November 6, 2006

Katie Colbert, Naturalist and volunteer coordinator at Sunol Regional Park has developed a program which allows women who, according to their website, “love to hike, camp and play in parklands, but whose concern for personal safety keeps them from enjoying their parks”.

Women on Common Ground is a series of naturalist led programs for woman who for one reason or another are uncomfortable hiking in parks. Katie’s group averages between 6 to 25 women for each hike and the women range in age from 20 years old to 80 years young. She tries to arrange hikes which will provide a range of different skill levels in the various East Bay Regional Parks which are spread out among Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

The goal of this program is to help make women feel more comfortable by learning about the difference between real threats and perceived threats in the park system such as mountain lions, snakes, ticks, getting lost, being hurt and poison oak and to become familiar with the areas parks and particularly certain trails. They also teach women to take certain precautions and use personal safety.

The most common crime committed at the regional parks systems is automobile burglaries. Katie suggests leaving valuables at home and out of site from criminals. Other safety suggestions are to hike with a buddy and always tell someone where you are going, bring water and most importantly be prepared. “Most women who join the program have always relied on other people in the past to keep them from getting lost or help them put up a tent and this is a good opportunity for them to learn how to do these types of things for themselves; the parks are a very safe place to be”, said Katie.

A Naturalist since 1985, Katie’s prior experience includes holding a variety of positions within the Pittsburg school system teaching environmental education.

Katie says, “One of the things about this program is that it’s for like-minded women who enjoy similar hiking styles and have a great sense of humor; together they help each other learn to enjoy and feel more comfortable hiking.”

The group does take an occasional backpacking and camping trip and are hoping to plan for more in the future. Upcoming events include a 3 to 4 mile hike through a former explosives plant to Point Pinole Regional Shoreline on November 18 and creating holiday decorations for the Women’s Drop-In Shelter of Berkeley followed by a winter hike in the Tilden Nature Area on December 16.

Please call 925-862-2604 for more information, check out their website www.ebparks.org or email Katie at svisit@ebparks.org.

As previously mentioned in my last column, all of the tickets for Niles Canyon Railway’s Holiday Train of Lights sold out in a mere 6 days, but lucky Sunolians will still have a chance to ride the train on December 2 before our annual tree lighting ceremony at the Sunol Community Park. If you are interested in reserving tickets for the ‘Sunol residents only” train ride, please contact Ario Ysit at 925-862-2251. There is a maximum of 4 tickets per household.

Grab your purses ladies or more importantly cash and credit cards because it’s the 3rd annual Ladies Night Out. The Sunol Glen School Community Club will be hosting this event Wednesday from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the school’s auditorium. It’s a wonderful way to do some early holiday shopping without any distractions and purchase items from such vendors as Arbonne International skin care products, Little Valley Lavender, KeNisey Glass & Wire Works, Pampered Chef, Mary Kay Cosmetics, All Ways Accessories, Cookie Lee Jewelry, Creative Memories, Southern Living at Home, Partylite, Tupperware, Stampin’ Up, Veggie Tales, Neways, Sole Savior, Butterfly Home Boutique and Scholastic Books.

Birthday girl, Sandi Bohner, co-owner of Little Valley Vineyards & Little Valley Lavender was thoroughly surprised by family and friends at a party held in her honor on October 7 at Marlene and Bill Rebello’s beautiful Sunol home. Guests enjoyed a delicious meal accompanied by Sandi and husband Bill Webster’s White Rabbit label wines. Held on the Rebello’s spacious outdoor terrace, Sandi and her grandchildren danced to local favorites and good friends, Georgi & the Roughweek as a beautiful autumn moon crested the clear, crisp, night sky.

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