Urban Nature

Geocaching Oakland’s Belap Path

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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