April 4, 2006 Day 3

Pouring rain all day.
Temperatures 55-60.
Woke up to the sound of raindrops pounding on the roof. Not very encouraging...

We have spent the night about 10 miles from the Bay Trail, at the home of friends in San Leandro. Shuttling from the walk to where we sleep takes a lot of time and energy. Muir would have just slept on the ground when it got dark, but we would be rousted by police and told to move on if we tried that trick. It takes us a while to pack and leave the house. Our host, Ellen, follows us in her car to the Hayward Regional Shoreline headquarters on W. Winton Road, where we leave our VW, and then drives us back to the airport where we ended the trip yesterday. We start walking around 11, and it is pouring rain.

Earlier that morning we had asked ourselves if we thought Muir would have walked in the pouring rain. We decided probably not: he didn’t have rain gear, and the roads were dirt, so they would have been mud and he would have walked right out of his boots.

After a stretch on Doolittle, a busy trucking thoroughfare, we walked down a dirt road between a bunch of warehouses and a culvertized river to the start of the Bay Trail, which was also the entrance to Waste Management’s regional recycling plant. Through the pouring rain we saw shore birds hunting for food as we walked a trail that skirted the bay. The wind picked up and soon umbrellas were useless, so we cinched down our rain gear and kept walking. We found shelter to eat a snack under the eves of the service porch for the San Leandro Marina Inn. It was either that or in the bathrooms of the city park near by. I guess we actually could have stopped in the Marina Restaurant, but we were too motivated to finish and get out of the rain for the day. I know Muir would not have stopped for a meal in a posh restaurant like that…he bragged about eating only unleavened bread.

Today’s walk was also a study in contrasts, as we walked over San Leandro’s reclaimed dump lands. Our hosts have told us that as kids the greatest fun was to go with Dad when he went out to the salt flats to dump the garbage. At the time they thought they were doing a good deed, helping to fill in the flats so they could later be developed. In the 90s the city instigated a program to restore the marsh as a habitat for local and migrating birds. So the whole trail we walked on was built on concrete rubble. It was an industrial archeologist’s dream; there were so many different kinds of concrete. Some was made from shellmound sources, as the shells were clearly evident in the remains. There were thick and thin pieces, we were later told that the rubble from the 1906 earthquake was down at the bottom.

I put on my Muir eyes as we walked past a snail crossing, and took time to look closely at them. I have never done that before and was surprised to find that their skin is beautifully patterned, like snake or lizard skin, only moist.

We ended the day around 3 pm, a 9 mile ramble. After talking to the rangers at the park headquarters about the fact that 2 or 3 inches of rain had fallen as we walked and that Devil’s Slide had slid again, we hopped in our VW and drove to a cafe to write and have a warm cup of tea.