nice cold Gatorade in the cooler stashed in my car.
Back at my car at the Mitchell Canyon parking lot I was changing out of my hiking boots when a hiker returning from the trail saw me.  He had one word of caution about the conditions, "Don't go".  He said he turned around halfway up due to the heat on the trail.  Too late I replied, I was already up and down from the summit.  I know I should learn my lesson and not do such a climb in the summer months but I guess I am just too stubborn or like to feel the burn.

No comments: