Mt. Diablo, 9 Mar 2013

random trip report

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Today, after dropping off Noah at 12:30, several factors conspired to make me want some hard exercise:

  • I've had some heart-related medical issues recently, so I wanted to put it to a test (i.e. see if I die).
  • I was thinking of climbing Mt. Shasta in June, and I want to know if this goal is delusional.
  • Noah and I have been watching 'Everest: Beyond the Limit' recently, and I'm a bit envious of the climbers.

I decide to go with my personal benchmark: Mt. Diablo from Regency Rd. via the Back Creek, Bald Ridge, and Summit trails. In the past I've often done this on my birthday, to measure the rate of my physical decline. A couple of years ago I set a personal record, namely 2:06.

Anyway, I drive to Clayton and am on the trail at 1:40. It's sunny and 65 degrees at the bottom, somewhat cooler at the top. I feel really good and set a fast, steady pace. I arrive at Murchio Gap in 0:56 - 2 minutes faster than PR pace. I'm not feeling particularly tired, so a new PR seems plausible, and I continue with a new sense of purpose.

Bald Ridge has a few steep bits where I throttle back a bit to avoid over-stress. My legs feel extremely strong; my lungs and heart are working hard but under control. I reach the saddle point in about 1:30, about 5 min ahead of schedule.

Those little houses are where I started (click for detail)

I don't gain any more time after that, but cross the finish line in 2:01. Woo hoo! Apparently my heart still works (at least for this sort of thing) and Shasta is a viable possibility.

I spend maybe 30 min at the summit, eating a PB&J sandwich and some cashews and chocolate chips.

Looking toward San Francisco (it's there, but not visible in this pic)

I tighten my hiking shoes to protect my toes on the descent. The left shoe has split open on the side - this doesn't make much difference but I'll have to throw away this much-loved pair of shoes.

As I start the descent, my muscles feel pretty good in spite of having pushed myself to the limit on the way up. More importantly, I have no back or knee pain, and my toes are OK. I descend at a moderate pace, just enjoying the late afternoon sunshine and the wonderful feeling of tiredness without pain.

On Bald Ridge trail, about halfway down

I get back to the car around 6:30, a bit after sunset. The green foothills are extremely beautiful in the dim light. I chat with a couple of teenage guys who were trying it for the first time and made it a little past Murchio Gap. The drive back to Berkeley is euphoric.

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