MT. WANDA (643’) October 18, 2013

Desperately seeking exercise, as it is my health, I still couldn’t find a peak partner. The government shutdown was now over, so I could use a National Park. Looking at the park website, I noticed a link to a full moon hike at the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, CA. So very interested, I did my research, and even net-phoned the phone number on the site. Copying and pasting the name of the street intersection into my search company maps function, it came up with a location that I recall was where I went. Asking the park phone help about a facility at the stated meeting place, they told me that there was a gas station there.

Printing a copy of the map to show me the area, I decided to do this. So Friday, I was up early. I had a lot of things to do this day, but the meeting time wasn’t till 5:45 p.m. My maps gave it as about a 70 mile drive, one way. Due to a previous engagement, I couldn’t leave town till about 3 p.m.

So, westbound on Interstate 80, I soon ran into traffic. It was a weekend, but I had checked a traffic app to see that the highways weren’t jammed or closed. Stopping for a restroom and soda break at a remote exit along the Interstate, I took my time, getting information by my device. On the road again, I was southbound on 680. Crossing over the new Benicia bridge was a small thrill. Taking Highway 4 west, I soon came to my freeway exit. With a half hour to spare, I went to a fast food restaurant to have a slight meal, and a final restroom break.

At 5:40 p.m., I motored into the paved parking lot by the park headquarters. Some other people were there, making ready for the hike. Two people did come by, saying it was “over there,” but I was convinced I was at the right spot. The gas station was there, and I believed that the hill and the hike were there, too. The Muir home sat on the other side of the high fence protected by a coded entry gate. I speculated why the ranger was late, and we chatted for a short bit about the government shutdown perhaps being some kind of cause. A transit strike causing lots of traffic was perhaps to blame as well.

After about a half hour, the other two hikers left. I waited further, then decided to use my device. Looking at the online maps, I saw that Mt. Wanda was on the south side of the freeway. I was on the north side. There looked to be roads leading to the top, so I decided to walk the quarter-mile over there to check it out. No sidewalk on the west side of the street, with some hazardous freeway ramp crossings.

To my horror, I discovered the actual meeting place and parking lot on the south side of the freeway. Dozens of cars parked, and there was the signed trailhead. It was dusk light, so I could barely see where I was going, and I didn’t have my flashlight out, as it was in my pack. Rushing up the dirt road, I figured that I might still be able to catch the group on top. I had left my car at 6:42 p.m., and it was stated to be a two hour hike.

Hikers were coming down in the near dark. All told, perhaps several dozen. Assuming that these were mostly locals in the know, I felt sorry for those other ladies that had left. Asking some of the hikers for brief information, I shortly discerned the summit, and beelined for it. Other people had their flashlights on, and I did manage to take some quick photos of the rising full moon.

Topping out at 7:10 p.m., the ranger and a small group were still on top. I started with some quick night photos, as they were shortly set to leave. Having some trouble with my camera settings, I was glad that I had made the top, and being that I had left my tripod below, I will just have to settle for what I could get, handheld. I was able to change a camera battery as the group chatted a short bit, and saw that my flash just wouldn’t fire.

Asking the ranger about any gate that might lock my car inside the other parking lot, we shortly started down. Speaking briefly with the ranger as I followed in the dark, I spoke about my lack of a hiking partner, but he wasn’t too interested. Making more offers, for anybody that he might hear about that wanted to do some hiking, I gave them my website name.

While I am still trying, it seems to be the best wisdom is to forget about partners, and just go! No amount of money for offers or accommodations will ever get me anyone that wants to hike. We shortly came back to the parking lot, and I walked the short way back to my car on the north side of the freeway. Managing to change out of my sweaty clothes, and into a dry T-shirt, I shortly motored off.

Stopping for a drink at a gas station, I got some more organic food once back into town. So hiking then 2.3 miles, the gain was about 600 feet. I captured 58 images with my camera and did not have the time to shoot any video. Driving 157 miles, I had spent about $76 cash. Though about $45 was spent on nut snacks doing some shopping while I was about in my car, and five dollars for the bridge toll.

I had my doubts about counting this as a peak. Not being able to see too well in the dark, the ranger had said this was a slight prominence point. Because the local standard seems now to be San Francisco Hills, I guess I will count this. Perhaps more exercise then a lot of HPS peaks. This was the last ranger-led hike for the year, although I guess you can hike it at any time. I didn’t get any telephoto shots of the full moon, but that’s not anything for me to cry about. If anybody is reading this, I will pay to climb peaks, but “hikers” who hate hiking will never be accommodated. No polluters, either!