Monday, June 18, 2012

Trekking up Mt. Diablo

I have this vivid memory...

I'm 15. Riding my bike on some back country road, and the sun is setting. To my right is a field, an expansive field with bunches and bunches of wild bushes lining the next quarter-mile home. On the horizon are the purple peaks of Mt. Diablo, and as I ride back, dozens of butterflies startle out of the bushes and fly all around me.

Every time I spy the western horizon, I catch a glimpse of Mt. Diablo and remember that quiet little memory. Sometimes when I look at it, I remember how we took Aidyn "hiking" when he was only four months old. Now I can look at it with even more memories.

For Father's Day, we trekked to Mt. Diablo with a now 6- (and a half, I might add!) year-old. Before heading out, we filled our tummies at Red Robin's.


I took a few "before" photos. You know, just in case we turned up missing and all they found was our camera.

Then, we were ready to rock 'n' roll. We immediately took the Summit Trail, wanting to get a good view of the state surrounding us.

Up, up, up...

Stopping to take in the view (and a good breath or two!)

When we reached the summit, we climbed up to an observation deck with all around views of the area.

Aidyn, getting a peak at the Central Valley.

Checking out the much-more-interesting Bay Area.

After our view from the top, we decided to slink along some more trails. We quickly found the Mary Bowerman Trail, dedicated to the botanist as an educational trail to "discover how nature has created and altered this peak that is part of our landscape," so says the trail map.

The Mary Bowerman Trail was essentially a loop trail crowning the southern peak of Mt. Diablo. Along the trail were 14 stop points, and the trail map enlightened us to a particular geologic feature, flora, and/or fauna.

Here's Aidyn on the northern side of the southern peak. Yeah. Basically we were standing "in between" the two peaks facing the northern one. On our left was the Bay Area, with its waterways, and cities speckled everywhere. To the right was the Central Valley (where we live), with its flat, flat terrain that goes on for miles and miles and miles and offers next to nothing exciting to look at.

Kidding. It was pretty neat telling Aidyn that we live in that direction and that anyone over there can clearly see these mountain peaks.

  Along the trail, we learned to identify:

  • poison oak (right after we found that Aidyn was standing in it. The thrill of ohmygodyou'restandinginpoisonoak! helps education to sink in, right?)
  • greenstone
  • graywacke (and the accompanying quartz)
  • chert
  • oak trees
  • chapparal
  • a monolith
  • wild oats
  • foxtails (Pffft, like those aren't common where we live)
  • a sagebrush lizard
  • juniper
  • yerba santa, and
  • chamise

Aidyn and I amongst a sea of chert. That's right, we learned what chert is. Before yesterday, I wasn't even aware that it was a word.

Then we came across a monolith made completely of chert, and Aidyn couldn't resist climbing it. It's such a fine line between protecting your children and encouraging them to embrace risks and challenge them to face fears.

I did the in-between tactic. Encouraged him to (carefully!) climb the rock whilst biting my lip, cringing, and telling David to "Ohmygod, make sure he doesn't fall, but don't let him know you're a guard rail."


It still makes me cringe.

Aidyn taught me later how to better climb these rugged peaks. By this time, he had confidently accepted my goading (heh) that he was typical mountain-climbing Capricorn-goat.

At the end of our hike, we met a small group of straggling hikers who said that had been on the trails since 6am. The four we met were exhausted and had another ten-hour hike back down the entire mountain. The other half of their team had lagged behind and were still out there. We eventually drove them out and to their cars so that they could pick up the rest of their party.

On the way, Aidyn decided to chum it up and tell these two guys his whole. life. story. The poor guys had been through enough, but they politely listened to Aidyn and his tales.

Overall, it was both a fun and educational hike so double score for us.

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