Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Solitude on the Rainy Ridge

Pleasanton Ridge by Wayne-K
Pleasanton Ridge, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

Finding time to run the trails during the work week has become a challenge since the daylight savings time change. If I’m to complete my runs before darkness, I need to hit the trails by 4 PM to complete seven miles or 3:30 PM to complete 10 miles. I considered running in the dark with a headlamp, but my 10 mile route takes me through a more remote section of the Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park, where mountain lions like to hang out and pursue slow moving prey during the early evening hours. My solution was to change my work hours. I typically run the trails on Mondays and Wednesdays, so I informed my colleagues I would begin my Mondays/Wednesdays at 6 AM, work until 3 PM, and run after work. Alternatively, I could run for two hours during lunch and finish the work day at 5 PM. Lastly, if there were late afternoon meetings, I would run at 6 AM and work a standard 9-5 work day.

I started my new flex work schedule last week, managing to get a seven mile run in on Monday and a ten mile run in on Wednesday. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to continue the momentum into the weekend. I needed to help my brother lay wood flooring in his house during the weekend and I thought it would be best to skip my Saturday long run. In retrospect, that was a brilliant idea because after nine hours of laying floors on Saturday and seven hours on Sunday, my back, legs, arms, neck, and the rest of my body were sore.

I skipped my Monday trail run this week because my back and legs were sore. Although my hamstrings were still tight and sore today, I began the work day at 6 AM, with the intention of running at 3 PM. It rained all day and I considered running on the roads rather than on the trails. However, for me, running the trails is therapeutic; running the streets is just fitness. I run the trails because I “want” to; I run the streets because I “have” to. The trails clear my mind, erase my problems, and eliminate the stresses of work and life. I decided to lace up my trail shoes and take on the wet, muddy trails.

Running the trails on a gloomy, wet, rainy day was incredible. For the first time ever, I completed a run without seeing a single person. It was total peace and solitude, the silence broken only with my shoes hitting the dirt, the water sloshing in my water bottle, and my increased breathing as I ascended the ridge. I didn't have my camera, but photos wouldn't have captured the experience anyway. In the following paragraphs, I hope to guide you through today’s route and use alternate photographs to help illustrate the beautiful wildlife I viewed on my rainy run.

I started at the base of Longview Drive, walked up the steep street, and turned left through the easement to access the park. I continued walking the pavement until I reached the water tower, where the trail (non-paved) surface began. The trail meandered through oak tree shaded areas, reaching the top of the ridge in another two miles. The absence of humans enabled me to enjoy the abundance of wildlife. The wet weather brought out an army of newts. I navigated sections of trail peppered with over a dozen newts, carefully avoiding them with fancy (and not so fancy) footwork. The newts are interesting, little creatures, apparently loving the moisture from the autumn rains. The creature below resembles the many newts I came across today:

Kailani Enjoying the Guppies

After completing the climb up the east side of the ridge, the landscaped opened up and I continued north along the Ridgeline Trail. I passed the pond on the left side of the trail, near the Sinbad Creek Trail junction. There I saw a family of ducks swimming in the pond. I've often heard bullfrogs croaking away in that pond, but rarely ducks. Here are a few similar, duck-like creatures:

"Interesting" BART Riders

I continued along the trail and climbed the little, grassy hill, reaching a bench overlooking the city of Pleasanton. Off to the right, I noticed a rafter of wild turkeys feeding in the grass. Wild turkeys look nothing like the growth hormone fed Butterball birds we’re accustomed to seeing during Thanksgiving. Here’s a cute pair of turkeys.

Kevin and Kami

The bench is the turnaround point for my seven mile route and descending the ridge is typically quicker and easier than the ascent. I usually shorten my stride and increase the cadence, but today I maintained an easy pace, being extra careful in the low light and doing my best to avoid the minefield of newts. In addition to the newts, ducks, and turkeys, the Pleasanton Ridge also supports an abundance of deer. As I descended the ridge, I came across a large number of deer, often surprising them when I rounded bends in the trail. Here’s a photo of me and my favorite deer (dear):

Monterey 2008

It was a wonderful run on the Pleasanton Ridge today. The weather wasn't beautiful, but it made for a beautiful experience.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ia 'Oe E Ka La Hula Festival

Ia 'Oe E Ka La Hula Festival by Wayne-K
Ia 'Oe E Ka La Hula Festival, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

I'm not a big hula aficionado, but I do enjoy watching Kami perform at the annual Ia 'Oe E Ka La hula festival in Pleasanton at the Alameda County Fairgrounds. This year's festival was held 1-3 November 2013. Her halau, Moku'aina, performed their auana (contemporary) hula on Saturday and their kahiko (traditional) hula on Sunday.

Here are a few photos from the 2013 Ia 'Oe E Ka La festival.

Ia 'Oe E Ka La Hula Festival

Ia 'Oe E Ka La Hula Festival

Ia 'Oe E Ka La Hula Festival

Ia 'Oe E Ka La Hula Festival

Ia 'Oe E Ka La Hula Festival

Ia 'Oe E Ka La Hula Festival

Ia 'Oe E Ka La Hula Festival