Journey: 52 Hikes and more

Hike 40 – The Memory-less Hike, April 24, 2010

“Who is the Jackass now, Mr. 52 Hikes?”  The trail was mocking me.

Have you ever noticed how some names leave you scratching your head, “Huh?  What kind of a knucklehead came up with that name?”  I can assure you that you won’t be doing that on the Jackass Canyon Trail because only a jackass would venture out on this unmarked, barely visible, overgrown and wet trail.

My legs, body and arms felt like they were being sliced by a thousand bitter blades.  Would this improve my aerodynamic properties and help me glide through these trails faster?

The trousers were wet from the waist down, adding to the burden of the challenge.  And I was hiking with my arms up in the air.  A hostage of the thistle, wild on this untamed trail.  The uncertainty wore down my determination.  I was unsure if this was the actual trail.

Thankfully I soon saw a Mt. Diablo State Park boundary marker next to the trail.  There could only be one reason for the sign to be here.  I was on the right trail and that realization brought a smile to my face.

Perhaps I was not in a good mood this morning, I reasoned.  After all, I had started my hike about 75 minutes later than I wanted to.  Also, the temperature at the trailhead was a cold 49 degrees at 8:15 AM and my nose discharge was growing faster than our nation’s budget deficit.

That’s when I noted that a rather playful seasonal creek had kept me company most of this hike and began focusing on it’s sounds.  Maybe things were not that bad after all and I began to enjoy the melody of the creek.

In theory, everything on this hike was supposed to be familiar.  I was once again back on the Diablo Trail, working on section three of six.  I had hiked this entire trail before yet I struggled to recognize anything.

Joel P. West’s words floated by my ears:
“I stood here two years ago
And it looked nothing like this before…”

Indeed, I was here two years ago but my aging brain refused to cooperate.

Memory-less, I hiked the Oyster Point Trail.  This is the kind of single track trail I love.  The reward was the trail itself.  Sure there was plenty of greenery everywhere, abundant shade, unexpected meadows, seasonal creeks, interesting rock features that look like cave dwellings and random boulders scattered along the hillside to break the monotonous congregation of wild flowers swaying joyously in the breeze.  But the trail designers had done a fantastic job dreaming it up.

It was generally shaded, had some steep, moderate and easy sections that always entertained, challenged and teased and make the journey itself the reward.  The trail flirted with me, always playing, testing, encouraging and leading me on but letting go or rewarding me before I could decide to give up.

A section of the trail had small white petals scattered all over it and I felt like a bride walking down the aisle.  I wondered if this was nature’s way of wishing me happy trails.  I forgot about the unpleasant encounter with thistles earlier this morning.

Passing a side trail to Oyster Point, I decided to tackle it on the return.  A few hours later I was standing on top of Oyster Point.  This time I rightfully wondered what kind of knucklehead came up with the name.  I speculate that oyster fossils may have something to do with it.  Apparently once upon a time, this area was the bottom of an ocean.

Shortly after 1:40 PM, I was back at the car, enjoying the warm but mild 71 degree temperature.  Overall I had covered a little over 14 miles and climbed approximately 2,000 feet.

Here’s a map of the hike courtesy of Google Maps:

Here’s a slideshow of photographs from the hike:

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