This is a first: meeting not one but two Two-Heel Drive readers for the first time on the same day. I decided to tag along with Mike Wimble’s FOMFOK gang because they were heading out to my all-time favorite Bay Area park: Sunol Wilderness. Yes, it’s madness to go there in August, but we had nice breezes, relatively mild heat and gorgeous, smog-free skies. Mostly made up for the punishing climbs up out of the Sunol canyon.

First, the readers:

Beth, AKA Baychic

Beth, who comments as Baychic around here (note you must be a Xanga member to see her page), signed up with FOMFOK a few months back and decided it was time to go along on one of Mike’s hikes before getting booted from the list (Mike is decent and generous to a fault but he is a stern custodian of his e-mail list: if you don’t come and hike, you get bounced). Beth is tall and thin, which I always translate as “will stand zero chance of keeping up with her on the trail.”

Ron, AKA Grey

Ron, AKA Grey, was the first guy to arrive after me at the Sunol parking lot. He told me he found Mike’s group from a link here. He lets his geek flag fly at this copious compendium of links. He even has a South Bay hiking blog.

Enough introductions. On to the hike. Fearless leader Mike apparently had not endured any significant bodily discomfort of late, so he opted to go straight to Flag Hill, one of the meanest ascents at Sunol. Actually, “mean” is a bit unkind. It’s steep, but it’s also a nice single-track trail with abundant views on the way up.

The snake was THAT long

That’s Donna Jones throwing her arms wide for the world. Or something. She covers Watsonville for the Santa Cruz Sentinel and is an old pal of ex-Sentinel reporter Dan White of “Cactus Eaters” fame. We have the same boss, ultimately, and we often talk shop on FOMFOK hikes. But not with other people around, it just bores them silly.

Mike, FOMFOK co-chairman

Mike, with his back to the spectacular Sunol backdrop.

Nice snag on the Flag Hill trail

My latest thing is: get people in the picture. I started with this excellent Flag Hill Trail snag.

The FOMFOK Nexus of Niceness

Axis of Evil, meet Nexus of Niceness. (Mike with FOMFOK co-chair Kathy).

Flag Hill

Here we are at the top of the Flag Hill Trail. Approaching hikers ask us “which way to Little Yosemite.” Only, about three miles back the way you came.

Everybody gets their picture taken at Flag Hill

Hikechic flashes her winning smile at the Flag Hill Rocks. Kristen, right, is always trying to talk Mike into taking longer, more strenuous hikes. Mike always explains that he hikes for fun, not strain.

Dirk studies his map

Dirk studies his map at the Flag Hill rocks.

Resting under a gnarly tree

The other Ron on our hike, adjusting his shades at the moment, is a former San Francisco State biology professor (evolution is his niche, as I recall). When Mike and I broke out our iPhones on one rest stop, he noted “humanity has gone from hunting and gathering to pointing and clicking.” OK, you had to be there.

The Bench

Ron munches an apple at a bench near one end of the Eagle View Trail, which dives down into a canyon along a nasty-steep hillside where one slip will plunge you into a tangle of nasty brambles that will probably save your life but make you wish you were dead. It’s one of my favorite Sunol trails.

Mike feigns collapse

Mike needs dramatic imagery for his annual hike DVD. He’s still working on the 2007 edition, so this one might take awhile to see the light of day.

So those are this week’s highlights. More links:

  • Ron AKA Grey’s Picasa gallery of Sunday’s hike.
  • The Other Ron’s Picasa gallery, including GPS profiles.
  • My previous Sunol hikes.
  • My Sunol park profile
  • Sunol page at East Bay Regional Parks District
  • Jane Huber’s page.
  • Bay Nature’s Sunol page.
  • Google map for driving directions to Sunol headquarters.