Tilden Regional Park, September 3rd

On Sunday, September 3rd the Barefoot Hikers of Concord met for a barefoot hike along the Vollmer Peak, Lupine and Arroyo Trails in Tilden Regional Park (a 2,078 acre park in the parks in the hills above San Francisco's East Bay).

Six people took part including myself, my son Gareth (12), Heather Bloch, Debra, her son Eric (11) and a first-timer ... Marianne from Oakland. Two more had called expressing interest, but didn't show.

Gareth and I showed up at about 9:30AM at the same time as Debra and Eric. Heather and Marianne arrived shortly afterwards. Marianne had been told about the group by another member (Darren Richardson) and the idea had appealed to her since she had fond memories of going barefoot during her childhood.

We set off promptly at about 9:45. The trailhead is high up on the eastern ridge of the park. The first section of trail was easy soft dust with alternating section of shade and sun. There were spectacular views of San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate and Marin county to our left. Marianne seemed to adjust quickly to the barefoot experience whilst (of course) walking more slowly and carefully as all first-time barefoot hikers are advised to do. The boys (as usual) led at the front, looking carefully for lizards.

At one point two well-booted young ladies came up the trail towards us. 'Wow, I couldn't do that on the sidewalk ... let alone a hiking trail' said one. She looked even more astonshed when she saw that there were six of us altogether. After the first section, the trail got rougher and stonier and plunged steeply downhill. We all took our time and coped pretty well. In some places it was safer to dig the toes into the soft dirt. We reached the lower Volmer trail and after about another half mile, found a shady glen with a picnic table that was perfect for a lunch stop.

During lunch, those present advised me that 'Barefoot Hikers of Concord' is too precise (I'm the only one that actually lives in Concord). A better name would be "East Bay Barefoot Hikers". Upon refection, I have to agree. Now, 'East Bay' doesn't mean much to anyone outside of this area, but for purposes of indicating the main "catchment area" .. it's perfect.

So, ... the East Bay Barefoot Hikers carried on back up the hill along the Arroyo trail stopping to admire a huge spiders web (dicovered by the kids) along the way. The strands were very thick and strong. Gareth insisted that you could have flossed your teeth with them. This trail was mostly nice packed-dirt. We met a runner on his way down the hill. He was inquisitive about our barefootedness and took a leaflet saying 'I'm an accordian player so I'm already kind of weird' :-). The boys, after trying all day, finally managed to catch some blue-belly lizards. One of them managed to bite Eric.

We got back to the cars at about 12:30pm, this being one of our shorter hikes so far. Before we broke up, Marianne took some extra leaflets, intending to put some up in a Sierra Club bookstore near where she lives.

-- Mike Berrow

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