A Walk in the Hills

I am going for a walk in the Berkeley hills [California]. I met the group of walkers on Euclid Avenue at the entrance to the Rose Garden, a theater of rose bushes laid out in terraces on the hillside. Look west from this hillside and an uninterrupted view of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, fog just lifting and the outline of city and bridge coming into view. It would be a sunny day. We started the walk at ten. A middle-aged fit lady led the pack of equally fit men and women. In a single file we followed her along the sidewalks of curving residential streets and up and down narrow paths with stairs. Between the houses the unmistakable views of San Francisco and Golden Gate. I thought how nice to have the view with morning tea and hot buttered scone. This area of Berkeley was developed in the early 1900s beforeanyone had a car. Between the long streets hugging the contours of the hill are paths with stairs. These paths were added to
make it easier for residents to access streetcars on the major streets at the bottom of the hill. The streetcars are gone, and now everyone owns cars. It was an exhausting trek up and down these paths: Hawthorne Steps, Vine Lane, La Loma Steps, Rose Walk. The group walked fast past, I was slowing down, winded, old age. I crossed a short narrow wood bridge in a secluded canyon and faced Tamalpais Steps, so many steps I could not see the top. By now the walkers were way ahead of me. Actually I was more interested in the urban landscape, than making time. I took my time going up these steps, maybe 80, stopping at every landing, every 13 steps, for a rest. I could not imagine residents using these steps everyday. I did not attempt to catch up with the group. I had a map of the area and made my way back, one more stairs to conquer, El Mirador Path, down and a few blocks back to the Rose Garden. How many steps did I take today, maybe 200-300, did not count? There are more paths and steps, dozens and dozens to master for another time.


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