Sunday, November 19, 2017

Practice Hikes: Using Trekking Poles to explore EB Parks

April 16, 2012 by  
Filed under DVD Updates, Poles for Hiking

The East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) is the largest park district in the nation; second largest in the world.  Every 2 months, they have an activity guide called Regional In Nature “RIN” in which they list an amazing array of classes/workshops/events, including a variety of PoleWalking classes and practice hikes/walks…presented and taught by yours truly 🙂  My class sizes are limited to facilitate optimal learning.  They fill fast, so reserve early.

Friday’s Practice Pole Hike at Tilden Park’s Botanic Garden was magical.  Go NOW!  It’s Free!  Glorious blooming flowers smile at you!   The creeks are roaring and you get to explore the entire State of CA (botanically) in about 2 hours.  Stop in the nature center, say howdy,  and see the cool pine cone display.    EBRPD staff are friendly, knowledgeable and genuinely interested in helping you have the best possible experience in the park you visit.  Above are the Fawn Lillies and the Giant Wake Robin (Trillium).  Click on any picture to enlarge then the back button to return to post.  

Below, in photo #3 Helen’s poles are behind her on the stairs – they would support her better if they were out in front of her.  I met Helen at Yosemite Conservancy’s Spring Forum (scroll down to see that blog post).  At 85, she wants to keep hiking so I encouraged to her come to the Botanic Gardens Practice Hike.  It was a lovely afternoon in a spectacular setting 🙂  We wandered all around the Gardens exploring and marveling at our CA abundance.

The next day, Saturday, was our 3rd time this year at Black Diamond Mines Regional Park.  May-Oct we head to cooler climes.  But right now, it’s spectacular.  Take the Mine Tour 🙂

The morning Basic Skills Class was a great intro for 11 Happy Hikers.   We cover the basics, learn (or re-learn) how to walk with attitude and spinal rotation, then we pick a hill with reasonable footing and march up and down.  We practice powering up the hill and supporting our joints on the down.  We lengthen, then lengthen again, again and again until we know the OPTIMAL length to use on downhill.  It’s not until you know what TOO long is, that you will feel what long enough does for your knees.  This phenomenon is something you really want to experience.  Having good hand and body position is essential, but pole length is an important factor in achieving optimal performance when hiking downhill.

On our afternoon Practice PoleHike, we started and ended with the steep mine tailings – working on our footing and doing lots of adjusting to FEEL the optimal length on the downs.  Then we wandered over to the Visitor Center Mine which is OPEN after a long closure.  We watched the historical short video on the area then headed out on the trail on a gorgeous clear day.   The views were stunning!

Even when the rest of the East Bay is a mud-fest, the sandstone here provides good footing.  Our hike is somewhat challenging and gives us lots of opportunities to practice pushing up with power and picking our way down.  With practice, confidence improves.  Everyone has some homework to do and is encouraged to practice what feels a bit awkward.  We provide many tools for your hiking toolbox and every class is different, which is why some folks take classes again – to refresh, to learn additional skills and to expand their hiking horizons!

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