Tuesday, June 2, 2015

First "Solo" to Far Side of the Moon (or was that Mt. Diablo?)

I went out to Round Valley Regional Park today to patrol on Volunteer Trail Safety Patrol.  It was a great day!

Familiarized myself with the trails and rules there first. . . .

Then crossed the pedestrian bridge over this little bit of a trickle. . .

Said hello to a few people along the way, but didn't take photos of them. I greeted everyone with a great big "Gooood Afternoon!" or "How ya doin'?"  Only two folks didn't say anything back. I guess they didn't know today was "Say Something Nice Day."  It REALLY was!

Anyway, I continued uphill on the - what I figured to be - southwestern side of the entry point parking lot, along Miwok Trail. . . .

Came across this one lone oak, which reminded me of what we used to call The Gumdrop Tree back in Lloyd's Neck State Park in NY.  James posed with his mouth wide open around it and his photographer always had to stand at a distance to get it perfectly lined-up as if it were _in_ his mouth.  That one in Lloyd's Neck was more perfectly formed than _this_ one, but this one runs a close second.  Since I was solo-ing, I couldn't do likewise "and get my mouth around" _this_ Gumdrop Tree:

Continuing on, I noticed a pair of birds flying high above me and cawing. I _think_ they may have been the Golden Eagles that nest in this park. Couldn't get a decent photo of them, tho.

I passed a trail that may have led to the area where the nesting grounds for the eagles is.  This is probably one of the areas that - had I seen anyone on that trail, I would have had to call in a report on:

Continuing on, the scenery only got better as I climbed upward on the nice, wide trail:

It got better and better as I went along, and I _knew_ that the battery in my camera would give out long before I finished this five or six mile hike, so I tried to not take _too_ many photos, but just couldn't help myself. . . .  Glad I brought both my camera and cell phone, which I relied on after I'd reached the halfway point because the camera battery did give out by then. The camera was my backup "Sam Browne" for photo purposes, tho I used it first. (Yes, I know I've read way too many Wambaugh police novels.)

A narrow rift in the land had apparently been caused by rain, a rarity. . . .

Finally came to the "fork in the road" where the Miwok Trail goes off to the right and the Hardy Trail, leading farther up and up and uphill, off to the left. Surprised me how much narrower the Hardy Trail was compared to what I'd been on up until this point.

Hmmm. . . .  Here in the - ahem - East Woods of Contra Costa County, I now couldn't help but think "I know what you're thinking. "Did the map say it's six miles or only five?" Well to tell you the truth in all this excitement I kinda lost track myself. But [....], you've gotta ask yourself one question: "Do I feel Hardy?" Well, do ya, FRANK?*
*Copyrighted material courtesy of Dirty Harry, at least I hope so.

I felt that I could handle it. So onward and upward I went.  I thought this formation of trees across the valley was interesting.  Who planted them that way?

Drop-offs on the sides of the trail became steeper and deeper, too.

But I was glad I took this route.  Scenery on the other would not have compared to _this_ I'm sure.

Another "fork in the road". . . .  This time unmarked, but I was sure I needed to take the one on the left, leading uphill.  Thought of Yogi Berra's telling visitors on way to his home in New Jersey "Now when you get to the fork in the road, you just take it."

Not _quite_ the same _reason_ but from here to the high-point of the park I kept singing to myself:
I want to, I want to, I want to take you higher
I want to take you higher
Baby, baby, baby light my fire
I wanna take you higher
Boom laka-laka-laka, boom laka-laka-laka boom

And then there, across the valley, nestled between the hills was the inescapable Mt. Diablo. . . .

Upward and upward. . . .

WHAT is THAT up ahead?  A Rock Wall?  Don't tell me I'm gonna hafta climb over THAT!

Dead End?  Catacombs for those who have never returned?  Butch and Sundance's Hole In The Wall hideout?  Rock Wall Winery's new location?  Seems like the trail just ENDS there. . . .

Even up-close to it I couldn't figure what was up, so to speak. . . .

Aha!  I SEE said the blind man! After he consulted his map and noticed this was a 'switchback' on the still upward-bound trail.  "Waaaal I'll be switched!" I thought,. . . .of course!

Trail went upward to the left of the rocks, then zigged back climbing to the right - ABOVE the rock formation. Not far beyond that, but still climbing, I came across this one that made me think the Easter Islanders must've had some short relatives living up here in years gone by.  :-)

Yayyyy! Top 'O The World Ma! This at the highest point that's open to the public in the park.  The Goldie's nesting area from the opposite side, apparently.

Confirmed by a fella jauntily going by me and telling me "It's all downhill from here!" But it was already about 2:30, I'd been out since 12:30 and I'd told everyone I'd be done with the hike by 4.  "Oh well, downhill should go easier and faster than UP hill," Tom (my alter-internal ego) said Swiftly. Little did HE know!

Last few feet of uphill. . . .

And then first gently going downhill, but leading to a streamside/arroyo-side trail. . . .

Like the Kancamangas of New Hampshire (if you are reading this Mikey and Beth Frank, you just may recall a vacation we took to Mt. Washington and North Conway there many years ago). . . .

 but without the water. . . .  ("Oh, Toto, we're not in New Hampshire any more!")

Anyway, risking twisted ankles at the several points along the trail - from this point on - that had sizable rocks right in the middle of the path, I gamely ventured onward.  Incommunicado.  On the Far Side of The Moon.  And thinking "We are now approaching lunar sunrise, and for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you."
"'In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
‘And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. . . .

Some parts were better than others. Came across an earthen dam, but - like the Moon - no water there.  Very unlike Temescal here in California, eh Jimbo Frank?  . . .and Very Very unlike Lake Murray South Carolina's huge "biggest earthen dam in the world," eh, Mikey Frank?

Continuing on, I saw a fine example of a hillside that Moo-Moo The Cow and her entourage had mowed. . . .

This was one of the "rock formations" right in the middle of the trail at this end of the park. This one prolly being the worst of the worst of them.  Glad I had the hiking poles with me. (Thanks, dear Jessica!)  If only I had a working phone, I'da phoned "Moe's" and had him ask his patrons if Jack Cameron was in the bar could he pleaaase bring his pneumatic tools out here.  (Seriously, I once worked with a fella by that name, nicest guy you'd ever want to meet. . . .  passed away some years back.)

But after a mile or two (or was it three. . . sure felt like three) of that kind of trail, things started widening out,
and I could see I was nearing civilization again!

The last half mile or so back to the parking lot was a bit confusing.  I went thru another gate, and thinking I was out of the park started looking for the parking lot, but came across a barbed wire fence that penned-in a few horses. Followed a streambed back towards where I now thought I was supposed to be (thinking "GPS - what a wonder of science". . . .  back in the old days I'd have had to limbo-rock under that barbed wire.)
Finally, after being alone with my thoughts (a la "Jack Handy") for over five hours I made it back to Little Red in the parking lot.

Something's gotta be done about the kind of water that feeds into the drinking fountain at the lot. Tastes like re-cycled toilet water.  (Oh, yeah, I forgot. . . .  we are in a drought and there's always that possibility!)

But all-in-all it was a lot of fun.

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