Journey: 52 Hikes and more

Hike 42 – Conquering My Everest, May 1, 2010

This hike is going to be brutal.  I know it but I have to do it.  I’m doing everything I can too not feel too anxious.

The last time I was here on a hot summer afternoon, I had to give up and complete it a different time.  Today, I had to conquer this hill.  This time I had two strong allies on my side: experience, and better planning.

My goal was a modest 11.2 mile hike with about 1,850 feet of total climb.  The section I struggled with two years ago was a 1,000 foot climb in just over a mile.  It was a hot summer afternoon and I almost made it to the top before concluding it was best to turn around and live another day.  I completed the section from the opposite direction later.

At 7:10 AM, I pulled into the Round Valley Regional Preserve parking lot.  The temperature this early was a cool 56 degrees.  It looked like an awesome day to hike.  Conditions were windy and a little cold but those would only help me in my hike.  Out here, I’ll gladly take windy and cold over hot and stuffy conditions.

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Hike 41 – Roller Coaster Hike, April 25, 2010

Early in the morning, I drove in a semi-awake state to Danville.  Through my narrowed eyes, I noted some wild turkeys along the road.  Adrenalin socked my body awake.  I hoped these turkeys weren’t plotting a fatal attack.  They might be po’d at me for savoring their kith and kin.  They could have picked up hunting and stalking techniques from mountain lions that roam the hills and backyards of Danville and I may be their next target.  Thankfully, rational thoughts prevailed; I was not intercepted by wild turkeys.

Around 7:15 AM, I quietly walked up a private road at the end of a Danville cul-de-sac.  A sign had made it clear that if I did not behave, my fellow hikers could lose their access.  Many sections of the West are still open to the public because of the generosity of these landowners.  I respect their privacy and magnanimity, so I put on my responsible and honorable citizen’s act and walked with delicate and deliberate steps.  My shoulders dropped under the pressure.

My goal was to link my two previous hikes and cover section two of six of the Diablo Trail.  This would connect Emmons Canyon to Black Hawk Ridge.  Total distance including access to the trail and back would be about 12.5 miles with about 2,400 feet of climbing.

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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.

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Hike 39 – Nothing Like the Grand Canyon, April 18, 2010

My morning began with a cup of tea enjoyed leisurely.  After an evening hike the day before, I was determined to take it easy today.

The usual distractions including laziness, email and the internet kept me home longer than they should have.  But I was not complaining.  After weeks of hiking in cold conditions, I would finally be able to hike free of jackets, vests or fleeces.  Back to the joys of hiking unencumbered; just jeans and t-shirt.

Everything suggested that this would be a great day to hike.

Pulling into Marshall Drive in Walnut Creek, I silenced the engine and The Magnetic Fields song “Grand Canyon” faded out with it.

My plan was to tackle the beginning of the Diablo Trail.  This would be section one of six of the Diablo Trail for me.  A week back I had covered section four of the trail.  This section would be an easy out and back 11 mile roundtrip with total climb of 1,400 feet.  There was nothing grand or canyon-like about this hike.

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