Sunday, January 25, 2015

BLACK DIAMOND MINES REGIONAL PRESERVE

The first people to inhabit this area were the Miwoks.  Sadly, later their way of life was changed by the arrival of Spanish, Mexican, and American Settlers.  From the 1850s to the early 1900s, coal mining towns sprung up.  Nearly 4 million tons of coal were mined.  You can still see the mine shafts and actually take an amazing tour of one of the mines (except for December and January).  In the 1920s, underground sand mining began which supplied sand to the Hazel-Atlas Glass Company in Oakland and the Columbia Steel Works in Pittsburg. 
This is truly an amazing place with a true feeling of the past. 
This is an old mine shaft.  This mine went down 750 feet. The whole thing with the dead branches and the caved in shaft reminded us of a Steven King novel.
 Rose Hill Cemetery still remains  and is well maintained by the park.  To walk thru, you can see how many children died during that time and how many mother's died young.  Truly hard times for everyone during that period.
We did not expect to climb so many hills but we made it!  7.5 miles and my legs truly felt it!
The views were awe inspiring and the chaparral was so beautiful!  I hope to go back in February for a guided tour when the chaparral are bearing their berries.  They were flowering on this hike.
 
  The hike lead us thru all kinds of different terrain.  Both shale and sandstone exist here along with the feeling that the souls of  all the people that lived and worked the mines are still here.
We didn't see any critters this time but I did see bobcat tracks and scat so they were up there somewhere.  We were treated to some rock art or a message of some kind.  Not sure
  
This was a wonderful hike.  Just took dried apricots with us this time but they were a very welcomed treat when we stopped to rest.  So much more of this park to explore but we truly felt we had achieved something after this hike because we finally tackled the steep hills and did not break down and give up.  Onward to the next hike next weekend at Alum Rock in San Jose.
 
 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

THE VEGAS HIKE

I will be the first to admit that Vegas, at least on the strip, is not in the least sustainable.  I won't go into all the ways it fails, I am sure most of you, especially those who are on a sustainable journey, know all its failures.  So why you ask would people like us, who strive to live as sustainably as we can, take a hike in Vegas? The answer is simple.  Sometimes we just like to kick up our heals.  I offer no excuses.  It is just something we enjoy doing every two to three years for a couple of days.  Do we feel guilty about it?  The answer is no.  Vegas is a fun and exciting town which just happens to go against everything I believe in.  So am I contradicting myself here...yeah probably.  We go , we enjoy ourselves and then we come back to our lives as we know and live it.
Let me just tell you that unless you take a cab or a limo everywhere, which we neither have the money for or the inclination to do, the Vegas strip is very much a hike.  We were clocking 7 to 12 miles a day.  Not all on the strip, but more about that later.  We were up and down stairs because half the time the escalators weren't working to reach the over passes over the streets.  All this hiking amongst the flowing water fountains, the throngs of people, and the street hawkers.

 
 Inside the casinos there are the lights, the music, and the fantastic decorations.
Then there is the total silence of your hotel room and you let your breath out.  Well about this point you are wondering what the heck?  Right?  Well part of it is, yes, the excitement, the stepping outside your own true box but it is also the wonderful shows, the gospel brunch at the House of Blues on Sunday.  Where both the food and the music make even a hardcore nonbeliever, a believer of a higher power.  If only for a few hours.  It even moved me to get up and clap my hands, dance, and yes I think there may have been a few thank the Lord in there from me too, or maybe it was the guy next to me, but I was feeling it!  The Cirque de Soleil shows, that are better than any drug, taking you completely away for a while.  The fantastic music and the free light shows and then there is just sitting with your drink in a good spot people watching.  Just as you think you have had enough of all that fun, and I do mean enough, you go out into the desert.
We chose to hike Red Rock Canyon.
If the gospel brunch did not completely turn my eyes to a higher power, the desert and Red Rock Canyon certainly did.  The peace that washed over me looking at all the beauty, I have never known before.  An instant feeling of being one with the earth but at the same time knowing it was far more powerful than me.  Knowing that the Paiute Indians lived out in what appears to be nothing but rocks and cacti was very humbling.  Knowing that back in Vegas, people were wishing for big money, fancy clothes and cars. They want and want more syndrome that seems to invade our very beings.  Out in the desert you are humbled to think that the ones that once lived here treasured a cactus for its life giving properties.  Who knew what vegetation was for what purpose.  A land so seemingly barren of life, so full of life. 
 
The extremes of both worlds side by side.  We clocked 39 miles and I was ready to go home.  Back to the world that is me, except for those few days every two or three years.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

HIKING AT CHABOT LAKE

Today's hike was a special hike,  It was shorter than we normally hike as we had the family with us and some of them have very short legs and another had to be pushed in a stroller.  So we only clocked in 2 and half miles but enough to stretch our legs and smell the clean air.

Are first siting was the mitten tree.  The littles were in awe that a tree could grow a mitten.
As we have been in a drought for 3 years the lake is very low.  The docks that normally float on the water are no longer even touching the water.  Very sad but at least the littles got some good stair climbing in.
The lake had just been loaded with fish so lots were out fishing...two legged critters and winged critters.
The day was crisp and a little chilly starting out but we quickly warmed up.  There were many beautiful sites.  The lake is so lovely with a little fog hanging in the air.  It gives one a kind of secluded feeling.  All the trees were in their winter mode which added to the feeling of being far away from the crazy city rush.
It was so wonderful to share a hike with some of the most important people in my life.
Another beautiful hike.  Mother nature is such a wonderful thing to experience.  I hope there will always be open space to walk, take in all the smells,  see the growing vegetation,
 and here the birds twitter


We won't be able to hike next weekend but will be back to it in two weeks.