how to climb a mountain
Make no mistake. This will be an exercise in staying vertical.
Yes, there will be a view, later, a wide swath of open sky,
but in the meantime: tree and stone. If you’re lucky, a hawk will
coast overhead, scanning the forest floor. If you’re lucky,
a set of wildflowers will keep you cheerful. Mostly, though,
a steady sweat, your heart fluttering indelicately, a solid ache
perforating your calves. This is called work, what you will come to know,
eventually and simply, as movement, as all the evidence you need to make
your way. Forget where you were. That story is no longer true.
Level your gaze to the trail you’re on, and even the dark won’t stop you.
– by Maya Stein
Stayed over on Mission Peak with Heather and Pete - lazy morning’d it Friday then Pete drove us to Sunol to begin the walk. On the way we spotted a raptor nest in a sycamore just off the road to Sunol and stopped - intermediate dark colored red tail - rusty collar, speckly dark tummy and elsewhere - with two like chicks on the nest. Hiked in 3.5 miles to Sunol Backpack camp in the warm afternoon - coyotes, blinking airplane towers and right under the flyway for SJO and SFO. Realized we’d forgotten stove. Befriended neighbors who cooked our dinner and polished off a whole bottle of Crown Royale after eating carnitas and chocolate pudding on tortillas. Clear night turned to foggy damp morning with no rainfly on. Borrowed stove with limited propane fuel. Befriended a pack of gents whom Heather knew five different ways from Arcata.
Hiked over 6.5 miles and 1.5 K elevation to Rose Peak with a side trip to Goat Rock. Last half the day walking with the gents, getting water out of S Fork Indians Creek and enjoying Berkeley Bowl coffee on the summit of Rose Peak. Realized we could see where all of our parents lived from that spot. Dropped a bit to Maggie’s Half Acre for camp, borrowing stoves to conserve fuel.
Night hike to the peak with Venus and the Moon having a hot date in the west and us laying on the peak in all our layers chomping burnt caramel toffees and tea. Fabulous dawn chorus and biscuits in the morning from neighbors. Final circle back to the peak on the way out, the valleys fogged in lovely below. On a pass just below the peak spotted a far off set of hikers, then a bird across the valley - TV turned to eagle cutting through a slot in the forest and zooming over our pass at eye level, 10 feet off the ground and 50 feet away FAST then around the bend and gone, Yahoo! Sibley’s later told us likely juvenile bald eagle.
Met the group of day hikers doing a 30 miler over Mission Peak (”hey honey - come meet a celebrity! She LIVES on Mission Peak”). Met several runners training for 50 and 100K races all the way back in there in just running shorts and two water bottles in hand. Amazing wildflowers all day every day with floralistic surprises of late blooming shooting stars and the first Chia Heather has seen in Alameda County. I found two plants she did not know!
Almost 9 miles Sunday with a side trip to Murritta Falls and a dip in La Costa Creek and down down down after Johnny’s Pond on my favorite part of the trail - single track and festuca everywhere! Up a bit to Boyd’s camp. Chilly. We now had a stove but realized we’d nothing to light it with (we found out at the last camp my emergency matches did not work without a flint and our lighters were with our stoves), but damn if I wasn’t getting great internet! Heather asked if my iPhone could light the stove. I said I did not have that app. She offered her credit card. Cold rehydrated chili for dinner. Soaked oats overnight. Spied my dad’s neighborhood with the binocs and called him for our hitch. Hiked out to twittering migrants and dad picking up trash at Del Valle. Bald Eagle (mature) flushes from tree. Lunch at El Sol with Tommie’s ginormous Sammies and barrel tasting. Wine and stove delivery to trail saviors. Home to Fremont Peak. Nap. Indian food and late chat with Pete and Heather at Chaat Bhavan. Home. Happy.