For various reasons I ended up in the southernmost part of Alameda County yesterday so I decided to take advantage of this and take Freia to a new park. After studying my great dog walk guide book, I settled on the Sunol Regional Wilderness. Sounds a bit ominous, but figuring it’s near two big towns (Fremont and Pleasanton) with acres of strip malls, how out there can it be?
Dummy that I am, I forgot my camera, so words will have to do. The park entrance fee is $5 for the car and $2 for the dog. I drove to the furthest tip of the parking lot, filled up the water bottle and set off.. in my clogs.. doh.. after a 1/4 mile, I figured this really wasn’t going to work, trekked back to the car and put on my hiking shoes.. much better. Set off again walking along through a cattle fence and across a quaint weight restricted bridge – vehicles over 8 tons have to drive down to the river bed and drive across a pretty, tree shaded shallow stream. (Here now I’m thinking of firefly and her beautiful photos on her blog… should have brought that darn camera – I brought my backpack to put the camera in.. just not the camera)
The trail that I was on, the Camp Ohlone Road, is just that, a fire road. It climbs gently alongside the Alameda Creek which drops out of view the further you go. I kept Freia on leash the whole time as there were horses and families with small kids. The trail was pretty quiet compared to what I’m used to and it was hot and my imagination started to take over. I walked quite a ways without passing anyone or hearing anyone and I was feeling quite alone out there, not lonely, just alone so my mind started wandering and I had creative visions of mountain lions watching me..
I know if there had been anything like that that Freia would have warned about it, but still .. who wants to run into a hungry or sick mountain lion? Not I, thank you very much.. A police officer drove past me eventually on the trail so I talked to him for a bit about the real risk of lions and he said it was pretty rare as far as he knew, but he didn’t really know, and just shrugged. He then said if it was him, he would be more scared of rattlesnakes.. great. But in all honesty, a mountain lion would scare me more, cos if they want you for lunch, you won’t know about it until it’s too late. A snake? A rattler will warn you if you come near it and since neither Freia nor myself presents a good meal for a snake, it would be far more likely to rattle away from us. Plus being on the fire road, I would think I would see a snake on the path..
Then again, the one time Freia and I did come across a snake on a walk a few weeks back, I didn’t realise it until Freia had the darn thing in her mouth. This one was fortunately quite dead, but it did give me a moment’s pause.
Oh, too much heat and thinking.. I decided to keep going a little further to a spot called Little Yosemite, which from what I saw is a pretty tree filled gorge with some boulders and yosemite type rocks, but all on a smaller scale. I’m not really sure to be honest if I was the real Little Yosemite but it seemed like a good enough point to turn around. I figured I could always come back when my mind stopped playing tricks on me..
To digress a bit, I found this picture of yours truly taken a few years ago on a trip to the Amazon. The place I’m in is a military training facility where military people from all over the world come to learn about the jungle and I would assume jungle warfare. This particular spot I’m in is a care facility for injured animals. There are blind big cats that would be dead if it was not for this place. There are monkeys running around everywhere in the trees above (one even jumped off a tree, across my shoulders and back onto another tree as I was walking by, I just about had a heart attack, though the people I was with found it extremely amusing) Here I’m holding a jaguar cub.. how cute is this thing?? Its paws were as big as my palms. Now I think it’s because of this experience that I have a (somewhat) healthy fear of big cats. Moments after this picture was taken, the cub’s mother decided she’s had enough (of god knows what) and went on a very vocal and scary rampage. The military guys surrounded her with big boards of wood, but got to a point where they didn’t know what to do with her from there. Our guide, watching this, got annoyed at them and stepped in, he turned to the cat and basically said something at her to the effect of “Sit!” and she completely calmed down. What a crazy place..
Anyway, back to my walk, I chose to face these demons and went off the fire road down to the trail running alongside the Alameda Creek. Freia and I took a couple of false starts, climbing down a pretty steep ledge on a trail that looked like it was heading somewhere, but wasn’t. Turn around, back up the hill, try the next one. Eventually we got to a little spot that reached the creek itself and Freia lay in the water to cool off (I learned later that there is no swimming or wading in the water, oh well). Finally we found a single track trail that headed back along the creek to the little bridge and the car.
It was still early and I could have probably found other trails to explore, but it was the weekend, lots of families with kids, meaning Freia would have to stay on leash, and her back foot has been bothering her a bit, so it seemed as good a time as any to head home.
The drive back to Emeryville from there takes me past the Walnut Creek area, where Freia’s mom (Amber) and brother (Buck) still live with their owner. So I gave him a call to see if he wanted to see Freia and have a visit with the other dogs. Freia remembers her brother and mom, and really remembers Bil, the friend of mine that raised her. She was so excited to see him, it was really cute! Amber and Buck don’t remember Freia so well, though there is a connnection, it seems more distant to them. Amber is a big tough 95lb gal that I’ve known since she was no more than 15 lbs and 9 weeks old. The picture here is her from about that time. She still knows me, though I see her rarely these days, she’s very sweet and affectionate to me, and that familiarity is really nice. I showed Bil some of Freia’s obedience skills and he was duly impressed.
By now both the dog and I were fairly exhausted so we got home, I fed her dinner and we both passed out on the sofa..