My plan for climbing Mount Diablo on Saturday November 18th was a simple one. I was planning on going to bed pretty early on Friday night and waking up at 5:00 am. Since Mount Diablo State Park doesn’t open until 8:00 am I had plenty of time to get there. My Plan was to climb the Mt Olympia Trail
. Sounds easy enough, right
This Is What Happened
Wrong! Lets see where things went wrong. Well with no regrets I say my plan un-raveled because of a fun Friday night with my wife. We planned on watching Seven Years In Tibet and having a few beers. We ended up finishing the movie and drinking a ton of beer. Then we started the Monopoly game and that required more beer. We played the game until 2 in the morning and we were both pretty darn drunk by the time we went to bed.
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP its 5:00 and I’m not getting up. So I hit the snooze button. And I keep hitting it until 7 when I realize that I’m still drunk so I give up and just turn the damn thing off. Somewhere around 9 my daughter finally has enough and starts crying. So I get up and change her diaper and get her a bottle. I then sit down in front of the computer at Summit post with a Mount Diablo map and explore my options.
I decide that it is too late for the Mt Olympia Trail and decide on Juniper Trail
instead. So finally at 10 am I get on the road. The drive was pretty un-eventful. Just fog in the Valley and traffic in the Bay Area. When I got to the park the drive got interesting. All of sudden the road narrowed and was very winding and was infested with bicyclist and joggers/walkers that refuse to get off the road. Finally at 12:30 pm I reached the Diablo Valley Overlook and I parked my truck.
By 12:45 I’m on the trail. I had a little difficulty finding the trailhead. But once I located it in the Laurel Nook Group Picnic Area it was hard to lose the trail. The first part of the climb was a surprisingly steep section to the top of a ridge. The trail then leveled out for about a ½ mile. The trail then climbs from the ridge up to the summit road. From the road the trail then climbs steeply up to the lower parking lot. During the first part of the climb I came across only two people. I was really surprised by this because Mount Diablo is a really popular mountain and it was a beautiful day.
When I hit the Lower parking lot my seclusion was shattered by of all things a Mercedes Benz SLK club get together. There were about 25 of the little sports cars in a big circle all facing towards the center of the circle. Any thoughts of being in nature were then gone. After gawking for a few minutes I walked off thorough the parking lot towards the Summit road. When got to the end of the parking lot I noticed that the road then splits and my trail continues in between to the lanes. The trail continues on for another ¼ mile or so. As I emerge from the trail around 1:00 I was greeted by another f!&*ing parking lot!
And a Visitor Center. So I walk through the parking lot and into the Visitor Center. I walk up a small flight of stairs and I look down at the floor and notice some rocks sticking up though the floor. Guess what? This is the summit
of Mount Diablo the top of Contra Costa County.
I then head up to the observation deck on top of the Visitor Center. The views from up there were unbelievable. Fog covered most of the low lands on all sides. To the west Mount Tamalpais
and Sutro Hill in San Francisco poked up through the fog. To the North I could see Mount Saint Helena
and parts of the Delta. Looking East I was able to see the snow covered Sierra Nevada. And to the south was the rest of the Diablo Range.
Tourists also infested the Summit area. There were kids running all over the place. People smoking in all corners. There was even a woman in a little black mini-skirt and Go-go Boots (not that I’m complaining)(okay, I’m complaining). But it all seemed out of place on top of a mountain. So By 1:30 I had enough and headed back down to my truck.
My descent was lonelier then the climb up. I didn’t run into a single person on the way down. About halfway down I found the only spot on my trip where I had absolute silence.
I didn't hear anything here.
I also found many spot with great views that would have made great picnic spots. I made it back to my truck at 2:00 and was back on the road 15 minutes later. At the trailhead parking lot I had reset my trip meter and when got home at 5:00 that evening I noticed that my drive home was exactly 100 miles.
I realized two things to do when climbing Mount Diablo: Get an early start so you can do a better route, or drive up to the top. Oh well. To get all the California County summits you have to climb stinkers like Mount Diablo.