Independence Day wandering

IMG_1787Monday, July 4, 2016

It’s a holiday and I really should be cleaning and/or de-cluttering at home. But it’s a beautiful day, so I put off my chores and head out for some Berkeley paths. From Cragmont Avenue I climbed Bret Harte Road until I saw the sign pointing the way to Bret Harte Path (one of three paths named for Bret Harte).IMG_1788

Bret Harte Path (#57) is well maintained. The concrete stairs are even and solid, and both sides sport railings. Partway up, a little garden gnome greeted me from atop his mushroom that sat on a tree stump.

IMG_1790The second half of the path was more IMG_1789rustic–railroad ties and no railings–as it continued to wind upward toward Sterling Avenue.

Close to the top, I came upon a hole in the fence that I suppose was intended to provide PG&E access to a meter, but it had been taken over by some ivy. Go nature!


IMG_1794While I walked along Sterling Avenue, I passed the site for a future path, identified on my map simply as Path 71. I also came upon a curious structure with scaffolding on the side and a decidedly un-residential sort of roof that would have looked more at home on a movie IMG_1795theater or a craft pavilion. But a chain-link fence kept me pretty far from it, so it was difficult to see much from the road.

Then in someone’s yard I spied a sculpture of a big broken heart and wondered about the story behind it. I guess I’ll have to make up my own.

Probably because I was nosily gawking, my map fell out of my pocket. When I reached for it to affirm that I was heading in the right direction, it wasn’t there. Luckily, I found it on the road after retracing my steps only about 500 feet. Silver lining: bonus steps toward my daily 10,000!

IMG_1796Whitaker Path (#60) was wetter than it had any right to be. Despite our lack of rain for weeks, a few spots were downright muddy. The flora was fairly lush and created a canopy for part of the walk, which I guess is why the ground had not dried out, but even so… I admit that I started to feel the tiniest bit judge-y. After all, I reasoned, the residences on either side must be watering their plants to the point that the runoff was reaching the path–in clear defiance of California’s water-conserving measures. Then I recalled reading on Berkeleyside that a major water pipe had burst up in the hills yesterday, and many residents weIMG_1797re without water for the good part of the day. I felt bad for my unkind thoughts. But I got over it pretty quickly.

IMG_1802Whitaker Path takes a slight detour around a large redwood tree and ends among many flowers on Keeler Avenue.

I must have passed the future Twain Way, which is labeled as #55 on the map, but I saw no signs for it. Oh, well–with both #55 and #71 out of the running, I have two fewer paths to cover.

You can’t even see where the ground is…


One bend of Cragmont Avenue has a precipitous descent on the downhill side into a veritable eucalyptus forest that is so thick that I can’t imagine that anyone actually lives there. But I did imagine with a slight shiver what would happen if someone were to fall on the side of the road and tumble the endless yards through the tangles of ivy to the ground, and the image was not pretty. The body could be lost for months because no one would be able to see it from the road. There was no sidewalk, so I ventured further into the road, no longer confident that I could walk without tripping.

The cheerful cacti in this garden were waving at me as I passed them.


The shortest route back to my car was to take the top half of Covert Path back down to Cragmont. Although I’ve walked up both stretches of Covert Path, I hadn’t before walked down it. So it was nice to revisit a path and see it from another perspective.

Happy Fourth of July!


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