Mount Diablo

I quite wanted to make good use of the long weekend (albeit 3 days only) here to get out and travel a bit, but I never really committed to anything early enough to actually organise it… but I was still determined to do something (ergo the bike riding on Saturday). Today, on the suggestion of dad when I spoke to him last night, I went up to Mount Diablo. I’d heard of it several times – had even read it’s history at some point – but it didn’t appear on any of the “natural sites of California” type lists – Yosemite and Tahoe and all those certainly do. I’d been browsing those trying to find something that wouldn’t be as well known, out of the way, and thus not overflowing with people for the long weekend. Mount Diablo, as it turns out, fit the bill perfectly.

There were plenty of people, but scattered all along it’s long and winding road to the summit, such that I didn’t run into very many people at all while walking around. I didn’t really explore a whole lot – the fridge and pantry equivalent (a.k.a. drawer) both conspired against me this morning such that I had nothing to eat for breakfast nor lunch, and thus my main goal really was to get to the tourist centre at the peak in the hope they had food. (I’d meant to get something along the way, as I arrived there about 12:30, so lunch was in order, but I’d been too busy trying to navigate… still can’t get the hang of the highway system here)

It was very difficult to figure out where to go, though. There’s a bajillion places you can stop, each with numerous paths leading off in every direction, non of them ever sign-posted. So I’d heard there was some good rock formations and caves and whatnot called “Rock City”. So I tried to find it. I’m not sure if I did or not, in the end… I found plenty of rocks, many with holes in them… I guess that’s Rock City. It reminded me quite a bit of Hanging Rock, what I remember of it.

There were quite a few bike riders heading up the road to the summit, which is a pretty darn good effort given it’s well over a thousand metres, vertically, from the plains below to the summit. I don’t know how many went the whole way, but I saw one guy trying to get up the very last hill, only to fail and give up.

There’s a whole host of paths, however – typically fire access tracks – that criss-cross everywhere, which would be great for mountain biking. And it’s actually encouraged, too. So I might have to figure out how I can fit my bike into my car, sometime.

I took photos, too, although they’re pretty standard “hey, nice view” stuff… it was actually a very nice view from the summit – you get that real impression of being way up, looking down on the foothills and plains below. It’s 1,173 metres at the peak, which is only 80 metres or so shy of Mount Donna Buang for all ye Australian readers. It does get snow in the winter sometimes, I’m told… winter’s also the best time to go – the day after a big storm is best – as the air is clear and you can see the horizon in every direction. Today, the weather was sunny and warm with a nice cool breeze, meaning San Francisco was it’s typical bloody foggy self… the photos are there to see for yourself, but really you can’t see much at all. I could make out the Golden Gate Bridge through the fog in person, but it’s quite hard to see in the photos.

I was only there for a few hours in total, because I was hungry and thirsty and feeling quite lazy today… but it was definitely good to get out of the house; to walk around under the daystar for a bit. I’d like to go back, as I’ve noted already, although hopefully next time I’ll be a bit more organised and get some others to come along as well.

The drive back was annoying, because as it turns out, there’s two roads called Mission Boulevard that branch off the 880 within three miles of each other. Brilliant civic planning there, just brilliant. Naturally I took the first, and of course what I really wanted was the second. I eventually figured it out, but not before wasting ten minutes driving in more or less the opposite direction to intended. Hurrah.

But on the upside, it turns out the trip was thus 123.4 miles all told, so, it’s all good. :D

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