The Piedmont Recreation Department’s Walking on Wednesdays group has been back walking for over six months since they restarted in April after their Covid-required hiatus. During this time the walkers have been getting back in shape and building their endurance with some increasingly more challenging walks. In recent weeks they have pushed out to the bounders of Piedmont with walks that not only had distance, but also elevation. Last Wednesday would another opportunity for a challenging and enjoyable walk.
It was a beautiful fall day. The morning clouds were basically gone by the time the walkers assembled at the Exedra. Those who were wearing extra layers were already having second thoughts. It was another strong turnout with 28 walkers in attendance.
The group tries to go to every safe Piedmont street during the year, but one of the pockets of streets they had not gone to was the Sandringham/Selborne/Estates/Inverleith loop near the top of Hampton Avenue. It was understood that anyone who didn’t want to make this little longer climb could peel off at Hampton Park and return to the center of town via La Salle Avenue. However, the walkers like new streets and to push themselves. So, they were ready to take on one of the longest walk of the year and one with some steep climbs.
However, before the group set off they had another guest. Recreation Department Supervisor Eva Phalen had come to tell the walkers about the set of new, unique adult programs conducted by more than 10 new instructors that the Rec has developed for 2022. One class is “Wood Bending,” an ancient and rare art form. Eva told the group about all the classes, and brought printed copies of the digital Activity Guide that describes them in detail. She said the entire Activity Guide is available at https://piedmont.ca.gov/services___departments/recreation/activity_guide with the ADULT/SENIOR section starting on page 39.
With Eva’s visit completed, the walkers were ready to walk. In addition to seeing streets the group hadn’t been to before, there was another attraction associated with this walk. The little higher elevation in this section of Piedmont seems to make the color of the leaves on the trees a little more vibrant late in the fall season. Realizing that this might be the last really good Wednesday for fall colors, seeing some beautiful trees was another excellent reason to take this walk.
The long line of walkers went up Highland Avenue with Hampton Park their initial destination. They took their usual route down Sheridan and up Wildwood Avenues. The trees that line Wildwood provide some of the city’s best fall colors, but they were past their prime. A quick passage through the always lovely Hall Fenway took the walkers to Crocker and Hampton Avenues. They went past the also always lovely Crocker/Bear Park. The sun was warm, and so were the conversations between the walkers.
The group reassembled at Hampton Park. Since there was a small number of walkers who had noon commitments, and were not going to be able to stay for the entire walk, the group posed for the attached photo there. They then crossed La Salle Avenue, going through the old columns that marked the entrance to the early Piedmont St. James Woods neighborhood development. The boundaries of this large development are still marked by original, tile inlay sidewalks. When repairs are now made to them, the same design is kept.
The walkers continued their assent of Hampton and came to a set of trees before Sandringham that did have striking, red leaves that were more vibrant than those of the trees below. The group also noted a home with a long, uphill driveway that was even steeper than what the walkers were experiencing on the street.
The group came to Sandringham and went up it to the short Marlborough Court cul-de-sac with a lovely home at its end. The walkers returned to Sandringham and soon found another cul-de-sac, Sandringham Place, with more lovely homes. They explored it too and then returned to Sandringham Rd. Along the street there is a medium sized tree whose bunches overhang the sidewalk and create what is almost like a leaf tunnel. When the group came to Selborne Drive they stopped and admired a beautiful, clear view of the Bay in the distance. There were cargo ships in it, and group wondered if they were experiencing delays like the Southern California ports.
Going up Selborne took the walkers to Estates Drive and a short climb up it to the split, upper and lower Inverleith Terrace. At this point a question was raised. What is the highest point in Piedmont? Is it the top of Glen Alpine, or where Estates crosses into Oakland, or somewhere else? No one knew for sure, but Siow Fang Tan, looking at an app on her phone, was able to tell the group that their current elevation was 541 feet above the ships they had just seen.
The walkers took the upper side of Inverleith back to Hampton, along the way they passed liquidambar trees with more vibrant red leaves and a bottlebrush tree with a very active hummingbird. The group went down La Salle and St. James Drive, up it back to Hampton retraced their steps to the Exedra.
When the walkers got back to the city center they checked another phone app and saw that their morning’s exploration had been a total of a little over five miles. This was the longest Wednesday walk that anyone could remember. It was longer than usual, but every enjoyable, and probably good preparation for next week’s Turkey Trot.