Timeline: April 6-17
Lydia and Walter stopped by to pick us up at 10am Sunday morning, Jessica and Kris opting to stay home and instead do some rock climbing. The drive out to Sunol Regional Wilderness for the Wildflower Festival took about 45 minutes, a pleasant ride on a sparkling spring morning.
Established in 1962 and administered by the East Bay Regional Park District, its 6,850-acres are part of the Inner Southern California Coast Ranges. Originally inhabited by Native Americans, this former ranch land features chaparral, oak woodland, and grassland habitats.
We decided to first hike the Indian Joe Nature Trail at about 3 miles’ round trip, eat lunch and then join a naturalist led hike in the afternoon. We started down the trail and after about a half mile, found ourselves at a dead end, high water from recent heavy rains having swept debris onto the trail, effectively closing it.
So, we doubled back to the event site of the festival, got lunch from the car and ate it as we listened to a large all woman bluegrass ensemble spinning out tunes that span the decades.
Finished with lunch, we joined a large group waiting for the planned hike of Canyon View to Little Yosemite, which departed at 1:15. Once started we retraced our path on the Indian Joe trail a short distance before branching off to eventually climb several steep sections of trail towards a summit with impressive views of the surrounding hills and valleys.
This was not easy going as the path was narrow and there were at least 30 of us in the group; at every stop, we’d be strung out for many yards.
This part of the hike was a bit disappointing in that each time the Naturalist paused to describe something, those of us way in the back couldn’t hear a word. We eventually reached the top of the climb and were rewarded with a small grouping of California’s State Flower, the California Poppy, a flash of gold color standing out against the green of waving grassland.
From there we hiked past a visible break in the ridgeline of the mountain, clear evidence of an earthquake fault.
After a bit of downhill we reached a crowded intersection with a fire road hugging one shore of Alameda Creek, full of water this time of year and providing a refreshing plunge for those willing to chance its chilly waters.
From there it is was a flat mile or so of walking along the fire road back to the car. We returned to the apartment to relax a bit before venturing up to Berkeley with Jessica and Kris to re-unite with Lydia and Walter at Great China Restaurant, a visit to make up for our cancelled reservation last New Year’s Eve due to illness.
The place was packed when we arrived and would remain so throughout our visit, a visible manifestation of the how popular it is. Seated, Lydia took charge and as she often does when we visit any restaurant, but particularly one with an Asian influence, assumed the duty of ordering for all of us. What would follow was a feast of epic proportion, with so many dishes our heads were spinning and our belly’s full by meals end.
We had so many dishes that I can’t specifically recall any by name except for one which we’ve been wanting to try for ages, the Peking Roast Duck with 24 pancakes, plum sauce and scallions. I am not a fan of dark meat poultry and tend to shy away from Duck and Goose but will say that this was very good, the moist meat complemented by the slice of crispy skin one would eat with each bite, layered on the tortilla like pancake with some plum sauce and sliced scallion.
We waddled out of the restaurant with two large bags of left overs, fuel for the next few days for Jessica and Kris, some of which we would find upon our return in a few days from our sojourn to San Luis Obispo to meet with Jan and Evan. Our first weekend in Oakland was ending and had certainly experienced a turn around after our bumpy start on Thursday. We were looking forward to a return to one of our favorite areas in California, the Central Coast and spending quality time with two longtime friends.
Sunol Regional Wilderness: http://www.ebparks.org/parks/sunol
California Poppy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eschscholzia_californica
Great China: http://greatchinaberkeley.com/