To Climb Is To Fly:
A Mount Diablo Adventure
The adventure described in the poem and photo essay below took place March 29, 2005.
(note: clicking on most of the images will allow you to see a larger picture.)

     One of the innumerable views of Mount Diablo, near my home in Walnut Creek, California. Diablo's summit is about 3800 feet. Rising abruptly from an elevation below 1000,  it features one of the largest fields of visibility of any mountain in the USA.


So far, my trip had been lackluster
But after paying the fee
I'd felt obliged to reach the top.
Once there I'd gazed perfunctorily, Searching for my eyes
As at a postcard seen before.

I drove around a bend
A little ways back down.
A message board marked
The beginning of a trail.
Shadows were lengthening now,
And I felt tired. If only
I had seen this driving up!

My eye followed that ribbon of a trail
As it dove like a rabbit into the bush,
Re-emerging half a mile out, then
Looping 'round the mountain-side.


Someone who reached that point
Might fly off into space
2,000 feet above dense woods!
There was yet another fascination:
What vision lay around that bend?

I couldn't drive on past that point!
My feet— had to stand out there!
My eyes— had to see!

My mind fought back: 'I'm tired, it's cold, the Sun will soon go down'—but lost the fight. I Parked, sprang from the car and stumbled, Body quick, eyes quicker, to the trail.

The way led steeply down at first
On railroad ties lodged in the ground
To help a hiker's footing.


Dizzying sky careened away
Against the shocking green
Of hills across the valley.
I felt my body touch that green

And every flying step brought me First eyes to meet the giddy view. My body had become an eye!
I saw and touched in every cell.

Two things now brought motive force:
The glory of the moment, and getting To that flying point out on the edge!


Bouquets of wild flowers
Exploded welcome every step
As I approached the ribbon's rounding, Proundly emerging 'round the threshhold—

I peered around that bend:
More hillsides and a settlement.

Mystique came suddenly undone:
My possessed legs returned to me, exhausted.
The bear, over the mountain,
Had no desire to take another step.

Turning 180 degrees, I saw my car Gleaming distant in the sun.
Freezing air and cramping legs
Impelled a forced return
Before too much fatigue set in,

And then I stood
Still breathing hard
At trail's head

By a painted sign that read:
'According to the Miwok Indians,
This mountain is the Creation Point.
Know that you walk on Sacred Ground.'


For more information and lore about Mount Diablo:

Mount Diablo Interpretive Association

Save Mount


"What Remains Is the Essence", the home pages of Max Reif:
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