Ultimate Hiking Group, Assemble!
If you told me a year ago that I’d be climbing mountains, rolling ankles, and being a complete goofball with random strangers that I’d eventually call my family, I’d probably burst out laughing. Sure, I like to go out once and a while but hiking with complete strangers? You’ve got to be joking me.
Fast forward to the present, and you’ve got yourself the Ultimate Hiking Group. We’re a bunch of kids in the Bay Area who were brought together under a common thirst for outdoor adventures. Sweat, cry, climb, and fall – we do it together.
A few days ago, we embarked on our third hiking adventure. Mount Diablo was on our list, and we were intent on taking the hardest possible loop up and down the summit: A 13 mile trek that was proposed by fellow hiker Alice on her website.
We brought our usual core group of travelers onto this expedition (me, Alvin, Jessica, etc.) but were also glad to welcome new faces into our family (May, Lauren, etc.). Believe me, it’s one thing to go hiking but another to go with strangers. But the beauty of our group is that everyone is welcome, so long as you share a similar motivation to explore and challenge yourself.
And to be frank, Alice’s loop around Mount Diablo was not the easiest hike that we have done. What started as a brisk stroll down flat ground on Mitchell Canyon Road soon turned into an uphill climb through Juniper Trail and Deer Flat Road as we ascended onto the summit of Mount Diablo.
(Un?)fortunately, the company that we shared was probably the highlight of the summit. Amidst the constant chatter of children at the top and all the cars rolling in, you lose sight of the beauty around you as well as that feeling of success that you reached the peak of your journey. You can read my review of the summit here but the top just wasn’t that worth it. Yet… I’m glad we all made it to the top together because every experience is a good experience when you’re with friends.
Not going to lie, the climb down was loads better for many reasons. One, the scenery on Eagle Peak trail and North Peak Trail was unforgettable. Being surrounded by valleys and mountains (without screaming kids!) is an experience you have to be there to understand. You become so much smaller and humbled by what’s around you. Two, I’m pretty sure each and every one of us fell a few times on the way down. Whether it was sliding down rocks or tripping over something, our mishaps really brought us all together.
And of course, the most satisfying feeling is that last stretch run to the very base of the park where you first began your journey. Finishing our hike, we all look at our devices and check how far we’ve gone. Surprisingly, we well exceeded the estimated 13 mile loop. Maybe it was because of our back and forth walking or our little detours, but hey I’m not complaining if we completed 16-17 miles. That’s 300 more calories burnt!
The icing on the cake is of course all the amazing pictures we’ve shared, pictures that capture each and every one of our memories. Photo credits go to all members of our group that day (you know who you are!).
I feel that every hiking trip is another opportunity for us to grow stronger. Stronger in the sense that we’re more mentally tough as well as more unified as friends. Every time I come across older groups hiking together on our trips, I can’t wait to see how many times and years we’ll all get to spend together on our adventures.
Until then, Ultimate Hiking Group we out!