Black Point P500 CC

Sat, Jul 3, 2010

With: Ryan Burd
Jackie Burd

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I had about 4-5 hours before I had to be somewhere in the afternoon. I could have had 8-9 hours if I'd gotten my butt up a bit earlier, but it was nice sleeping in until 7:30a. I was surprised but happy the kids both decided to join me for a short outing. I had a plan to hit up two CC-listed peaks in Contra Costa County, but with an hour-long drive each way from San Jose and a slower pace than expected, we had time only for one summit.

Black Point is located in the northwest corner of Mt. Diablo State Park. It is not high by any standard, but involves a bit more than a thousand feet of gain over a couple miles. I could see trails leading to the summit on Google Maps but did not know if these were maintained or accessible. Fortunately they were, as we easily found the signed trail leading to the summit - bushwhacking through the dense chaparral would have been out of the question.

We drove into Diablo State Park from the north on Mitchell Canyon rode, paying our $6 entrance fee as good citizens would. From the TH at Mitchell Creek on the north side of the park, we started up one of the roads following Mitchell Creek. Our first attempt ended in a few hundred yards when we found ourselves on a private road leading to an area secured by a killer dachsund. The frenetic barking did not dissuade us from trying to continue, but the small dog's owner came out to correct us from our wayward visit. Back we went to the correct road. 6/10th of a mile up we came to a trail junction, the start of the Black Point Trail. Jackie was happy to find a nice bench to rest here. It has been a while since she has gone on a hike and she was as surprised as I was to find her lagging so much today. The warm temperatures resulting from our late start, around 75F, didn't help any. Jackie complained about the heat, the bugs, spider webs, poison oak and the steepness of the trail. Eventually I had to tell her that being tired was OK and expected, but the whining was not. To her credit, she never whined again after that. She even started enjoying it more. Especially because we were only fifteen minutes from the top by that time.

There was a good deal of poison oak along the trail, though easy to avoid if one knows what to look for. All three of us were quick to identify the stuff by the time the hike was over. There was more shade than I would have expected under a thin canopy of trees found along the way. Mitchell Canyon was of course well-shaded and cool too, but it was somewhat surprising to see trees higher up the hillsides where there is little water available. The views during the hike are of the northwest side of Mt. Diablo and Eagle Peak as well as east into Mitchell Canyon and Clayton Valley. To the north is Mt. Zion which I would have liked to visit as well, but it lies on private property with large gravel pits on two sides. Near the summit the trail reaches a small saddle between the two peaks, providing views west to Walnut Creek.

The summit is marked by a wooden stake, the chaparral surrounding it about chest high, just allowing for some views around the top, though nothing special considering the summer haze. We didn't stay more than a few minutes as the kids found the flies buzzing around us annoying. Back down we went.

Ryan had seen a tick on the way up and had worked up not only himself, but his sister too, to the dangers of lyme disease. Leaving Ryan to wallow in his self-created delusion, I tried to reassure Jackie that the threat is very remote in California and that I've only had two tick bites in the last ten years. But Ryan wasn't helping. On the way down Ryan found another tick at the end of a dry blade of grass which I used as a teaching moment. I tried to get the tick to crawl on me to show how easy they are to brush off, but I couldn't get it to let go of the blade it was attached to. I shook it, offered my raw flesh to crawl onto and eventually flicked it off the grass with my finger. Stupid tick. There was some wildlife highlights that made up for annoying insects One was a small rabbit that we managed to photograph when it paused in the underbrush, the other a young coyote crossing the road on our way home. Jackie liked the coyote better before I told her they were looking for small rabbits to snack on.

In all we were just about two hours on the hike. A stop at the Circle K for some treats was just the ticket to make the outing with Dad worthwhile. I'm going to have to get Jackie out for more hiking in the next few weeks as she has an upcoming summer camp with the Boy Scouts she's joining her brother on, and they have a 6-8 mile hike planned for that first day. With a pack, too - ouch.

jj comments on 07/07/10:
Last year I found a tick on my arm and brought it home in a sandwich bag for experimentation. Ticks zone in on your exhale; your carbon dioxide. The tick was immobile until I breathed into the bag then it started snapping around like insanity. They seem to go wherever you breathe.
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