Full Moon Mt. Wanda Walk

Full Moon Mt. Wanda Walk was a blog written for Diablo Magazine.

Spend a summer night under the full moon in Martinez for Contra Costa County views at dusk.

Martinez may not seem like the likeliest of places to find a clear view of the full moon, but the John Muir National Historic Site makes it easy to look past the industrialization and feel like you’re getting away from it all. Happy with the chance to spend some time outside, my boyfriend and I arrived at the base of Mt. Wanda with comfy shoes, a bottle of water, and not much else. We met upwards of 100 others, all ready for the evening stroll. Some had full-on hiking gear and walking sticks, while others sported blue jeans and T-shirts.

The roughly one-mile trek and smooth trail brought us past fields and trees while the sun began to set. There was an optional break, as well as the freedom to keep moving for those more eager to reach the top. A mother stopped to tie her young son’s tennis shoe, while three elderly women discussed their grandchildren’s hobbies and held their own against the steeper parts of the trail. The dozens of dogs that came along provided some entertainment, eagerly sniffing everything in sight. The cool breeze and the small, steady incline made for a mild trip.

By the time we reached the 640-foot summit roughly 30 minutes later, the oil refineries and surrounding traffic seemed completely replaced by a natural environment, similar to the one John Muir and his daughters frequented years ago. Rangers set up telescopes for detailed views, and every pair of eyes turned southeast to watch the luminous full moon spill over the familiar peak of Mt. Diablo, as it moved quickly upward against the darkening sky.

Mt. Wanda is generally closed after dark, so it’s rare to see the views of the Carquinez Strait and Contra Costa County hills paired with the once-a-month full moon. Rangers provided information about Muir’s work and read passages from his journals while the group took in the scene of the rising moon. The way down was much darker, as the sun was completely gone and the moon had fully filled its post in the sky. Soon enough, everyone was back in the parking lot, ready to head home, ejected back into the city atmosphere after a different kind of Tuesday night.

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