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Getting outside

Shopping, movies and concerts are expensive hobbies. Getting outside doesn’t have to be, particularly if you can acquire whatever gear you need slowly over time.

I’m already a pretty regular biker, and have expanded my range somewhat since getting my touring bike. (Not enough yet – gotta train more so I can take on bigger hills.) But lately, I’ve rediscovered my childhood love of walking in nature.

Despite growing up in New York City, I had the good fortune to live only a few blocks away from one of the largest natural parks in Queens. Flushing Meadows may have been larger, but Forest Park lived up to its name. There were lots of trees, some moderate hills, and interesting little paths that connected various neighborhoods. For pint sized people, it felt like an imposing forest. Now I have a much bigger land to explore. Hello, redwoods!

I live in Oakland, which happens to intersect the California Coastal Redwood belt, a stretch of (mostly) uninterrupted redwood forest that stretches from Big Sur to eight miles north of the Oregon border. While my initial forays into the woods were in the northern part of the state, lately I’ve taken to hiking closer to home, thanks to the knowledge of friends.

Today, I went on a solo hike in Redwood Regional Park, which stretches along the Oakland Hills separating Oakland from the outer hills towns. I drove there, because I have not yet developed the exquisite level of masochism required to bike up a mountain. (Notice I said “yet.”) I saved that masochism for my hike, which started off pretty mellow and populated and quickly turned into hilly. My entire goal for the first hour was to get away from this group of teenagers that was being taught how to backpack. It was a noble thing for them to be taught, but I go into the woods for blissful silence, not screeching. This led me to take trails that were “challenging,” meaning that I basically hiked down from the ridge to the creek that bisects the park, and then back up again on a different trail. I found my quiet and solitude, and my stunning beauty, and the outer limits of my calf muscles. It was fantastic. 

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