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In search of Mt Diablo's tarantulas (5 mi hike, 1,300 ft elev gain)

  • Oct 21, 2012 · 2:30 PM
  • This location is shown only to members

We are lucky to live in the Bay Area because, among other perks, we are close to Mount Diablo - tarantula habitat. From late September to early November, male tarantula spiders leave their burrows in search of mates. Enthusiasts claim that the best place to observe the arachnids' amorous migration is hiking on the mountain's northern slopes, a few hours before sunset. I hope we're lucky and see a few of them out and about. You can read more about these fascinating creatures here: http://www.mdia.org/site/tarantulas-insects/tarantula-time

We will do a 4.8 mile partial loop up Mitchell Canyon and the summit of Black Point. It is a steep ascent, with about 1,300ft elevation gain. Please wear good hiking boots - it will be steep going up but also going down. We will take lots of breaks. Even if we don't see tarantulas, we'll still get a nice hike in. The panoramic views from Black Point are worth it. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather. Rain cancels the hike.

The loop will take us about 3.5 hours. We should be back at the cars around 6 pm, a little before sunset.

My hikes tend to be at a slower pace than most meetups so we can enjoy the scenery and the conversation. Fast-pace hikers are welcome to join and run ahead - all I ask is that you please wait at all trail intersections esp. if you're not familiar with the route.

Please bring 2L of water. Wear sturdy shoes, layers, and long pants to minimize exposure to poison oak. You may also want sunglasses/sunscreen/hat.

Restrooms are available at the trailhead.

No dogs on these trails :(

MEETING SPOT AND DIRECTIONS

We will meet at the Mitchell Canyon Visitors Center. From Hwy 24/I-680 in Walnut Creek, follow signs to Ygnacio Valley Road East. After 7.5 miles, turn right on Clayton Rd. and then right on Mitchell Canyon Rd. The Visitor Center is next to the parking lot at the end of the road. Parking is $6. Bring exact change (there is no attendant, you place the money in an envelope). Plan to get there 15 minutes early to park, use the restrooms, and then find the meeting spot.

To get more detailed directions, click on the link "Mitchell Canyon Visitors Center" under location at the top of the event description. A map with GPS coordinates will open up.

Please get directions ahead of time so you can be on time. Do not rely on your phone to navigate up there. I will not wait at the trailhead for more than a few minutes past the posted start time.

I will send everyone an email with my number a couple of days before the hike, but please try to be on time. My phone has spotty reception up there so you can try reaching me if you're running late, but I may not get your message.

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  • A former member
    A former member

    Report on the 'scientific' poison oak experiment: So far (after 5 hours), there seems to be no noticeable effect. I'm starting to doubt it's poisonous at all. 'poison' oak soup anyone?

    October 21, 2012

    • Joe

      Haha count me out

      October 22, 2012

    • Ganesh

      haha.. only if there is a virginity test that doesn't involve rubbing it on my skin!

      October 22, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hike was awesome!

    October 22, 2012

  • Laura

    Another great hike!

    October 22, 2012

  • Ganesh

    Daniel, I was thinking about you tonight, and I am happy you updated us as promised! The ingredient of poison oak - urushiol - triggers cell mediated immune response, so the rash can take a couple of days to develop. The allergen is bound to your epithelial cells now, and after it makes its way to the layer below (dermis), it will trigger effector T-Cells that has the receptors to sense this chemical. These T-Cells will produce lymphokines and those chemicals will attract killer T-cells. The killer T-Cells will indiscriminately fire with a fully automatic weapon, thus killing the allergen and your skin cells too. I don't want any of this to happen to you, but you should be prepared. I think Sarah's identification of the plant was right.

    October 22, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    (for anyone not in that conversation - I rubbed a poison oak leaf on my hand to see what it would do)

    October 21, 2012

  • Joe

    Agreed!

    October 21, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    A really fun hike!! It is pretty steep going up but so worth it once you reach the summit.

    October 21, 2012

  • Alina

    If anyone's coming from Peninsula/South Bay - please allow for extra driving time since the San Mateo bridge is closed this weekend.

    October 20, 2012

  • Alina

    FYI - there is a 20% chance of rain tomorrow afternoon. I plan to still go even it sprinkles a bit. But if there's a downpour, I will cancel and post a message here. If you don't want to risk hiking in bad weather and would rather not go, please remember to change your RSVP. Thank you!

    October 20, 2012

  • Alina

    Hi everyone. I know this event has been on the calendar for a while. Please update your RSVP if your plans changed. I'm sure the people on the waiting list would appreciate your courtesy. Thank you!!!

    October 19, 2012

    • Joe

      Hey Alina, Whats the deal with a 20 person limit? Is that just to keep the group smaller or is there some other reason? I really want to make this one!

      October 20, 2012

    • Alina

      Joe, just plan on coming. You're the first on the waitlist and there will be no shows... So just plan to come.

      October 20, 2012

  • VV

    Hmm, isn't it a better chance of seeing the tarantulas if you go nearer to sunrise or sunset? This is kind of a selfish question, because I can only go if we are done by 3.

    October 11, 2012

    • Alina

      lol. hi violet. the internets say the perfect times are right before sunrise (out of the question :) and before sunset. 2:30pm to 6pm is as close to 'before sunset' as we can get (the park gates close around 6), and still have a few hours for a nice hike. check out mdia.org - they have suggestions for good tarantula trails and other info on mt diablo. maybe you can find another time to go.

      October 12, 2012

  • Alina

    Please know that we will stay on trails and be respectful of any and all spiders we may encounter. They are docile creatures and move slowly, so we can get pretty up close if we so wish (depends on everyone's comfort level). They are not aggressive, but I suppose if you annoy them and poke them they will feel threatened and bite. Their venom is considered mild to humans -- no worse than a bee sting.

    October 11, 2012

    • sarah

      great! should i meet you at BART or at your house?

      October 11, 2012

    • Alina

      my place about 1:30 pm.

      October 11, 2012

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