Another Saturday morning, another frantic drive. Like I had bloodhounds on my back and murder on my mind. It was almost quarter to eight and I was late. Unhappily, I twisted and turned the car along Happy Valley Road. Laziness, bad directions and an angry blind cat at home had added to my delay. It all ended quickly once I reached Bear Creek Road and made a turn into the parking lot.
My goal today was to hike the loop around Briones Reservoir. This was going to be about 13 miles long with about 1,700 ft elevation gain. The TOPO! map said I’d climb 3,300 ft but the contour maps did not support such exaggerations.
The weather was still behaving like a mellow meditating monk, disengaged from all concerns about the lack of intensity this summer. Summer hiking in the East Bay is generally for desert rats and people with a much higher tolerance for heat than I. And possibly long-term residents of Hell.
The plan was simple. Walk on the Bear Creek Trail westward along the south side of the reservoir and then pick up the Oursan Trail to complete the loop. The success of this mission depended on the peace treaties I had negotiated with my left knee and the lately temperamental back. I had twisted the knee at home last week and the back had been bothering me for over two weeks now. I had compensated them with lavish massages and hot water soaks for days. If nothing else, I figured a good walk would fix their attitude.
As I slammed the car door shut, the thermometer read 53 degrees. Without a hint of resistance, the cloudless sky had surrendered all control to the sun. This meant that I’d have to rely on sunscreen, dark glasses and a hat to defend against the blitzkrieg. Hopefully they’d hold out longer than the Maginot Line.