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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
For this weekends hike I was staying local, going after several named peaks south of Mt. Diablo in an area I had never been before. None of them are on any peak lists, but they made for a most enjoyable hike through a beautiful area, and at 18 miles / 4,000 feet of gain a nice challenge as well.

Since I was staying so close to home I walked the dogs 3 miles each before setting out at about 10:30. I had a general idea of where I was heading, to Morgan Territory Road, but I had mistakenly thought it quicker to head through Livermore and then north on Morgan Territory Road. The road is very narrow and single track for several miles, making for slow going. I hadn't realized that the starting location was only 5 miles south of where Morgan Territory meets up with Marsh Creek Road, so I traveled nearly the entire length of the road before finally finding the TH on the west side of the road. There is no parking at the TH, although about 100 feet north of the TH there are two large turnouts where one vehicle was already parked. It took over an hour to reach this point, so it was 11:45 before I got started on the trail. At the TH there were a few options, and I chose one that would take me up to Old Finley Road. Surprisingly, the direct route up was gated with a No Trespassing sign, so I avoided that way. The route up to Old Finley was easy to follow, first though trees and then, as I took a side trail, through green grasses. I was starting to worry about ticks, and although I spent a lot of time in tall grasses on the trip I didn't seen one tick all day.

Once up on Old Finley Road I turned towards Windy Point, using a Mt. Diablo map that I had purchased several years ago from REI. The map would prove invaluable all day, as I used it exclusively to navigate. The trail officially ended at a gate to property recently purchased by Save Mt. Diablo, although the trail itself continued in a faint manner, and was still listed on the map. It only took about an hour to reach the summit of Windy Point, which was a little breezy but nothing too bad. The views were blocked by trees, so I continued on, heading downhill, back under the barbed wire fence and to the trail. The views towards Mt. Diablo were quite nice during this stretch of the hike, as I traveled south, paralleling the mountain.

Next up was Cave Point, a bit more challenging in that the trail didn't lead up to the top and the cross-country was a bit of an effort. I meandered through this section, taking about 10 minutes to come up to some tall boulders on the top of the ridge. I hiked up the boulders, which offered some really nice views of the surrounding hills. It wasn't entirely clear, however, where the actual highpoint was, and as I continued along the ridge I found another set of boulders that may have been higher. Those were inaccessible, however, unless I was willing to dive through a bunch of Poison Oak, which I was not. I made my way back down through the brush to reconnect with the trail, following that as I made my way over to Black Hawk Ridge. Along this portion of the trail I came across a massive boulder, perched on top of another rock in what appeared to be a very precarious position. The sign next to it labeled it as "Balancing Rock", an appropriate name. I decided to try to climb it, and went to the back side to see if I could find a way up. It was possible, and made easier by a nearby tree which helped in the ascent. I had some fun on top, taking pictures straight down both sides of the rock, sort of hoping someone would come by so I could get a shot of myself on the rock. That didn't happen, so I continued on.

It had taken about 3:45 for me to reach the turnoff for Black Hawk Mountain, with the trail winding very close to the summit, although a bit of cross country travel was needed. Upon arriving at the summit I found a Geocache, in what was a pretty good place to put one. I scanned the register, noting entries much more lengthy than what is found in a normal summit register. I signed in, and found out the next day, after looking up the cache on Geocaching.com, found that this was a special cache that is supposed to be signed only by those who have attained a certain status by finding a number of geocaches. Ooops. Anyway, I took some pictures of Blackhawk and Danville just down the hill, somewhat suprised how quickly one can hike from Morgan Territory to Danville. I completed a small loop and reconnected with the main trail, with only Oyster Point still on the agenda.

The hike to Oyster Point was a bit more challenging, crossing 2 gullies along the way, adding some elevation gain to the trip. I noticed a sign along the Oyster Point trail that I was currently on, not realizing that the faintest of trails was off to my right and that was the correct route. So I continued on the trail, winding underneath Oyster Point, and when it became obvious that I wasn't going to be getting up there any time soon I went cross country up the very steep hillside. This was the worst part of the day, so far, as I first had to make my way up the steep terrain and then encountered ridiculously thick brush once I reached the ridgeline. I tried to get through it, but being more than 500 feet away I just couldn't get there. I gave up, and started to descend, thinking I would have to look for another way. Shortly after starting down I found a wonderful use trail stayed below the ridgeline, and cut deep enough into the hillside to allow me to cross the steep side of the hill. The use trail took me up to the summit, where I was excited to arrive, but once again had limited views.

To descend I followed the use trail down, through much easier terrain. The trail was faint, but visible, and surprisingly it dumped me back out at the junction that I had missed one hour earlier. Geez. From there I started on the several mile walk back to the car, through the trees and finally connecting back to Old Finley Road where an abandoned house sat at the junction of the Oyster Point Trail and Old Finley Road. I decided to follow the Road all the way back to the car, and when I arrived at the junction that I had first encountered early in the day's trip, I stayed on Old Finley, as there was no indication that the private property gate I had seen at the bottom would be an issue. I figured there must be a short side trail or something to get me down. Well, this was wrong. 1 mile and 500 vertical feet after starting down Old Finley Road I was at a gate, signed for No Trespassing. There was no warning, just the gate. I could either hike 1 mile and 500 feet up, then rehike the mile down the other trail, or attempt to cut through the private property for the 5 minutes it would take to get to Morgan Territory. I chose the latter, and was quite nervous as there were 3 houses right on the road. The second house had horses, and they started making a ton of noise as I walked by. I couldn't believe they were so scared, I was on the opposite side of the road but they were letting the world know I was there. I sped up, but stopped when I heard a loud dog barking. Great, I knew I was going to get caught but come on, I was not wanting to hike 2 miles to avoid this last 2 minutes. But when the barking got closer, and a large German Shepherd came running up the road I was more than happy to hike 2 more miles, and I turned around and headed for the gate. The dog would have easily caught me if it wanted to, but fortunately it was satisfied with my retreat, and followed me up the hill until I crossed back over into State Park land. I was really mad that the State Park folks didn't feel the need to sign the fact that their was no outlet to the road at the junction 1 mile up the hill. At the same time I was glad that I didn't have to risk hopping the barbed wire fence, which was a real option when I first saw the dog and didn't know if I was going to be under attack. Either of those outcomes would not have been good. Once on the other side of the fence I thought for a moment and realized that I could just go cross country down the rest of the way, and come out on Morgan Territory outside of the private property. The slope was steep, and there was a visible stream crossing but I didn't care. It took perhaps 10 minutes to make this trip through the brush, and I came out back on Morgan Territory. I took a shot of the gate that you want to stay away from, then made a beeline back to my car, tired after a long day of hiking and the close call at the end.

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