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The Creek Beat: Treasures On The Trails

Hiking on the hills surrounding Walnut Creek is more than just solitude and scenery

Balancing Rock on Mount Diablo
Balancing Rock on Mount Diablo
I just finished my weekly sojourn into the hills that surround Walnut Creek.

On this particular Sunday it was a run/hike in Shell Ridge behind Northgate High School.

It's my version of church -- enjoying the solitude and the scenery of this quiet, undeveloped open space.

But it's more than that.

I also enjoy the familiarity of the trails I frequent -- they're like old friends.

I also enjoy discovering or seeing some of the little treasures that are tucked away in the valleys, hilltops and corners of our wilderness.

I spend many a Sunday on Mount Diablo.

I enjoy passing through the manzanita groves that dot the middle sections of the mountain.

I enjoy the serene qualities of Mitchell Canyon and the valley behind Castle Rock Park.

There's also the little features of nature that not many people see, such as Balancing Rock in Curry Canyon or the Poker Table Flat rock on the rugged Burma Trail.

There are other places to find these out-of-the-way pleasures.

Last weekend, I ventured on Acalanes Ridge and discovered the two 50-foot concrete arrows that Walnut Creek Mayor Pro Tem Bob Simmons told me about. They were a part of a national air navigation system built before radar was used.

Nearby them is the old flag at the end of the trail that flies above the fence line that separates the open space from BART property. The mystery behind that flag is still uncertain.

There are neat little nooks and crannies on Shell Ridge, too.

They include the plateau at the apex of Flat Top Trial that overlooks all of Walnut Creek and the Diablo Valley.

Today, I ran by Sulfur Creek Pond that rests at the bottom of the valley below Flat Top. The small pond is completely dry, a reminder of our current drought.

However, I noticed there is not a single piece of trash laying on that dry, crackled pond bottom. Just a few rocks and branches.

It hit me that nobody has tossed anything into that pond over the years.

Another thing to treasure in our hills.

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