I found Bret Harte Lane, but Muir Path has disappeared!

Bret_Harte_(by_Sarony,_1872)
Francis Bret Harte, the writer

Both Path 71 and Path 74 are on the map with broken lines, indicating that they are either unbuilt or impassable. So, those two get crossed off my list without any walking at all.

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It was a sunny Sunday afternoon in July when I walked up another one of the three paths named for the 19th-century writer–Bret Harte Lane (#72). It starts pretty flat just off Miller Avenue with some oddly placed (and unnecessary) railroad ties that are dug into the ground. Then it begins to wind gently up between the ivy on one side and a wooden fence on the other. The path seems to accommodate the bordering trees by veering to the left, then the right; but at one spot in the path it appears that the tree is doing its best to get out of the way.

IMG_1893Near the top I discovered an odd knobby little growth off to the left. I’m no naturalist, but I’m guessing it’s the remains of something that tried to be a tree, but it looks more like an ancient tool that cave dwellers might have used to break up big dirt clods. Just an idea.

The path’s upper entrance is on Grizzly Peak Boulevard, a bus route and one of the busier streets up in the hills. Which is probably why there’s a clearly marked crosswalk at the bus stop–to allow folks to cross safely during commute times. But no buses and very few cars passed by. I did encounter a few bicyclists and another walker, who was checking her map.

IMG_1898Muir Way is a short residential street that dead-ends into Park Hills Road. The map indicates that Muir Way ends at the entrance to Muir Path (#73). But there was no sign at the top of the only set of steps in sight. I hesitated, worried that this path would lead me into someone’s back yard. I imagined a frustrated homeowner chasing me off his property. But I was, after all, on a mission. So I continued quietly, just in case.

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I was surprised when the path suddenly turned into an open grassy field, a sort of no-man’s land, sectioned off with high fences behind several houses. The only sort of structure was a short post that housed a supply of doggy poop bags. Near the far end of the open space was what appeared to be a car-sized hole covered with large scraps of wood and surrounded by those little orange-striped traffic signs that usually signal road construction. Clearly, nobody was supposed to mess with that hole. I found it humorous that one of the little orange signs stated that there was no parking as it was a tow-away zone. That would be an impressive parking job, considering the only two accesses are pedestrian paths that are never wider than eight-foot railroad ties. I found the continuation of the path on the other end of the grassy area, although it was still unmarked.

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How hard is it to add an apostrophe?

At the end of the trail was a sign that let me know that I had been on Patty Kate’s path. I consulted my map and found nothing by that name. So either Muir Path has been renamed Patty Kate’s Path so recently that the pathways map doesn’t show it, or someone just decided to make it her path. The sign is definitely not from the City of Berkeley because it’s wooden. (And I’d assume that the City of Berkeley would have a proofreader that would have noticed the missing apostrophe, but that may just be hopeful thinking on my part.)

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What’s wrong with this picture?

 

On my return walk, I came upon a strange bit of architecture. That space around the door where you can see into the courtyard beyond is not glass–it’s open. And it is a door, because I spy a doorknob. I have so many questions…

Next time: I also discovered a hidden park that deserves a post all to itself, so watch for that. Same bat time. Same bat channel.

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