Category Archives: Meta

What’s so bad about Pokewalking?

Sausal Creek, Dimond Park

There is a Pokemon in the middle of this creek, which used to be under a culvert. Maybe dont tell your kids about this one?

OK, it’s a fad, and OK, some people aren’t using good sense about where and how they play.

But Pokemon GO is also making me look at my neighborhood in new ways.

I walked two miles this morning, visited 16 Pokestops, faced defeat in two gyms and caught eight Pokemon.

I also saw a hummingbird, heard a red-tailed hawk, searched for fingerling trout, enjoyed several murals, checked the titles in a Little Free Library and found a church I had forgotten existed.

I felt nostalgic about Pokestop landmarks that have already changed: the little fire truck in Dimond Park that has been replaced with a brand-new tot lot, the hand-painted stars that used to decorate the fence around the old Blockbuster store, now demolished to its concrete pad. Even my favorite Chinese restaurant, closed for many months, is honored with a stop labeled “Ocean Temple.” Old-timers have a definite leg up in finding these spots.

This transitory nature of the world can sometimes cause humorous results. The in-game map shows dancing green sparks in the middle of a field in Dimond Park, but that field is now a restored section of Sausal Creek. It seems unlikely you’ll catch them all without getting your feet wet.

Nothing forces you to keep your face in your phone while hunting Pokemon. If you are familiar with the area, it’s easy to check what the Pokestop landmarks are before you set out and put your device back in your pocket till you get there. Don’t worry, it will vibrate when you pass a Pokemon.

DimondPokewalkStart this Pokewalk at Fruitvale Avenue and Lyman Road, at the brick steps that mark the entrance to Dimond Park. From this point, you should be able to see five gyms and 20 stops. You can plot your own route, but if you want to follow the one I’ve mapped for you, head into the park and downhill toward your left, past the redwood groves. You’ll follow the paved path along Sausal Creek past the Scout Hut, then take a detour to the Recreation Center.

Coming back past Lyons Pool, cross Sausal Creek to Cañon Avenue, a lovely, shaded street winding between neat bungalows. Look for trout in the calm spot to the left of the bridge.

Turn left onto MacArthur and head downhill, turning right onto Dimond Avenue to take a detour past Paws and Claws. Use Bienati Alley to get back to Fruitvale Avenue and the heart of the Dimond shopping district: Farmer Joe’s Market, La Farine, several cafes and markets.

Take Fruitvale back to MacArthur, turn right and right again onto Lincoln, which runs past a swirling blue mosaic and one of Oakland’s old fire houses. Go left and uphill on Champion at the firehouse, passing the Dimond Gateway Mural.

You can cut your walk to two miles by continuing uphill on Lincoln, rejoining my route at Sequoia School. Or go right and walk along MacArthur to Bret Harte Middle School, enjoying several mosaic murals on your way.

Head uphill on Coolidge Avenue, left on Madeline, left on Laguna and right on Scenic, through another neighborhood of modest but well-maintained bungalows. You’ll know you’re near Sequoia School when you pass the playground and another colorful mosaic mural.

Go uphill a block to Wilbur Avenue, then sharply downhill on Wilbur to Whittle Avenue, already described in this blog. Whittle will return you safely to Dimond Park.

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Minor update: Shepherd Canyon Parkway

The deadfall I noted last year is still blocking the upper trail in Shepherd Canyon Park. I normally disapprove of stepping off marked trails, but it seems this tree isn’t going anywhere soon, and neither are the construction fences around the soccer field. Substantial plant restoration work has been done, however, suggesting patience may be rewarded.

Update: Balancing Rocks and Falling Bridges

Balancing rocks, Bridgeview Trail

Rocks balanced on a flood control wall on the Bridgeview Trail above Dimond Canyon.

I had hoped that a few warm days and a rainy night would bring some signs of spring, but there was nothing showing along the Bridgeview Trail this morning except a few spots of yellow on a thorny broom bush.

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Trails are closed under the Leimert Bridge.

Signs at the trailhead still warn of trail closures under the Leimert bridge. A chunk of concrete fell  from the underside of the bridge into Sausal Creek on Nov. 31, and although Oakland Public Works plans to make some repairs, no date has been set for their completion. I haven’t found my walks to be circumscribed — you can get pretty far from the El Centro trailhead before you hit Leimert, and none of the Bridgeview Trail goes under the bridge.

Although flowers aren’t out, a rock-balancing artist has arranged a gallery of work along a graffiti-covered flood-control wall. These things tend to be ephemeral, so if you want to see them, head out for a walk right away. The best videos I’ve seen of this kind of work are on the Gravity Glue website, although it appears our best-known local artist is Bill Dan.

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Revision: Monuments Found

Joaquin Miller funeral pyre

Joaquin Miller’s “funeral pyre,” which he built himself.

I’ve revised my description of the Joaquin Miller History Loop after revisiting it and realizing that, by turning back briefly at one point and taking a different fork at another, you can see all of Miller’s monuments quite easily. The view from the Pyramid to Moses is not to be missed, and well worth climbing a few dozen feet to see. (The cheater-pants method, which involves less climbing, would involve starting from Sanborn Drive and taking the right fork instead of the left when you get to the loop near the Native Plant Nursery.)

The Sanborn Drive gate was mysteriously locked this morning (9:30-10 a.m. Sunday), but the paths themselves were being used by hardy spirits, some of whom simply parked along Joaquin Miller Road and walked in.

Minor updates

The FROG Park entry has been updated to reflect that Temescal Creek and the wading pond are dry right now.

The Lake Merritt entry has been updated to reflect that renovations between 18th Street and 12th Avenue are almost complete.

One Year Later…

Sausal Creek

Sausal Creek in Dimond Park, New Year’s Eve, 2012.

On New Year’s Day, I made a resolution: Walk someplace beautiful, at least once a week. And now I’ve done it.

My friends have asked, what now? Will I keep walking? Will I keep blogging? I plan to. But for the purposes of this blog, I’ve limited my walks to Oakland and immediately adjacent areas. Next year, I’d like to branch out, to visit the Lafayette Reservoir and Las Trampas Regional Wilderness, Wildcat Peak and Point Isabel.

There are still a few walks in Oakland I was unable to take — the Dunsmuir House grounds and the Peralta Adobe, to name two. As I find new routes, I’ll add them. And as I revisit my favorites from this year, I will update their entries.

Some people asked if I had a favorite route. Ones that I wound up showing to friends included Arrowhead Marsh, Damon Slough, Middle Harbor Park and the Stream Trail. Some young relatives visiting from the Northeast thoroughly approved of the playground and wading pond at FROG Park. One I’d like to revisit very soon is Leona Canyon. And I can’t wait to see the spring wildflowers in Bort Meadow.

But all of the routes I found were beautiful in their own ways, and all are worth walking.

It begins

…with a New Year’s resolution: Walk somewhere beautiful at least once a week.

I live in Oakland, which despite its gritty reputation, is wealthy in places to walk: Not only does it contain 134 city parks, but 10 regional preserves, three lakes, and a number of very scenic neighborhoods.

I’m going to try to walk someplace different every week and discover some new trails. By summer, I hope to be fit enough to take on some of the steeper scrambles. Let’s go!

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