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Reservoir Walk

Our Piedmont Recreation Department's Walking on Wednesdays group was hoping the warm weather that was forecast for last Wednesday would stay just warm as we assembled at the Exedra, but the clear, bright sunshine had the feeling of something a little more.

A hearty group of over 30 walkers and one k-9 best friend were ready for whatever the usually friendly weather gods had in store for us.

One landmark we hadn't visited recently was the EBMUD's Piedmont "Reservoir Number 2" at the top of Dudley and Blair Avenues. It was a clear morning, and the views from this part of the city can be great. There is some elevation going up Dudley, but it is a long, slow climb, and we felt we could handle it.

Before we got started, there was an announcement. The long range weather forecast for next Wednesday is that it is going to be "Piedmont hot," with the temperatures in the 80s. However, Chuck O had invited us to come see his extensive model train station in his garage. This will be a shorter walk and a good event on a hot day. We could go to the reservoir via Mountain and Dudley Avenues, rather than climbing up the steeper Blair and Hager Avenues. Those streets would be saved for our return. We started out going across Highland Avenue to Piedmont Court and took a shortcut path at its back to Mountain Avenue.

We passed a front yard with a life-size sculpture of a distinguished looking gentleman in a leaf-like coat, something like the Stanford Tree. We had seen the sculpture on past walks, and it was always a mystery. Who/what is it? Lois Price pulled out her phone, took a picture, and an app provided a possible answer. While not an exact match of the man in the front yard, the figure of Laurence Edwards' "Man of Stones" statue near the River Yare in Norfolk, England is dressed in the same sort of leafy suit. This is a bronze sculpture, approximately eight feet tall on a riverbank in a remote and wild place, and it is intended to communicate our relationship with nature, ecology, geology, and the environment. The man is emerging from the river and protecting its watery home. The statue in front of the Mountain Avenue home may be protecting it too.

We continued on, and turned up the long, steep Dudley Avenue. We took a side trip up and back the short, flat Dudley Court cul-de-sac to see it, catch our breaths; and then were on to Blair Avenue with the reservoir on the other side of the street. It is just above Blair Park, and occupies more than nine acres straddling the Oakland-Piedmont border with 8.3 acres of the site in Piedmont. A 22.8 million gallon water storage tank provided water for Piedmont from 1905 to 2003. The facility was decommissioned and drained in 2003 as part of EBMUD's facility modernization program, and Piedmont's water now comes from other large tanks in the Oakland Hills. Jim K. shared that the reservoir's land was once considered for residential development, but with parts of it in Piedmont and Oakland, the approval process was just too complicated. Additionally, the surrounding residents had concerns, so the empty reservoir remains. A shelter and bench provided a respite from the increasing temperature, and the backdrop for the attached group photo. Also attached is Mike H's map.

There were more streets nearby that could have been explored, but the climb and the rising temperature made the group feel they could be saved for another Wednesday. So, we went back Blair to Mountain and Hager Avenues. The views of the Bay and San Francisco as we made our way down the hill were spectacular. A breeze was welcomed too. Continuing on Pacific and Dormidera Avenues got us back to the city center before it was too high. It was about a two mile walk over about an hour, good exercise, and we escaped most of the day's heat.

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