On the July 4th long weekend we took a backpacking trip from Fremont to Livermore, predominantly along the Ohlone Wilderness Trail. The hike was about 38 miles long, plus five miles of city walking.

What was really neat about this trip was that we were able to do it completely car free! We took the BART train to Fremont, hopped on the AC218 bus to Ohlone College and started hiking. The trail goes through Mission Peak Regional Preserve, Sunol Regional Wilderness, Ohlone Regional Wilderness, Del Valle Regional Park, Veterans Park, and Sycamore Grove Park. From there you could catch the 18 bus to the Livermore transit Center, but we walked a couple city miles since that bus wasn’t running on the holiday schedule. Once at the transit center we caught the Wheels 10 bus to Pleasanton BART, which then carried us a mile from our home in San Francisco. A relaxing and low-carbon way to start and end our backpacking trip. You can find many more Bay Area transit-accessible hiking trips at http://www.transitandtrails.org.
The weather was blazing hot and a good test for the desert section of the PCT. The high temperatures were 98, 101, and 97 for the three days we hiked. We learned some valuable lessons. Hiking early in the morning was the most beautiful and comfortable time of day. Next time we’ll wake up before sunrise. When doing big mileage days, we need to pack more food than usual. Mary Jane’s Instant Organic Couch Potatoes were delicious, pemmican meal bars were not. Trekking poles are awesome, even if we look a bit goofy. And most notably, we are really enjoying having lighter gear.

It was a beautiful area with lots of wildlife. This Western Fence Lizard was doing rapid pushups to claim his territory. You can see a glimmer of his bright turquoise belly in this photo.

Later we came upon a small pond with lotus flowers blooming in its center. We watched red and blue dragonflies zip around above the pond…and some became dinner for hungry fish masked by the murky water.

Ground squirrels were constantly ducking into their holes as we walked by.

We walked by eight turkey vultures roosting in a dead tree. Two were spreading their wings to warm up in the morning sunlight. It felt like a scene from a movie.

Tips for Bay Area folks doing this same trip:

– Make sure you have at least three liters of water capacity per person during the summer months. Many of the creeks and rivers on the map were completely dry.
– After crossing the bridge over Lake Del Valle, you have two options for navigating the length of the lake. There is a small trail right by the water for the first few miles, but it is heavily eroded and poorly maintained, and eventually fades into a steep cliff. Your other option is a large, exposed trail which follows the ridge above the lake. We recommend this trail, as it is well-maintained and continues all the way to the end of the lake.
– Bring foam rather than inflatable sleeping pads to avoid punctures from spiky plants.

This was a great local trip! More images from this trip are posted here.

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