Journey: 52 Hikes and more

Hike 43 – With Clare and Bear, May 2, 2010

This was probably going to be my last hike for this project in the East Bay hills.  With rising temperatures and the hills turning brown, soon I might not enjoy hiking here.  That thought brought a temporary cloud of gloom.

I was however getting tired of seeing familiar landscapes and that had left me uninspired to take too many photographs.  The ones I was taking were similar to ones I had taken before.  A change would be good.

The good news was that soon I’d be hiking along the ocean, bay or in the city.  Besides, I only had nine more hikes to go for this project and then I could move on to other things.  My heart skipped like a pebble on a pond.

On most days, I would not bother with a short 5.7 mile hike.  But today was different because I was going to complete the Diablo Trail.  Excitedly, I pulled up at the trailhead for the Highland Trail in Morgan Territory Regional Preserve along the Morgan Territory road.  The time was shortly after 7:30 AM and the temperature was 46 degrees.

I figured it would take about two hours to complete this.  Total climb would be around 700 feet.  With such an early start, I would be home in no time and have the rest of the day to fritter away.  The first mile of the hike had some climbing to it but beyond that everything was going to be easy.

The hike began along the Highland Ridge Trail and as expected, began to climb soon.  It was not too difficult and it was nice to get the legs going.  In about an hour I was at the turnaround point.  This was the same point I turned back from less than 24 hours before.  Conditions meanwhile were ideal for hiking; sunny, breezy, pleasant.  This had been the perfect weekend for hiking.

On my return, I ran into Clare and Bear, a hiker and his dog, who had stopped to photograph a gray fox.  The unhappy fox was firing verbal weapons at Bear.  It sounded just like a barking dog and my ears gladly accepted the barrage.  Bear ignored it.

Clare, Bear and I walked together for a minute or so before I fell back to let them proceed on their own.  I did not want to impose myself on them.  They were hiking together and probably did not want a talkative stranger tagging along.  Likewise, I was hiking alone too and this was my own trip.

In that brief spell, Clare told me that he had seen a pack of coyotes in the canyons on the other side of Morgan Territory Regional Preserve.  I did not know that coyotes hunt in groups and made a note to research it when I got home.  I told him about my mountain lion cub encounter a few weeks ago and he too confirmed that if I saw a long tail, it was definitely a mountain lion cub and not a feral cat.

Subsequent research revealed that coyotes in urban areas have indeed altered their behavior and hunt in packs occasionally.  Usually it is the offspring who hang around with the parents well after they are fully grown and supposedly independent.  It’s the equivalent of a 30-year old still living at home that we are increasingly seeing in the US.

Two hours after I began hiking, I was back in the car.  The temperature had warmed up to 65 degrees.  I felt disappointed with this short hike and wanted to continue on.  So I decided to head towards home and continue walking at a neighborhood park.  It has a hill and some up and down sections, so that would make it interesting.  I covered an additional 5.5 miles at the park before returning home around noon.

The rest of the day I had a satisfied smile on my face because of two reasons:

  • I was finally caught up with my hikes.  I had nine weeks left and nine hikes left.  Because of weather and illness, twice I was up to six hikes behind.  Thanks to the support and encouragement from my wife, I was able to catch up.
  • I had once again completed the Diablo Trail.  Actually, I had hiked it all twice over, since each hike was out and back.  In just over three weeks, I had completed six hikes along the Diablo Trail and covered the 31-mile long trail twice.

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

Here’s a slideshow of these and other photographs from the hike:

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