I have a hundred-dollar windbreaker imported from England, where they need such attire to fend off those North Sea gales. I had this jacket on Saturday when I stepped out of the Hiker Hauler at the base of Mission Peak, where it felt downright toasty for this time of the year — sunny, no wind, probably around 68 or so.
“I won’t need this,” I told Melissa with misplaced bravado as I peeled it off and threw it on the back seat. I have another hundred-dollar piece of outerwear, an ultralight insulated jacket imported from Japan, where the winds blow cold across the mighty Pacific. If I’ll be too hot in a windbreaker I’ll surely swelter in the insulated jacket, but it’s already stuffed in my backpack and I’m too lazy to remove it. Melissa drives off to do some shopping and leaves me at the Mission Peak Stanford Avenue trailhead.
If you’ve been following along you already know what will happen next: 30- to 50-mph gusts keep me company all the way to the top of Mission Peak, where I’ve thoughtfully taken the long way (via the Horse Heaven Trail) to ensure maximum exposure to these decidedly unbalmy breezes.
My lazy streak paid off this time, for once, because the wind was blowing so hard that I really needed the Japanese jacket’s insulation.
I also took my Japanese camera along, so let’s look at a few pictures:
Fremont and points north, not far from the beginning of the Horse Heaven Trail. To get to this trail, you take the first right turn about a hundred yards from the trailhead — it’s super steep and adds an hour of hiking if you go to the summit and return by the main route. It does have these great views — with any luck you won’t be gasping for breath and will be able to appreciate them.
There area few interesting rock formations along the way up. Note the clear sky in the distance: this is what happens when strong breezes blow all the smog away.
So you huff and puff your way up the hill till you reach this gate, then the trail goes downhill into a little valley with trees and a stream in it. After that it’s one more push to the summit, but it’s fairly easy after all the climbing to this point.
Hikers at the summit sit on the hillside out of the wind. It’s actually quite pleasant along here with the amazing views.
Somebody’s dog approves of the view.
Mission Peak is really rocky at the top — almost like it’s an actual mountain or something. If you’re lucky to be up here on a sunny day after several days of hard rain, the rocks will be much cleaner and more impressive.
By the way, Melissa came and got me a few hours later. Now I’m downright thankful for the high winds because they gave me something to gripe about.