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Creek Running North

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October 18, 2004

It's not writer's block...

... if you're just having too much fun to want to sit at the keyboard.

The rains hit Sunday, and Becky and I did something we hadn't done for a while: recreational shopping at the Asian grocery store. Sample scene: Becky starts giggling at small bags of corn chips. "Did they even think about what a bad name "Humpty Dumpty" is for a snack food? "Look closer," I said. There were no "T"s anywhere in the brand name. We'll be heading back to pick up some "Humpy Dumpy" chips for our next soiree.

The day before, I was at a bit of a loss whether to paddle or hike, so I did both. Went about a third of a mile out into the Bay before the wind picked up, and I surfed back in to a crunchy landing on the shore. I decided I wasn't ready to leave Roroo-ka, so I waited for a good-sized wave to lift me off the sand, then paddled backward as hard as I could and practiced some paddling moves until my shoulders ached.

Carried Roroo-ka back to the truck, went home, threw wetsuit and cetera into the utility sink, changed and went out to the other end of the creek for a hike. Actually to just over the ridge from the other end of the creek, to the Briones Reservoir.

This hike was a classic example of how I occasionally decide not to think things through all the way: Starting a hike at 2:00 pm? Check. Need to be back at the trailhead before the sun sets at 7:00? Check. Hike will be in excess of 14 miles? Check. Lots of climbing, according to the map? Check. Map is very likely to be inaccurate? Check. No flashlight in my pack? Check. And off I went.

I was sore by the time I got back - fall-asleep-in-the-bathtub sore - but I did reach the truck in the looming dark precisely at seven, after taking perhaps six minutes worth of rest stops. And it was well worth the effort, starting out with the Steller's jays screeching in the sun, ending with the resonant tones of great horned owls singing to the flittering bats. The reservoir had a noticeable bathtub ring, but was nonetheless one of the least objectionable ones I've seen - lots of fringing tules and cattails, great blue herons and egrets, hundreds of coots and a couple loons heard not seen. And water bluer than Tahoe's.

A third of my way around the reservoir, a muledeer family burst out of the brush running at a brisk clip... toward me. Behind them, a shadowy figure slipped behind a pendulous live oak. Puma? Coyote? Smilodon? I never saw what it was, though I was careful to walk tall past the tree without falling down.

Posted by Chris Clarke at October 18, 2004 11:38 AM TrackBack URL for this entry:

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Are they still selling copies of Malcolm Margolin's wonderful little book "East Bay Out"? I remember Briones very well while working on the illustrations for it. I too saw smilodons in my mind's eye in the shadows of the chaparral and live oak. Thanks for reminding me of some good days.

Posted by: OGeorge at October 18, 2004 12:19 PM
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Malcolm's book is still in print. It's what inspired me to start hiking these hills some 22 years ago. Highly recommended.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at October 18, 2004 02:06 PM
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sounds spectacular. given the choice, i would vote for the fun every time! evidence...the dust bunnies. so why not grab some humpy dumpy chips and go kayaking!!!

Posted by: Anne at October 18, 2004 03:21 PM
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Is this the big one at the Asian mall just down the freeway? Pacific market or something? They sell all kinds of goodies in there -- the Hong Kong crowd has unaccountably developed a taste for Marmite, Horlicks, and Hob Nobs, so I find myself going in there when I have my once-a-year need for English chocolate...

Posted by: Pica at October 19, 2004 07:12 AM
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Pica: No, this is the San Pablo International Market, much like a less-upscale version of the 99 Ranch you're thinking of at the Pacific East Market.

Siona: I was sorely tempted by the breaded, deep-fried anchovies in a jar. I'm thinking this would be excellent food for an end-to-end Pacific Crest Trail hike, or some other venue where salt and cholesterol weren't an issue.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at October 19, 2004 09:34 AM
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bluer than Tahoe? i thought that only existed in my dreams... guess i need to check this out! been awhile since i checked out the site Chris - glad to see it is still running strong. Give me a call next time you're in DC. - adam

Posted by: adam spangler at October 26, 2004 09:36 AM
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