Five Hikes - 6/1/97

I've fallen somewhat behind in writing up the East Bay Barefoot Hikers hike reports. Sorry :-(
Here are the missing four hikes. Each of these had about 7-8 people along.
Peter Gomes led the Alhambra Creek hike.

Golden Spike Trail / March 9th
Mt. Diablo: Little Pine Creek and Barbecue Terrace / April 6th
Briones: Alhambra Creek / April 20th
Redwood Park: French trail / May 4th

..... and a full report on the fifth (and most recent) hike.

Briones Regional Park

On the morning of Sunday, June 1st the East Bay Barefoot Hikers met for a barefoot hike along the Old Briones Road, Black Oak and Mott Peak trails. Thirteen people took part including myself, my son Gareth (13), my nephew Stevie (9), Fred, Darren, Phoebe, Marcie, Debra and her son Eric (13), Jeff, Ron, Pat and Hap.

Briones Regional Park (near Martinez, California) was once part of an old Mexican-era rancho. It totals about 5,700 acres. We met on what I call the 'top' trail, since you can drive up to it along a winding road, then benefit from many fine views even at the beginning of the hike.

We set off at around 9:20am. As we walked along the soft white dust of the trail, we chatted and caught up on events. Ron is a barefoot runner from way back. He had to wear shoes at track meets though, not because of any rule, but because his coach insisted. A shod hiker came level with us and immediately started tearing his sandals off. This turned out to be Jeff, a newcomer I'd spoken to by telephone. He had arrived late and had managed to catch us up.

We encountered a gravel section on the trail leading further uphill. We found that we could avoid nearly all of it by walking along the side. I told Marcie that I dream of coming though here with a tractor scraping off a two foot wide foot-friendly strip along the edge. We finally broke free of the gravel and began a long winding downhill stretch along packed dirt.

We ate lunch in the shade by a stream in the interior Briones valley. The kids had some fun playing in a nearby mini-canyon. After we set off, some more gravel was endured then the trail turned steeply uphill over warm packed dirt. Once were up on the ridge we were rewarded by excellent views of Mount Diablo and of Mount Tam over in Marin county.At the highest point of the return trail, we came over a rise and were confronted by a sudden, breathtaking view of the whole central valley 'delta' area. We could clearly see the 'mothball fleet' in Suisan Bay.

We moved onto open pasture, pausing for a while by one of the "lagoons". These are medium sized ponds with a good deal of weed and rushes in them. I decided to go through the gate and see if I could wade a little to cool my feet and legs. Soon I was ankle deep in soft slippery mud and knee deep in cool water. One by one, the others joined me in the water. As we stood together blissfully (at various depths of water), I commented that we looked like we were about to baptize someone. Back on the trail, some rather rude cyclists sped by, one calling out in an indignant tone "Where are your shoes?".

We ambled along back to the trailhead, in no particular rush to leave this beautiful park. Eric took time to climb one of his favorite trees, some kind of oak on a steep bank with an extensive root system eroded into the air. We also saw a rather large rattlesnake coiled in the middle of the trail. It slunk over to the side, casting several backward glances at us.

-- Mike Berrow
-- East Bay Barefoot Hikers

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