Diablo Foothills Regional Park

On Sunday, September 8th the East Bay Barefoot Hikers met for a barefoot hike along the Stage Road and Castle Rock trails in Diablo Foothills Regional Park.

The 978 acres of Diablo Foothills are bounded by two dramatic East Bay landforms: The Castle Rocks of Mt. Diablo and the undulating "camelback" ridges that form Shell Ridge. These ridges link the park to Walnut Creek open space and Mt. Diablo State Park. which together represent the largest (about 23,000 actes) open space area of the East Bay.

Eighteen people took part including myself, my son Gareth (12), Fred, Darren, Phoebe, Burdy (15), Leo (14), Melissa (14), young Phoebe (10), Peter and his wife Sandy, Dan, Debra and her son Eric (13), Maggie, Denise, Hap and Bill.

Gareth and I picked up Fred, Burdy, Leo, Melissa, and young Phoebe ... and brought them to the trailhead. The footmobile was full this morning !!

We set off at about 9:45.

We first had to pass through the picnic complex area at the front of the park. On the way through, one of the staff called out to us "Well, if it isn't the barefoot hikers !". I recognized her voice. She had called me when the TV segment on Barefoot Hiking had aired on "Extra Entertainment". She had recognized her own park when she saw our group on television.

We reached the trailhead-proper and were on a somewhat gravelly surface for about a quarter mile. At that point it becomes a trail of mostly soft dust, meandering below huge sandstone outcroppings on the right hand side of a narrow valley (Pine Canyon). On the left, the spectacular Castle Rock Crags thrust skywards against the sharp blue sky. There is a fair amount of shade on this trail compared to other Mount Diablo trails.

We walked along chatting in groups. As one set of cyclists passed us in the other drirection, one called out "Hey, I have some walking shoes for sale". "You won't find any interest here !" replied Bill.

The trail crosses the valley stream about seven times. The first four crossings were dry (typical for this time of year) but the upper three had enough water for a to wade and sample some underwater mud-between-the-toes.

We turned around at Pine Pond ... a small, disused (but filled) reservoir choked with reeds. In the open spaces in the center, some ducks were scooting around. We retraced our steps and stopped for lunch at some picnic tables. It was quite a squeeze getting all eighteen of us into the picnic tables. After lunch, Gareth and Eric hung around at the back looking for lizards, then ran quite some distance over the partially stony ground to the leaders at the front. Their feet are pretty tough by now.

As we returned to the trailhead, we took alternate route avoiding the picnic-area complex (which was now thronging with people). This trail meandered along the hillside above the complex. It was getting warm now ... and this trail had some really deep, soft earth-dust. You know, the kind that feels like liquid and puffs up between your toes. You don't know ?? ... Time to take up barefoot hiking :-)

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