If you come to hike the Overlook Trail–Montini Preserve Trails are less than 1000 feet away!!!

To hike the Montini Preserve Trails park at the Police station lot (600 feet south of Sonoma Overlook Trailhead) on First Street West. The entrance to the Montini Preserve is behind the batters box. The trail is a 2 mile loop or more–map at entranceIMG_4710.jpg

Sonoma Overlook Trailhead–signs posted give directions to the Montini Preserve Trails or the Mountain Cemetery walking paths. (adjacent to Trailhead)

We just kicked it off!

We are underway with the Overlook Improvement Project. The kick off celebration this afternoon was festive and informative. Joanna Kemper, our host, was the emcee –she could be seen by all–standing on a very large rock. She also provided us with cookies and lemonade (welcome on a sunny day). John Donnelly gave a brief history of the trail, and Mayor Madolyn Agrimontij, along with Cathy Capriola, Colleen Ferguson and the Sonoma Public Works team shared their excitement about getting this project underway.

 

The Stars of the show was the team from American Conservation Experience that will be doing the work on the trail the next three months. They are young people from across the country (even Guam) that are eager to get started. We welcome them to our town and to our beloved trail.

IMG_4699.jpgFinally!! Shovel Ready!!!IMG_4708.jpg

The American Conservation Experience (ACT) Team

Our Wednesday Morning Hikes are Still On

Confident hikers/walkers looking for an energetic hike to start their day need look no further! Join us for a Free Community Hike every Wednesday 8:30-9:30. During the Overlook Trail closure, we will hike the Montini Open Space Preserve.

IMG_4678.jpgWednesday morning hikers on the Montini Open Space Preserve. 

Meet in the police station parking lot located at 175 1st StreetEast at 8:30am. No RSVP needed

Sonoma Raceway Hike a Huge Success

Thanks to all of you hikers who came to the Sonoma Raceway to hike. . . .and support the Overlook Trail. We had 130 hikers which we split into two groups—one group did 6 miles and the other group did 3 miles. We all enjoyed the gorgeous views and heard about the conservation measures that the Raceway does to preserve the beautiful rolling hills. It was fun to see the woolly weeders and their spring lambs—they do a good job of keeping the weeds down.

SheepSR

Woolly weeders on the job

A huge thank you to Steve Page, Jerry Wheeler and Chelsea Lazzari and their Raceway team for the superb job of hosting, promoting, and keeping us all on track over hill and dale. . . .and for providing a delicious lunch–thanks to Kim Conte at Levy Restaurant. And thanks to Hope Nissan for organizing volunteers and making it all work so well.

Being Gently Powerful

You could say that I’m a treehouse nut, as I’ve never understood why most people think that treehouses are for kids. The fourth one I’ve built, is in my backyard — a three story monstrosity that tops out at 32 feet above the ground. In the “crows nest” at the top, you can see over our house and down across Sonoma Valley to Sonoma Mountain, and south down the valley toward Marin. The lower parts of the treehouse were built 13 years ago and the upper parts 10 years ago. Both are slowly being absorbed and warped in odd ways by the tree.

In one spot (pictured), the ladder leading to the crows nest has been slowly bent way out of its straight up and down position. Clearly if it had been warped that badly all at once, it would have shattered. But rather, the tree gently but persistently pushed against it, and it has slowly but surely stretched it into its present position. It is this aspect of “being gently powerful” that one sees a lot in nature. Trees can also break stone using the same technique of very slow but persistent pressure.

In a related example, on a river trip through the Grand Canyon you eventually come to a section deep in the canyon where the oldest rock is exposed. It is a very hard, metamorphosed volcanic granite and schist. And yet the Colorado River has not only carved it’s path through the very heart of it, it has actually sculpted it, with intricate and fascinating incisions (see photograph). These were formed not by one cataclysmic event, but by the very slow and constant caressing of suspended silt and sand by the river over eons. The river is being gently powerful over a very long period of time.

I’ve come to believe that is exactly what our efforts to clear the Overlook and Montini Preserve of invasive species needs to be like. We need to be gently powerful for many years. As I said to someone on the trail recently, “this is a program, not a project.” You could also call it a war, not a battle. But that’s a more violent image that I prefer to avoid. I prefer the idea of being gently powerful, as that is more like what it feels like.

Each day that I can get out on the trail during thistle pulling season I am blessed to experience the outdoors, feel the sunshine, sweat like crazy, and do something that I feel is meaningful. That feels like being gently powerful. And something that feels worthy in and of itself.

So the next time you see one of us out there pulling invasive species, think of us as a tree or a river — gently, but powerfully and persistently, pressing against what we oppose. It, too, will give over time, as all things that are gently, powerfully, and persistently opposed eventually do.

 

Vishnu schist photo by Al_HikesAZ, Creative Commons License CC BY-NC 2.0.

The Park Blessings of This Valley

If you are putting up with my ramblings on this blog, you clearly love the Sonoma Overlook Trail and Montini Preserve enough that you are a true nature lover. Like me.

So like me, you are probably amazed at the embarrassment of open space riches that are ours here in the Sonoma Valley. Starting from the Bay and going north, here are a number of our choices (and amazingly, not all of them by any means):

From top to bottom the southernmost park is only 45 minutes away from the northernmost. This means that most people who live in Sonoma Valley (some 11,000+ people) are only about 20 minutes away, or much less, from all of these open spaces. Truly an amazing array of opportunities for exploring the outdoors, from baylands, to mountains well over 2,000 feet.

Not long ago my wife and I visited the Willamette Valley in Oregon, to taste their storied Pinot Noir wines. One morning we wanted to find a place to hike, and barely found even one place to do it. We are truly blessed here in Sonoma Valley, with so many options for outdoor recreation. I call the outdoors my “spin class,” as you will never find me in a gym. Give me the outdoors. Ever the outdoors. I will see you there.