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Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Saturday I almost beat the sun to Briones peak.  I left the Mt. Wanda staging area on my bike in the dark, though a glow in the eastern sky indicated that the race was on.  I could leave in the middle of the night and sit atop the summit to gloat over my rival as it peeks over the horizon.  But that isn't sport - so I offer my competitor a minor handicap.   I sleep in a little.  
About 10 minutes from the summit - I'm not going to
make it in time...
But once I'm out of bed, the odds begin swinging rapidly in the sun's favor.  An extra minute spent looking for arm-warmers or low tire pressure can give the orb a distinct advantage.  Galileo may rest in peace, I understand that my solar rival is actually doing nothing at all, merely pouring energy into the ether as our planet rotates my little town and Briones Regional Park in its general direction.  I on the other hand, dogged by the passive inevitability of an inanimate rival, must  haul myself and a bike 1500' up and along rutted trails.  I sweat, while it simply shines.  The sky grows brighter the higher I climb, and on a good morning, the clouds ignite overhead with the radiant heat of the sun flaring across the local atmosphere.  If I time it just right, I reach the peak a few minutes before the sun does. Saturday I slept in about 5 minutes too long.

I don't relish riding the trails in complete darkness, even with my lights.  Let's just say that the rustling along the trail is easier to ignore when there's a little daylight.  The time between the sky's first glow giving at least a silhouette to the trees and the time of a visible sunrise varies across the seasons, but is generally enough time to get from the park entrance to the highest points in the park - If I hurry. 

This accomplishment is made simpler in the winter, since from the perspective of Briones Peak, the elevation of the eastern horizon is greater toward the south.  In the summer, the sun rises, albeit much earlier in the morning, to the north of Mt. Diablo where the horizon is lower and less obscured.  Toward the end of Autumn the sun is rising nearly right between the 2 peaks, and finally as winter sends the rising sun furthest to the south, the sun actually rises just south of the mountain after climbing the Diablo foothills.

But only from this vantage point...  Everything I've just described is only true as viewed from one place on earth - the summits of Briones Regional Park.

The following pictures were taken on Sunday morning on my 12 mile run through the Carquinez Strait Headlands.  You can see - though obscured by clouds along the horizon - that the sun is rising to the left or north of the mountain, while above in the pictures from Saturday, the sun rises to the right or south.
Looking East

Looking North-East 30 minutes later
This picture actually looks a little bit like winter.  By the end of my run on Sunday, the marine layer had moved in to completely obscure the sky, and the temperature actually seemed to drop as the morning dawned.  But no rain.  The drought continues.

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