A fully-monstered two-carrot hike

I’ve been meaning to follow up on last Sunday’s monster hike at Ohlone Regional Wilderness (see the earlier post below). Somehow, sandwiched in between a series of wet and windy storms, we managed to find a most exquisitely bright and sunny Spring day that made for tremendously clear views of an immense spread of green hills, the Livermore Valley, San Francisco Bay, and Mt. Tamalpais. We even saw, albeit dimly, a range of snow-capped Sierra Peaks nearly 80 miles away to the east.

The upper part of Murietta Falls, flowing better than we've seen it previously.

The upper part of Murietta Falls, flowing better than we’ve seen it previously.

I was delightfully surprised by the sprightliness of our group of 9 intrepid hikers. Considering that this out-and-back hike to Murietta Falls is over 12 miles in length, and with 4300 feet of elevation gain, it can be one of the toughest hikes around. But we found ourselves back at the trailhead at 3:00 that afternoon, having taken only 5 hours to complete the hike, including time for lunch at the Falls.

Oh, the Falls! — the first carrot on the stick. This was my third time visiting the Falls, yet I previously had witnessed merely a trickle from tiny Murietta Creek. Not so this time! It was rushing fast and well, actually inhibiting conversation in the small cove at its bottom where we settled for lunch. With the sun gently radiating off the rocks below the Falls, and the sound of the Falls roaring in our ears, we were content to linger awhile and just soak it in.

The lower part of Murietta Falls. At the vernal pool below the falls, I couldn't fit all 100 feet of it in my viewfinder.

The lower part of Murietta Falls. At the vernal pool below the falls, I couldn’t fit all 100 feet of it in my viewfinder.

But with six tough miles to go, we knew we had to hitch up our courage despite protesting legs, shoulder our packs, and continue on. Easy enough to do, of course, when sudden talk of cold beer — Carrot #2 — quickens your step. That, and the fact that I spotted fresh cougar tracks in the mud, suggesting that the big cat was not far ahead of us.

A few steps back: the entirety of Murietta Falls.

A few steps back: the entirety of Murietta Falls.

If you haven’t yet seen Murietta Falls, and you have the stones to do this monstrous hike, the time is now, while the Falls are flowing so well. In the meantime, you might enjoy a few photos.

~winehiker

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