I chose a short hike - 1/2 mile - up Islay Hill. The guidebook said it was "easy" but did note it was a "good 45-minute workout". You can say that again. But I am ahead of myself.
I walked from home to the trail head, down Orcutt Road, right on Tank Farm, down a local street to the trail beginning. It took me 50 minutes to get to that location, and this beginning hike undoubtedly colored my impressions of the hike up the hill itself.
The hike is fairly steep. My heart got to pounding immediately, because it is steep at the beginning and then again at the end, less steep in between. It is also the slippery clay-like soil. I should have hiking shoes with good grips for hikes like this one. There were times I really worried I would slip and fall.
I met nobody on the way up. The last half - or it seemed that way - of the hike got quite difficult, with the very last segment very steep indeed. It took me a good 30 minutes to get to the top. Coming down was easier in some ways but in the steep parts so slippery that I had to devise ways to do it, taking paths parallel but on grass, or keeping one foot on a wooden trail edge (there were some in some places). I met several people on my way down, some of whom passed me going the same direction. I don't know where they came from. I am guessing they took off on one of the "unauthorized" branches of the main trail. There were people walking dogs, a young woman and her four-year-old son (doing very well!), a couple of boys preparing to take a plastic sled down the slope, and a runner. The runner was a young woman wearing her "sounds". I could hear bits of the music when she passed me.
I always wonder why one would take along music on a trail like this. A place where the sound of silence, the wind, the birds, is so beautiful. And where you can see the silent floating of hawks above, such a wondrous sight and lack of sound.
I reached the bottom of the trail, having taken an hour and ten minutes for the entire trek, including eating my wrap at the top (and thank heaven for that. I forgot to bring the trail mix, though). In the future I will take the car or bike to the trailhead, believe me. I set out from the trail head in another direction, along a path alongside the railroad tracks. I knew that there was a stepping stone descent from the tracks to Tank Farm Road, because I had been the planner on that project area, and had made certain that the steps were put in.
Only - the way to the steps was a locked gate. Clearly because it exits from a housing authority apartment project, and I can understand that parents would not want small children going down there unattended. I had to circle around and do some creative climbing to get to the steps and back down to the road. Which I then took to Marigold center. I stopped at Schlotsky's and had a sandwich and small salad, sat there a while to let my legs rest. Then headed toward the tracks and on home again. More than three hours altogether, walking. My legs are so tired. I want to take a bath then go to a movie.