On the afternoon of Sunday, January 12th 1997, the East Bay
Barefoot Hikers met for a barefoot hike along the Bear Creek,
Homestead Valley and Crescent Ridge trails.
Thirteen people took part including myself, my son Gareth (13), Teresa, Tess, Dan, Maggie, Tim and his son Christopher (8), and the twins Jonathan and Hilary (6), Hap, Leo and Peter.
It had been a 6-week break since the last hike. Northern California had been getting a LOT of rain. We were eager to start since it was cold and misty and we wanted to get those toes flexing !!.
We set of from the parking lot at about 1:15pm, crossed a very wet expanse of grass and descended the ravine trail to cross the creek. The water was surging by and was the color of tea (with just the right amount of milk). This was a wading job, but the depth was only about two-thirds of the way up to knee. A steep climb up through oaken forest took us onto the narrow Bear Creek trail. The party strung out and built up a reasonable pace, with the twins out in front. I soon started to feel warmer. In fact, my feet felt particularly warm. Somehow, some regulation mechanism seems to "kick" in after about ten minutes of brisk walking.
We paused for snacks when we entered the meadow in the Homestead Valley. After some difficulty finding a good place to cross the creek, we started squishing our way along the valley trail. There was a lot of standing water on it. The water was pretty cold.
After a while, Dan asked me (jokingly) if there were any hot springs nearby. Some hope !!. I had forgotten about his comment when, about ten minutes later, people starting saying "Is this water getting warmer ?". It certainly seemed to be. We came around the next bend and there, on the side of the hill, was a sort of spring covered with a wooden platform. Steam was rising from it !!!. Nearby, the water was deliciously warm. Errr .... we kind of hung around for a while.
The path climbed up to the Briones crest trail. As we reached the Crescent Ridge trail, it started to rain. Fortunately, it was fairly light and intermittent. The ridge provided spectacular views as the pastured valleys below vanished and reappeared in the mist. Gareth paused to refect, with his head covered by a poncho and said "I feel like I'm in a Japanese anime cartoon".
The mud was tricky on the downhill sections. I spent much of the return trip holding young Hilarys hand to ensure against falling.
Peter had a digital camera along on this hike. He put some of the his best pictures up on a web page.
Take a look at:
Congratulations to young Christopher !!. He went barefoot the whole way on this hike. He hasn't done that before (though his younger siblings always have).
East Bay Barefoot Hikers: Main Page