Hikes, Detours, and the Tree of Life

I think I am at my almost-ultimate-happiest when I’m on a hike. Not even sore feet or scrambling hands-and-knees over rocks, or cold rain can dent my contentment. Heck, I’ll even hike in the desert – I’ve done it recently.

All of this is sort of funny, considering that I’m not the most athletic of people. And I should point out that my hikes are limited to a level of “moderate” or lower. I’m not going up any tall mountains soon.

So we’ve got this hike coming up on Saturday, billed as a “moonlight walk at perigee” kind of thing. Yes, the moon is approaching its closest point to Earth and Saturday it’s full. Now, Astronomy Magazine informs us the perigee is actually at the August full moon, but I’m not going to quibble with East Bay Regional Parks about it. Close is close, in my book.

This pretty spot is found just before the trail up the mountain.
This pretty spot is found just before the trail up the mountain.

I am really looking forward to this hike, not least because four of our closest friends will meet us for a pre-hike picnic, then join us for the ramble. It’s a public hike and there will be lots of other people there, but this is going to be fun.

Ah, but Himself and I were a bit nervous. We don’t get up to Tilden Park often, and as I mentioned, I don’t do lots of steep climbing. We didn’t know what to expect. Brilliant people that we are, we decided to do an Advanced Scouting Mission. We’d find the meeting place and hie ourselves up the trail to see if it was Doable. If not, we always had the option of Turning Back, and the foreknowledge that the moonlight hike might be out of our range.

So yesterday, after our relaxed Sunday Breakfast of whole grain pancakes and Black Forest bacon (and fruit rather than syrup for me), we applied lots of sunscreen and set off on our adventure.

Our limited direction skills meant that we had a hard time finding the place, even with the GPS. But we persevered, then patiently blocked up the parking lot while waiting for someone to leave and provide a spot for us. Once that was accomplished, we got a map and headed off to find the trail head.

Of course, we walked right by it. Based on the map, we knew we should be finding it soon, so when we saw a largish trail going straight up the mountain, we took it. I wish I’d taken a picture of this. It looked more like a maintenance road than a hiking trail, but we girded our loins and crawled (in places) up the dern, slippery thing.

And of course, discovered that it was a maintenance road with no other outlet once you got to the power grid at the top. We had to go back down the slippery trail, which involved some butt-sliding for safety. Himself was concerned that we would now be too tired to do the actual hike, but my philosophy is nothing-attempted-nothing gained, so we renewed our search for the real trail.

In our defense, it’s a very small trail and a very small sign. But once we found it, it was ridiculous how easy it was. It took us about an hour to get to the top, but for most of the way, the ascent is gradual and the steep parts were not Too Bad At All.

Wildcat Peak Trail - spectacular view of the bay, bridges, San Francisco, and Marin.
Wildcat Peak Trail – spectacular view of the bay, bridges, San Francisco, and Marin.

It’s really too bad I don’t have a better camera, because wow – that view is amazing.

We reached the top and did our obeisance to the view, which truly deserved it. Three sides feature views of San Francisco Bay with the Bay Bridge to the left, gleaming San Francisco itself,  the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge soaring over the low fog, and the mountains and forest of Marin County sprawling to the right. The bay continued on to the north, surrounded on both sides by the low East Bay hills. I couldn’t see the Carquinez Bridge, but Benecia was just visible. If we turned East, we had a lovely view of Mt. Diablo and surrounding hills.

Golden Gate
Golden Gate

 

The view to the northwest
The view to the northwest
Mt. Diablo to the east
Mt. Diablo to the east

On our way down we found another little side trail that brought us close to this:

IMG_4601

Tree of life

If there’s such a real thing as a Tree of Life, don’t you think it probably looks something like that?

We’ll see how the pictures turn out for the moonlight hike. I bet that’s going to be awesome!

 

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