Monday, August 21, 2006

To Black Mountain & Back

The hike ahead
The hike ahead,
originally uploaded by ecotorch.
Yesterday I walked to the summit of Black Mountain. The 2800ft summit that I believe is the Mountain in Mountain View. The starting task was to get myself to Rancho San Antonio via bus. The bus was late, I had hoped to get hiking while the cool foggy morning conditions were still around. As the photo shows, the first blue sky had appeared, something back in Scotland you would wish for.

I had packed three containers with water, just over three litres. I had set a time limited of 4 hours maximum to research the summit as I know that is as far as I done in the past. I have walked at Rancho before, but this walk was taking me to new territory and the map provided was my guide. There was many paths to follow to get to the Black Mountain trail and I chosen the one that required a fair hike, up and down to the first meadow, a few hundred feet of extra altitude to get the legs working on. The Chaminse trail starts by taking you to the right of the Black Mountain summit. It's a medium climb but in the sun, hot work. I stopped for lunch at 11.30, having been walking for one and half hours and break fast was at 7.30am. A tree provided good shade, but the ground was hard, dusty and sharp. Sharp, with dead leaves, branches and angled grit.

Lunch provide a few minutes to look up at the hill to see glimpses of the trail as it zig-zagged across a knoll of trees. I could tell the climbing was going to get stepper, reminded me of the drop in to the Grand Canyon trails. And sure enough after plateauing through an old meadow the zig zagging soon started. The steepness wasn't as bad as I had expect but the frequency of turns more than made up. The welcome shade of the trees for most of this part of the walk meant the focus was on walking not on views but I was keen to see how far up I had come. The path stopped twisting and broadened. The top must be near? Turned out I still had the equivalent of a walk up the full length of the fungle head of me, and it was hot and I was getting tired. Just under three hours has passed. Unlike, most of my walking in Scotland where I hardly see anyone, there was a regular enough passing of fellow walkers, not too many to feel crowded, but enough to be welcoming. Half way up the second last steep climbed, but they were all feeling like the last, a couple of walkers where sitting down surfing the web. No escaping I was in silicon valley, or more precisely on top of silicon valley. One large saddle climb down and the final push to the summit. A leg burner. The radar masts were reached and no view to be had. I had wanted to see the Pacific Ocean but in a few more metres a circle of rocks marked the summit and views in all direction. 3 hrs 30mins to reach the summit. Time to take on board some water and food before a photo fest.

The start of the walk was now a long way away. Rested I started the downward journey. I always find walking down hill more painful, I find it easier to half jog-run than walk, after an hour I had descended half the altitude. I wish the last of my water was half empty too but a quarter had to do. I walked for another 4 miles before finishing it. The final push, walking was just a concentration game. Keep the concentration, the walking would continue, tiredness was ever present. The bottom paths were much more populated and timed passed and before too long I was at the water fountain at the start of the trail. The walk was not over, another mile plus was still ahead to get to the bus stop. Never has the seat at a bus stop felt so comfortable. Within minutes, the bus came, making up for its lateness at the start of the day. The map was taken out to add up the miles, a minimum of 22 in seven and half hours.

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