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Sunol Backpacking Trip

Day 2 of 2

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Sunday, April 15th
Sunol Backpack Area to Sunol Headquarters
3.8 miles
20 vertical feet (ascent)
1220 vertical feet (descent)

View from our camp

The next morning I didn't manage to wake up early to get some early photographs as I usually do when camping. However, there were still some good pictures to be had as our tent warmed up quickly under the hot sun. At 8am I went outside and saw morning fog hovering over the valley to the west. Bright blue birds fluttered from branch to branch on the large tree above us as we made our breakfast, which of course included hard-boiled eggs we'd brought for this Easter Sunday.

Bird in tree above our camp site

After eating and doing most of our packing we walked along the ridge toward Sky Camp, but only far enough to get the view of the Alameda Creek valley. I wanted to take some pictures of the wildflowers on the slope in the morning light.

Our camp from the ridge

After packing our tent away, we finally said goodbye to the camp site at 11am. The couple at Hawk's Nest had continued along the Ohlone Wilderness Trail toward Rose Peak. We were taking it easy this time, though, and just headed back down the hill. At the gate we turned left down Backpack Road.

Sooner than I would have expected we ran into other hikers coming the opposite direction. After we turned left onto Ohlone Road, we ran into hikers, dogs, families, baby strollers. We'd hit the main artery. We hiked alongside the lightly flowing Alameda Creek until we reached Little Yosemite. This is a scenic gorge area with a picnic table, outhouse, garbage cans, and even a bike rack. Children played in the water below. Dozens of people passed through as we stopped for a short break.

This was all quite a change from the previous day, but at least it did save us 500 feet of climbing. We continued along the road as a half dozen hawks circled high above us. The trail was really a road, but next time, if we come this way we can take the side trail closer to the creek. If you come from the parking lot, take the right foot path just after passing the inner gate.

Soon enough we reached the parking lot. But we still had another 10 minutes of walking on pavement before we reached our car. Along the way we passed an entirely full parking lot and scores of people enjoying picnics. I dare say there must have been two or three hundred people in the park this day. When we drove out of the park, we saw how bad it was -- 30 or 40 cars were lined up, waiting to get into the park. To be honest, I was very surprised. It is a great park, but I had no idea it was so popular and well-known. Just so you know -- be prepared if you ever plan on entering the park on Easter Sunday -- arrive earlier than 1pm!

Despite the crowds of people on the hike out, it was definitely an enjoyable backpacking trip. Most of the crowds can probably be avoided by avoiding Ohlone Road. This is a trip we'll probably repeat on some spring day in the future.

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