mission peak

Mission Peak Laps


Today was an elevation-gain training day. I'd been struggling to find much land texture in Phoenix, opting to go up and down shorter hills multiple times for elevation gain, with last week being particularly difficult. The hill I used ended up being 70m per lap, or all of 229' per lap. Those laps were not fun, I did not complete 13 of those laps.

This week, however, I have Mission Peak!

Not only do I have Mission Peak, I have the knowledge of Mission Peak, I have a higher aerobic threshold, and I have Luna! And Andy, Tilly, and Archie! Which is to say, my usual "let me do one more thing before I leave" does not work when someone else is going to walk with you on the mountain. I struggled, again, to stop working and take care of myself, to leave the house at the agreed upon time to meet Andy at Mission Peak, to hustle from the car, and just all around to hike today. This was not a fun hike.

Mission Peak


When I worked at VA, one of my coworkers, Richard Lee, would hike to the top of Mission Peak on a semi-regular basis. It was the closest mountain to climb to both work and his house, so it had its charms. I had intended to go several times, but never quite made it out.

Andy suggested the hike as "something short this weekend, how about Mission Peak?" A few friends were also hiking it this weekend, and meeting up with them, one of whom had a dog, would be fun. We didn't know quite what we were getting in for, and thinking it would be similar to the Mt. Diablo hike we went on 5-6 years back.

Yeah, other than the straight up, not so much.

We arrived slightly late, having left our house slightly late, having woken up slightly late. Yet, even with our late arrival and walk from the most distant parking spot, we still arrived before the rest of the group. Looking up the hill, we couldn't see the top of the hike, as the whole area was covered in smoke from the Henry Coe wildfire and some level of morning fog. There was little green, and lots of exposed areas, explaining why Andy wanted to start early. He had never come on the weekend, so was a little surprised at the number of people on the hike. There were a lot

The first three miles were uphill, with maybe 50 yards of the hike level, and none downhill.

Just before the peak, the path turned from a 12' wide, flat, practically paved dirt road to a series of rocks, not unlike the path to the Giant's Causeway in Ireland. Just as I approached the base of the rocks to climb up, another group paused to look up the rock path. Andy chose that moment to run up the path. Like a mountain goat, he pounced from rock to rock, dashing up the side of the mountain with grace.

The group next to me watched him for about twenty seconds, then simultaneously turned to look at each other, a look of incredulity on their collective faces. I saw the looks, and turned to them. "Yeah, we think he's crazy, too."

"I'm tired just watching him," was the response.

The smoke and haze so stifling from the bottom of the hill was below the height of the peak, so we had great views of, well, cloud and smoke coverage of the Bay Area metropolis to one side of the peak, and smoke covered rolling East Bay hills to the other side. The top was, as Andy told us, windy, but pleasant. We went down the back side of the peak, away from the crowds, which was nice. We passed through a creek a couple times, and convinced the dogs to jump in a couple times. I would have taken pictures of the way down, but, well, the camera died at the peak.