Saturday, February 26, 2005

Sawyer Camp Trail

A walk in the South Bay today. I'm meeting Dhaval, an ex-colleague visiting Mountain View on business, for lunch; just time to fit in this San Mateo walk with Walk California's San Francisco group beforehand.

It's my first time driving over the Bay Bridge and through San Francisco, and I'm a little apprehensive; but the traffic is light, the driving reasonably easy, and the bridge is fun. If you're going to cross the Bay Bridge, westward is the way to go; you're on the top deck and have the views. Eastward you're on the bottom deck and most of your view is of ironwork.

The bridge toll is $3, westward only — you can drive eastward for free. This seems to be true of all the bridges over the bay, so if you're doing a round trip you can't escape the tolls by choosing your bridges carefully.

The Sawyer Camp Trail webpage and map are, to put it politely, a bit scrappy; they make me realise just how good EBRPD's web presence is. There are printed maps at the trailhead, but they're still not great, lacking a lot of detail.

But you don't really need a map for Sawyer Camp Trail anyway; it's a straight, paved trail along the edge of Lower Crystal Springs Reservoir. We meet at the south trailhead, which is packed with people; the parking lot is tiny and full, with cars parked at the side of the road for a hundred yards and more.

We walk three miles out and three miles back, taking us to the end of the reservoir; the trail continues for another three miles or so beyond where we turned. It's pleasant enough: the trail looks out over the reservoir most of the time, and the land on the other side of the reservoir is protected and undisturbed watershed land. But it's too busy: the start of the trail is crowded with walkers, and there are often cyclists and joggers whipping past. The crowds thins out a little after a few miles, but it's never really quiet.

At our turning point, there are four or five deer cropping by the side of the trail. They're unfazed by the walkers and amble slowly off down a side trail.

The Walk SFC group are friendly and cosmopolitan; they mostly live in the city, and are surprised that I've trekked in from the suburbs to walk with them. And they're a more diverse group than the largely California-born East Bay group I hiked with last weekend: at least half of them are immigrants like me.

We end slightly late, at 12:15; I have to rush to meet Dhaval, but I'm left feeling that 6 flat miles isn't really enough any more. I'm getting fitter; I need more challenge.

Categories: Hiking