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Geocaching Oakland’s Belap Path

by on February 10, 2013

Running up the stairs in the Berkeley Hills.
Running up the stairs in the Berkeley Hills.

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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