Sunday, November 15, 2009

It Comes with the Territory

Day 7, May 10, 2009
Route: From Old Finley Road near San Ramon, into Morgan Territory Regional Preserve. We followed what is now established as the Diablo Trail, going up Old Finley Road to Sulphur Spring Trail, to Black Hills Trail, to Crestview Road, to Highland Ridge Rd, to Highland Ridge Trail, and then down past the Morgan Backpack Camp and horse corral, to Morgan Territory Road.
Mileage: 8.1 miles
Flora and Fauna: I am not sure I have explained that I only put down new sightings in this section. As I travel through more of one habitat type I see fewer new species. The whole walk has been rich with wildlife but at this stage of day seven of the Coast Ranges I rarely see new things. Hence, only Mule’s ear, a big-leafed big-petalled daisy of the grass fields gets noted.
Logistics: We are dropped off at the Finley Road gate by Peter. He has provided us with his GeoTracker again, which clues in friend Kale to our proximity to the pick-up spot on Morgan Territory Road, so that he can drive the long way out to pick us up. We have only daypacks– thank God.
Recommended Reading: The Morning Side of Mount Diablo: An illustrated account of the San Francisco Bay Area’s historic Morgan Territory Road, by Anne Marshall Homan, 2001. At times a lyric ode to the days of the ranchero, cowboy, and farmer this substantial investigation provides detailed accounts of the people that managed rich family lives along this one steep view-ridden road–the principal access to the back side of Mount Diablo.

My first promise here is to assure any reader that I vow to never discuss our feet again. After only one day of rest, even with the same boots, they became a non-issue.

This was a very beautiful, expansive, lung-opening walk on Mother’s day. We started up the wooded and shady Sulphur Spring Trail coming to Crestview Road. Here we could look back over the unfocused soft-masses of distant oaks in the foreground of a majestic view of Mount Diablo from its east side. My notes say simply ‘dreamy’.

Without our heavy packs the day just skipped along. We turned south again on Highland Ridge trail. The trails below us and ahead of us were constantly visible from all points of the walk giving a foreshortened effect. With the provisioning of great views our spirits hardly noticed the altitude gain. We had lunch at the highest spot of the hike and were rewarded with a call from our daughter wishing me a happy Mother’s Day.

Peter had lent us a GeoTracker Spot device which added a techno element to our walk. This was the first day that it served us in a larger manner than previously. We had carried the palm sized orange transmitter for most of the walk beyond Tilden Park, enabling Peter and other friends to watch our progress at a site on the internet. The device also can make a 911 call to a satellite in case of emergency (we deemed blisters not enough of an emergency). This day however Peter decided to monitor our pace and inform Kale when to pick us up at Morgan Territory Road based on our progress across the ridges.

When we had lunch at our spectacular high spot we rested and relaxed for quite a while. We were unaware that our early quick clip and accumulating mileage gave our friends the impression that we would be at our destination shortly. It should have been a quick trip down from the ridge but we dawdled at lunch, and explored at length the Backpacker’s Camp further down the trail. We had suggested a time to meet Kale, but equipped with up-to-the-minute Spot information he headed out earlier than necessary. The lesson of the story is don't forget that a good walk also must have a good rest–a moment to relish the place or mileage obtained.
A backpacker’s camp seems an intelligent new twist on the usual Regional Park offering. Had we done more investigation prior to our walk we might have timed things to allow us to camp there legally. I encourage others to do so and keep it popular enough to survive budget cuts in the future.
For the first time since the urban strolls I felt strong.