Just a stone’s throw from San Francisco’s downtown high rises and steady traffic lies a thing of beauty that some locals have never seen: nature. Experience this “nature” with writer-photographer Yoo Chong, as you hike your way through an enchanted 11.5mile trail to the top of the 1905' Vollmer Peak. You’ll feel great, and so will your conscience (did we mention all proceeds go to the Environmental Defense Fund?).
Asked why I live in these green hills,
I smile and don’t answer; my heart is naturally calm.
Plum blossoms floating down streams vanish into mystery,
Another world, not the human realm.
[Answering Commoners from the Mountains
by Li Po, translated by Wong Yoo-Chong]
My green hills are the Berkeley Hills, bordering a metropolis of 7 million that rings the San Francisco Bay. These hills run parallel to the coast and fault lines, in a northwesterly direction. They have been jolted into their present form by tectonic upheaval of the earth’s crust. The famous San Andreas fault runs under the ocean beyond the Golden Gate to the west, but a mile away from these hills, the Hayward fault slices through streets and even houses. An hour’s walk from my house is Wildcat Peak, where Nike missiles used to stand guard against Russian Migs. For forty years of walking in these hills, I’ve enjoyed the sound of crunching leaves and bird chorus . I’ve met innumerable kestrels, coyotes, foxes, and rabbits, without seeing cars or houses. Raising my head I see circling hawks and turkey vultures or migrating Canadian geese flying high in huge V’s. Here, in these hills, is a world in which we make room for each other.
Start at 500' and trek your way up to the 1,211' Wildcat Peak before strolling along the undulating ridges, where you’ll lunch with a view before ascending the 1905' Vollmer Peak. Then you’ll meander back down to the flat land otherwise known as the Berkeley campus.
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