|My hike as captured by my GPS|
|Sandy Wool Lake|
It didn't rain when I started walking but it was overcast, windy, and cold. It wasn't windy enough to disperse the blow wives parachute seeds.
Most of the trail from Ed R. Levin Park isn't very steep. I started right away with a quick pace, aided by the cool weather. There weren't many people about, and I assume that the forecast caused that too because Ed R. Levin is a pretty popular park.
The past winter has been a non-winter with very little precipitation. as a result the grass of the East Bay hills which is usually knee-high, was very, very short. As a result, even the normally tall Ithuriel's Spear was short as well.
|Ithuriel's Spear, Triteleia laxa|
The oak trees are more resilient to the variation in annual precipitation. There were many oak trees along the trail, many of them truly majestic.
I walked at a fairly quick pace, not stopping to photograph much. Perhaps it was because I wanted to make good time on this hike, or perhaps it was that I carried a lesser camera with me. Maybe it was the impeding rain. Either way, I was making good progress and I was happy about it.
For the most part, the trail from Ed Levin Park isn't very steep. Still, I was gaining height quickly, and the view opened up more and more. I wasn't even a quarter f the way up but it already looked like a long way down.
Although the grass wasn't as tall as it would have been after a wetter winter but it was tall enough to hide many of the wildflowers that did bloom along the trail. It wasn't the big superbloom that the East Bay hills display most springs, but there was some color between the green grass blades.
|Sky Lupine, Lupinus nanus|
Not in carpets, but the state flower was well represented throughout the hike. The California poppy doesn't like overcast weather, so most of the poppies were closed. I found a few brave (or mutant) flowers that were fully open despite the cold and overcast weather.
|California Golden Poppy, Eschscholzia californica|
I could only imagine how this slope would have looked on a sunny day with all those poppies fully open. I didn't go back to check.
As i was going up, I was also going north, and contouring around the mountain curves. Below me were the salt ponds and the sloughs of the Coyote Creek delta. I identified the old Drawbridge ghost town but it was hard to see any details without my binoculars (which I didn't bring on this hike) and I couldn't zoom enough with the little underwater camera that I did bring along.
Then the trail curved eastward and also upward at a mush steeper slope. Huffing and puffing I made it all the way to the ridge where I indulged in a short break. Then I went past the ridge to the east, passing into Alameda County and descending a little into a narrow green valley that looked completely empty. While there were a few people on the hike up, in that Valley I could see no one.
I couldn't see the peak I was going to from the at valley, but I did see Mount Diablo way ahead, hovering over the wavy line of the Mission Peak ridge.
If wildflowers were fewer than normal for the season on the trail up, then in the valley below the summit there were hardly any. A few tiny tarweed flowers. That's all. Pretty disappointing, although not entirely unexpected.
I felt the need to take a longer break to rest and eat but it was cold and windy, and I didn't see any good place to sit. I crossed the summit valley to the north and as I came around the peak south of Mission Peak (the one with the antennas) I finally saw Mission Peak itself, alone and aloof under the clouds.
I came upon a protected area with some rocks so I sat down to have my lunch break. It was then that I finally saw other hikers on that trail - a group of youths that were descending Mission Peak and seemed to have taken the wrong route because after heading down in my direction for some distance they stopped, debated between them, then changed direction and went down the other way.
I finished my lunch and headed up to the peak. Mission Peak is a popular trail for fitness seekers and physical challenge lovers. I have a friend who go up there on a regular basis. Nearly all of them take either the Ohlone College route or the Stanford Avenue route. One can always expect people to be on the peak at any given time during daylight hours. This day was no different, although there were fewer people there than I've seen on previous hikes to the peak. I still had to wait a few minutes for other hikers to get down from the telescope pole so I could take a people-free photo.
BTW, that pole isn't standing on the actual summit. That is found a few yards to the south, on the pile of rocks where people sit for a rest. It's marked by the geological survey sign.
|By the Summit of Mission Peak|
The wind was blowing hard at the summit so I didn't linger long there. I did take a moment to look around and appreciate the view.
|View of South Fremont and Milpitas|
I kept taking shots of the view as I started descending northbound. To the east, under the thick layer of clouds, lay the mountains of the Ohlone Wilderness. Last time I was looking at this view from this angle it was white with snow. Looking at it now I conceived the idea of backpacking the Ohlone Wilderness Trail as part of my Mount Shasta training.That trip would come to pass later in May.
|View of Ohlone Wilderness and Mount Rose|
I continued descending to the north, on the trail leading to Ohlone College. Looking north I could see the hills of Vargas Plateau, dwarfed by Mission Peak.
|Looking down onto Vargas Plateau|
On the mountain's shoulders there were exposed rocks that were conglomerates of fossils, evident of the underwater past of the sediments that make up Mission Peak.
|Silver Bush Lupine, Lupinus albifrons|
The wind was gentler as I went down to the treeline again. On the other hand, the air got colder and little droplets of rain started falling. I hurried down the trail, but did stop occasionally to look at interesting sights.
I didn't take many photos on the way down. I described that part of the trail on a previous post. At that stage of my hike I was getting too cold and eager to finish and get back home. There's a big rock down that trail, about two thirds of the way down. I stop there each tie I take this route, and I did so coming down on this hike as well. I didn't stop for long - only to take a sip of water and to adjust my jacket. I did see a sole turkey hen roaming near the trail. She got away from me slowly, eying me warrily all the time.
As I was getting ready to continue I was passed by a small group of young hikers, all happy and cheerful. The last of the hikers in that group was holding a bouquet of freshly picked wildflowers. At the sight of that I lost it and yelled at her. She didn't reply, or even looked back at me. I don't think she understood how wrong this was.
Now upset, I continued down he trail.
Just as I got within sight of Ohlone College the sky opened up and the rain started pouring down. I wrapped my jacket around myself and hurried down the trail without stopping.
|Caught in the rain|