Monday, January 5, 2009


What could be a better way to start a brand new year of hiking than begin with a real calf burner? Hiking partner Alice and I set off for a chilly hike to the Los Vaqueros Watershed to explore the trails and shoreline. The 18,500 acres of open space holds the 1,500 acres Los vaqueros reservoir that serves the Contra Costa water District. The facility pumps water from the Delta when the salinity level is low and stores it for us when the level rises in the Delta. The Watershed features facilities for fishing, boat rentals, bike riding and 55 miles of trails that loop around and over the hills surrounding the reservoir.

Setting off in the Sunday morning cold our plan was to head down the Los Vaqueros Trail to the Peninsula Trail that follows three miles of shoreline jutting into the reservoir. The whole hike would be just about 10 miles, a perfect way to start the New Year.

The Los Vaqueros Trail is very steep in spots and the morning frost made for slippery going uphill. Golden eagles circled in the distance as we made our way along. Clear skies and cold winds guided us along the trail. The snow capped peaks of the sierra loomed in the distance as sunlight glittered of the wind whipped waves of the reservoir for a picturesque scene.

Making our way to the shoreline of the reservoir we started a loop around a peninsula of the reservoir. There we found a lone coyote making a dash along the beach. He was in a full sprint as he passed us by stopping long enough for a quick picture or two.

The trail was empty except for another pair of hiker we passed heading back. We had the whole trail to ourselves and the occasional flock of birds that would flush from the thick cover along the trail path. After 6 hours we had finished our hike, finger and ears numb from the cold winds and calves aching form the climb.

Our 10 mile adventure was a great way to start 2009, a year in which we plan to explore more of the coastline in our hiking adventures.

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