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Hiking Stats as of 11/14/2018
Total Trips:
Total Distance:
Total Elevation Gain:
 325
 3,891.68 miles
 1,060,050 feet
I have spent more time hiking Mt. Diablo than any other peak. In fact, my very first hike was on Diablo in October 2010, and I summited 18 times before I set foot on my first Sierra hike on Half Dome in July 2012. Soon after that I discovered the Sierra peak lists, and my focus shifted from local peaks to the high peaks of the Sierra. I hadn't abandoned my home mountain, however, and summitted it 6 more times between July 2012 and October 2013, giving me a total of 24 summits. But in the 6 months since the dry winter season has allowed me continued access to the Sierra during what would normally be the prime local hiking season and so I remained stuck on 24 summits. 6 months to the day since my last visit recent rains had made Sierra hiking a bit more iffy and so I decided to stay local and head off to Diablo for a try at number 25.

The best part of staying local is it allows me to walk my two dogs before heading out on the trail. I put in a bit over 6 miles and then made the 45 minute drive over to the Regency TH in Clayton. Arriving at 10:45, this was probably my latest starting time ever on Diablo, and the street was completely full of parked cars. Normally I park no more than 10 spots down, but I wound up parking a quarter mile down the street (actually on a side street). So I figured I would see a lot of people on the trail, although in retrospect it wasn't nearly as crowded as I had first feared.

Heading out, it was nice to see that the recent rains had finally turned the hillsides green. In a normal year the hills would turn a vibrant green in December and would remain so for several months. This year, with the end of the rainy season upon us, we will be lucky to have 3 weeks to enjoy those views. It was also nice to see the rains had resulted in a few streams flowing down from the peak, including one which required a bit of rock hopping to cross. My first target on the day would Mt Olympia, followed by North Peak, Mt. Diablo and finally Eagle Peak, which would make for a nice loop around the park. The longest uphill stretch of the day would be up to Olympia, which at just under 3,000 feet requires about 2400 feet of elevation gain to summit. The trail is not too popular, as it is a bit of a challenge and is a circuitous way to head to the Diablo summit. The trial conditions reflected the lack of attention, with a massive downed tree cutting right across the trail. Not that it was hard to get around, but it was a bit surprising, as the Diablo trails are typically very well maintained.

As noon approached, I was on the upper stretches of Olympia, covered in a very pleasant bright green. I summitted at 12:30, and was treated to fantastic views stretching all the way out to the snow capped Sierra. I spent no more than 2 minutes on top, and made my way over to North Peak, which is about 500 feet higher. Of course North Peak suffered significant fire damage late last summer, and I was anxious to see how it was recovering. Unfortunately, the burned areas were doing so well. Darkened scars could be seen over on Mt. Diablo as I made my way up to the summit of North Peak. At least the views looking west from the peak were a bit more inspiring, as I could make out the tall buildings of San Francisco and the towers on the Golden Gate Bridge. Again, I only stayed a few minutes and started on the 450 foot descent down to the saddle between North Peak and Diablo. This route passed on the edge of the fire damage, and the extent of the burn was sad to see. Where there should have been nice green hillsides instead there was no sign of life.

At 3000 feet I picked up the Diablo summit trail, which climbs up the 850 feet to the main summit. The trail wound beneath the Devils Pulpit, and up through the burn area, although in places there were some signs of a rebirth. At 2 PM I reached the crowded summit, and was excited to see that they finally finished the repairs to the summit tower, allowing me my first access since going up in the snow in early 2011. I spent a few minutes checking out the museum and the various monuments in the visitors center. While I was up there I also bought a replacement hat for the one that I lost in the high winds on White Mountain back in November.

With most of the days hard work done, I made my way over to the Devils Pulpit, which is an easy half mile walk on the far east side of the top of the peak. The Pulpit is a fun little class 2/3 scramble, and I was up it in less than a minute. What I didn't expect was that someone was climbing up the more difficult full class 3 south side of the Pulpit, something I hadn't even considered. I descended the Pulpit and made my way over to the south side, and gave it a go. It was quite a bit more difficult, certainly class 3, although the exposure never felt too bad. This time it took me a couple of minutes to get up this steeper side, and I very much enjoyed this diversion. Certainly the preferred way for future trips. Next up was a trip over to Eagle Peak, which would require a descent of about 1800 feet to the saddle followed by a gain of around 400 feet. I chose to take the Bald Ridge trail, which passes right underneath the summit, and ultimately along the ridgeline on the way to Eagle Peak. By 4 PM I was on top of Eagle Peak, which offers a great view back towards the other 3 summits. From the summit of Eagle Peak it is a 3 mile slog back down the hill, and my feet were starting to give me some problems (well actually just my little toe). I hadn't completely broken in my new hiking boots (that's what this trip was for, so I could take them to Clouds Rest next week) and I was paying the price for my lack of pre-hike preparation. My pace slowed as I tried to avoid the toe pounding, and I opted for the longer but less steep trail back down, passing by Twin Peaks and Mitchell Rock on descent. A bit after 5 PM I was back on relatively flat ground, only to be either threatened or solicited by a wild turkey as I made my way back to the car. I was shortly back at the car, and despite thoroughly enjoying the day, the realities of the oncoming hot summer months may not allow me to get back to my home mountain until fall.



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