|Trailhead||Mitchell Rock Trail|
We started the hike at 8:15 after discussing current information about the trails with the on-duty ranger at the Mitchell Canyon Visitor's Center. He was very helpful. We also got the free print-out of the trails, although we didn't need it because we had already created and loaded our personalized trail route onto the AllTrails app (highly recommended!).
Unfortunately, I ran out of water 4 miles of the way in to the hike… waaaaay too soon. I had 4 liters with, but apparently was REALLY thirsty. It was a warm day! This made the rest of the hike pretty challenging. I drank a LOT of water in the 2 days prior also to try to prepare, but apparently it wasn't enough. Luckily my hiking partner didn't need as much water and was able to share some of hers, as well as a few people on short hikes that we encountered along the trails. I do not ever want to be in that situation again.
Due to poor sleep the night before, running out of water, warm temperatures (my thermometer on my compass read up to 95F), the crazy inclines, and my insoles not feeling great, it took us SEVEN HOURS to reach the summit. Not ideal for sure. There were long stretches with no shade along our route. We did not see any rattlesnakes, mountain lions, or tarantulas (not the season). The joy of this route is that you do reach multiple beautiful notable areas along the way. It is a relief when you get to go downhill, but it is also frustrating because you know you have to make up that loss in elevation to get back up to the peak.
The visitor center at the summit is wonderful. They sell treats, cold drinks, ice cream if that's your thing, and they have a video running on the history etc. My hiking partner does NOT like spiders however, and they have a tarantula specimen in plexiglass on the desk so she wouldn't go in. There was NO way I was leaving her outside alone after her amazing support on the hike up! Note that the center is only open from 10-4 though! There is free water and bathrooms outside of the visitor's center though. When we were there, one water fountain was working, but the previous time my hiking partner was there, neither was. If that is the case, there is also a spigot that works just fine. The views are absolutely AMAZING. Really make it worth it.
We spent what sounds like too much time up there … 2.25 hours. But it took me awhile to rest my feet, tape them up due to my insoles being crazy, and get rehydrated, and then really enjoy the view. We were up there when the Grant Fire was burning so I got some amazing pictures (I am an atmospheric sciences and work in dispersion modeling, so it I was really interested). We had amazing views for all 360 degrees. Snow capped Sierras to the Golden Gate bridge. Totally rejuvenated me and gave me the strength to resist the temptation to get a ride back down.
While we knew we weren't going to get out by dark, I still did NOT want to throw in the towel. Many people told us that we had picked a great route to go down (Thanks for the plan, SocialHiker crew!) so I insisted on doing it. I felt amazing and we made great time. Got down in a little over 3 hours and had a refreshing beautiful hike down. The sun set at 8:33 p.m. that day and we still had a few miles to go at that point, so we hiked pretty rapidly, even jogging a bit at the end. I would love to have more time on the way down next time (yup!). There are some amazing views of the rocky sides of the Mt. Diablo full of intriguing caves. We even could hear a bubbling stream amidst the lush green vegetation (in JULY!!!!). It was really amazing.
By the time we got out, it was dark dark dark!!! But, there was a guided night family hike going on at the end which was energizing to see. The bathroom were great at the end of the trail and overall we were proud of ourselves for having completed it.
If you are a runner, apparently this is a great training route. At the summit, we met a young man who just ran the entire route that took us 7 hours to hike. It took him 1 hour and 8 minutes. Superhuman! He had no water or anything but was a well-conditioned and trained college runner. So that is possible.
I continue to hope to get my physical fitness back to where I was before I had health problems (I slowly progressed from a wheelchair, to a walker, to a cane, to full mobility over the summer 3 years ago), I would love to come back to this hike and see how much I can improve my time.