Geocaching Oakland’s Belap Path
by Paul Epstein on February 10, 2013
The East Bay Hills are riddled with hidden paths and staircases. Providing an athletic training ground for the hard-core runner, a short cut from elevation to elevation for the casual rambler, convenient access to transit systems that have long ceased to exist, they are also like Easter eggs: Appearing – as if out of nowhere – a startling burst of color, a new route to follow, while strands of nostalgia and the surreal trail behind them. They are like public human- and plant-filled terraria. We catch a glimpse of the daily lives of our neighbors, a snippet of conversation. And we witness the tension between the tranquil riot of cultivated plants that practically leap over the city’s back fences; and the aggressive banality of the front walkways. The paths and staircases form a short, sharp shot of urban nature. They are always open.
SimDad, the father-son duo that has appeared in the blogging realms of Bay Nature, headed out for a quick bit of geocaching before watching The Hobbit. They struck out for the “Belap Cache” (Geocache # GC2DMAM). Sim found the cache in less time than it took Dad to fumble around in his car, getting a pencil, something to trade, finding his keys… so Dad suggested that they actually walk up the stairs and then back down again. After some negotiation, they agreed on a percentage of the stairs that they would complete and they set off. To Sim, it was a paramilitary adventure in a strange and foreign land – sneaking ahead, looking for nooks in which to hide, seeking out the perfect machine gun, er, stick with which to play out his Zeus-Chronos myths.
Dad, meanwhile, ignorant of the botany of the local but non-native flora, took in the diverse shapes, textures, colors and degrees of light and darkness. A glaringly red flower. A bush with rounded spiky leaves. He wondered what they were.
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