The first time I saw Mount Diablo I was a student at Berkeley, helping deliver furniture to a home in Lafayette.
It was 1970. As we traveled Highway 24 and neared our exit, the mountain suddenly appeared — an immense, serene presence. I couldn’t believe that something so beautiful, and relatively untouched existed just over the hills from my Berkeley apartment. That was the beginning of a life-long relationship.
Since moving to the Walnut Creek area in the early ‘70’s, the mountain has been a daily part of my life, quietly present in the background wherever I go. I see it from shopping center parking lots; driving along 680; and from the open space behind my neighborhood. Everywhere, this magnificent silent presence.
Over the years the mountain has been a comforting beacon guiding our family home as we return from trips to Southern California. Countless times, coming up I-5 in the Central Valley, Mount Diablo’s silhouette in the faint light of the setting sun has lifted our spirits. Not much longer and we’ll be home.
It’s the same experience heading home, east on Highway 37 after a week of camping on the coast, happily getting the first glimpse of our old friend in the distance across the Bay. It’s always there, always mysterious, always welcoming.
In the 45 years since I first saw Mount Diablo, I haven’t been on it much, never felt the need. Knowing that it’s there is what really matters to me.
Recently I retired, and began looking for volunteer opportunities. Devoting time to Save Mount Diablo was an obvious choice. It brought me onto the mountain, engaging with others in the hard work required to help heal and preserve critical wildlife habitat, while creating recreational opportunities for all who care to come.
By Gary Summers, Volunteer
Gary began volunteering with Save Mount Diablo two years ago after retiring from a 40-plus year career in government and public relations. He lives in Walnut Creek with his wife Elena, where they enjoy hiking, kayaking, beach camping with their dog Roxie, and traveling.