Day 17: A Lesson in Contrast

Eden Landing-4

I had been here before and was looking forward to my return trip. My first visit to Eden Landing Ecological Reserve involved a job interview several years ago in a nearby office park and, since I arrived twenty minutes early, I had an opportunity to take in the surroundings but not enough time to dig deeper and see what awaited me beyond the gates. I tucked the memory away in the “must return” category, then tucked my resume away in its folder, snapped myself back into the moment and went in for the interview.

However, this time around I had some history to go with the surroundings since I had the pleasure of meeting Ann Graham from the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center (HSIC) before I started south again. She explained the salt pond restoration process in ways that made complete sense as I listened intently – yet not so simple that I can regurgitate it onto this page for you. Having a basic understanding of the history behind the formation of the salt ponds and the painfully tedious process of returning these wetlands to the San Francisco Bay eco-system without simultaneously destroying it, made the first three and a half miles of today’s hike a much richer experience. The Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center is worth the visit for families, fieldtrips or even corporate team building trips. If you have ever driven across the San Mateo bridge you might remember it as the large, rustic, beach house style building just north of Highway 92 and about a mile east of the toll booth.

Eden Landing Ecological Reserve, is just south of Highway 92 from the HSIC. The trailhead is a short walk over the pedestrian and bicycle bridge traversing the highway. Of the nine miles I hiked between the trailhead and Ardenwood Boulevard in Fremont, only three and a half run along the northern edge of Eden Landing. Everything in between is protected as the transformation back to what was, is a delicate process, not to be disturbed or intruded upon by the likes of myself. The wildlife that sticks around these parts in June must be enjoying their solitude among the six hundred acres reserved just for them since, beside a few Canadian geese and an ever so attentive turkey vulture, I was kept company only by a snowy egret and his buddy, a great egret for a good portion of this stretch.

The remaining six miles after exiting Eden Landing would have been best traveled by bicycle or bus since the route at this point ventures onto surface streets and is in stark contrast to the miles of shoreline and wetland trails I left behind.  I was looking forward to returning to the Bay Trail at Alameda Creek and weaving my way into Coyote Hills Regional Park. This is where I will begin my journey tomorrow in the company of Carolyn Balling, the hike coach for the Greater Bay Area’s Team in Training. Before I Googled my guest, I naively asked Carolyn if she would be up for a twelve mile hike rather than the eight miles originally planned. Her response was short and something along the lines of “I have some experience with long hikes. I’ll be ok.” Now all I have to worry about is getting my own feet to propel me twelve miles and past the 200 mile mark tomorrow!

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