I recently went home to the Bay Area for Spring Break. The Bay Area is one of those places where one can drive for hours and still be in Suburbia. Using San Francisco as an epicenter, the development stretches for miles in all directions from the city. This is mitigated by the fortunate proximity to the Pacific coastline, much of the land to the west of the development is unadulterated and natural.
My great friend Walter and I take all advantage we can of the gems of nature that are so precariously close to housing. We love to go on all the best hikes and climbs, but on Thursday we explored the very edge of suburban development and natural conservation.
During a great hike at Edgewood Park, we spotted a giant boulder in Emerald Hills that we had both heard of and knew we had to explore it. Our first thought was to trek to it, but we didn’t because we didn’t want to trample any natural ground for wildflowers or animals. We drove around until we saw the boulder on the side of a small street, in someone’s backyard. Cutting through the backyard, we crossed a creek, went up a big hill, and got to climbing up the boulder. It was surprising to see such a big rock in the middle of a neighborhood, but more so to see that it was covered in graffiti and trash. That was a disappointment.
Our greatest surprise came when we made it halfway up the boulder and could walk all around it, it turned about the be a park, Handley Rock Park. It had rules, parking spots and a picnic area! We didn’t let that phase us and from the top enjoyed an incredible view of the whole Bay Area, and Edgewood Park, where we had just been.
Such a place, should be sacred, as it is very important to hold close to the our ability to access nature. Parks in cities and towns are a great idea, because they leave something we living plants and open skies. However, the disrespect is appalling, as evidenced by the treatment of Handley Rock Park. It hurt to see it so mistreated.
Solitude and peace can be found in nature, be it the deepest back country or a simple backyard. Regardless of the proximity to our daily lives, we mustn’t let our bad habits continue to infiltrate the natural world. It is said that people don’t realize the importance of things until they are gone, but it should never have to come to that in the instance of parks and nature.