There was definitely plenty of light when I got to Japanese Gulch. I think on Friday I'll try "dawn minus 30 minutes" as my time to leave my desk.
Excited by my recent trip through the less-familiar parts on the Eastern slope, I decided to climb up it, knowing that I could return via the railroad tracks and avoid the worst mud in the bottom. I still had to deal with quite a lot of it today, but it was mostly not a problem. Lots of the areas were nice and wide and had places to step next to it, and very little of it was super wet like the bottom tends to be.
A lot of the Eastern slope can be deceiving. It'll look like you've got to be close to the top, but what you're really seeing is a spot that drops off, and the trail turns and there's another huge climb.
But that's ok. I wasn't actually planning to go very far today. A hard climb is nice if the walk isn't going to be super long. In addition to finding an alternate way to access the cool ridge I followed last time, I also found the spot that has the best view of the water I've seen in there.
In spite of a little lower back stiffness that thankfully subsided, today was one of my favorite walks in a long time. I felt the most content I have in ages. Not quite the "runner's high" rush of endorphins, just blissed out. It was a perfect morning and everything looked like art.
Once I reached the tracks, I briefly thought about going all the way South and then back, but turned around after a bit. The morning was great the way it was and I was ready to head home.
Though I did decide to check the state of the first trail that leads from the parking area up into the West side. I don't think I've climbed up that way since the time I found that woman's phone, and I think it's time to revisit it. I'll probably do that on Friday. It was neat to see the dog park from the opposite side again for the first time in a while.
2.39 miles in 1:01, 5,131 steps, 398ft gain
I rode that wave of happiness all the way home, but of course as the garage door opened, reality set it. It's Wednesday and it was time to do the garbage and recycling. Oh well.