Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Rain Cometh

I’ve been groping back and forth to work every day this week in driving rain as the SF bay area got pummeled from a bountiful pacific storm system. Not quite biblical proportions but very sustained for this region. This deluge was a welcome addition to the local water table, but when it rained almost all night Friday as well, that made the weekend trail conditions highly questionable for hiking. It would have been easy to write off the day, especially having somewhere else to be in the afternoon, but we decided to go for a short hike at Mt Diablo. We could see that the highest peaks around the area had a covering to fresh snow which always makes a really nice visual effect, so if we had been lucky enough to find a clearing in the weather, we knew the potential views would be awesome. If nothing else we could at least toss a few snowballs around until our fingers got numb and our clothing soaked.

What we saw were scattered and broken views as clouds and fog drifted through all day. The summit road was closed because of the snow, which only made us smile because neither one of us could remember being at the summit when no cars were allowed. The upper portion of the summit trail had turned into watery slush and we had to mush through it because much of the trail was over grown with varied varieties of prickly brush. With the road closed, many sections of the summit road were being used for sledding. The snow was about 6 to 8 inches and very wet, so the conditions for having good sled runs were actually pretty bad, but the kids were having fun. Spontaneous family snowball fights were breaking out all over the summit. Early in the afternoon the road got plowed up to the lower summit lot and a flood of cars headed up creating a crowd. On the way back down we used the paved road to get as far as the Juniper campground. That was where the rangers had been parking the cars until the road got plowed. Once below the snow line, we found the Juniper trail and used that to head down. There were hang gliders at the ready from the launching point near the campground but they didn’t seem to like the conditions for flying that day. The trails lower down were in good shape, and we had a nice hike back down to our car.

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