Yes, Goats Are Back!

Sure enough, our beloved goats have returned from their off-season stomping grounds.  We spotted the billies roaming the lower reaches of Hiller Highlands this afternoon,  making rapid progress on a now-mowed patch.  You might catch a glimpse yourself, while looping from 24 West to 13 South.

With brush growing quickly around here, these goats contribute to annual fire-prevention efforts.  The East Bay Regional Park District has scheduled two major grazings this year – first in Claremont Canyon from May 23rd – June 3rd, and then at Redwood Regional Park from July 19th – August 4th.

To prepare for fire season, the goats won’t have to operate alone.  The Park District already has cut down brush and intends to oversee controlled burns along with local fire officials.  As soon as calm weather prevails, these burns will take place in Gwinn Canyon, a high-risk area flanking Claremont Canyon.  So don’t be alarmed if you see a little weekday smoke in the hills.

Within a couple weeks, Montclarions will need to start working as well.  It’s almost time to get out your machetes and slay the greenery growing too closely to your homes.  While still a whisper, there will be rallying cries:  defensible space! defensible space! defensible space!

April 20th Update:  The NY Times Bay Area blog reported about local goats, since our Oakland City Council is deliberating on whether to approve (or not approve) $250k for goat grazing on city-owned lands.

Another Perfect Day In Nearby Hills

Our East Bay springtime is ephemeral and utterly amazing, and the emerald greens, flowers, flowing waters, and overall gestalt are an antidote to our daily responsibilities.  This weekend, we drove 45 minutes to the Sunol Regional Wilderness and it delivered on all spring fronts.

The Waters

Our travels took us to “Little Yosemite,” and this gorge definitely reminded us of that little national park on a 1:500 scale.  If you haven’t been to Sunol before, then you must put this on your to-do list.  The water shots, above, are low resolution video freeze-frames we took by mobile phone.

It’s quite easy to get there!  The walk down Camp Ohlone Road lasted around 15-45 minutes, depending on your propulsion speed.  There were a couple dozen walkers and families with the same idea, and plenty of room for everyone.

As you parallel Alameda Creek, it eventually transitions into a beautiful, rocky gorge that continues for a good distance.  We climbed down and around the rocks, finding suitable perches.  Then we simply sat quietly, listening and letting the river run.

The Hills

Eventually the emerald hills and comfortable weather beckoned, and we decided to head up a couple thousand feet through the adjacent Ohlone Regional Wilderness.  This part of the visit is for heartier hikers, and you need to decide how many vertical feet and miles to travel.

We headed straight up, down and across the ridges on this picture-perfect weekend.  With a single, cross-country trail running through Ohlone, views like the one snapped above reveal San Francisco Water District no-man’s land.  At this point, we were a couple miles from Rose Peak, known as Alameda County’s high point.

En route, we noticed prodigious white, purple, and yellow wildflower carpets which won’t be around much longer.  That feeling of spring, with few signs of civilization in the watershed, had worked liked a charm.  Ohlone and Sunol both hit the spot – and felt just right on this weekend celebrating Earth Day.