I was speaking at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in San Francisco a couple weeks back, and preceded it by spending the day with some field reps in the East Bay area. I had researched a number of the NorCal Pacific Coast Trail Run course maps and locations, and even printed out a couple Google Maps thinking I might be able to sneak out of downtown SF for some trail running. But I gradually accepted that long days and early sunsets would mean no trails this trip. Right before leaving the hotel Monday morning, I quickly decided to just throw in my Five Fingers, some running wear, GPS, a towel, etc. just in case… you never know. Man am I glad I did!
As luck would have it we ended the day just a tad early out in Walnut Creek. I had noticed some signs for Mt. Diablo State Park on the drive into the hills. After we shut down for the day I dove into my travel folder and dug out one of my Google Maps, remembering that PCTR hosts a Fall event at Mt. Diablo. What luck!
With GPS backing I was at the trailhead in about 15 minutes. If only I had printed out the course maps before I gave up on my trail running dreams for the trip, I could have run the race route. Fortunately, there was a good map at the trailhead, and trails are very well marked. I didn’t have a lot of time and didn’t want to get lost on a big loop, so I quickly settled on an out and back up Eagle Peak on the Mitchell Rock Trail.
The trails were in great shape and the views were beautiful. Sunset provided mesmerizing shadows and amusing but easily tolerable temperature differences between the valleys and the peaks. The weather was absolutely perfect for an evening run and a light breeze wafted sage and juniper aromas.
Terrain varied a lot from sideslope traverses to ridge backbones to bizarre tunnels through thicket you had to duck under. Most of the trail was a nice flat narrow gravel, with occasional rocky outcrops that reminded me of the Superior Trail. I was a bit worried about making it out of the park in time to avoid the threatened lock in at sunset so I stopped for some photos but tried to keep moving on the way up. I managed to summit the 2400 ft. Eagle Peak in 51 mins, which was a pretty good clip for me. I saw the only other runner just descend the far side as I summitted. I brief break for the views, and I started the descent at a full, quad-pounding clip.
I made it down in plenty of time for a total of around 6 miles. My quads were screaming by the time I got down and it felt great. The Walnut Creek folks are lucky to have a park like this in their back yard – I would love to camp with the family through smaller state parks like this someday, a lot more appeal in many ways than the packed National Parks.