First Blush

Reflections and sightings from [almost] daily jogging at dawn

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Sunrise 6:44 am: Different kind of cats at Chabot



"Who is Anthony Chabot?" asked the male DJ as the Dawn Joggers and Cassie pulled into the Clyde Woolridge Staging Area. "He has his name on everything - park, observatory, college." (For that matter who is Clyde Woolridge?)

The DJs headed to the East Bay for what turned out to be an 8-mile hike and picnic in Anthony Chabot Regional Park. It was one of the few Alameda County East Bay parks that they'd not hiked in. Conditions were perfect today - pleasant temperatures, the sun shining most of the time, and the wild flowers beginning their display. Surprisingly, they encountered only a handful of hikers and bicyclists as they made their way through eucalyptus forests, oak woodland and meadows on a series of washboard trails that provided a decent workout. Much of their route was along a portion of the East Bay Skyline Ridge Trail; the skies were clear enough to spot three bridges looking west and endless rolling green hillsides looking east.

It was a 5,000-acre refuge to be enjoyed almost all to themselves. Except for a few cat sightings, that is. The first was the veggie-fueled "Lioness," one of three vehicles in a fleet maintained by the organization Common Vision, now in Hayward as part of the Fruit Tree Tour 2006. It appeared like a 60s flashback, making its way up a slight hill, as the Djs and Cassie crossed a park road. Then only minutes later, a bobcat (name not revealed) was spotted scampering into some under brush.

Mystery men answers: Chabot was a "49er" turned hydraulic engineer who by the late 1800s supplied Oakland with its water. In 1883, he funded the city's first observatory, then located downtown. (It's now in the Oakland hills and still bears his name.) Clyde Woolridge opened a camera store in 1936 named Camera Corner, also in downtown.

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