Some of the best Bay Area treasures are hidden directly in front of or even beneath us, depending on your perspective. Some are small and take a little more searching, such as old-town Pinole, others are tucked away in the trees like the shoreline trail in China Camp State Park. However the Hayward Shoreline just south of San Leandro’s Marina Park is vast, beautiful and nearly void of any human activity. Until I arrived here late this morning I had seen a heron here, an egret there and a few black necked stilts in between. Best of all, the rarest species out here was that of the human variety. Throughout my “off” day of only seven miles, I saw no more than four other hikers and three cyclists.
The beach angles slowly into the water down here, and gulls, great egrets and their cousin, the snowy egrets, wade in the watery sands far offshore. Black necked stilts are abundant in the marshland and share the real estate with marbled godwits and a variety of other bird species I could not readily identify. While you feel like you are the only person on the planet out here, if you take your eyes off the flora and fauna and look in any direction – including up, it becomes readily apparent that you are indeed surrounded by symbols of modern society as jets fly overhead en-route to Oakland and SFO, the blue and black glass towers of Silicon Valley bask in morning sunlight across the water to the west and the terra-cotta tiles of suburban track homes peak over the levee a few hundred yards to the east. On a clear day, San Francisco’s skyline is the starkest reminder of where you are. Yet, out here, it is so very easy to ignore all of that.
Since much of this area is reclaimed from old salt ponds, unique shades of red and orange create a stark contrast to the green vegetation and thick chocolate mud at the edges of the berm on which the trail sits. Today’s walk was over before I was ready to call it a day, having gotten used to ten and twelve mile hikes over the first two weeks. However with about 125 miles remaining, I decided to stick to my schedule. I arrived at the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center about thirty minutes ahead of schedule and was greeted by Minane Jameson, who showed me around the center and introduced me to other employees and volunteers. They were bustling about and getting ready for the annual Father’s Day camp out, an event that books solid every year. Minane was kind enough to give me a lift in her Prius to Hayward BART where I settled in for what seemed to be a very quick ride home.
I have to give a quick shout-out to the folks at The North Face in San Francisco. While on BART I noticed that my soles were peeling away from my old North Face boots. Granted, I have had these boots for well over ten years, perhaps fifteen, and they have seen more than enough mountain climbs, bouldering and trekking to be ready to be ground up for playground padding material. However North Face stuck true to their lifetime guarantee and tomorrow I will be testing out a new pair of trail ready North Face boots to finish off the last two weeks of my Bay Trail quest. Thanks North Face!