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Mount Diablo: World class wonders. Age 55

Recently retired from the California Department of Education, Andrew Laufer is writing a book about his life including periods as a butcher's helper, food service worker, construction laborer, animal research assistant, seasonal fire fighter, and janitor. In his youth, he hitch-hiked up and down the coast and out to Colorado numerous times providing context for hundreds of short stories.
Mount Diablo

Mount Diablo, near Danville in the Bay Area, was visible on my morning commute. Sometimes the top was shrouded by clouds, other times, on clear mornings after a rain, it seemed closer than it is. It can also be seen from many vantage points throughout the Sacramento Valley. I'm drawn to the mountain, much like I'm drawn to the ocean.
When I discovered the way to the mountain, I packed a lunch for my son and his buddy, and we set out on an adventure to get to the top.
After picking up a trail map at the ranger station, we parked about a mile away from the top to begin our hike. The smell of the outdoors reminded me of the hills I grew up in. The mountain is covered with grassy meadows and plant life like California Sagebrush, Manzanita, various Oak trees as well as Bay and a few Pine trees. I was reminded the next morning that there is also plenty of poison oak on the mountain.

At the top, there is a stone structure that resembles a castle. The peak of the mountain is within the castle walls. People who visit can stand at the apex of the mountain within the castle's foyer. It houses a museum that features the wildlife found on the mountain, has a large topographical model of the mountain and surrounding hills, a small theater, and a gift shop.

The information reminds visitors that Native Americans thrived there taking advantage of all the resources on the mountain. It is a great place to take kids, and there is plenty to interest any adult who loves the outdoors.

The mountain's peak was used as a geological reference point for mapping the northern Sacramento Valley. Surveyors could see more land from that spot than anywhere else on earth, except for Mount Kilimanjaro. No kidding. Right in my own back yard was a place of monumental geographical significance. Who knew? The Sierras can easily be seen without binoculars and, on a clear day, even Mt. Shasta is visible with a good telescope.
The trail was quite steep in places making it a long hike to the top. We were worn out by the time we got there and ready to eat the lunches we packed. We sat on a large rock outcropping to eat our lunch.

On top of the rocks, it is easy to imagine soaring with the eagles and other raptors that search the ground below for prey. Overlooking the landscape is a true wonder to behold that has been supporting wildlife and humans throughout history.
I have taken the family there three or four times since the first visit. I highly recommend it for anyone. It is so worth the time.

~ Andrew Laufer





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