Although I'm a big fan of really big mountains and steep trails, this time of year is regarded as a high point in the Diablo Range, for my furry, 8 - legged little pals are out looking for someone with whom to share the winter. Much better than watching bad 49er games and all.
It's Tarantula Time in the Diablos.
Almost anywhere in this range is habitat for the gargantuan spiders. I ran across a couple of them yesterday, both crossing a quiet country road. I was able to move them to the side of the road before they were flattened, as that is just such an undignified end for such a beautiful creature.
And they're friendly, too - at least friendlier than a lot of people I know. If you aren't taking special steps to provoke them, they'll happily climb up on your hand and crawl about. They are not aggressive but can be protective if poked with a stick. So where would the casual hiker run across them?
According to my ranger friend Doug of the East Bay Regional Park District, the arachnids are out in force at Round Valley Regional Preserve, Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve and all over Mt. Diablo State Park. I hiked at Morgan Territory Saturday for about 4 miles and didn't run across a single familiar, hairy face. Camera shy, maybe. But I usually see more at Morgan Territory than anywhere, so I'll go back next weekend to some of my usual spider spotting plots.
Don't miss Fall in the East Bay parks, the spiders being only one reason. Come out mid - afternoon and stay until dusk, or shortly after. A wild zoo of critters will appear, from owls and coyotes to all kinds of raptors and even, if you're incredibly lucky and observant, a badger. The last badger I saw was off of Del Puerto Canyon Rd. west of Patterson last fall. And save Hallowe'en weekend, more or less, for a short backpack trip to Round Valley or Morgan Territory's BP camps. I'm looking forward to a quiet overnighter out in the Morgan BP camp, on Highland Ridge Trail west of Morgan Territory Road. Nothing like Fall in the Diablos, so give 'em a try.