Monday, August 22, 2005

Sibley Cloudwalk

I’m running a little behind; this is last Friday’s hike, at Robert Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve, one of the string of regional parks along the Berkeley hills.

Sibley’s a small park, and one of the oldest of the East Bay Parks; 660 acres surrounding Round Top, a long-extinct volcano. On a clear day, it should have spectacular views across the East Bay. Only one problem: Friday was not a clear day. Oh, it was clear and hot in Walnut Creek; but the clouds were low over the hills and as we climbed up Grizzly Peak Boulevard on the way to the park it got dimmer and colder and foggier. By the time we got to Sibley we were completely within cloud, with visibility down to a few hundred feet.

But actually, walking in cloud is not a bad experience; it’s very otherworldly, the views replaced by walls of white, wisps of fog blowing across the trail, and water dripping from the trees.

The park map recommends a route with a series of numbered stops at sites of geologic interest. But frankly, if you’re not into rocks, they’re not really that interesting: one breccia’s much like another. The route leads out to the edge of the public land on the Volcanic Trail, the remaining part of the park being a closed land bank, and then loops back on the Round Top Loop Trail. Most of it is open and scrubby hillside, on wide fire trails. However, the eastern side of the loop trail narrows, climbing to a ridge; here the fog thins for a few moments providing a sudden, and fleeting, glimpse of Mount Diablo. The trail dips down into mixed forest of eucalyptus, bay, and pine. (Which is handy: I’m all out of bayleaves, so I pick a pocketful of bay to take home and dry out. California bay is stronger than domestic bayleaf; a little goes a long way.)

Trail map of Sibley.

I don’t feel like I’ve walked far enough, so we walk the access road up to the top of Round Top and back. The journey is better than the destination; weak sunlight shines through drifting fog in the old oak trees. The peak is wooded, and dominated by transmission towers (American Tower T1, T2, T3; Western States Teleport) with no real views in any direction. Back down the road to the parking lot.

About 3½ miles; too short for me, really, but probably worth returning to on a clear day for the views. Check the weather first, though: maybe on this webcam.

And on to Berkeley. Naan’n’Curry on Telegraph is excellent. I’ve missed a good curry; and this is great and cheap. Really good naan; tasty curry, although a little bony; and Melinda’s vindaloo is suitably vinegary rather than simply hot.

Amoeba is still dumping k.d. lang into the clearance bins; I picked up a copy of 1997’s Drag for $1. Amazon has used copies cheaper, but not once you’ve paid the $2.49 shipping charge. But in general I'm less impressed by Berkeley's used record shops (Rasputin is the other big one) than I used to be; on most items, they're simply not competitive with Amazon Marketplace.

Categories: Food, Hiking