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Thought, learned, and/or experienced in the course of today’s climb to the summit of Mount Diablo

-A good pair of leather hiking boots requires some time to break in. The fact that you wore them on a painful hike to the summit in August and on several dog walks and shopping trips since will not guarantee a pain-free hike if you wear them to climb Diablo, at least not in the final eight miles of the hike.

– On a winter day after a rain, you might be able to recognize Half Dome from the summit of Mount Diablo without binoculars, despite its location more than 130 miles away.

-When said visit to summit coincides, within a margin of error of 400 feet, with your marking 100,000 feet climbed during hikes in 2006, that fact and the soreness of your feet from the not-yet-broken-in boots combine with the view of gray Half Dome 130 miles east to produce a feeling of contentment that is really rather pleasant.

-On at least one occasion, a flock of more than 150 robins has flown twelve feet above a hiker resting supine alongside the Juniper Trail on Diablo’s west summit ridge.

-The Trader Joe’s trail mix that contains pineapples and cranberries mixed with nuts claims to provide 150 calories per serving, according to the nutritional information on the small bag of trail mix you’ve brought along.

-That same nutritional information panel tells you that the small bag contains 15 servings. You are suddenly no longer hungry.

-When you rest on your way up Mitchell Canyon, you will eventually notice that the manzanita across the road from you is blooming prettily. When you stop to air out your throbbing feet in Mitchell Canyon on your way down, you will eventually notice that the red-flowering currant across the road from you is blooming prettily. You reflect on how rarely you have stopped along this trail without finding some nearby thing worth looking at for some minutes. You dismiss the notion that the trail is replete with interesting things, deciding instead that you possess a secret super-power.

-On your way into the canyon at the beginning of your hike you eat your first miner’s lettuce leaf of the season. You reflect that you can do so safely because dogs are not allowed on the trail. The same reflection flits through your tired mind later when you assume the little dog prints in the mud belong ot the local coyote.

-Your hike marks 410 miles hiked in 2006, a record. It is your 14th successful summit attempt on Diablo in 2006, the 18th in your life. It is the 22nd time in 2006 you have at least made it to Deer Flat.

-There are two more hiking days left in 2006.

9 thoughts on “Thought, learned, and/or experienced in the course of today’s climb to the summit of Mount Diablo

  1. Hank Fox

    Trying to locate Mt. Diablo on Google Earth, I find what I THINK might be it, the high peak in Mt. Diablo State Park, at 37d 52’ 46.85” N 121d 55’ 10.20” W.

    Used to the mountains in the Sierras, I’m trying to decide whether it looks lush, or relatively barren.

    I never minded the Sierras’ jagged bareness when I lived there, because there was so much water. In the backcountry, you were never more than half an hour from a crystal-clear stream or lake. But I don’t see any signs of streams or lakes near Diablo. (And what the heck have they done to the peak?)

    But it does look like a beautiful view.

  2. Chris Clarke

    That’s the microwave repeater in the lower summit parking lot. If you follow the road more or less east by northeast to the smaller parking lot at the end of the loop, you’ll find a building at the east end of that smaller lot. The summit is — no kidding — inside that building.

    The summit isn’t why I go, of course, though the view was nice yesterday. It’s a place to fill water jugs, rest for a moment, and feel the same hiker’s smugness you get when you come down into Yosemite Valley after five days in the backcountry and confront the Prada-wearing tourists.

  3. Charles

    Sorry for the double post.  My Christmas present was being allowed to buy a new Macbook and I’m still getting used to it.

  4. Rob G

    I think the nearest I got to hiker’s smugness was during a charity bike ride, when a friend and I set a blistering pace to get to the halfway refreshment area, and stood languidly smoking cigarettes while greeting the mostly younger, better-equipped and smoke-free latecomers. Dissipation does have its rewards.

    Charles, I’m guessing you’re a married man. That’s my secret super power.

  5. kathy a

    chris, that’s a lot of hiking!  i hope you can see half-dome from the summit of mt. diablo again, sometime soon.  and also that the boots get broken in. walking in wet is hell on the feet, but may help the boots.

    as always, a nuzzle to zeke.

  6. Fred Levitan

    Chris, the lower atmosphere must have been much more clear on Friday then on Thursday, when I was at the summit of Diablo.  While we could make out the snowy Sierran crest, individual peaks such as Half Dome and its granite face were not easily discernible.  As the winds were still blowing a steady 30-40 knots, I theorized that blowing microscopic dust was obscuring the view somewhat.

    I didn’t hike up.  My ambition in 2007 is to make the summit on foot, and perhaps to join you on a summit hike if you would accept the comany.  Have a good year! -Fred