April 7, 2006 Day 6

Overcast all day, rain in late afternoon and evening
Temperatures 45-65.

Again woke up in paradise: among the hills, marshes and birds of the Coyote John Muir Walk Hills. It was cloudy today. I am amazed how much more I notice the weather, being outside and thinking of walking.

We ended yesterday's ramble on Fremont Avenue. From there the Bay Trail does not connect through a big open slough area (near the ghost town of Drawbridge). There are not any small roads on the west side of Interstate 880 either, so we have to make a big detour through the Warm Springs area to get around the 880.

This gives us the opportunity to try walking along the actual road Muir would have taken, because Warm Springs Blvd. is a part of the old Oakland-San Jose Rd. Walking down the Oakland Road really sucked. It was loud with cars and trucks booming by. The first section had no shoulder, and, for safety Donna put on the florescent green vest that we got from the Piledrivers Union, Local 34, back near the Oakland airport (even though I told her John Muir never would have worn one of those things). Further down, the road had sidewalks. Some were straight, some curved, and others had grass and concrete in a kind of checkerboard fashion. And, if we weren't walking through business districts of little strip malls, then we were walking by fences and walls that separated us from housing tracts and condo/apartment complexes. There were ten-foot high concrete fortress wall fences, wooden plank fences, concrete block and chain link fences. The newer walls were uniform and boring, but older ones displayed the passing of time and were interesting. The sidewalks made it much easier and safer to walk and we decided to give city planners lots of credit for their efforts to get sidewalks placed on busy roads.

John Muir WalkWe soon decided we had enough of walking Muir's actual route, and so headed west on Dixon Landing Road to find the Coyote Creek Trail in Milpitas. After crossing a maze of freeway overpasses we found the trail. We were kind of surprised that we could actually walk along these giant freeway-like roads, but we could because along this stretch they all had crosswalks and sidewalks. Donna's quote for the day was "walking over and under freeways is weird."

The section of Coyote Creek that we walked along is still wild. It is in an area, west of the 880, that is rapidly being turned into business parks, but until a few years ago it was just a bunch of empty fields. The creek is hard to see at times, there is so much underbrush, and it is filled with trees. We stop to rest and see a red tail hawk. It lands on the top of the highest dead tree in sight, and calls out. We then see a nest and it has another hawk in it. Neither of us has seen a nesting red tail hawk before. The botanizing on the trip has been good, but the birding has been great. We have seen so many interesting shore birds. But, with all this rain, when the sun finally comes out the flowers will burst into bloom. and we will be in a John Muir Heaven.

Places like this section of the Coyote Creek are havens for animals and plants that have been displaced and pushed out of their previous habitat by the onslaught of development, and fortunately for them it is rare that people visit these places. We see only three bicycle riders during the hour and a half we are on the trail. I guess if we want to see wilderness we head for the Sierra, or places like Big Sur, rather than looking around in our own backyards.

We end the day walking through more business complexes, with many huge buildings that were vacant. Donna noted the irony that Muir would also have noted: when she was a kid there used to be vacant fields here, now there are vacant buildings.