I went hiking the other day in the Diablo Foothills in Walnut Creek. There are some amazing rock formations. Below you can see some limestone/chert/sandstone rock formations that have been tilted from the flat layers that formed them at the bottom of the ocean millions of years ago. I find that incredible! The 1,060 acres of Diablo Foothills are bounded by two dramatic East Bay landforms, the Castle Rocks of Mt. Diablo and the undulating "camelback" ridges that form Shell Ridge. These ridges link the park to the City of Walnut Creek's Shell Ridge Open Space and Mt. Diablo State Park. Together they represent one of the largest open space preserves in the East Bay. There is a wide variety of vegetation including grassland and oak savannah on the hills and riparian and oak woodland in the valley. The diverse habitat supports a wide array of wildlife including mule deer, bobcats, coyote, grey fox, long-tailed weasels, raccoons, gophers, rabbits, and ground squirrels. Birds such as red-winged blackbirds, northern mockingbirds, scrub jays, California quail, brown towhees, orioles, and woodpeckers use the park for nesting and foraging habitat. The rocks shelter garter and gopher snakes, western fence lizards, southern alligator lizards, tree frogs, and California salamanders. Castle Rock is closed currently due to the falcons that mate and nest in the rocks during this time of year. There is also Golden eagles and red-tailed hawks. It's truly a beautiful and amazing area and one that I will visit over and over again.
I was hiking yesterday in Walnut Creek. The hills seemed long and steep and I was feeling really tired. They really weren't that steep but I have chronic pain and it has been spiking the last few days. When I have a pain spike, it can be difficult to get out of bed...or stay in bed...everything hurts. My entire body feels like it has been used as someone's punching bag and I get really, really tired. During those times, it's important for me to get out and move anyway...even if just a little. There have been times when I go for a walk just down the block from my house with tears streaming down my cheeks because the pain is so bad. Thankfully, I'm at the beginning of this particular pain spike and it hasn't gotten that bad yet and I could still make it up that hill. Although half way up, I wondered if this was such a good idea. I think the cows I had just passed along the trail wondered too. Although they seemed more interested in eating grass than in watching me, a couple of them had expressions that seemed to wonder why merely walking up a hill seemed like such great work. You might not think that cows have expressions, but they do (see below). I started counting my tiny steps and estimated that if I got to the top of the hill in 100 steps, I would be doing well. I focused on each step and refused to even glance at the looming top so I wouldn't become any more overwhelmed (pain gets worse with stress, so does feeling tired). I reached the top at step 82. And...there was a bench! Sweet mercy! If only there had been a lemonade stand. But there was this fantastic view. And it was all worth it. I walked back down the trail, past the cows, with a smile on my face knowing I have the courage to face my pain and move anyway and occasionally get rewarded with a view that takes my breath away.
See what I mean?