Successful Broom Pull will be followed by another — soon

It didn’t take long for Beth Molnar, a member of the EQC, to produce this pile of pulled broom.

Our most recent work party, the Madera Open Space broom pull, proved a great success despite its timing – just after the fiercest rains we’ve seen in a while, and with downpours and hail forecasted for that day.

Still, 11 people showed up on Saturday February 16 for this event, spearheaded by the city’s Environmental Quality Committee’s Green Teams and organized by Howdy Goudey. Trekkers co-sponsored.

Broom, a bully of an invasive plant that has in the past decades taken over acres and acres of the Hillside Natural Area, is threatening to reclaim the Madera-Julian Trail, which connects Madera Open Space to the Julian Steps and thus to Motorcycle Hill.

This is a crucial and historic trail in the Hillside Natural Area. It is – so far – the only direct link via trail between the southern and northern areas of the Hillside Area.

The Madera-Julian Trail is facing an invasion of fast-growing broom.

When Trekkers and the El Cerrito High Mountain Biking Team won the support of Trust for Public Land back in 2013 on plans to buy the Madera Open Space, Trust bought in because the purchase would link the two sections of the Hillside.

If Trust hadn’t helped us, the city would never have been able to acquire Madera Open Space and add it to the publicly owned Hillside Natural Area.

Hence, we’d better do what we can to keep this trail passable. (It is a trail that Trekkers created back circa 2012, 2013.)

Watch this space and keep an eye on your email in-box. Green Teams and Trekkers plan another work party at this spot soon.

In two hours on February 16, our crew – a mix of longtime volunteers and welcome newcomers – managed to remove stacks of broom – by the roots of course. Working up close to plants – freeing new live oaks that had been engulfed by broom – is a much more intimate way to enjoy the Hillside than just walking through it.

The views were great as clouds scudded by and the sun came out, and the creek was cascading wildly.

Jacob pulls broom along the Hillside trail

We were careful, of course, to watch out for poison oak, which is starting to leaf.

Then, just past noon, our anointed quitting time, the sky darkened but it didn’t rain. It hailed.

See you at our next broom pull.

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Another Great World One Festival

Barbara Lass shares information at the Trekker table.

As always, the various Trail Trekkers who worked our information booth at the city’s annual July 4 festival spread the word about our mission and events to hundreds of people on Wednesday.

We got 71 signups and many more people stopped by. We also gave away 50 trail maps, asking for small donations. We will soon have a more complete map, one listing all the trails.

I particularly enjoy this festival because it is such a good way to meet people from all walks of life who live in El Cerrito or nearby. Many young families stopped by the booth to ask about the trails. Some are using them regularly. Others, even some people who have lived in the city for years, said they are not familiar with the trails of the Hillside.

World One organizer Corey Mason did a great job with the musical programming, as he always does. I only caught one band, being too busy on the Trekker and EC Historical Society tables. But it was a good one, Sharon Gilchrist and Friends, featuring El Cerrito resident Chad Manning on fiddle. Chad’s son Jason made a guest appearance!

I thank Trekkers Pam Austin, Mollie Hazen, John Norikane, Tim Aaronson, Tom Gehling, Jenny Hammer, Hansa Jacob-Martin, Wade Huntley, Barbara Lass, Jim and Andia Rasmussen, Aimee Haire, and Clare Sheridan for helping at the table or planning and equipping the event. I believe others may have helped too while I was not there. If so, please accept my thanks!

Sharon Gilchrist and Friends played hot bluegrass

Members Enjoyed an Appreciation Party

Long time members Tim Aaronson, David Lingren and Ilana Schatz enjoy the party

Just to show members of El Cerrito Trail Trekkers how much we appreciate them — and to encourage more to join — we threw a members appreciation party in late February.

About 50 people rsvp’d and 42 attended. Mary Barkey supplied wonderful, homemade, vegetarian pizza. Not one slice remained at the end of the night. Pam Austin, our treasurer, brought roasted vegetables. Mais Jafari brought treats of Jordanian cuisine. Others contributed food and drinks as well.

Oh yes, Mary’s lemon cake and cookies.

The entire Trekkers board was there — Pam, our treasurer and VP, Mollie Hazen, our communications director, and Mark Miner, secretary and web master and chief trail builder.

We met people new to us, and some who were new to Trekkers. We believe many people at the party will remain involved with our dynamic group, which needs more people for increased dynamism!

Surprisingly enough we did not play any vinyl. Aimee Haire and Jim Rasmussen in the record room.

Many long-timers were there as well, including several former and founding Trekker board members. People were at the party who have been working in the East Bay for decades to improve the community, along with newcomers who are sure to be part of the community’s future.

Trekkers plans further social events, maybe some at local watering holes. We also plan an outdoors members event in the spring or summer. Watch for it. And join!

Dave Weinstein

Exploring Public Private Open Spaces in San Francisco

An old post office designed by the great Willis Polk is now an art gallery and lunch spot as an adjunct to the tower at 55 Second Street

Most of our hikes are in nature or at least out of doors. But thanks to a law in the City requiring large downtown commercial developments to include open space that is open to the public, a fine hike can be enjoyed by walking from lobby to lobby and from rooftop terrace to “sun terrace.”

