Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Destination: SHORELINE, via Stevens Creek

Amazing how we can limit ourselves until the answer to unlocking the limit drifts along one day.

Some months back while in Stacey's I picked up a packet that had six maps in it. The theme: to hike around the Bay. Last week, while planning a vacation day for myself, I found the packet in my travel stuff and looked through each map carefully, searching for a hiking destination that would be reachable by mass transit and yet brief enough to do in a day.

I used to think that Shoreline was a lost destination--not even VTA goes all the way down there, and with the South Bay's car culture you can't always find sidewalks. But in the second or third packet there was a key to the South Bay that completely circumvented the cars--Stevens Creek Trail. Turns out, someone stretched it from at least the Mountain View Caltrain station all the way down to Shoreline.

It's a pleasant trek, but not for the faint of heart--I would say from Caltrain car to a destination within Shoreline and back is 15 miles round trip. If the path and destinations were a straight shot it would shave about 5 miles off, but they aren't. No matter. Here was the gear pack:

  • Camelback backpack, filled with three liters of water.

  • 6 granola bars

  • First aid kit that's the size of a pencil case

  • Sunscreen

  • Windbreaker

  • Map

  • Notes

  • Lotion (You'll see why that's important here in a sec)

  • New York ballcap

The trip there was cool and pleasant, with plenty of trees and shade for the first half of Stevens Creek. The trail goes right along the creek and waterfowl of all sorts stand in the miniature rapids and watch you alternately while watching for food to drift toward them. There's no traffic to fight with, although you do need to stay to the right at all times, since the primary users of the trail are bicyclists.

Shortly after the half-way mark the trail opens up and the trees shrink back from the trail. On the left-hand side as you head toward Shoreline there is, ironically, a tree farm, but the highest structures are power towers, not trees. It's a bit desolate for a stretch there--very nearly industrial and bright, and then there's a sign welcoming you to Shoreline, and you can see the peaks of the Shoreline Ampitheatre tents peeking in and out from behind box offices on your left, and you remember living in the South Bay again. There's still a lot of sun to walk through to get to Shoreline Lake where I used to play and write and where Bess and I got our first glimpse of the Bay Area, but knowing you're nearly there makes it easier.

What did not make it easier was that I was dumb-assed enough not to wear socks. I have a pair of Keens (closed-toed web sandals for walking in the surf--MS calls them "closed-toed Jesus cruisers") that can be worn with or without socks. My feet require constant hydration or they develop blisters no matter how good the shoes. The best way to get constant hydration? SLATHER THE FEET IN ABOUT AN INCH OF LOTION AND WEAR SOCKS. But I was feeling invincible and didn't do it. At Shoreline I pulled out a sample tube of lotion from my Accutane days and tried to do some patchwork, but in that wind I was dry again in 10 minutes. Let's just say the pain was pretty bad last night and the feet still feel a little meaty this morning.

More adventures to come...today is free day at the museums, so I am headed down to the DeYoung...best to you, dear reader...

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