EBRPD Morgan Territory – Highland Ridge Trail

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Starting Out
The early morning was still cool but you could feel that the day was going to be hot. In the car park there is one other car that belonged to bird watchers who arrived long before I did.

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The cool morning reflected in the pond

Leaving the car park and heading down the Coyote Trail, the first thing that strikes me is the reflection in the pond that mirrors the moment in the day, the fresh new morning replacing the dark of night.

The early morning seems full of potential, the coolness of the air seems to tell you that this day is yet to be lived and who knows what might be created. Later, in the heat of the midday, all this subtlety of light will be lost and much of the potential of the day will be used up.

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Coyote Trail

The Coyote Trail provides a wonderful start to a hike in Morgan Territory. The path takes you down through the trees alongside the creek.

In the early morning the shaded area makes for a remarkable light show as the early morning sun falls on the ground creating a soft dappled effect. There is a lot of bird noise this morning; of course the birds don’t know it’s Sunday – I guess they are all off to Denny’s for breakfast.  Can you imagine a GrandSlam for blackbirds?
After a short distance the path emerges into a clearing on the side of the hill where you can see all the way to Mount Diablo.

 

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The path emerges onto the side of the hill revealing the objective on the ridge in the middle and Mt Diablo in the far distance to the left. 

 

The hill in the middle of the picture is where we are going.

This trail eventually emerges into a rolling meadow that takes us up to the fire trail to the road.

 

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Emerging from the copse on the Coyote Trail 

 

Morgan territory is bisected by Morgan Territory Road and there are rich opportunities for hiking of either side of the road. My preference is to start in the eastern side of the park and spread out from there.

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Crossing Morgan Territory Road

After the road the ascent begins. At this point it is just after 8am and there is no one else on the trail. The birds are still noisy, the temperature is rising, we are losing that early morning freshness.

I’m ambling along thinking about nothing in particular, noticing as questions and issues come up, making audio notes if I want to remember something. It’s this process that seems to be particularly good – I don’t really know the word to describe it; cleansing, liberating, getting organized, being creative. All of these things seem to occur while I’m walking.

I often wonder why managers who do strategic planning don’t use this type of approach for getting away from the “doingness” of life. Very often planning goes on in the confines of a business building.  Sometimes there is a so called “retreat” where the location is changed, but then people sit in a room all day, so I wonder how much of change is created. Giving a nod to the creative process, why aren’t managers sent on a long walk and asked to reflect on the business and how they can create competitive strategies to increase the value of their firm?

But I digress . . . back to the hike. The ascent to the ridge has two components. In the first, you go up to the “Roger Epperson Ridge”. This walk is still secluded alternating between meadows and copses. However, we begin to see glimpses of the surrounding country and Mt Diablo occasionally comes into view.

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Once you are over the EP ridge you arrive at a junction.  Going right, I continue on and then bear left to go down onto the Fox Trail.

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The fox trail is one of my favorite trails in this park. I love to be here in the early morning and experience the soft light coming through the trees. For some reason it gives me a sense of timelessness, although I know intellectually that if you dwelt here too long the mood would pass.  But for the moment, as I walk through this copse I feel that time stands still and everything is right with the world.
At the end of the trail you emerge from the trees and get sight of the ridge above and path to get to the top.

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The Ridge Trail in the distance

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The perfect dome of the oak tree

Walking along Fox Trail you see this great example of how the oak trees sometime grow in this part of the world. These single oaks grow in isolated spots on the side of the hill. For reasons I don’t quite understand I love the sight of tree contrasted against the blue sky. Notice how the branches of the tree seem to form a flat baseline while the rest of the tree has grown into a dome making a protected area of shade.

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Poppies at the T junction

At the end of the Fox Trail is a T junction with Raven Trail. A chance to pause and see the panorama spreading out below. Turning left I ascend the trail to the Ridge Trail. This trail seems less attractive but perhaps that’s because it’s hard work climbing to the top. There’s not much to say about the climb to the top; it’s just hard work, but the view at the end is worth the climb. On the way up I find a few poppies; an excuse to stop, take a breath and take a few pictures.

At the top of the climb is the reward of the view:

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View from the Ridge Trail

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Looking down at the Ridge Trail descending the hill

Turning left onto the Ridge Trail the path undulates back in southerly direction taking me towards the trailhead. This section of the trail is almost paradoxical. On the one side you have sweeping views of the park and the trails, but on the other side you see the east bay 680 corridor and the growing towns bringing civilization closer and closer to the park, year by year.
At the end of the ridge you can see the path sweeping out before you as you start to descend.

I follow the trail down and return over Roger Epperson Ridge. I turn right onto the Clyma Trail and head back into the woods on the west side of the park. This trail is picturesque with lots of tree cover and the occasional open area providing views of the woods on the hillside.
It’s getting late in the morning and until now I haven’t seen anyone else on the trail but somewhere around the pond (sorry it doesn’t have a name), a mountain biker comes by. It turns out he is the only person I will see on the trail today. The pond offers a reflection of the surrounding countryside and woods.  There is little wind down here so the surface remains smooth enough to see a good reflection.

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The pond on the Clyma Trail

The path continues on down the hill and eventually brings me to the road and then it’s just a short step back to the car park.

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