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Hiking Stats as of 11/21/2018
Total Trips:
Total Distance:
Total Elevation Gain:
 325
 3,891.68 miles
 1,060,050 feet
Over the past several months I've been pleasantly surprised that soreness and muscle fatigue following hikes is essentially gone within a couple of days, and I no longer have any adverse reactions to hiking multiple weekends in a row, or doing stretches of 3 hikes in 4 weeks. Such ambitious activity resulted in all sorts of knee problems for me not too long after I first started hiking, mostly in the spring and summer of 2011. Unless I am doing an extraordinarily difficult hike, I now have the pleasure of enjoying a hike almost every single weekend. Of course, that does not mean that I want to necessarily drive out of town every weekend, nor do I want to never have any time at home with my dogs, so I came up with a great idea - evening hiking at Mission Peak.

I've been to Mission Peak several times, and usually combine it with a summit of the higher Mt. Allison followed by Monument Peak. This results in a 12 1/2 mile / 3100 foot elevation gain and can be done in about 4 1/2 hours...the perfect sort of half-day hike I was looking for. Mission Peak has a tiny parking lot, and cars park around several blocks in the area to visit the park. I parked my car as the sun was setting low at 6:30 PM, with my headlamp in my backpack for what I knew would be a night time descent. The wide fire road leading up to the top of Mission Peak, while crowded and fully exposed to the sun, offers ever better views as you head higher. I really wanted to get to the top before the sun set, but I found myself about 15 minutes away from the summit as the sun looked ready to fade. The view of the sun setting across the bay was spectacular, even if I wasn't quite on top of Mission Peak. Soon the sky was a brilliant orange, as I made it to the top of Mission Peak a few minutes after 7:30.

The top of Mission Peak is usually a crowded mess, and even with the late hour there were still several people on top. I wasn't staying long, though, as I wanted to get moving to Mt. Allison as darkness set in. By the time I reached the top of Mt. Allison at 8:10 the lights of Silicon Valley were shining brilliantly. I spent a few minutes enjoying the views and the solitude, before setting out again, my headlamp guiding the way towards Monument Peak. Along the way I turned off the headlamp just to see if maybe the lights of Silicon Valley might light the way, but discovered that was not the case.

The trip up to Monument Peak from Mt. Allison is not terribly difficult, with the trickiest part being the departure from the trail and onto private lands about a quarter mile from the peak. The winds really picked up during this time and I regretted not bringing a jacket or sweater. It was quite warm at the start but up here was another story. Anyway, about 40 minutes after leaving Mt. Allison I was up on the top of Monument Peak, about to head up the rocky summit blocks when I spotted something in the beam of my headlamp. This was a rather fun experience, as I had never seen a tarantula before. The only part that was a bit iffy was that I couldn't really see everything around me too easily due to the darkness. So I did a careful sweep with my headlamp and didn't see any more tarantulas. Satisfied that I was safe, I took some shots of the Silicon Valley and the East Bay before hiking up the final rocks to the summit. I admit to being a bit nervous here, since there were many places that a large spider could hide. I didn't see anything, however, so I tagged the top and then came down. Once down, I found the tarantula again, this time squeezed into some sort of nest. I'm sure the tarantula, being a night creature, was not used to visitors at night, and not wanting to see if he was an angry tarantula, I began the trek back towards Mt. Allison.

I didn't have to resummit Mt. Allison, as the trail wound its way around its lower flanks as it wound its way back towards Mission Peak. 45 minutes after leaving Monument Peak I was back on the top of Mission Peak, this time with only 2 other people on top. I ran into a few others on the long fire road back down from Mission Peak. although they all had flashlights instead of headlamps. I much prefer the headlamp, as it frees up my hands and I can keep the beam steady. I suppose I wouldn't have a headlamp if it weren't for my visits to Mt. Whitney so I guess it isn't that surprising that I was the only one who had one. I did see a dog with a neon collar which I thought was a fantastic idea for night hiking or walking with a dog. I finally got back to my car at 10:45 after a thoroughly enjoyable evening/nighttime hike.

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