If you’ve been following along for a while, you probably know I live in canyon country. It’s not as steep and dramatic as southern Utah, for example, but it’s really lovely. Just outside my door is one of the entrances to the East Bay Regional Park district. I do mean just outside my door. The park is my back yard. If you walk a little way, it starts to look like this (click to enlarge), with or without the scene-stealing dog (this one’s named Minka):
With apologies to those of you in the frozen parts of the country, we’re having an unusually warm and dry winter. Yesterday and today we’ve had temperatures hovering at 70 degrees or above, and I’d be a bigger fool than I usually am if I didn’t take advantage of it. I’ve been spending a lot of time hiking through the park and the canyons, bookmarking places on my phone’s map. I’m starting to give them names, which is a good sign of inspiration.
When you first enter the park, you have a choice: follow the path to the left or veer off to the right. The left is shadier, with steeper hills to descend and climb. That’s where I found evidence of the mountain lion. The right path has a steady incline for quite a while, then starts to dip and climb again. Today I chose the right. The hour was earlier than my usual hike time, and the right-hand path is sunnier. Plus, it has one of my favorite park landmarks, the trail marker.
If you turn away from the main trail onto the Brittle Leaf trail, you have a fairly steep descent but are rewarded with an amazing view of the canyon. If you keep going for close to a mile, you get to a bench that overlooks the view to the southwest. Today it was filled with birds, both scavengers and birds of prey, dipping and floating in the thermals. They look so graceful there, wings spread wide. Not too far from there, a turkey vulture took off from the path right in front of me. I’m always startled by how wide their wingspan really is.
This part of California really is breathtaking. I wish you could all see it.