Dave Weinstein led such a “Popos” tour on February 15, in alliance with the Albany senior Center and Friends of Five Creeks.

We didn’t quite get to every rooftop or hidden garden we had aimed for, but it was fun nonetheless. It’s great how some of these mysterious gardens are hidden away. City law requires that office towers display signs announcing that these spaces exist. But you have to look carefully to spot them.

More than 30 people went on the hike and our hike leader only lost a grouping of them once. We did manage to reunite quickly.

Many are relaxing places well used by office workers for lunch. Many are filled with art, including work by important artists (Sol LeWitt, Ugo Rondinone).

New Popos (it stands for “privately owned public open spaces”) are opening every day thanks to bustling new development. We hope to do a variant of this hike later on.

505 Howard has strange sculptures and a living wall. Photos by Dave Weinstein

— Dave Weinstein

If you want to go on this hike yourself,  click on the link below for a PDF of our route

Popos Hike route Feb. 15, 2018

Work party clears debris from Terrace Cutoff Trail

Mark Miner seems almost engulfed in limbs at the start of the job.

It’s amazing how much work three dedicated volunteers can do in just over two hours. On Saturday morning Terrace Cutoff Trail was impassable. By early afternoon it was passable.

Mark Miner, who is Trail Trekkers’ trail building chief, Dave Weinstein, and a new volunteer with us, Mark Carraher, who is active with the Boy Scouts, removed many cubic yards of dead live oak limbs that had been blocking this trail and posing a fire hazard.

This was the first of Trail Trekkers new once-a-month trail work parties, which occur on the third Saturday of the month. Join us for future parties. They are satisfying!

Mark Carraher helped haul up what seemed for a while to be an endless grouping of flammable materials, making the area much safer.

Although Terrace Cutoff Trail is shown on our maps as an impassable trail (because a series of treads are needed to make it, well, truly safe and civilized), intrepid hikers can make it down this trail, which can be found between 8231 and 8239 Terrace Drive, and which connects to the well used Stockton-to-King Trail.

Within the year we hope to install treads to make this a fully functional part of our city’s wonderful network of trails and urban stairways.

— Dave Weinstein, Trail Trekkers president

Here’s what we moved uphill, to be picked up by crews from the city. Dave stands guard.

 

Here’s the trail after we cleared it — steep in parts and not advisable unless you are a good hiker. But passable. Photos by Dave Weinstein

Wonderful hike to Tepco Beach

One of our crew enjoys finding Tepco remains

Tim Aaaronson led a great walk on Sunday to Tepco Beach, with me serving as an assistant. Jenny hammer did much work planning this hike out.

The route, from the heart of El Cerrito’s commercial district, the EC Natural Grocery at San Pablo and Stockton Avenues, took us on bridges over both I-80 and I-580.

That alone was telling, showing how divorced we have become from the Bay, compared to the days when just past San Pablo Avenue one would have walked across grassland and marsh all the way to the beach.

Tepco, the Technical Porcelain Co., was in business from 1918 to 1968, all but the first few years at the site of what is today the DMV, just behind city hall.

Tim Aaronson lays down the word on Tepco

Lynn Maack, the world’s leading collector of Tepco ware, I believe, attended the hike and provided much information. He made it clear why collectors love Tepco ware today. It was sturdy, came in a variety of styles from cowboy to Art Deco to Tiki to purely functional.

On Tepco beach you can find lovely shards, sometimes even nearly entire pieces. There are mysteries there too. For example, how to explain the Tepco pieces encased in concrete slabs that are heavy with aggregate? There were fires at the plant. Could this have been the cause?

One member of our hike came with a bag of old Tepco shards that a child of his had reclaimed from the beach. He was returning them to the Bay. Tepco pieces, after all, in my mind at least, are valuable archeological remains.

Visit at low tide to enjoy Tepco Beach. It is at and near the end of the Point Isabel peninsula, just south of the sewer plant.

Tepco Beach offers both visual and audible treats. Waves washing over the shards produce tinkling sounds.

Terrace Cut-Off Trail Construction and Maintenance – Sat. February 17, 2018, 10:00 am – 12:30 pm

Come to the first of our regular Third Saturday Trail Trekker Work Parties
We will be out working improving the El Cerrito Hillside Natural Area every third Saturday of the month throughout the year starting on February 17.  Make it a recurring monthly event in your calendar and we will be there to greet you and welcome you to a project: Broom Bashes, Trail Construction,  yes, some debris clearing, but if we get the momentum we plan to, we can make a real difference.

Meet:  Terrace Drive at Contra Costa Drive at the top of the of the future Terrace Cut-Off Trail.

Leader:  Mark Miner markeminer@gmail.com

 

Tools will be provided, Bring water, maybe a snack. We will clear brush, weeds and debris, do some minor grading and perhaps install a couple treads

Terrace Cut off

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http://ectrailtrekkers.org/All participants understand that certain risks are inherent in this activity, and engage in the activity at their own risk.