April 6, 2006 Day 5

sunny all day.
Temperatures 55-70.

Woke up in paradise. We were considered a "hiking club" and allowed to use the Coyote Hills Regional Park group campground. It is nestled in a small valley with a small marsh to the south and big hill with several large rock features on to the north. It is a haven for nature, surrounded by but far from shopping malls and strip housing, and we felt so blessed to be there instead of sleeping in our van on the side of a road.

Jonathan and his photographer showed up around 10 and we started off along a bucolic trail lined with brilliant green grass and poppies. Around the first corner we came upon a herd of about fifty goats grazing, which explained why the hills looked so green here, last years dead John Muir Walkgrasses were all eaten up, and everything was cropped like it had been lawn mowed. We told Jonathan about John Muir, that he was the guy on the California quarter, and so like Linclon and Washington, he was becoming like a god, an inspiration to all who love the outdoors. Conversation turned towards Muir being the father of conservation, and we pondered conservation: why does anyone want to conserve anything? Because they love it. It is all about love. Muir loved Yosemite so much he did all he could to see that it was protected as a National Park. So what will make the people of Fremont want to conserve their salt marshes? The people of Alameda and Santa Clara County complete a Bay Trail? Education. They just need to see them, walk through them, learn their place in history and within their unique ecosystems and conservation will seem logical rather than fanatical.

This was the most beautiful section of the Bay Trail yet (and no, I am not just saying that because it was sunny). We left the park and walked along a busy truck road, perhaps the worse stretch of road yet (and no, I am not saying that just to parallel the previous sentence). There was no curb, it was narrow and used by 18 wheelers. We then walked along the railroad tracks, and for a few miles there was a nice dirt road beside the tracks that we could use, but we had to walk on the tracks for three or four miles. That was hard. We found some old buildings constructed with their front doors facing the tracks. That was a different time, when the railroad was the artery for commerce and the link for communities. All the new housing tracts have sound walls, perhaps ten feet high, surrounding them, really encircling them as if they were walled fortresses. We kept seeing vestiges of past housing, palm trees marking our empty patches of land, and we wondered when they came and when they went and why. Local history is so interesting when you are walking through it.

John Muir walkThe train tracks passed through wetlands and we saw many different birds. Mostly ducks but also egrets, herons and many small long beaked shore birds. The biggest treat was to see two different burrowing owls within fifty feet of each other. We left the tracks at the dump on Auto Mall Blvd, and walked towards the malls. After a short section of shoulder-less dump road we came to the business parks with curving sidewalks lined with ornamental flowering shrubs and green grassy lawns. They were beautiful, and so easy to walk after all those miles of slanting gravel or uneven railroad ties. The sidewalks led us to the auto malls, then past the malls to more miles of sidewalks installed and waiting for malls to arrive. Without the malls there yet, the sidewalks butted up to wetland, an ironic contrast of irrigated lawn and plantings divided by bender board from the lush green natural wetlands. We ended the ramble at Warm Springs. We did not see the historic spa location that we have the old photo of on our web site, rather more industrial parks and big streets. Jonathan picked us up and took us back to Coyote Park where we again spent the night. The walk was about 11 miles, and by the time we got home we were really beat, so made a nice backpacker's dinner, had a sip of Donna's 2002 vintage blackberry wine, thought about how the heck were we going to get our car to Alviso tomorrow, decided to forget about it and went to bed early.