I was so excited to discover an app called Map My Walk that would track my path progress, and I loaded it with great hopes. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet been able to use it very satisfactorily. But I’m going to keep trying. Part of the problem is that it drains a lot of available juice, so I can’t use it unless I’ve charged my phone to full capacity before I set out on foot. Of course, this lack of power may be due to other tasks I’m asking of my phone at the same time–accessing podcasts and taking photos as I walk. In addition to zapping the battery life, it also failed to chart my progress and skipped parts of my walk. This is disappointing because I’d figured I didn’t really have to keep track of where I was going since the app would be doing it for me. Now I’m not certain which routes I’ve taken. Sheesh.
But I do know I tackled the Mendocino Path (# 6) and Devon Lane (#7). (Doesn’t Devon Lane sound like it could be a person?) It had just begun to rain lightly as I set out, but I wore a hat and took an umbrella. Along the way I saw an unusual wooden totem hanging on a plant stake in someone’s front yard. Perhaps it’s to protect the flowers growing beneath it?
Mendocino Path is just above Arlington Avenue. It sneaks between some beautiful houses on large lots and ends at San Mateo Rd.
Devon Lane abuts John Hinkel Park, so I included the trails that criss-cross the park into my trek that day. I’d been to John Hinkel to see plays before but hadn’t ever taken the time to appreciate the woodsy surroundings. It’s a beautiful nature area as well as an excellent venue for outdoor theater. You can follow several different paths within the park, including one that passes a tiny waterfall. (Or perhaps it’s really just a rather vertical section of the creek?) And there are even some play structures for the very small.
The 2014 Berkeley and Its Pathways map labels a small portion of broken line as Path #8, which appears to be the second half of Devon Lane. According to the key, a broken line signifies either that it’s impassable or planned. I’d hoped that in the last year someone had either reopened it or completed it. But it didn’t seem to go through, so I guess the map is still up to date on that front.
My return route included Mortar Rock, which I didn’t even know about. It looks as if a boulder fell from space one day and landed in a rather posh residential neighborhood. Someone carved steps onto its backside that lead to the top where I was able to view part of the Oaks Theater sign on Solano. On a clear day, I imagine you could see across the bay.
Signage beneath the rock offered a wonderful history lesson, but I’ll just give you the mini-version on how it got its name: Native Americans pounded acorns into this rock and others like it in order to make meal that was a staple of their diet. (Apparently it doesn’t taste good, but it provided the necessary nutrition.)
I was lucky that I’d reached the top of Solano when it really started to pour. I ducked into Five Star Video and chatted with Amanda, the manager, while I waited to see if the rain would let up. I showed her the route on my phone–so proud I was of my techy gizmo. That may have been when the app stopped working because when I got home and checked my progress, it made it look as if I’d walked over or through people’s houses on my way back home. Which I didn’t, in case you were wondering.