Hiking Mt. Diablo

June 21 2015

I just completed a rare weekend where I had very few obligations and all the time in the world. I originally planned to stay in the bay area this weekend to look at housing rentals. But I quickly found out it’s still a little too early for an August move-in date. Instead, I decided to spend Saturday hiking Mt. Diablo and Sunday at Half Moon Bay.

Mt. Diablo is a state park in between Oakland and Stockton. I hiked the Grand Loop, which is a common set of stops that many hikers take. The trail is about 7-8 miles long. The guide at East Bay Trails is a nice one and can be used offline if saved to a service like Pocket. Also, I found Google Maps to be really good for finding location in the middle of the hike.

I completed the hike in 4.5 hours, with many stops along the way (and probably 30 minutes at the summit). The hike is very heavily biased toward the middle two hours. The beginning hour is mostly downhill and goes by really quick. Then the next two hours are a continuous climb, sometimes seemingly at a greater than 45-degree slope. That was really tough, particularly on a hot and dry day. That took me to the summit, and then the hike concluded with a downhill portion that was less than an hour.

A selfie at the summit!

California is in the middle of a several-year drought, and it really shows. I did not see any natural water the whole trip, despite many places where there obviously would have been a small creek or stream normally. I’ve never been to Arizona or New Mexico, but this is how I imagine dryness and heat to feel in those places.

The natural beauty was mainly captured in the wildlife. There were several hawks flying overhead during the hike. The monarch butterflies were the biggest I’d ever seen, probably the size of my hand. At one point, one flew close to a hummingbird, and they were roughly the same size. Finally, I also saw a little lizard.

Here's a view down the mountain

It was a nice challenge, but probably not one I’ll do again. I hadn’t completely done my research, and I thought the summit would be some natural peak of the mountain. Instead, it’s actually a museum and tourist shop. I only realized during the hike that anyone can just drive up to the summit. That definitely cheapens the hike a little. Also, the views were fine, but not spectacular. Maybe they’d be better after a little precipitation.

On Sunday, I decided to relax and visit Half Moon Bay, a little beach town just south of San Francisco. It was a sunny but windy day, so I didn’t actually go down to the beach, but I still snapped some nice pictures.

The cliffs overlooking the beach

And, I saw a llama up close and personal!


Topics: Trips

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