Somehow, hiking at Sibley Regional Park seems to be a good way to spend a sunny Christmas Day, when my various physical issues allow it. My photo site shows that I did this in 2009, too. Last year, no, but this year the new knee is doing great, the ten year old knee is cranking right along, and the weather is clear and cold. And smoggy, sigh - we haven't been able to have a fire in the fireplace for days. You can see the smog obscuring Mt. Diablo in this photo from Volcano Trail:
I set out to hike around the Lafayette Reservoir, always a pretty trek; but when I got there I couldn't park. On Christmas Day, of course, there was no human taking money for parking; and the machine was apparently taking people's money and not producing a parking voucher. By the time the 3 of us in line realized this, the last of the coin-metered spots was gone. Phooey, I thought, I'll go to Sibley; it's on the way home anyhow.
I've recently learned how to get into Sibley the back way, up Old Tunnel Road to the Quarry Road. Here is the Quarry Road:
This looks flat, but I assure you, it isn't - the Quarry Road is roughly a 10% grade, and you climb it for a 390 foot elevation gain in about 3/4 mile. This takes you to the beginning of the Volcano Trail; and it took me 50 minutes, mainly because I kept stopping to pant. (Asthma.) Sibley has several dead volcanoes and I've never gotten up to them before, so I was determined to do it.
The back end of Sibley is astoundingly silent. You can hear small birds rattling around in the underbrush. Way off in the distance you hear a dim roaring sound that represents the rest of the Bay Area; but for much of my 2 1/2 hour hike there was nobody there but me, and no sound but my steps and my breathing.
There were other people there; in the first half of the trip I ran into roughly a dozen people and 4 dogs. This is dog walking country because for much of it you can let the dog run off-leash. I was leaning over putting my jacket in my backpack, when suddenly I had a tan muzzle in my face - somebody's friendly mutt. The owner apologized; no harm done.
There were more people (and dogs!) around in the second half of the trip - they came in from the main park entrance on Skyline, where you don't have to climb a continuous mile to get anywhere. There had been horses quite recently but I could only see their traces.
I walked part of the Volcano Trail (another 75 foot elevation gain for a total of a little over 450 feet), stopped carefully at all the numbered points of interest and read the descriptions in the park map. There's no steaming caldera, these are dead volcanoes. There are several very dark red tuff formations (heated by the lava, says the map):
There's no great philosophical message here, just a pleasant three-mile hike on a brisk day. I got some nice bird photos at the beginning of the Volcano Trail, here's one:
You can see the rest of my photos in my new gallery Christmas Day at Sibley 2011.