I hiked Mission Peak today. I chose the most difficult trail, the Horse Heaven Trail, as a litmus test of sorts as I gear up for a particularly strenuous hike I have scheduled later this month.

Parts of this trail were exceptionally steep, and there were times where I nearly had to break into a scramble to continue my ascent. Trekking poles would have been helpful here.

Lots of cattle, vultures, kestrels, and gophers along the way.

It took me about 1.5 hours to reach the summit (inclusive of photography breaks), which is nothing to gloat about, but I don’t claim to be in shape and I only succeeded because I simply refused to give up. Stubbornness has its share of perks.

Once at the summit, I was joined by a couple dozen other hikers and we all watched the sunset in awe. Needless to say, it was breathtakingly beautiful.

I recommend that all able-bodied Bay Area residents make the trek to the peak to witness a sunset at least once in their lives. Make sure to bring a jacket and some lip balm: it’s quite windy and frigid at the top. Also, bring a flashlight or even better, a headlamp. It gets dark quickly and the trail down is pock-marked with gopher holes and other hazards.

All in all, it was a very memorable experience and I left with a sense of accomplishment which isn’t something I feel very often. Today was a good day!

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