Morning pain, afternoon comfort

I recently decided to explore the East Bay Hills in an area near Hayward, California, just south of Oakland. Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Park promised to be an area of open grasslands and green velvety hillsides worth exploring. So, I put a group of hikers together and we met this morning for a romp-n-stomp. There were 11 of us, and none of us had ever been there before. It didn’t appear to matter, however, that we were all going to tread new ground.

Hey, sometimes that what it’s about, right? Discovering new territory, seeing new places, enjoying the possibilities of the new and different. And sharing it with like-minded folks.

I had originally planned a ridge run loop that would be about 10 miles. Alas, we didn’t complete the entire loop. For the first time I can recall in a very long time, I found myself suffering – in real pain – and proposing to the group that we cut the hike short.

Fortunately all agreed and, having completed about 6 miles, we returned to the trailhead. We had already planned on a post-hike picnic, though, and by the time we had returned, the low clouds that had covered us all morning had largely burned off and the day was becoming most pleasant. I was glad to remove my pack, having felt shooting pains on the left side of my neck and down my left shoulder. As we picnicked, it was good to have my friend Gary Fox there with his delicious supply of home-made Merlot, a liquid anesthetic that I found most refreshing.

The fact that we lingered awhile, noshing our bounty, admiring the green hillsides, dreamily soaking up the day’s warmth and enjoying each other’s company found us all glad to be together – even though some of us were strangers to one another – and wishing we didn’t have to leave.

Some days are like that, you know? It feels good to know that, even when things can feel rotten in some respects, people can pull together to simply be happy about where they are and who they’re with. I count myself among the very thankful that I associate with such good folks. Far be it from me – pain notwithstanding – to rain on such a parade. In fact I was quite happy to just be where I was with such an engaging group.

It’s because of such moments as this that I do what I do on the hills and trails of California. Despite days that can challenge me beyond the realm of comfort, I am glad to take comfort in what really counts, and that’s the desire of people to be the best they can be with each other. And sometimes, that’s enough to pull the pain right out of me.



3 thoughts on “Morning pain, afternoon comfort

  1. Your hike sounds lovely (albeit painful) but I will admit that I have never been so prepared after a hike that I had homemade merlot on hand! I just found your blog while surfing at work (I’m the content editor for a new Web site called that doesn’t launch until August). I’ve been looking into a Paso Robles/Cambria area weekend trip and will comb through your blog to see if you recommend anything there. What you’re doing on your blog is such a unique nexus between the sports and culinary worlds. I’m sure lots of enthusiasts from both worlds can enjoy your point of view. Thanks!

  2. It’s very nice of you to write, Alyson! Fortunately my neck feels much better.

    If you’re in LA, I’d have to say that the Paso Robles wine country is right about smack-dab between where you are and where I am.

    Cambria is a lovely area to visit, but there aren’t any wineries nearby – assuming you’re going to be visiting a winery or two when you’re in the area. But as for Paso, the general rule of thumb is to visit wineries on the west side of Highway 101 if you like Burgundian-style wines, and try the east side of 101 if you like Bordeaux-style wines. If you visit Cambria then head east over Highway 46, you might visit York Mountain Winery and Turley Wine Cellars on the west side; try Eberle, Robert Hall, Chumeia and Tobin James on the east side. All are on or near the highway.

    Enjoy your visit! In fact, subscribers to Winehiker Witiculture would no doubt love to read a report of your experience!

    Yours sincerely,

  3. Pingback: From “on the air” to “in the vineyard”: the story of Bangor Ranch Vineyard & Winery | Winehiker Witiculture

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