On the afternoon of Sunday, February 2nd 1997, the East Bay
Barefoot Hikers met for a barefoot hike along the Stage Road and
Mount Diablo trails.
Fifteen people took part including myself, my son Gareth (13), Teresa, Dan, Peter and his wife Sandy, Joannie and her husband Bruce, young Phoebe (11), Eric (13), Nicole (11), Denise, Fred, Darren and Phoebe. Also, Sam the dog.
I played barefoot taxi on this day. Gareth and I shuttled around town picking up Fred and the rest of the kids. A fair crowd had shown up on this sunny, mild day. We decided to take a group picture before we started (see the web page address below). Joannies husband Bruce had shown up shod (he did that once before). I don't like this and I've made it clear that people have to start the hike barefoot. In this case, I ribbed him a bit but decided not to make an issue of it. "I might take them off later" he said. Yes, there are some pretty deep streams up ahead, I thought.
We set off and immediately encountered some fairly deep mud, well churned by horse traffic. This was fun for a while, but it became rather slow going. We got through that fairly quickly and our multi-hued feet took us up the smoother trail that followed (2nd and 3rd photo on web site). Just before the dry flood-control dam, Nicole decided to climb atop a really large boulder. She soon had a lot of company as five or six people joined her (4th photo).
There is a stream that repeatedly crosses the trail. After the rains we've had. it was running just under knee-deep. Bruce took off the shoes.
We chatted as we strolled along enjoying the scenery (trees, rushing water, the "castle-crags" shining in the sun high above us) and textures (mud, deep mud, gritty sections, leaves, soft sandstone, mud). Most of us are regulars and we know each other pretty well by now. We stopped for food.
This is usually an out-and-back hike. Peter and I examined the map and decided to try for a circular route. We headed up the Mount Diablo trail. We passed through an extremely verdant section (reminded some of Hawaii) with water cascading down between moss covered rocks (see 5th photo). This took us to a series of high, grassy meadows. Very picturesque. Unfortunately, the ground underfoot was turning more and more "ungulated". Barefoot hikers do not like this condition. It happens when a lot of very large, cloven hoofed beasts have been walking along very winter-rain softened trails. This leaves a series of deep pits everywhere, with the in-between bits dried off to hard, mud "pinnacles". It looks sort of like a swiss cheese with little spikes sticking up. This isn't too bad if it isn't unrelenting. However, I could see that we weren't making good enough time to do this hike as a loop. Peter scouted ahead to the next trail and reported "no change". We decided to head back the way we came. No matter, it was a very pleasant walk back. Oh, and Bruce stayed barefoot the whole way after that first stream crossing (four-fifths of the hike). You can see him carrying his shoes in the 6th photo.
After we dropped Fred off at his house, I took the kids to 7/11 for them to get drinks, On the way in, a little kid saw the five of us and said to his mother "Look Mom, they have no shoes and socks !!".
As mentioned above, Peter had his digital camera along on the hike. He put six photos up on a web page.
Take a look at:
East Bay Barefoot Hikers: Main Page