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Blog, The Outdoors

An Essential Stroll Along the Bay Area Ridge Trail

California Poppies in Tilden Park

California Poppies in Tilden Park

Work from Hammock

Attempting to find a productive space while working from home.

Working remotely home while under a “stay at home” order is challenging. One of the biggest challenges for me is that, with each passing day, the lines between work and non-work become blurrier.

About a month and a half into this new normal of shelter-at-home, I realized that I desperately needed a distinct break from notifications and long work hours.

I decided to take a “mental health day” to process everything that’s happening.

Exercise has been deemed an essential activity in Alameda County. I’m very lucky to live close to some beautiful parks that are still open. I decided to go for a long solo hike along the Bay Area Ridge Trail, which I can access from my doorstep!

I plotted out logistics the night before. The parks that are still open don’t have running water or restrooms available, so I made sure to pack everything necessary to be (radically) self-reliant. This included a mask, since a “face covering order” went into effect the day of my hike.

COVID-19 safety signs near a trailhead

Reminders of our current state of affairs were omnipresent along the trail

I woke up bright and early and hit the trail around 9am. I was greeted by soft morning light shining through redwoods in Joaquin Miller. It was so peaceful and quiet for the first few miles… a very pleasant start to my day.

Morning light through redwoods in Joaquin Miller Park

The morning sun pierces through the redwoods in Joaquin Miller Park in Oakland

I’ve done my share of backpacking, but those trips tend to be through unfamiliar terrain. I was familiar with the trails in Joaquin Miller as I do a lot of running there, but experiencing these trails via hiking (at a slower pace) gave me a new appreciation for them.

I passed through Joaquin Miller and Redwood Regional parks and then found myself on a stretch of trail I was not familiar with.

Lush green trail in huckleberry botanic regional preserve

Lush green trail in Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve

The portion of the Bay Area Ridge Trail that leads through Huckleberry Botanic Preserve is beautiful. Everything was so lush and green, exploding with vibrant color.

As I made my way towards Tilden Park, I started to notice bright orange flowers, and then remembered that we were in the middle of poppy bloom season! This was a delightful surprise.

California poppies near Chaparral Peak

California poppies near Chaparral Peak in Tilden Park

Seaview Trail in Tilden Park was probably the most memorable section of the hike. The wildflowers were everywhere and the views were stunning.

California Poppies in Tilden Park

California Poppies in Tilden Park

To have an open-ended day with no real agenda or responsibilities is such a rarity, and I was overjoyed to stop and take in all of the stunning views without feeling rushed.

This was also where I encountered more folks on the trail, and unfortunately quite a few of them were not wearing masks.

A reminder to stay 6 feet apart on the trail

Reminders of our current state of affairs are omnipresent

I will say that I only observed groups of mask-less hikers near the major trailheads. Further out on the trails, almost everyone I encountered wore masks and practiced great trail etiquette and social distancing. But I digress. This post was not intended to be a commentary on COVID-19… I’ll leave that to the experts.

Spending a few hours alone on the trail allowed me to process everything that’s going on and helped me put things into perspective. Remote work days are long and don’t generally allow for this type of reflection, so it was very beneficial.

A bench with a beautiful view near Chaparral Peak

Good place to get some thinkin’ done

I don’t know if it was this mid-week “mini adventure” and the time away from routine, the exercise, the fresh air, or something else entirely, but I started the following day of work with renewed vigor. I felt incredibly positive and was super focused and productive throughout the day.

I acknowledge the privilege of having local access to such beautiful trails without needing to travel, and I’m aware that most folks aren’t so lucky.

With that said, I highly recommend taking some sort of break from your routine if possible. It felt like a “reboot” for my brain and did wonders for my mental well-being.

There’s something about radical self-reliance  that makes a day hike feel like more of an adventure. Everything you might need is on your back.

I’m still unsure where the balance lies between safety at home and escaping from routine in search of mental stability, but I hope to find similar (safe) adventures in the coming weeks!

1 Comment

  1. Jack Vantine

    As usual, extremely well written and informative. Almost feel as if I were there too, (of course, at a respectable 6′ distance, and wearing a mask)! Great that you took this opportunity and I am certain it was time well spent. GOD Bless:

    Love – Dad

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