A Good Day

Saturday turned out to be a pretty good day, in spite of the weather and health conditions.I managed to stub my middle toe on my left foot on the bathroom door Wednesday night before bed. It was fine during the day Thursday, but Thursday night rolled around and all of a sudden I felt a soreness when flexing my toes. After a few minutes it got to the point where it really hurt. I took of my shoe to see it swelling up. I’m not sure what caused the delayed reaction (24 hours later!), but I must have tweaked it somehow. I was hoping it would go away over night but I woke up Friday to a digit that continued to be sore and swollen. This did not bode well, as I had been planning to go climbing at Mt. Diablo on Saturday with Rob and Jeremy but I was reduced to a hobbling gimp.Surprisingly the pain and swelling gradually decreased over the course of the day Friday to the point that I could barely tell anything had been wrong by dinner time. Unfortunately, it still looked like climbing at Mt. Diablo was out of the question as it had rained there during the day and more was forecast for Saturday. We decided to hit the gym instead and go for a hike at Mission Peak afterwards if the conditions were favorable.We flailed about on various 5.11 and 5.12 routes for 3 hours Saturday morning in the gym while it rained off and on outside. I take that back. Rob actually did pretty well on the 5.12’s. I flailed. I’m not quite to that level yet, but it’s good to challenge yourself, right? It’s also good to climb with someone who’s better than you are since he/she can often give pointers on technique and provide a source of inspiration. I think Rob is driven by being able to show off to the rest of us, too. :)After climbing, we headed to the Stanford Avenue trailhead of nearby Mission Peak to check out the trail conditions, eating lunch in the car on the way there. Miraculously the trail was bone dry. It appeared that the rain had skirted around the mountain. I changed into my hiking boots and a lightweight long-sleeve capilene fleece. Rob warned me that it could be pretty windy and chilly at the top so I stuffed an additional long sleeve shirt in my CamelBak.The trailhead starts at approximately 390 ft. and reaches the peak at 2517 ft. in 2.8 miles. That’s quite an elevation gain for such a short distance and my calves were letting me know it, too. There are a few short sections of the trail that are a level portions of the trail but for the most part it just goes up. The fact that you can see the top from the trailhead is somewhat encouraging because it’s a constant reminder that the burning in your muscles isn’t going to last forever.That said, I’m now regretting not having hiked up to Mission Peak previously considering I’ve lived in the Bay Area for nearly 5 years now. You don’t have to hike very far before you get some amazing views of the San Francisco Bay. The recent rains had cleared the atmosphere of most haze, so much so that Oakland, San Francisco, the Bay Bridge and the communication towers at Twin Peaks were visible 45 miles across the Bay. Cumulus clouds spread across the sky, adding to the whole amazing view.The sights weren’t limited to the horizon, though. There were about 4 or 5 hang gliders taking advantage of the winds at the higher elevations. It was very cool to watch them soar hundreds, if not thousands, of feet above us.We reached the summit in about an hour, Rob and Jeremy about 2 minutes ahead of me. Being regular hikers (on the order of 20-25 mile day trips), they were in considerably better shape than I. That said, I was pretty happy that I could keep up with them as much as I did. Though the climb was tough, I was surprised to see so many people that I would not have thought of as “hikers” at first glance. I suppose the trail might not have been as difficult had we ascended at a more leisurely pace.Rob was right about the top. It was windy and chilly. The second long sleeve layer had been a good idea. I put that on and after spending a few minutes at the top, we began our decent.Rather than take the same trail back down, we decided to continue south because we believed it met back up near the trailhead. Well, it wasn’t as straight forward as that. After crossing a small creek, avoiding numerous clumps of poison oak, following a few cow trails, it was apparent that we weren’t going to meet up with the fire road that we thought we were any time soon. That’s when we just decided to make a B-line down the hills, cross country-style, through a herd of grazing cattle. Apparently they were truly happy California cows because they didn’t pay much attention to us as we passed through. We eventually made it back to the trailhead after about 2 hours round trip.But the excitement doesn’t stop there. My friends Eric and Loi were throwing a dinner party later that night and had invited me to join them. Feeling obligated to bring something, I drove to the grocery store to pick up some items. Jennifer and I had made caprese salad a few days before and had quite a bit of fresh basil left over so I picked up more fresh mozzarella cheese balls and cherry tomatoes. I had also bought some baking chocolate a few weeks prior and thought it might be fun to make chocolate dipped strawberries so I picked up a few cartons of fresh strawberries, too.The salad turned out great. The chocolate dipped strawberries did not. The recipe called for using a double boiler to melt the chocolate. We don’t have one. I tried to improvise using a glass bowl in a pot of boiling water. The bowl wasn’t buoyant enough to prevent the water from splashing inside. Eventually the water flooded the bowl and it sank to the bottom. After rescuing it and draining the water the best I could, I put a small measuring cup at the bottom of the pot to prevent the bowl from sinking again. That worked well enough, but I never could get the chocolate to melt to the point of being able to dip anything in it. With 5 minutes before I had to leave, I gave up. I just cut the tops off of the strawberries, put them in a bowl and took them with me as a pre-dinner munchie.Before the meal Eric announced to everybody that the occasion had been organized in celebration of him accepting a job at Google. He had left Netscape nearly 2 years prior after working on the browser for about 3 years and had been pursuing individual contracts off and on since then. He had decided to look into full time employment again and choose to accept a position at Google when they extended him an offer.Dinner was tasty and the conversation entertaining. We had salad, homemade veggie lasagna and chicken marsala all followed by a orange/strawberry cake. The caprese salad seemed to have been a hit as there was none left to take home at the end of the night.A good work out… good friends… good food. All in all, a very good day.

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