For those of us in the SF Bay Area, anyway. Summer's heat has subsided, and winter's chill hasn'r yet brought us a frosty evening. There's not a cloud in the sky today, and the afternoon air is mostly devoid of the putrid, acrid fumes and puke - colored air we in the Tri Valley have come to know as normal. It's the time of year Tarantulas wander the Diablo Range, and temperatures in Livermore roughly equal those of San Francisco. It's Fall.
Every Monday from the end of September until the middle of November I count the hours as they pass while I work, taking my lunchtime to read of new trails in the area or plan a revisit to an old favorite. The trees are turning, the animals are everywhere, and raptor watching is at its peak. The conundrum, though, is this - looking ahead to all this, where will I end up?
I don't typically plan too far ahead for my day hikes. Oh, I pack my day pack with things sufficient to get me through the night should I get stuck somewhere, but the destination is sometimes decided after I've gotten in the car and driven a few miles. There are some obvious seasonal favorites in the mix (Sunol, Morgan Territory), as well as a newcomer (Pleasanton Ridge or Alum Rock). Then there are the long distance day trips - to Sonora Pass and up the Pacific Crest Trail for 3 or 4 tough miles, to 11,400' Sonora Peak. Or maybe one last shot at the Mist Trail in Yosemite, a busy but engaging trail once past the crowds on the Merced River bridge.
I don't have a clue where I'll end up. Angel Island is perfect in Fall, as the Bay breezes are warmer than the summer's. So it's paved - so what? It's long enough for a good worlout, flat and scenic enough to convince a hiking newbie to get out more, that this stuff is fun, and an adventure if you don't get out much. So that's a possibility.
As is Henry Coe State Park. There's not anything like Coe in the entire Bay Area. It's huge, and a backpacker can get a Sierra - sized workout on the ultra hilly and sparsely used trails . You can backpack or day hike here and not run across a single soul right now. Maybe that's the ticket for me.
Only one thing is certain - if it's not pouring rain, I'll be out as many hours as I can this weekend. Maybe in one place, one park, or maybe several. There are few that are instant declines - it's the time of year that anything can happen, on any trail, at any time.
But let me throw down the gauntlet - ...I won't be wasting a single minute on football or the World Series this weekend. These are days we'll never get back. Take advantge of them. Get out and visit a park that's been on your list but you've not yet tried. And please let me know how it goes...that is, if we don't run across each other out there on the trail.