May 2010

how to climb a mountain
Make no mistake. This will be an exercise in staying vertical.
Yes, there will be a view, later, a wide swath of open sky,
but in the meantime: tree and stone. If you?re lucky, a hawk will
coast overhead, scanning the forest floor. If you?re lucky,
a set of wildflowers will keep you cheerful. Mostly, though,
a steady sweat, your heart fluttering indelicately, a solid ache
perforating your calves. This is called work, what you will come to know,
eventually and simply, as movement, as all the evidence you need to make
your way. Forget where you were. That story is no longer true.
Level your gaze to the trail you?re on, and even the dark won?t stop you.
? by Maya Stein

Ohlone Regional Wilderness Trip – May 2010

Stayed over on Mission Peak with Heather and Pete – lazy morning’d it Friday then Pete drove us to Sunol to begin the walk. On the way we spotted a raptor nest in a sycamore just off the road to Sunol and stopped – intermediate dark colored red tail – rusty collar, speckly dark tummy and elsewhere – with two like chicks on the nest.? Hiked in 3.5 miles to Sunol Backpack camp in the warm afternoon – coyotes, blinking airplane towers and right under the flyway for SJO and SFO.? Realized we’d forgotten stove.? Befriended neighbors who cooked our dinner and polished off a whole bottle of Crown Royale after eating carnitas and chocolate pudding on tortillas. Clear night turned to foggy damp morning with no rainfly on.? Borrowed stove with limited propane fuel. Befriended a pack of gents whom Heather knew five different ways from Arcata.

Hiked over 6.5 miles and 1.5 K elevation to Rose Peak with a side trip to Goat Rock. Last half the day walking with the gents, getting water out of S Fork Indians Creek and enjoying Berkeley Bowl coffee on the summit of Rose Peak.? Realized we could see where all of our parents lived from that spot.? Dropped a bit to Maggie’s Half Acre for camp, borrowing stoves to conserve fuel.

Night hike to the peak with Venus and the Moon having a hot date in the west and us laying on the peak in all our layers chomping burnt caramel toffees and tea.? Fabulous dawn chorus? and biscuits in the morning from neighbors.? Final circle back to the peak on the way out, the valleys fogged in lovely below.? On a pass just below the peak spotted a far off set of hikers, then a bird across the valley -? TV turned to eagle cutting through a slot in the forest and zooming over our pass at eye level, 10 feet off the? ground and 50 feet away FAST then around the bend and gone, Yahoo! Sibley’s later told us likely juvenile bald eagle.

Met the group of day hikers doing a 30 miler over Mission Peak (“hey honey – come meet a celebrity!? She LIVES on Mission Peak”).? Met several runners training for 50 and 100K races all the way back in there in just running shorts and two water bottles in hand. Amazing wildflowers all day every day with floralistic surprises of late blooming shooting stars and the first Chia Heather has seen in Alameda County. I found two plants she did not know!

Almost 9 miles Sunday with a side trip to Murritta Falls and a dip in La Costa Creek and down down down after Johnny’s Pond on my favorite part of the trail – single track and festuca everywhere!? Up a bit to Boyd’s camp. Chilly. We now had a stove but realized we’d nothing to light it with (we found out at the last camp my emergency matches did not work without a flint and our lighters were with our stoves), but damn if I wasn’t getting great internet!? Heather asked if my iPhone could light the stove. I said I did not have that app. She offered her credit card. Cold rehydrated chili for dinner. Soaked oats overnight. Spied my dad’s neighborhood with the binocs and called him for our hitch. Hiked out to twittering migrants and dad picking up trash at Del Valle. Bald Eagle (mature) flushes from tree. Lunch at El Sol with Tommie’s ginormous Sammies and barrel tasting. Wine and stove delivery to trail saviors. Home to Fremont Peak. Nap. Indian food and late chat with Pete and Heather at Chaat Bhavan. Home. Happy.

Chuck wanted to try out some new gear in prep for a Canyonlands trip so off we went, exploring the Hunting Hollow entrance to Henry Coe state park. He had 42 pounds (mostly water) in his pack and kept up with me all day on our 10 mile hike making me feel like a slow hiker (which I sorta am stopping as I do to look at everything).

We walked up to Wagon Road then up to Wilson Camp crossing down through Coon Hunters Hollow – evidence of BIG coyote everywhere on the road.? Explored the ramshackle but relatively recently occupied Wilson Camp houses (the kitchen door was open) and lunched on the back porch.

Refueled we headed SW along contour through the deep grass on Bowl Trail stopping after awhile for a sketch, a nap and a long talk about finding ourselves here in this most interesting of times – interesting for us anyway, this being our time, being the small flashes that we are the ever so grand scheme of things – and how many things there are to be appreciative of and challenged by both in our days. Lucky.

Lazily refreshed and heart filled we dropped back down to the canyon, stopped for a quick barefoot dip in the creek, then the car, Jamba Juice, a windy forested up and over Mt Maddona drive, and home.

This morning we built an AM radio. Not from scratch exactly, and I still can’t tell you how the amplifier or the resistors work, but we finished it and Charlie switched it on, leaned in close to listen.  It had an on-off switch, a volume slide and a wheel tuner that works a short segment of airway band so as to receive two stations.  We passed over KSCO talk radio – broadcasting from the three towers high overhead on nearby Moran lake – and opted for a scratchy memories show, perfect somehow for a tinny snap circuit AM radio speaker with old songstresses swooning and old jiversters snapping swinging tunes.  Charlie experimented to see if the radio got better reception outside than inside, and it did, so we pulled patio chairs around the slide out back, leaned back and stacked our legs matchsticklike on each other using the slide as an ottoman.  Ben slid down the slide till his bare feet met mine bottom to bottom and laid there too, the sun shining on us in our spring green outdoor living room, quiet, listening, to the crackly then clear “At Last.”


by Julie Cadwallader Staub

I am 52 years old, and have spent
truly the better part
of my life out-of-doors
but yesterday I heard a new sound above my head
a rustling, ruffling quietness in the spring air

and when I turned my face upward
I saw a flock of blackbirds
rounding a curve I didn’t know was there
and the sound was simply all those wings
just feathers against air, against gravity
and such a beautiful winning
the whole flock taking a long, wide turn
as if of one body and one mind.

How do they do that?

Oh if we lived only in human society
with its cruelty and fear
its apathy and exhaustion
what a puny existence that would be

but instead we live and move and have our being
here, in this curving and soaring world
so that when, every now and then, mercy and tenderness triumph in our lives
and when, even more rarely, we manage to unite and move together
toward a common good,

and can think to ourselves:

ah yes, this is how it’s meant to be.