Eleven people took part including myself, Debra and her son Eric (12), his sister Nicole (11), Peter, Sandy, Dan, Bill, Phoebe, Don and Maggie.
I picked Don up from Orinda BART station. This was his first barefoot hike. It turns out that he is the editor of the newspaper for the local Sierra Club groups. He had read "The Barefoot Hiker" and had done a review of it for his newpaper. Now he wanted to try the real thing. As we drove to Redwood Park I told him some of the history of the group and how I got started doing this. He suggested that the local Sierra Club groups might be interested in me doing a presentation on the topic.
The rest of the days hikers gathered at the Big Bear Gate trailhead, and we set off at about 9:15. After a small amount of fine grained gravel (that always seems to placed at trail entrances) we had a short climb onto the Golden Spike trail. This is a mostly level trail that parallels one of the roads through the park. The surfaces were a nice combination of packed dirt and leaf-cover. The kids (Eric and Nicole) surged ahead of us. We had plenty of shade and people immediately echoed my sentiments when I had "scoped" the trail the previous week ... "We like this trail !". The pace was fairly brisk and soon we were passing the riding stables. Just before we turned uphill onto the the Tate trail, a rider saw fit to tell us that she thought we were all crazy. Oh well, there's none so blind as those who will not see.
The Tate trail is nice broad ramp that took us up through stands of Redwood and Eucalyptus. As we emerged into the sunlight, we paused for a while and sat drinking water on some sandstone outcroppings. Don is something of a punster. He was getting a lot of mileage out of "feet, foot and sole". I was talking to Bill about his recent posting on the net that asked about how far and how fast experienced barefoot hikers go compared to shod hikers. I told him that on most trails, the speed can be about equal. Of course, we *do* go slower on the rocky sections. On todays hike, we were moving at quite a clip (even with our beginner) and would have kept pace with any shod hikers. As far a distance is concerned, nearly all of the EBBF hikes have been less than five miles. You tend to need more time with a larger group and with beginners along. I had done an (estimated) eight mile barefoot hike in Big Basin Redwoods. I had also climbed Mt. Diablo barefoot. That was only five or six miles, but it had an altitude gain of about 2800 ft. It was also very rocky in places. Bill had asked about hikes in the 20 mile range. I told him that the last time I hiked anywhere near that was during my booted days back in college. Memories of really horrific blisters came flooding back. I told Bill that I had an experiment in mind. I had originally thought of planning a really long hike along the East Bay Ridge trail, with a small number of hikers. This however, has logistic problems (parking cars at either end, not being able to "bail" easily if it becomes too tough). So I suggested an alternative ... "The Tour de Redwood". There are a lot of miles of trails in this park. If we walked all of them, it would come to a lot more than twenty miles. As far as going barefoot for long distances ... I'd be more worried about my legs than my feet.
We passed a final, large stand of eucalytus and the trail leveled out. The surface changed to deep, soft yellow sand. It was really like walking on a beach !. This lasted for about half a mile. We stopped in the shade and sat on the sand to eat lunch.
We walked quickly along the West Ridge Trail, with Debra, the kids and I hanging around at the back because we stopped a number of times to pick blackberries.
We re-joined the Golden Spike trail on it's upper section and descended the hill. Don remarked later that the group was very friendly and that the common experience of walking along barefoot and enjoying the textures of the trail was a very "binding" thing.
We finished early, at around 11:40am. Definately another trail for the list.
-- Mike Berrow
-- East Bay Barefoot Hikers
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