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Santiago Oaks Regional Park after the rains

January 23, 2011

Santiago Oaks re-opened last week, but the effects of the recent winter storms are evident.

First a shot from July of 2005, for comparison–low water, a green jungle of riparian lushness:

Now yesterday’s view–Santiago Creek rolling a good 20+ feet across still:

The first photo is looking west; the second one east…but my point is–a LOT of water must have ripped, raced, and roared through here last month. The Santiago Creek streambed is scoured of much of its formerly thick riparian growth of mulefat, willow, cottonwood, and sycamore. Check back in a year, a decade, a lifetime–change glides along like a Pacific-storm-swollen stream.

The volume of water right now, weeks after the most recent rain, was still impressive (especially if you’re easily impressed). After an hour of trotting up and down the trails (Mountain Goat to Barham Ridge to Bumblebee to Oak ) barefoot, to be able to soak not just my toes, but almost to my knees, in therapeutically chilly water was fabulous.

What made yesterday’s outing truly memorable, though, was a small herd of four fleet-footed creatures flying shirtlessly up and the down the same trails where I was picking my way through post-rain exposed gravel. I felt inspired, maybe not exactly in a Walt Whitman sort of way–but two of them were “almost” barefoot…

We ran into each other again at the stream crossing by the parking lot–the less-shod ones didn’t seem too flummoxed by my request to take a picture of their feet (and that they ran so fast and free in these expensive-imitation-barefoot-thingies almost made me want to try some too…).

Does 2011 hold a pair of Vibram Five Fingers for me as well?

(I can still see these gazelles in my mind’s eye, floating down the rough downhill trail like it was the plushest of plushy, formaldehyde-out-gassing carpets…was it the shoes?)

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