Mt. Diablo with Dave Gedye

November 24, 2001

random trip report
All photos by Dave Gedye

When Dave Gedye and I were running together, back in the late 80s, we enjoyed hill running. One route, dubbed the 'Hill-to-Hill Run', went up the Albany hill down by the bay, then all the way up Marin St. to Grizzly Peak. We fantasized about running up Mt. Diablo, and by gum, I'll bet we could have.

Fast-forward a dozen or so years. The running shoes of youth have given way to the hiking boots of middle age. Dave is in the Bay Area for a few days, and we want an Outdoor Adventure, so I suggest a stroll up Diablo.

Saturday dawns gray and drizzly. Dave, driving up from Montara, arrives promptly at 9:30 AM. The knock wakes me from a deep and debauched sleep. We stop at the Cafe Med for one of their wonderful 4-shot double caps, and arrive at the Regency Rd. trailhead in Clayton around 11:30.

Highway 24 revisited

The summit is swathed in swirling dark clouds. The Back Creek trail is a bit muddy, the sort of adhesive clay that can transform hiking boots into 6-inch-high Euro-platforms. But it's not too bad.

First rainbow, just after trailhead

Looking toward summit from near trailhead

We gain some altitude. It's cool (50-ish) and windy. There are a few sprinkles and a brief deluge, but to the east the clouds open up and the North Bay and Central Valley are visible, in bright sun.

Hard to see, but sunlit land visible between hills and clouds

We reach Murchio Gap. The wind picks up to a steady 35-40 MPH, which make it seem very cold. We have a snack and keep moving.

Approaching Murchio Gap. Are my legs really that weird looking?

We go up Bald Ridge trail, through a stand of manzanita bushes whose bizarre coloring (dark orange trunks, light sage leaves) resembles a color negative.

We reach the saddle between North Peak and the summit. Another hiker is resting there, just down from the summit. He says there's zero visibility and rain/hail there, so we decide to turn around. We've ascended 2,330' in a little over 2 hours.

Halfway down the Bald Ridge trail we stop for lunch. A major hailstorm erupts. We hunker down briefly, then continue. The hail lingers in pockets. The sun shines on the eastern face of the mountain, creating a lace of glittering diamonds.

Overhead, the clouds are extremely dramatic. There are many shades of gray, and occasional breaks through which blue sky and brilliantly lit higher clouds are visible.

As we walk down a grassy ridge, a patch of sunlight wanders across the slope and then passes over us. Suddenly, the dingy wet grass is spectacularly golden, the green serpentine rocks become glowing gemstones, and the sunlight warms our wet, cold faces. Simultaneously a blast of Arctic-cold air slams into us. As if on a roller coaster, we raise our hands in the air and scream, surrendering completely to sensory overload. A brief but amazing out-of-body experience.

Wandering patches of sunlight

Continuing past Murchio Gap, we pause to enjoy a vivid double rainbow to the east.

A rainbow in curved air. Or whatever.

We return to the car feeling energized and refreshed, and with enough time for a brief visit to the climbing gym, 'Ironworks', which impresses Dave so much that the next day, en route back to Seattle, he stops and does some climbing together with his nimble daughter Grace.

Later, chatting with Jeff Cobb, it turns out that he hiked from the same trailhead that day! We agree that hiking in dramatic bad weather is one of the greatest outdoor experiences.

Copyright 2024 © David P. Anderson