Monday, 1 June 2009

Mount Diablo and the Morgan Territory


After nearly ten years in the Bay Area (is it really that long?), there are still spectacular things that we have still to do. This has been a frustrating weekend for flying - my plane is in the shop having a new gadget installed, and my favorite Pitts wasn't flying either for its own reasons. I've flown over Mount Diablo numerous times, so it seemed like a good idea to go and see it close up.

A look at the map showed an interesting road passing east of the mountain, under the flight path that I've taken so many times between Livermore and the practice area. This is very rough terrain, and most of us have decided that in the Pitts, with its brick-like gliding ability (glide ratio about 3.5:1), it's best avoided since there are really no good options if the engine stops. The road is called Morgan Territory Road, and it is truly spectacular.

Livermore stops abruptly crossing I-580, and from there northwards is country as empty and seemingly isolated as the back country east of Paso Robles - which really is isolated! This is under my usual return path into Livermore, and as it often happens, it looks very different when seen from the ground. Soon an easily-missed right turn takes you into Morgan Terrtory Road itself, and shortly afterwards it becomes a single-track road, rare indeed around here. It twists and turns under a canopy of trees, giving occasional glimpses of the main Diablo peak, soon reaching a parking lot and trailhead. We didn't have time for a long walk, but it was a beautiful place.

After a picnic, we continued round the mountain. Eventually we came back into some dull suburbs, though constantly dominated my Mt Diablo. It's a long, slow, twisty road up, climbing 3500feet, with magnificient views south to Livermore and west to the bay. Then, suddenly, you're at the top, and the views are in all directions. Of course I've had the same view many times, but it's different when you have your feet on the ground.

This is definitely one to add to the "favorite roads" list, along with the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road, and the long drive down the San Andreas fault from Hollister to Ojai.