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Date Sent:      April 04, 2008
Subject:           Cerro Este
From:               John Bondon
Special thanks to Andrew, Howard, and Diane, plus a few other unsung heros, for their help with last weekend's Sunol hike. We ended up splitting up into two groups: Andrew and crew led the group that wanted to hike at a faster pace, while John and crew led the rest. Says Andrew, "We left our circle with 31 hikers and a few dogs. More hikers showed up in the early going. I don't know if they were from your group or new hikers. None from our group turned back. Either way, a new attendance record. At least 53. Wow!" One of the trails we travelled on was called "Cerro Este Road" and Andrew informs me that Cerro Este in Spanish means "this hill". And how appropriate! Those hills certainly got the heart pumping! Andrew reports, "Per Diane's GPS, the hike was 6.0 miles and about 1,350 feet of elevation gain". All in all it was a fun hike, and a good workout, too!

Cerro Este is a good description for this weekend's hikes as well. Saturday, Evan leads a 7-mile, 1900 foot trek up Mount Diablo to Deer Flat, while Sunday offers two opportunities to hike close to 12 miles with 3500 feet elevation gain to Murietta Falls. For the early birds, Andrew will lead the 9AM crowd, while night owl John's hike will start at 10:30AM. Please note that the Murietta Falls hikes are very strenuous, and recommended for highly seasoned (intermediate and advanced) hikers only.

Evan says of the upcoming Deer Flat from Mitchell Canyon (Mt. Diablo SP) hike on Saturday, April 5 at 10:30 AM: "Compared to Sunday's Murietta Falls, the seven mile hike to Deer Flat is a lot shorter and easier. If you want to socialize and walk at a slower pace, this hike is for you. On the other hand, if you like to hike fast and want an all day super endurance workout, you'd be better served going on Sunday's hike. Saturday should be a really nice day to hike. The weather shouldn't be too hot or cold. But bring a sweater in case the sun goes behind a cloud or if there's a breeze. Also, be sure to bring a liter of water, hat, sunblock, and a snack. The hike should last about 4 hours.

Important Notes: Deer Flat may be easier and shorter compared to Murietta Falls, but the last mile-and-a-half to Deer Flat is still uphill and gains 1500 feet. For this reason, you should be in good physical shape. Also, dogs are NOT permitted on any of the Mount Diablo State Park trails.
".

Andrew says of the upcoming Murietta Falls hike on Sunday, April 6 at 9:00 AM: "If we can accomplish this, it will make my day for several years. Please try it.".

John says of the upcoming Murietta Falls hike on Sunday, April 6 at 10:30 AM: "Join us as we seek out the Bay Area's longest waterfall. This hike has been likened to a steady death march. This hike steepens so much at spots that even fit folks will be gasping for breath. This is not for the faint at heart or newbies, but if you are looking to get your heart pumping, THIS is the hike for you! ".



In other news, the Member's Only Email Discussion List is now back online. It took longer than expected to get thru all the unsubscribe requests, which is why the list's return was delayed. I had to shut it down last week for a short period, as the volume of unsubscription requests directed at the list itself was getting out of hand. Remember that the list was created for the dicussion of hiking related topics. As a general rule, any email that is directed at a single person, should NOT be sent out to the entire list. And requests for assistance with the list or the hiking website should be directed at me.

My goal was to get the list operational again in time for this weekend's hikes. One common question I get from time to time is how to arrange carpools. Our website has no easy mechanism for that as yet. That was actually one of the reasons the Member's Only Discussion Email List was created, to facilitate such discussions, so if you are seeking a ride or offering a ride for any of the upcoming hikes, feel free to coordinate this via the email list.

A couple of years ago, the EBCHG website received a much needed facelift. On July 21, 2006, I unveiled the website you now see and use. (see my Evolution and Change email) It took many hours of re-coding to get it all in place, but was well worth the effort, and the website continues to serve us well. Since then, my coding efforts have been focused on the backend - the "behind the scenes" operations that you do not see, but help me to better respond to your inquiries and manage the website overall. But now, I feel it is time for the backend to receive a major facelift. Such a change will also necessitate a complete re- write of the code as well. So needless to say these changes won't happen overnight -- as a matter of fact, I don't anticipate to even get started on this endeaver until this winter. But, the ideas for new features and more efficient ways to store and retrieve data are buiding. More on all this in a future email.

Some other changes currently being explored, include turning the Member's Only Email Dicussion List into a web based forum instead. More about that later as well. And finally, we have lots of good photographers in our ranks. How about the ability to upload and share photos on the hiking website? That's actually always been a feature I've wanted to include -- just never had time to get it done. This is another new feature I'd love to offer, but this will require lots of time to evalutate, customize, and test.

Over the past couple of weeks I've received a lot of emails of support and encouragement, and let me say how much I appreciate those. Thank you to each of you who took the time to do that. It is always appreciated. This group has grown considerably over the past few years, both in terms of its membership as well as the functionality of the website. I'm proud of what it has become and to be part of it. But of course maintaining everything that goes on behind the scenes does take time, and with my time already limited, last week's unsubscribe requests took me away from tackling some of these other projects. In a future email I will talk in more detail about what some of the things are that go on behind the scenes, for those curious to know. But for now, please realize that each time you search the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page on the hiking website for the answer to your own question, or use the remove me self-service page to unsubscribe yourself from one or more of our email lists, you save me a considerable amount of time, and that, is a HUGH help to me! The more time saved in this manner, the more time I have to devote to working on future improvements.

Speaking of self-service and the website, as always, you'll find more details about each of our upcoming hikes, including starting times and directions to the trailhead, posted on the East Bay Casual Hiking website. In the event of rain, please check with the hike leader as to whether the hike will proceed as planned.

Happy Trails! :)

Happy Trails,

John




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