I know, the blog pages are now arriving in quick succession, but this is due to the Bay Area’s spring weather conditions. This is the third morning with rain, keeping me in my humble studio with little else to do but to address you with my scribblings. In fact, weren’t it for this “labour of love” I would feel pretty depressed by now. But the weather will soon improve, probably even before I may manage to place a post about the rainy streets of Berkeley.
Now back to Sunol! You may recall that “serpentine” was the last topic before we stopped. Soon after its discovery, and after yet half an hour’s climbing, I happened on a group of fellow wanderers, all of them but one further ahead on the mountain. I soon caught up with the lingering gentleman, of mature age, who proved to be an entertaining companion for a while’s steady ascent. His pre-name was Harry, but his family name I first mistook to be the one of you know who (or, rather, the one who came to grips with “you know who”). He explained to me that he was on a hike every Thursday within a fellowship of wanderers from Cupertino. These hikes had originally been organised by his College and accompanied by a guide. The group was still continuing despite the College having dissolved the original arrangement long time ago. This gave me the opportunity to tell him my often told story about the “Medium Term Planning Conference for Europe” who started out as an official OECD Committee, but just continued on after the OECD had abolished it.
Alone again, I continued the ascent to the eagerly awaited CERRO ESTE summit, the median target of my roundtrip. The hardy labour was oftentimes interrupted by interesting scenery. Once, when directing the camera towards a beautiful solitary oak far below my path I suddenly saw that I was not the only one admiring the scenery. A lonely COYOTE looked as longingly towards the far off hills as I did towards him. A peaceful meeting of the minds indeed!
But this was not all; a small distance further up the slope, two hardy hikers had their binoculars up, gazing intensively in the opposite direction. I tried to draw their attention to the solitary predator, but they cordially declined my offer to gaze thither, preferring to observe a diminutive bird they assured me was extremely rare, but that I did not find that exhilarating.
So on I went on with my exercise for another half hour’s steady climbing (you may have noticed that the half hours accumulate; they may soon become a figure of speech!). Suddenly I encountered a big earth mound in a circle, not unlike the foundation of iron age fortifications, with a small pond in the middle. Curious as I am, I went off the trodden path to investigate. Suddenly, I saw a movement in the grass, out went my camera and “clapunck!” it sounded, before I even glimpsed the prey. Actually I never saw it clearly, since the camera’s shutter noise had already scared it off. However, on the camera’s back screen I could gather that I had fired at a GROUND SQUIRREL, pointing its nose at the intruder. Thus, the “iron age fort” turned out to be a colony of these at the same time curious and evasive creatures!
Hardly had I finished the thought that what looked like a raging bull came charging full speed towards me. Only about 10 meters before contact the animal slowed down and I discovered that it was a calf after all and only curious about my presence. Soon he was joined by a heard of youngsters anxiously ogling me as if I intruded on their home turf. Undisturbed I reached into my rucksack, only to discover that I had forgotten my sandwiches back home! This was no laughing matter! After ingesting two apples and all the water I was glad to have packed in the morning, I had no other choice but to shorten the trip from foreseen seven hours down to five and take the shortest route back down to the car.
Soon I was back in the oaken ranges, taking pictures on the run, and arrived towards the end of the trip at a lovely little brook by the name of Indian Joe Creek. From then on, the descent went in lovely shadow, crisscrossing the creek on and on again until it merged with the Alameda and I was back at the car.
I hope I haven’t tired you unduly with this lengthy account; I could not bring myself to make it shorter, excited as I was by that eventful walk in nature totally immersed in lovely green, a color hitherto unseen in the Bay Area regional parks during my earlier visits some 35 years ago.