Shell Ridge

On Sunday, May 26th, the East Bay Barefoot Hikers met at Shell Ridge Open Space and hiked the Hanna Grove Trail

Eighteen people took part including myself, my Son Gareth (12), my daughter Gillian (10), Tim and his son Christopher (7), and the twins Jonathan and Hilary (5), Phoebe, Young Phoebe (10), Maggie, Debra and her son Eric (12), Peter and his wife Sandy, Fred, Vic, Joannie and Bill.

The Hanna Grove trail was the site of the first East Bay Barefoot Hikers hike nearly a year ago. Then, it was just me, Gareth, Debra and Eric (Kathy and Sean arrived late and missed us). We've come a long way since then !.

We started gathering at around 9:30. I had been talking for a couple of months by telephone with a local park ranger named Bruce. He came along on this day to meet us and to satisfy his curiousity. He was very surprised at the number of people that had gathered for the hike. Joannie looked kind of panic-stricken as he walked up in his rangers uniform. She thought that perhaps we were in trouble for doing this !. Ranger Bruce took some photographs of us at the base of the trail and we set off.

The trail first winds up a gentle incline of fairly soft sandy dirt, with pleasant views of Mount Diablo on our left. I walked along chatting with Bill (it was his first hike with us) until I had to "gallop" up to front to make sure Vic and Phoebe made a certain right turn. That turn took us up a much steeper hill.

After that, I took the group down onto "forgotten trail". This pushed its way through a narrow grassy valley still looking lush and green from the late rains. This trail was the ... umm, "challenging" section of the hike !!.

The grass had grown tall since I was last there, and was folding over the narrow trail, making it hard to see. Also, the surface was kind of uneven, having been carved into interesting shapes by cattle when the ground had been soft mud. The party slowed considerably as we picked our way along in single file.

I was in front with Eric. We stopped three of four times to whack thickly grown thistles out of the way with our hiking sticks. The party stopped and admired the scenery.

We reached a small pond at the head of the valley, sat down and brunched quite pleasantly. Gareth caught (and released) a tiny green frog.

After that, we were back on nice wide, sandy trails again. We looped around through the one-fifth wooded hillsides and got back to the trail-head by 11:50am.

A very pleasant hike, with most convivial company.

-- Mike Berrow
-- East Bay Barefoot Hikers

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