I have to say no to the devil. I have a meeting with my friend Mark on Thursday in San Francisco, so there is just not enough time to fit him in to my busy schedule.
The ADT takes a long detour over Mt. Diablo, whose heights allegedly provide a fantastic view of the Bay Area. I condensed these twenty four miles into merely eight by taking the less scenic route to Walnut Creek.
The shortcut put me back on pace to make my rendezvous. I felt free to sally forth on the ADT again and headed into a new labyrinth of trails amidst the hills. I managed to go a few miles without making a wrong turn, but eventually my extraordinary winning streak came to an end.
When I ran into a road I knew I was lost again. At least there was a neighborhood visible below. I figured I would venture down there, find a main street in Lafayette and reorient myself. A gate to the right was marked private, so I decided left was a grand plan. A few hundred yards further on I ran smack into another enclosed property. A normal person would have turned around, but thankfully I don’t suffer from that particular disorder.
I could see an escape route – black tarmac ready to release me from this private property trap. I responded by sliding down the steep hill on my butt, putting freedom only twenty feet away. There was still a major problem. A fence running behind the neighborhood blocked further progress. I looked for a home owner, but early on a weekday afternoon no one was present. Since I was still unwilling to trespass, I decided to see if the fence would lead me to an exit.
I started along a ditch, but the intercession of a culvert forced me back onto the treacherous hill, where I repeatedly slipped and fell on the slick surface. As I came to my feet I saw an older woman in her backyard, sitting poolside with a book. I opened my mouth to explain that I was not a burglar or serial murderer before she panicked and called the police. Then I paused. She was asleep. Simultaneously, I noticed a gap in the fence. I sprinted through in a flash.
I was unfettered, but where should I go next? I moved south, towards Lafayette, finding the BART* station there. I consulted their map, discovering that Happy Valley Road, which lay on the other side of the parking lot, would lead me straight back to the ADT. The road name sounded ominous, but I assumed I was too old to elicit much interest from Sandusky.
Two hours on Happy Valley and I met the ADt and was face with another decision. The trail ventures into East Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD) territory and a permit is required to hike there. Lacking permission and fearing the fine, I picked a parallel course. My choice meant there was a high fence between me and Briones Reservoir and I was nearly out of water. A bicyclist stopped and gave me a few ounces, delaying dehydration only slightly.
By six thirty I was desperate. When an opportunity arose in the form of a stream, I pounced. In my haste for water I never saw the “No Trespassing “sign or the barbed wire I must have stepped over on my way in and out. I braved the inclined bank, picking my way down to the water’s edge. I filled the bottles, then proceeded up the difficult grade. Only steps from the top I grabbed a sapling for purchase. The wood snapped, my shoes slid, and I prepared for the long fall to the bottom. It never came. Somehow I stayed upright, lunging in one stride to safety.
I had to answer one more question before I could rest for the night. Where was I going to rest for the night? Tindal Park was the logical choice, but how should I get there? The ADT went via Inspiration Point, via more EBMUD land. Other options were longer and dusk was beginning to settle. I couldn’t read the warning sign at the entrance to EBMUD, so I decided to chance ignorance as an excuse. I assumed I would see or hear any vehicles long before they would spot me.
The gambit paid. Forty minutes of walking with only the flashlight to guide me and I made the gate exiting EBMUD. Houdini was an amateur.
22 miles/4049 total miles
*Bay Area Rapid Transit