On Sunday (17th July) Gareth and I met with Paul and Leo for a barefoot hike along the French Trail in Redwood Park (one of the parks in the hills above San Francisco's East Bay). After Paul and Leo arrived (despite my somewhat ambiguous directions) we were also joined by Heather from Berkeley. Heather had seen one of my posters in the Berkeley public library and had called asking about the group and when the next hike might be. We walked along the fairly soft dirt of the west ridge rail, enjoying the views to the east of range after range of wooded hills (watershed lands). We chatted about barefooting in general and barefoot hiking in particular. Heather, being a first-time barefoot hiker, was full of questions.
After, the previous hike (Shell Ridge), the cool, shady trails were much appreciated. We encountered a few other groups of hikers. One woman felt bound to ask why we weren't worried about glass (she was sure she had seen some on the trail somewhere). I told her that we notice it if it's there, we don't step on it and we generally pick it up and take it home for disposal. This seemed to perplex her all the more. Oh well.
One group of hikers came towards us and one of the party exclaimed 'barefoot hiking ? ... my hat is off to you, my feet hurt just looking at you ?'. I answered 'My feet hurt just looking at your boots ... I don't get blisters any more !'. The party did not break stride ... this was one of those 'fly-by' conversations. Two other lone, female hikers were inquisitive and took leaflets. With one, Heather said 'It's really quite easy to get used to, and very pleasant .... this is my first time!'.
We extended the hike a little since we were having such a pleasant time, so we did not get back to the cars until 2pm. The last stretch of ground was getting a bit hot, but it was nothing compared to Shell Ridge.
-- Mike Berrow
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