My son Zachary and I set off to climb Mt. Olympia at 8:15 am. We were an hour late and the sun was already shining full blast. We parked at the trailhead, thanks for claring that up gordonye, and set out down the road. The trail immeadiately curves to the right and soon a whole new view comes into sight. There it is. The North Peak and Mt Olympia right in front of you. See gordonye's excellent picture of this. I live in Clayton at the bottom of the North side of Mt Diablo and am very farmiliar with the views, bot its completly different from this side. Tantalisingly close but oh so steep.
We continued to the grassy saddle area and up int the woods. Soon after we exited the trees and were going straight up a loose gravel trail. This is definatly the most difficult trail in the park! After a little more than a mile we came to the junction with the East trail and took it upward (the Olympia trail heads off to the right here and goes to the road). The sun was brutal by now, I couldnt believe how much i was sweating. The morning sun will bake you on this side of the mountain in the summer months. I would never again start this hike after 6:30 am. After another mile we came to the second marked trail crossing, we stayed left, the map says we are now on the Zippe trail. If you go right on the Zippe trail it takes you to the road (Olympia Rd). Soon after we reached the spine of the ridge and follwed it west up to the top. The views alog this section were excellent to the east and north. There is a perfect camping spot at the begining of this ridge (if you brought tons of water). At the top you meet up with the road which is just a wide loose trail at this point, and wind around to the left a little and up a few paces to the summit, yeah... we are on top!
From the summit we got a close up view of the very rugged North peak. Wow can't wait to tackle that puppy, but its way too hot today. Zach and I are both very low on water now and its hot as hell at only 10:15 am. 2 hours to the top. We decided to go down the Olympia Road and make a loop. The first part is like 50 degrees straight down and very loose. We were quite happy when the road leveled off a bit. about a mile and a quarter down we came to a trail marker for the Olympia trail heading West. This will take you to Cardinet Oaks Rd. If you are farmiliar with the Falls trail, thats where it goes. In fact a great hike would be a traverse from todays trailhead going right, instead of up to the summit, at the first junction and taking the Olympia trail over to Cardinet Oaks Rd. Then take the Hetherington trail down Donner Canyon Rd and out to the Regecy Gate! Maybe next weekend.
Just after this junction we found ourselves behind someones house! Some lucky dog has a house up here on the side of the mountain facing the north! Nice view from the porch no doubt. We went right to avoid tresspassing and came to a trailsign for the Olympia trail heading East. We set off down this VERY seldom used trail and traversed back to the first junction(East trail) took a left and headed into the woods. Thank goodness as we had both run out of water and the temp was mid 90's.
The trip back to the car should have been uneventful but Zach and I were both showing sign of heatstroke and dehydration. We were light headed and suddenly i realized that i was not sweating anymore. I know this is really bad. Keeping to the shade as much as possible we made our way to the road now in full sun. Only a 5 minute car ride to home from here. I started driving down the hill back to Clayton and immeadiatley started getting motion sickness. I felt real queasy and thought i might pass out! I slowed the car to 25mph and limped into town pulled in the driveway and went for the hose...Ahhhhhh
Thankfully my son never got more than a little light headed. I felt better after drinking alot of water then flopping into the babies' kiddy pool. I was able to eat some salty stuff after about 45 minutes and felt ok about 30 minutes after that.
This part of the story is really embarrassing, but needs to be told. We were on a 4 hour hike practically in our backyard. If this had happened in the wilderness the situation could have been much worse. We were back to the car by 12:15 and it was probably mid 90's by then. we both had Camelbacks with at least 64 oz of water. We needed much more. I will always be careful about hydration after this. I will always bring a jug of water to keep in the car. I will seriously think about bringing extra water to cache on the return route.
Learn from my mistakes.
fter a few slips we were happy to see the road level off a bit.