Hillside Fest 2022 Photos

A yellow-faced bumble bee was photographed in the Hillside Natural Area during the 2022 festival by naturalist Elizabeth Dougherty

On the first hike of the festival, Eddie Dunbar, president of the Insect Sciences Museum of California, entranced youngsters with tales about the Hillside’s insects, their habitats and habits.

Kids, their parents and other hikers examine an outcropping of radiolarian chert on a geology hike led by three accomplished geologists. Chert comes from the remains of tiny ocean plankton.

Geology hike leaders Gary Prost and Mark Petrofsky use this view of San Francisco Bay to get into the geological origins of the land beneath our feet.

Alan Siegel was both witty and erudite as he combed the Hillside for plants that have medicinal uses or can be consumed as food. Native Americans made use of many of these plants, and some people do so to this day.

Susan Schwartz, head of the group Friends of Five Creeks and a longtime environmental leader in the East Bay, led a beginner plant walk.

. Susan Schwartz examines a wild hazelnut tree whose nuts, she says “would be delicious if the squirrels ever let us get them!”

The El Cerrito Historical Society co-sponsored a history hike led by Dave Weinstein that revealed tall tales about motorcycle hill climbing on Motorcycle Hill starting in the 1920s. A professional motorcycle hill climber who grew up in El Cerrito attended the hike and commented on the evolution of the sport.

Hikers on the History Hike head up Motorcycle Hill, on a trail built by Trail Trekkers and the El Cerrito High Mountain Biking Club less than a decade ago.

Stephen Prée, the city’s arborist and environmental programs manager, made clear that climate change, Sudden Oak Death, and other environmental challenges are threatening our urban forest. His love for our trees proved inspiring in his Early Evening Tree Hike.

Tree hikers enjoyed a view of the moon over the Hillside.

Trekkers ran a festival table that provided kids and families with material for a Nature Scavenger Hunt that involved finding birds, animals, plants and stones – but not taking them! Barbara Lass, Wade Huntley and Pam Austin also greeted festival goers and provided map-schedules of events.

Cathy Bleier, in the foreground, helped birdwatchers locate 27 different species of birds during her early morning walk. See the list here. “The usual suspects were there, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, jays, Bewick’s Wrens and Oak Titmouse,” Cathy says, “plus we had a great view of a recently arrived and gorgeous spring migrant, the Black-headed Grosbeak, on his perch atop an oak.”

A mature red-tailed hawk soars overhead during the festival. “If its tail were striped, it would be immature,” Cathy Bleier points out.

Girl Scout Troop 33283 put on an entertaining ‘Leave No Trace’ hike, focusing on proper behavior in the Hillside and other wild land areas. This Scout turned trash that had been discarded in the Hillside into a telling collage. The Girl Scouts also led hikers in song at every stop.

The Haiku Hike honored winners of the Hillside Festival’s haiku contest. Winners and others read each poem aloud.

The city’s Poet Laureate, Eevelyn Mitchell, read poems at the Haiku Hike.

Bob Zucker showed attendees how digital apps like iNaturalist can identify plants and animals, except when they err.

Berkeley author Richard Schwartz delivered a deeply informed and hard hitting history about the Indians who occupied our land as their own, the arrival of the Spanish colonists, and the horrors that followed under Spanish, Mexican, and later American overlords

Only a few people not in the Trekkers inner circle attended our “enjoy the views and snacks and good company “ gathering near the festival’s end, but they were welcomed heartily and stayed a while. Next year, why don’t you attend too?

Every Hillside Festival closes with Meditation in Nature, led by Nicole Becker of El Cerrito’s Ojas Yoga Center.

Uncredited photographs copyright El Cerrito Trail Trekkers.