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    2003 Ohlone Wilderness Backpacking Trip - Day 1
    (Friday, 09 May, 2003)

    See also my photo gallery from this trip.


     Trip HomeNext Day

    Friday, 09 May:
    Sarah and I at the Del Valle trailhead After spending half of Thursday with Sarah going over our gear and making a last-minute REI trip for, of all things, socks, we had a large breakfast at Classic Diner in Fremont before heading over to my friend Ross' place. Ross had very kindly agreed to drive us from Fremont to Lake Del Valle, as well as pick us up at the end of our trip, eliminating the need for leaving cars at each end, and worrying about them being vandalized - well worth taking him out for a fine dinner at a future date! We got our permits/maps at the entrance kiosk for $2/ea. I had hoped to get a topo map of the area prior to our hike, but REI no longer stocks paper maps, and their map-making software wasn't being helpful. As luck would have it, the permit/map was extremely detailed, and much more useful than a topo map would have been anyways, so I was glad we saved the money. After a gear check, we hoisted our packs and hit the trail at 10:15, 45 minutes earlier than planned. According to my bathroom scale, my pack weighed 50 pounds (including 3 liters of water), and Sarah's weighed 45 pounds (also including 3 liters of water), which seemed excessive, but we didn't have anything that seemed unnecessary, plus this was to be a testing-the-waters trip for us to make sure our gear was in order, and to see what all we really needed. I hadn't backpacked since I was 9 or so!

    Sarah hiking up towards Rocky Ridge The weather was beautiful as we slowly climbed towards Rocky Ridge. After a mile or so we reached a sign-in panel, and signed in after looking for a blank page (the pad was very full!). The trail to Rocky Ridge is best described as painful, but it did have lovely views back over Lake Del Valle as we (quickly) rose above it. There were a great many wildflowers alongside the trail as well, chinese houses, bluedicks, Ithuriel's spears, butterfly mariposa lilies, milk thistles, climbing morning glory, miniature lupine, and owl's clover - wow! My heart rate monitor died on the way up. Not just stopped, mind you, but the entire display vanished! I don't so much mind the loss of the heart rate data, but its also my watch! We'd have to content ourselves to using my camera as a clock for most of the rest of the trip. Eventually we reached Rocky Ridge, aptly named for the small outcroppings of rocks on it, and took a break, dropping our packs, and snacking on some gummy bears (one of my very favorite hiking foods, even if they are a touch heavy for the calorie content). We walked along the ridge for a little ways, enjoying the views of Mount Diablo and the hills south of Livermore. There wasn't another soul on the trail, but that was hardly surprising given that it was the middle of the day on a Friday.

    Shooting star and a pretty blue flower From Rocky Ridge, we hiked down to William's Gulch and along a pretty creek for a few before heading upwards again on a nice singletrack. Nice as in pretty, not nice as in easy. Happily, more chinese houses, a patch of larkspur, mule ear sunflowers, and another unidentified flower kept us somewhat distracted. It climbed steeply (sense a theme here?) before turning into a fire road, which continued no less steeply to Schleiper's Rock. We decided this would be a fine place to have lunch, so we dropped our packs and ate the Pluto's sandwiches we'd bought on Friday. Mine, a smoked sausage affair, tasted excellent! The views from Schleiper's Rock were very nice, but before too long, we donned our packs and continued on our way.

    Murietta Falls We continued climbing for a short ways to Johnny's Pond, situated in a gorgeous goldenfield-strewn meadow. We snapped a few pics, then headed onwards - we were near'ish camp, and anxious to drop our packs for the day! We turned onto the Murietta Falls trail, since our camp, Stewart's Camp, was on the same side-trail, passed the use trail to the falls (we planned on coming back after we'd set up camp), and after a brief climb, arrived at Stewart's Camp at 3:15. Our site was nice, and very near the toilet (a nice luxury!) and water pump (which still demanded treatment, as a sign proclaimed). We set up camp pretty quickly considering this was my first time setting up my Clip 3 CD tent "for real" (it doesn't really count in one's living room). After changing into our Tevas, we went back for about 0.5mi to the Murietta Falls use trail and hiked to the top of the falls, which was nice, then to the bottom, which was even nicer. Murietta falls is the tallest waterfall in the bay area at 100ft., although the water volume isn't too high, especially considering how much rain we'd had recently. After soaking in the views for 45min or so, we moseyed back to camp.

    As we filtered water for dinner, we ran into 3 other backpackers from the east bay who were doing a 2-day trip from Del Valle to the Sunol park HQ. Sarah prepared yummy rice, bean, cheese and chicken burritos, and I greedily devoured three of them in short order. I was filling up my first memory card in my new camera (a Canon S400), so we reviewed the day's pictures (120 of them!) and deleted the duds. We'd smuggled in a bottle of pre-mixed Manhattans and Bailey's Irish Cream, and after a drink at sunset, we retired at 8:15. I didn't sleep too terribly well - it seemed wherever I turned I landed on something that was sore, but at least I slept for a while....

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    Day's statistics:
    Distance: 7.5mi (including 1 mile side-trip to Murietta Falls)
    Total Time: 5hrs
    Elevation gain: 3,700 feet
    Difficulty: 8
    Scenery: 8
    Trail condition/markings/etc: 10 - extremely clearly marked, and in good condition considering the number of recent storms
    Wildflowers: 8.5
    Overall rating: 8

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    Last modified 08 February, 2011 MST
    Copyright © 2009 Adam R. Paul
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