MISSION PEAK (2,517') 3X December 11, 2005

Wishing to do a good winter hike, I saw that going by a new route, up this popular Bay Area peak, would help deplete my digital camera batteries for long term storage. The weather was superb, and the trails here were dry.

Motoring westbound on Interstate 80 early in the day, I took I-680 south to Calaveras Boulevard Exit. This leads to the Sunol Regional Wilderness Park. The attendant, in the entrance kiosk, took my day use fee of $5, then also another $2 for the map and wilderness permit. There is a machine for the day use fee, when no attendant is present. He directed me to the Horse Corral parking to take the unsigned start of the trail to Mission Peak.

I motored about a bit to get my bearings. Using the facility, I was ready for this longer hike. I began up the trail, assuming it was the correct one to take, at 9:29 a.m. Right off the bat, I spotted a lynx. My first viewing, in the wild, of this rather tame creature, I was able to snap some photos as it casually ambled along. By my slowness and shutter lag, I didn't get a great shot. I tried to get its attention by making sounds, but it soon left the trail and disappeared into the trees and grasses.

The trail crosses a paved road, and soon connects with a major dirt road. The junctions are now well signed, with numbers to refer to by the map. I was seeing that I would get to the top soon. The sycamores were turned nicely, and the grasses were still dried. A vehicle motored by, presumably from a residence along the way. A trickle of water came from a spring or creek. I enjoyed the temperate weather and the increasingly good views.

There are warnings posted about the cattle. Some may actually charge. I walked by them, closely, and they stayed rather calm. I snapped a few photos as record.

Navigating well, using my map, I soon passed the backpacker camp, currently empty, and shortly reached the main ridge, with then, its view of the South Bay below. Coming up to the highpoint from the south, I noted my ascent time as 2 hours and 20 minutes. A few other hikers were up here. I moved to avoid the clouds of bugs, and snapped away at the views. The sighter on top makes for my interest, with tubes to look through, to know the distant features of the Bay Area.

Fremont, CA, was visible below through the haze or water vapor, but San Jose was hidden by denser fog or low clouds. Software clears up these vistas, but most all already know the extent of civilization, here. Not tarrying, with more hikers coming up, I headed down for one of my shortest times spent atop a summit.

I made a small loop using the dirt road trails, and came back to the route back to Sunol. The only hiker that I saw going this way went by. I knew that I would have plenty of time after this climb. I looked for more photos to snap, with plenty of oaks, and now, high clouds. No one else was coming up to speak with. I had seen some deer, and plenty of turkey vultures.

As I was donning more clothes, my map must have been pulled out of my jeans back pocket. I noticed it missing about a mile from the bottom. Back to the parking lot at about 2:15 p.m., I used the outhouse, and gave destination suggestions to another hiker. I managed to have the kiosk person give me another map, stamped with the permit date. This is good for a year, and I hope to be doing more hikes, here. Rose Peak (3,817') is a good, long, 22 mile hike to do.

Figuring to beat the traffic rush home, I headed back north on I-680 and stopped quickly for gas, then food. Many services are found in San Ramon, here. I marveled, again, at the six lanes, each way, at about Walnut Creek. All the past freeway construction was now mostly finished.

The Benecia bridge toll was $3, northbound. They are building a new bridge, with construction cranes over each span support. Wish I could have taken a photo, or several. A spectacular sight!

Incurring no traffic delay home, I finished with this trip in time for the evening news. There had been a great sunset, but I have so many of those!

This hike totaled about 10 miles, with 2,200' gain. I shot 170 images. Motoring some 200 miles, I used roughly a half tank of fuel, about five gallons.