In our little corner of the world, August and September are extremely hectic~ aside from the annual scramble at both our jobs (Chris, the end of vacation season; me, the semi-annual escheat reporting) and the start of school, with the requisite supplies and paperwork, we observe both Chris’ birthday and our wedding anniversary. Those events tend to be skimmed over on the actual days~ a kiss and a wish as we pass each other in the kitchen, but not much else.
This year has been much the same~ just the added excitement of our baby boy starting local community college (with concurrent transportation disarrangement) and the stress of frequent (and so far fruitless) house hunting. One difference was that Chris actually had a couple Saturdays off, so we took advantage one morning a couple weeks ago to check out a new-to-us regional park.
Briones Regional Park is a secluded little gem of hiking trails, tucked in near a large reservoir; there is not much in the way of development~ no snack bars, gift shops, or even ranger stations~ just picnic tables, restrooms, and miles of paths and trails through grassland, trees, and hilltops. Before tackling the “easy” Old Briones Road to Crescent Ridge loop, we brought a picnic lunch to share in the shade (it was still pretty warm, but not scalding), and then donned backpacks with some water bottles, camera, and our new little mascot, Ranger Ruth.
I first was introduced to the tiny Ranger crew by my friend, Junie Moon, who wrote about her travelling companion, Park Patty; I loved the idea and went online to invite a Ranger to train and travel with us as we explore.
The 2 ½ mile loop first took us along a tree-lined road, which then led through a valley filled with grazing land, where we had a little adventure. We strolled past a number of cows with their calves; apparently, this pair thought we were fascinating, because they began to follow us, pursued by their vigilant mother.
After about a quarter mile, they were distracted by the creek and wandered away from the path, but Momma continued to trail along behind us and started to become vocal~ I was wondering if she was lecturing us for leading her children astray. Looking forward, we could see another cow standing across the road, looking intently at us and making a grunting noise; this is the point we realize that this wasn’t a cow, but a bull~ and we were standing between him and one of his harem. We had several tense minutes as we stood stock-still in the road and scoped out escape routes in case he lost his temper; fortunately, the day was becoming warm and the creek was a more attractive destination then chasing a couple humans across the fields, though the bull continued to verbally abuse us as he headed off.
The next segment of the hike was up a steep trail leading to the ridge; happily, it was completely shaded by the trees, but remained a challenging climb~ I’d take 75 to 100 steps, and then rest a couple minutes to catch my breath. The pay-off was a large live oak to rest under and this stunning view.
We refreshed ourselves with apples, crackers, and lots of water, before tackling the trail down the other side and back to our car. As we packed up to leave, a very weary and well-behaved German Sheppard plopped herself down in the shade of the tree to wait for her companions; we met them several yards down the trail~ the first people we had seen all afternoon~ and it turns out it was a couple men that Chris knew through work! They hadn’t seen each other for some time, so we stood on the road for 15 minutes while they caught up on work and local news, until the strong sun sent us all off in search of shade.
We wended our way down another steep grade, past the Archery Club grounds, across a meadow and creek, and back around to the picnic area, parking lot, and thankfully, the restrooms.
All and all, it was a nice day, and I look forward to going back~ though most likely, we’ll wait until Spring when the hills will be green and the temperatures quite a bit cooler!