DAY 1 - To Eagle Spring Backpack Camp
Our friends Chris and Claudine invited us on a backpacking trip to the Ohlone Wilderness Trail. It's a 30 mile hike through mountains in the East Bay. I had read the words "grueling" and "strenuous" and knowing the late June weather in this area, I figured it would be tough. It ended up being harder than I thought!
It had been a few years since I backpacked anywhere. Some things I love about it:
- The scenery. You see so much more than you would from regular day hiking trails and we didn't see very many people on the trail.
- Getting away from society, technology (with the exception of taking photos), traffic, etc.
- Realizing you don't need much, just everything on your back including water, shelter and food.
For the trip, we bought new packs, a camp stove, food and breathable clothing. We already had just about everything else. Our food consisted of dehydrated meals, food bars and trail mix.
To show how far we went, the lower left green corner is the out and back 5.6 mile Mission Peak hike. We went all the way to the upper right to Lake Del Valle. I guess it was like doing Mission Peak 5 times in one weekend?!
On Friday evening, we started up the trail to Mission Peak. I've done this hike for the full moon before and the light is always so beautiful at this time of day.
The sunsets are spectacular at Mission Peak. You see the city lights start to turn on and the sky change color. I'm not sure of this plant's name, but it was growing all over the area.
It's amazing how peaceful it is up above the valley. The people, traffic and density down there becomes a blur of beautiful sparkling lights.
Day 2 Eagle Spring to Maggie's Half Acre at Rose Peak
We woke up to this view from the tent. In my book, backpacking is worth the sunrises and sunsets alone. This was my first time with an almost completely sheer tent and this is the way to go. It's like sleeping under a mosquito net so you get the great views without the bites.
We got started around 7:30am after a not so great night's sleep. We had a lot of miles to cover, so we got a decently early start after having some coffee and breakfast.
The views from the trail just a few hours after leaving the Eagle Spring Backpack Camp. It was shady and still not too hot at this point in the morning.
The wildlife we saw included turkey vultures when we reached the top of a mountain. They were so close above us. The boys saw a grey fox (at least that's what I think it was from their description). We never saw any rattlesnakes or mountain lions, but that's probably a good thing.
We could see the fog in the distance, as well as the bay, the windmills of Altamont Pass, downtown San Jose and Mount Diablo.
The mile markers were such a welcome sight. Toward the end of the hike, we would cheer when we found them.
Do you see the pink and aqua clouds in the sky? We kept seeing these surreal rainbow colors in the clouds. It's called cloud iridescence and is caused by tiny water droplets in the clouds.
As we got closer to our next overnight destination, I was surprised to find pine trees mixed in with the oaks. It reminded me of Bonny Doon, near Santa Cruz, where I spent a lot of time as a kid.
We were so beat when we finally arrived at Maggie's Half Acre. At this point, there were a lot more pine trees and it was really beautiful despite the mosquitos. A little while after we had this view, the sunset became the most beautiful, fiery pink and orange. It was one of the most spectacular sunsets I had ever seen. We fell asleep right after.
In the middle of the night, I woke up to sprinkles of rain (remember that sheer tent from earlier?). I was so surprised by this, I didn't think it was rain at first. I tried to wake Bryan up, but he was dead asleep and we were laying on the rainfly. I was so tired I just pulled the sleeping bag over my head, hoping it wouldn't start pouring!
This pond looked dry, but pretty in the landscape. I was amazed by these little areas of water up here since it's mostly so dry.
It was incredible to find this lily pond in the middle of all the dryness. Water lilies are so perfect and pristine looking among the rather scummy algae of the pond and the bleak, dry grass.
Another pond reflecting the sky. The sky was a pretty unbelievable shade of blue from up here.
As you can probably guess, it was really hot up here. When the clouds covered the sun, we were thankful. When the sun came back out, it was quite brutal.
This map shows where we are headed below: Lake Del Valle in the distance. Still aways to go. At this point, our legs were killing us, it was hot and that lake just wasn't close enough.
We kept getting glimpses of the lake. This taunting was only made worse by seeing the steep downgrade to get to the lake. I'm not going to lie, the downhill on this hike is a killer.
We made it! After grumbling down the last few miles of the trail, wanting to give up, we made it to the parking lot and then jumped in the lake. It was the perfect reward for our blistered feet and fatigued muscles. It's amazing how quickly water heals you.
No matter how grueling or how sore I am, I always feel an incredible sense of accomplishment the day after backpacking. We did 4 miles the first night, 16 miles the second day and 10 miles the third day, with many elevation changes. I thought of not going because I thought it would be too hot. Thanks to Bryan, Chris and Claudine for making it happen.
I am looking forward to planning another trip this summer, but I bet it will be an easier one than this!