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79. Stevens Canyon Trail (07/25/98)

Hikers (10): Benny, Cindy, Eugene, Heidi, Jane M, Mary, Peter, Pistol Pete, Sonny, Steve
Distance: 6 miles
Rating: 2 difficulty, 8 beauty
Park info: Fremont Older Open Space Preserve in Cupertino

Write-up by Pistol Pete

"Saving Private Ryan" is the most gratifyingly explicit war flick I have ever seen. I saw it the night before the hike. The deep sleep induced by the emotional drain of Spielberg's account of the first critical days of the D-day invasion allowed the cinemascape to thoroughly ferment into my psyche. Or so I'd like to believe. Fremont Older Open Space Preserve will forever be clouded by memories of this film.

The directions to the trailhead sucked. We all got lost at least once. We waited a good 10-15 minutes for Wendell (who drove alone because his house was so near the trail), but we gave up on him. It was already 10 a.m. We figured he'd just gotten hopelessly lost, and headed back home for some orange juice and Cheetos. Sorry, buddy!

1, 2, 3, ... INCH!

Dog excrement. We encountered perhaps the only preserve in the South Bay that allowed dogs (on a leash). Everyone and their grandmother took the liberty of walking their dogs on this trail. Like an Ingmar Bergman farce we scurried along the trail like nomadic lepers, dodging dog poop along the way.

I was surprised at how much the area looked like Normandy. I imagined I was in the film. Abreast Tom Hanks (who played Captain John Miller of Pennsylvania). Why do I do this?!? Normandy would have been the last place I would have wanted to be in the first hours of Operation Overlord. The sun was shining. The sky clear. It was hilly. Along the horizon I saw what appeared to be a vineyard, although I knew it wasn't. Probably cabbage or corn or tomatoes. The houses that outskirted the preserve were beautiful, and I imagined them to look like the houses that some of the first GI’s encountered as they ventured into inland France after establishing beachhead. This could have been a set for "Saving Private Ryan." It was the calm before the storm(trooper).

"Shit. Take cover!!"

Over the hill came three Kraut gunners, followed by a Panzer. I dropped to the ground. With my .30 I sawed one Hitler youth in half with my spray of bullets. I could feel blood vessels resonating against my ear drums and it felt as if my guts were lodged up in my throat. It was a moment so deliciously frightening that I felt as if I was outside my body. A bead of sweat rimmed my left nostril; in my next gasp the sweat sucked up into my nose. It stung. The Panzer mowed over shrubs and squirrels as it headed our direction. I vainly starting firing at the tank, hoping that a shell would find its way inside and kill the commandeer.

The sound of my hiking boot against an atypically large rock along the dirt trail. That's what brought me back to reality. We encountered a fork. I suggested we go left. Downhill. Walstra said, "When in doubt, always follow the gradient." We took a right. Uphill. "Can't argue with that," I figured. We got lost. We should have taken a left at that fork after all. We backtracked and headed back on course.

We encountered another fork. Esty thought it was the fork on the map where the two equidistant trails led to the same point. Mary, Jane, Esty and the rest of the "Florida crew" took the right prong. The rest and I, took the left prong. We were wrong. It wasn't the fork we thought it was and we ended up at a trailhead complete with facilities. Ahhh!!! Bodily functions. We backtracked and took the right prong. By this time Esty's group was long gone. I hiked ahead of the crowd; I felt like hiking alone for a while. To my left: Steven’s Creek Reservoir. It was quite disconcerting to see families in paddle boats. Kinda like toughing it out in Alaskan wilderness only to realize a 7-Eleven just beyond a stream. When I reached the next fork, scrutinizing over the map to see which direction to take, Saviz caught up to me. We continued along but as soon as the trail headed uphill, I lost him again.

As I continued along, I caught up with Jane! I was so glad to see a fellow Incher, that I babbled incoherently. I decided to switch to socializing mode. Esty and his posse were several yards ahead of her. By circumstance, Esty, Sonny (visiting from Florida), and I broke off from the pack. Walstra started making oblique homoerotic references. I was hot enough as it was w/o the Dutch milk monkey getting me all moist with excitement. After a bit, The Man caught up with us, running down a hill. Why was the mack daddy running? We joked that he had to take a long piss or had a case of the runs. I think he was trying to find a stall so he could play around with Papa Smurf.

The four of us took a small detour to Hunter's Point, just off the trailhead. Mary had come alone and headed back down to the trailhead. She needed to prepare for her son's birthday party. Hunter's Point was scenic. All this natural beauty affirms my passion for life. We eventually reached the trailhead and waited for the others. The Florida crew (Benny, Sonny, and Heidi) arrived. But where were Eugene and and Cindy? Saviz, the leather-clad gimp, suggested that the two were playing "chipmunks." After some time, they finally arrived. Cindy explained that she had cramps. It was better not to ask.

A bunch of us went to Togo's afterwards. Mmmm. I guzzled 2 cups of Raspberry Lipton Iced Tea and it tasted so good! Nectar of the Gods. Awww Yeahhh!!

Sonny's 1st leaf

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