March 10, 2003

THURSDAY WAS A DAY that can only be described as a harbinger of spring. The warm sun beat down on Sunol, flashing light on pink and white buds and a profusion of daffodils throughout our canyon. There are so many birds calling from the trees in their varied voices, one is tempted to join I the chorus. It's definitely time to start thinking about doing more outdoors, and Sunol Regional Wilderness is a great place to start. Here's a sampling of the events coming up in the park that simply sing of spring.

ALL ABOUT BLOOMS: There are a number of programs at Sunol Regional focused on spring flowers. For all of the following events, unless otherwise noted, please call 925-862-2601 for information. There is no event charge for most of these hikes, but a parking fee may be charged.

Naturalist Cindy Taylor leads Mission Peak from the Backside for those eight-years-old and older on Sunday, March 23 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This is a 10.5-mile nature hike up this famous Bay Area landmark to discover wildflowers and enjoy spectacular bay views from the summit. Cindy is also the leader for Blooms for Beginners, a two-mile hike over hill and dale exploring spring wildflowers on Saturday, April 19 from 2 to 4 p.m.

On Sunday, April 6 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., there will be a staff-led Spring Wildflower Fest, including a wildflower walk and a butterfly and wildflower slide show. This is a chance to learn about interdependency and diversity in nature, make a wildflower craft, play nature games and view children's wildflower posters and other art. On Saturday, April 12 from 1 to 4 p.m., naturalist Norm Kidder leads Mother Nature's Bloomers, an easy hike for nature lovers seven and older. Norm will teach you the names, structures, goals and uses of native wildflowers.

Here's one for those of you with an artistic calling. Cindy is leading two Wildflower Sketch Hikes, one on Saturday, April 12 and the other on Sunday, April 20, both from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. This hike features a few stops for sketching and longer stops for drawing sessions and lunch. The April 12 event will explore flower form, function and adaptations as you marvel at nature's colorful wildflower explosion. Tree forms will be the focus of the April 20 hike, with information on why and how trees grow. These hikes require registration and carry fees for Sunolians of $12 for adults and $10 for children, and $14 and $12 from non-residents. Please call 510-636-1684 to register.

ROCKS, CREEKS AND TRACKS: Interested in learning about the intense geological forces at work in our area? Then Sunday's (3-16) Geology Walk to Little Yosemite from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. is for you. This is a three-mile loop hike and it's on rain or shine. Bring a trail snack.

Then there's Cindy's Vista Grande hike on Saturday, March 29 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. This one is a 5.5-mile meander along Alameda and Indian Joe creeks - be prepared for some creek hopping - continuing skywards to an "eagle's view" before descending to Little Yosemite. There will be lots of hill climbing, rewarded by wonderful views and beautiful wildflowers. The event is for hikers eight and older, and Cindy asks that you bring lunch and a beverage.

On Saturday, April 12, Norm's up again with Springtime Tracking from 9 a.m. to noon, a nature exploration for those ten and older. Spend the morning looking for clues about what has been happening in the wilderness. Learn animal tracks plus the signs left by insects, water and wind, and sharpen your observation skills.

BY THE LIGHT OF THE MOON: And finally, how about an Almost Full Moon Hike as the sun sinks in the west? Cindy leads this winding trek up to High Valley, where you can glimpse the moonrise before descending by moonlight. Bring a flashlight to catch sight of creatures that work by night and be prepared for some creek hopping. And if you really must, howling at the moon may be allowed.

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