Charging Forward into the New Year
To many, the advent of the new year brings along the momentum that pushes many to strive for healthy habits such as exercising and eating healthy. In fact, the popularity of last year’s Shia LaBeouf’s inspirational
Yesterday, you said tomorrow. So just do it. Make your dreams come true. Just do it.
statement has really caught on like wildfire among my group of friends as I see many of them share posts of their new year hiking pictures on New Years Day. In fact, three of them went to the popular Mission Peak Regional Preserve for hiking.
A Late but Purposeful Start
Having been to Tilden Regional Park (albeit briefly) before, we arrived an hour before noon for our adventure, giving us an adequate amount of time to explore the area before the winter’s early sunset. Many people (that I know) love hiking at the break of dawn. But, with frosty weather conditions and distance to the hiking location, we opt out on an early morning hike today.
I understand we may have given up the perks of enjoying the serenity of nature, as less encounters with fellow hikers yield better attunement with nature. However, the invitation of Lisa’s sister to the hike with us transformed this aforementioned appreciation of hiking into another form, which is encapsulated within a social activity.
To me, I enjoy both kinds of hiking equally; I am able to achieve inner peace when I walk alone, while walking with others allow me to form closer ties to them as we share our stories.
Our drive up to the Berkeley area took an hour, with the majority of the time on the freeway and around fifteen minutes on the windy roads. The ascend was an easy and not too steep drive with the occasional caution for cyclists as drivers must share the two-lane road with them.
Venturing into Unknown yet Familiar Ground
In one’s life, you may only be able to see a handful of breathtaking views, and so, on that day, I have lived through one. If I had to find one quote to prepare you for what you are about to witness, it would be summarized as follows:
Life is not the number of breaths one takes, but the number of breaths one does not take upon seeing mountains, forests and buildings.
We ended up parking in the Brazil Building parking area, which we drove by on our first visit. I recall witnessing a wedding photo shoot happening inside as we got glimpses of the bride and groom entering the parking lot during one of their transitional periods.
I can see how this place serves as a surreal wedding venue as the sylvan layers of mountainous terrain embrace the essence of nature. Just standing on the open grassland that overlooks such a view takes my breath away; a moment to remember.
Thinking back on it, I believe my parents came here as well for their friend’s son’s wedding as they told me they had to take a bus to get to the venue. I suspect this, as right outside the parking lot, is a bus stop for those who decide to park at the base and travel up by bus.
Warming up Our Natural Senses
Going downhills after witnessing such a spectacular view, we decide on checking out the Regional Parks Botanical Garden, as our previous visit was cut short by its closing hours. This time around, we are able to appreciate the cornucopia of rare and common regional plants. As we entered the west side of the botanical garden, we can see a small house with purchasable potted plants outside it.
Upon examining the selection, I am amazed at the diverse variety of plants offered. Here, you can see some of their close up shots.
As we walked further into the garden, we identified different bearberry and buckwheat species planted alongside the road. As it was winter time, a lot of the plants lie dormant, with few having flowers. The informative signs by the teepees describe their purpose as well as explained how they created an artificial landscape in order to construct a suitable environment for certain trees to grow.
The amazing part about the layout of the garden is that it is structured as a multilevel ecosystem, where each plant may serve an auxiliary purpose. For example, some plants are optimally positioned in order to provide benefits such as shade to their neighboring plants. There is even a stream running throughout the garden that touches on each level.
In a way, this short aside from our main hike allowed me to see nature in a more dense format while providing an excellent opportunity to take macro pictures of plants and general landscape backgrounds.
Seemingly Short Hike Despite the Chilling Miles
From the botanical gardens, we drove roughly ten minutes to reach Inspiration Point, which officially begins our hike. Here, we took the popular Nimitz Way alongside many other fellow hikers, who carried their babies and walked their dogs.
It was such a cold and windy day that we could still feel the chill from under our layers. However, that did not impede us from our trail. With so much going around us, we focused on our story telling as other hikers walked on by.
We walked on a pretty wide paved road that hikers, cyclists, and horseback riders share. The hiking trail transitioned from having open shrubbery that hugs the hills to entering a short forestal segment. After walking for a bit, you are able to see one of the lakes from far away. Continuing on with the trail leads you to an open grassy area, which leads to a view that outlooks the city.
However, we decided on ascending the hill instead of following the path that leads towards the city as we wanted a better vantage point of the lake.
I stayed here for a minute or so to take in the view and fresh air around me while Lisa and her sister already started making their descend down, as the weather was windy up there.
As we walked back, the sky showed streaks of orange as it was almost 3 PM. One thing that is absolutely fascinating about the hike back is that although you may be taking the same route back, you are able to see the trail and its surroundings in another perspective. In essence, your mind paints a complete picture as you finish your hike, covering some of the new and interesting views you may have missed out on before the turnaround point.
As with many friendly hiking trails, you will be able to see many benches alongside the road that overlook scenic points, where hikers can just stop by and even sit down to enjoy the view.
Before finishing our hike, I ended up tackling the intimidatingly steep hill that I earlier avoided for the sake of curiosity (and also photo opportunities). I may have sweated from the climb and taken a pounding from the harsh winds, but I have no regrets.
Vertically Reuniting with Civilization
As we conclude our hike and head back towards Berkeley, we stopped by the shoulder of the windy road to take in the view of the city. As a person living in such a large world, you may feel tiny and insignificant. However, as you reach higher altitudes, you are able to obtain a different perspective of the world around you and realize that the world is not as large as you may think it to be.
Thank you for reading our first adventure post in 2016. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!