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Slowest, but most Epic hike yet, Mount Diablo!

Peak Summited2020 Mount Diablo
Type of HikeDay hike
TrailheadMitchell Creek Trail
EncounteredFall foliage
Hiking CompanionsHiked with a partner
Road ConditionsRoad rough but passable
Bug StatusNo bugs
Snow ConditionsSnow free
Trail ConditionsObstacles on trail
Additional Informationhttps://www.strava.com/activities/4174146481

We arrived at the Mitchell Canyon Staging area at 7:45. The parking lot opens at 8:00, but the gates were wide open, and several cars were already in the lot. There is a self pay kiosk at the entrance, $6.00, cash or check. Easy!

We started out following the signs for Mitchell Rock to Eagle Peak Trail. The terrain quick pitches up. It is a relatively steep climb to Mitchell Rock, but also early in the day, so just a refreshing warm-up. We continued along the single track trail, and just a little more than two miles from the start, we were at Twin Peaks, and just a mile farther, we were at Eagle Peak, where we stopped for a short snack break. The views are sweeping, and beautiful, but this first up bit, I found quite hard. In three miles, we had climbed 1830 feet. Today was promising to be a Doozy!

From Eagle Peak, it is a VERY steep, descent on loose gravel, another climb ( this one, while steep was more of a steady grade, and did not bother me anywhere as much). The sun was beating down by then, and my hiking partner was definitely feeling the effect. This brought us to yet another descent, and then, at long last, a junction with a nice wide, well groomed path. Alas, the trail we wanted (Bald Ridge Trail) was the narrow, trail with encroaching vegetation continuing on the other side of the lovely path. We continued in. More steep ups and downs. I actually found this section invigorating! The brush on either side of us was mostly Manzanita bushes, and they were tall enough to crate some shelter from the sun. The trail continued up, but in a teasing, playful way. At times there were so many rocks on the ground, that we would play “which way does the trail go?”. Eventually, we actually got a break, as we walked along a flat section of the ridge, before the final climb to Prospector's gap. We decided This would be a good place to take another break, before starting the final climb. Another couple came up from the Blue Ridge Trail, while we rested. The only people we had seen since Eagle Rock! After that, it was time for the final push, to the Diablo Summit, which still seemed dauntingly high above us!

We started along North Peak to Summit Trail, and quickly realized the other couple had taken a different trail. Upon looking at the map today, I see they took an even more direct route to the top. Impressive! They walk along North Peak was nice. It was exposed, which again was draining to my partner, but the views were absolutely stunning, and I didn't mind walking ahead, then stopping to take pictures. We turned onto the Summit Trail at Devil's Elbow, and started up the final steep ascent. Half way up, my partner had to stop, due to cramping. He had been sweating throughout the hike, and was in one of those spaces where nothing he brought sounded like something he could eat, and he needed salt! Fortunately, I had brought pickles! He gobbled those up, and after a brief 5 minute rest, we continued to the peak, and the top of the building, where we plopped down, enjoyed our lunch, and toasted the achievement of another peak! It had taken us 6 hours to hike 8.3 miles, an unbelievably slow time, and most certainly the hardest and most difficult climb I have done. It was also absolutely beautiful, and (mostly) enjoyable, and I would love to go do it again!

We spent some time chatting with the ranger at the top, before making our way back down. After taking the hard route to the summit, our trip down the mountain was quick and easy. We took the road to the Juniper Trail, and followed it over to Juniper Campground, where we picked up Deer Flat Road on the far side. This dirt road was in superb condition, with no notable ruts or uneven surfaces. The road maintained a steady 3-5% grade, all the way down, with no real rollers along the way. It was only 7.2 miles back to the car, and a little more than 3 hour back down.

Total distance, 15.5 miles, total elevation gained, 4007 feet.

I have a hard time rating the difficulty of this hike, as the ascent was very challenging, but the descent was a 7 mile recovery walk. In the end, I gave it an 8/10, weighing more towards the challenge of climbing, seeing as how the descent can be a car ride back, but wouldn't matter, if you can't reach the top, Lol! As for weather, beauty, and enjoyability, those are all 9's and 10's. This is a perfect hike for a dry October day!

 

(Note, the Strava data is incomplete, as I had paused it at one point, and didn't remember to unpause it until much later.)

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