Hike 33 – Completing Trails Challenge 2010, March 27, 2010
The morning began with excitement. This hike would wrap up Trails Challenge 2010 for me. Also, I had hiked each day the last two weekends and hoped to hike both days this weekend too. If successful, I would start catching up on the number of hikes I was behind. It was looking like I might be able to hike 52 times over 52 weeks after all. 🙂
Unfortunately, I stayed up late the night before and that delayed my departure this morning. On top of that, Google Maps gave me wrong directions to the trailhead. So I finally pulled into the Clyde Woolridge Staging Area along Grass Valley Road around 9:10 AM instead of an hour earlier.
But conditions outside were ideal for hiking. The temperature was 55 degrees and the sky a cloudless clear blue. Silencing the music I had enjoyed in the car, I stepped out to the sound of loud but distant gunfire. There is a marksmanship range at the park and since I had not heard reports of random bullets striking hikers or bikers, I figured I was safe here. My goal today was to cover the 12.4 mile Lake Chabot Bicycle Loop.
Audio of gunfire:
Since this was a bicycle loop, I expected to meet and dodge many bikers on this loop. In addition, the trail follows the edge of a significant portion of Lake Chabot which meant that the flat sections would be popular. Sure enough, with 15 minutes on the trail, I met over 20 bikers. Everyone was in a great mood and greeted me with big smiles, good mornings, howdys, hellos and how’s it going?
Wanting to tackle the hills first, I began walking in a clockwise direction. The views here were mainly of trees and canyons. Tall eucalyptus trees dominated the first section and so there weren’t too many great views to do justice to the clear and sunny day.
The hike meanwhile was a pleasant and never seriously challenging mix of up, down and flat sections with good tree cover. The folks at the marksmanship range were literally going ballistic with someone firing off a semi-automatic rifle. The sounds got louder the closer I got to the range.
Eventually I got to see some views of San Francisco and the Port of Oakland. The trees on the ridge-line meanwhile looked like sentries guarding the hills and valleys, and the sound of gunfire provided the soundtrack.
I was not too thrilled when I got to the flat part of the hike. There were too many people there for my liking. I am not anti-social, I just prefer privacy on hiking trails. Urban walks are different, and more the merrier is the rule there. But on hikes, I prefer fewer people. Since this is a suburban park, one has to expect more people enjoying it than say out in the wilderness.
I started thinking about the level of friendliness one encounters on hikes. In my experience, the friendliness of hikers and walkers is in inverse proportion to the number of people on the trail. More people on the trail generally results in fewer friendly interactions.
Soon I crossed Lake Chabot dam and the Bass Cove Trail became dirt road again. I saw signs for the former camp that housed the Chinese laborers who helped built this dam. Here the population thinned out and the friendliness of the people increased again. Not surprisingly, the trail now headed up a bit and my legs cursed the climb. It was exposed as well and the sun was warm, so my level of discomfort was higher than I’d like. I gulped down the last of the Gatorade and water I had brought with me on the hike. Thankfully, I was about 1.5 miles from the parking lot and water was available there.
Minutes before 1:30 PM I reached the car. Temperature too had been out hiking and had climbed up to 71 degrees. I drank half a liter of water immediately and filled another bottle for the drive back.
Reflecting back on the hike I realized that I had met people in all sizes, shapes, forms, colors, clothing, accents, languages, etc. out there. They were engaged in fishing, boating, kayaking, paddling, drinking, cooking, bbq-ing, laughing, listening to music, chatting, biking, hiking, jogging, sitting, etc. Other than one baby crying, everyone seemed to be really having a great time. Overall, I had enjoyed this hike and felt satisfied that I had successfully completed another Trails Challenge. Mentally, I gave thanks to the folks at the East Bay Regional Park District for providing us with such awesome parks and facilities and for the Trails Challenge program.
Here’s a map of the hike courtesy of Google Maps:
Here’s a link to a brochure and trail map from the East Bay Regional Park District website:
Here’s a link to information on Trails Challenge 2010:
Here’s a slideshow of pictures from the hike: