In which we continue to fail to climb Mt Diablo.
We’d had this plan with Django for the last couple of years – I think Claire was a peanut when it was first mooted, but scheduling conflicts, weather and the awesome power of inertia all stood in our way. Finally, yesterday, after corralling Jonathan and his lovely daughters into our mad scheme, we made the long trek out to Dublin, a pleasant oasis of strip-malls in a desert of arid paddocks, and then commenced the slow climb through the newly developed suburbs and up the side of the mountain. It was a very challenging ascent! For the cars. Claire kept threatening to fall asleep, so Jeremy started counting with her, until the infinite series of integers provoked an existential crisis.
“No, Daddy, stop.”
I asked at the gate whether the tarantulas were out, and the ranger said it would take a few more weeks.
“No big furry spiders today,” we told Claire sadly.
“Oh no,” she said. “Big furry spiders tomorrow?”
We parked at Rock City in the beautiful oak woods near the top. “Diablo, Rock City!” sang Django and I, making devil-horns with our fingers and banging our heads. Knoa and Claire were enchanted with a nondescript boulder in the parking lot and had to be pried away to see the beautiful wind caves in a sandstone wall.
Claire climbed intrepidly enough, but Knoa sped over the rocks like a large pink spider herself. Jonathan dangled by his fingernails from an immense height. Even Avi hooted until she was held to boulders and allowed to inspect the lichen. We all piled into a large cave in a basin among the rocks, where Django plans to hold Tribal Rituals. Girls will be allowed to come along, he told me, as long as we wear sheepskin bikinis with coconut bras.
A hike like this is full of teachable moments. “Knoa,” said Jonathan, “can you see the big-ass poison oak? Can you say big-ass?”
Horrified gasps from passers-by.
Me: “Can you say, ‘Knoa’s not getting into the selective pre-schools?'”
It also turns out, according to Django, that those prefab suburbs are entirely prefab. You get your silver, linens and wine cellar as part of the package.
Django: “It’s for people with absolutely no tastes of their own.”
Jonathan: “It’s a good way to ensure that your neighbours are exactly like you.”
Finally we trekked out a good tenth of a mile to Django Rock, with its incredible views of the entire world, partly blanketed in fog. After such an immense effort we were completely exhausted and decided to attempt the actual summit another day.
“The mountain is a cruel mistress, changing from instant to instant,” I said.
“Yes indeed,” said Django. “Sunny one minute, partly cloudy the next.”
We popped a bottle of French champagne in the parking lot and everyone had some – “It’ll help them sleep,” said Jonathan, reasonably enough.
There’s a tentative plan to Toddler Tame the Bay Area’s highest peaks, since you can mostly drive to the tops of them. This was inspired by serious mountaineers attempting the seven summits of each continent, an exercise that is very serious in, say, Asia or Africa, but farcical in Australia, where Granny in her electric wheelchair might well overtake the climber on the way to the so-called peak of Kosciusko. (Looks like they’ve replaced Kosciusko with Vinson, in Antarctica; and once again the net mirth of the universe is reduced.) Anyway, at the rate we’re going, Knoa, Claire and Avi will be grannies by the time we get done.
The whole experience has been ruled a smash hit by the key influencers, by which I mean that Miss Claire woke up this morning and announced: “Knoa! Avi! Climbing! VERY BIG ROCKS!” She proceeded to boulder all over her sleepy parents in bed.
In closing, a song:
Dance your cares away!
Worries for another day!
Let the children play!
Down at Django Rock!