The December day was gray, with a clear wish to rain. The expanse of Briones Park, peacefully empty, was exhilarating for the young woman recently arrived from Milan (that is, me). While people were rushing hither and thither to get all the Christmas chores done, we were luxuriating amid softly undulating hills studded with stately oaks.
My first walk in Briones Park occurred during my first visit to California 20 years ago. I have been back countless times. I have walked on pretty much all its trails (and all around nearby Briones Reservoir). My first photographic project had the Park as subject. I love Briones Park, jewel of the East Bay Regional Park District:
With its rolling, grassy hills and secluded, shady canyons, Briones is a secret wilderness surrounded by the towns of central Contra Costa County. Although the park is close to Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, Concord, and Martinez, there are peaks within it from which you can see only park and watershed lands for miles in every direction. [source]
The photo above shows the classic landscape of Briones Park. As the dry season progresses, the grass will dry making the dark green oaks stand out even more.
After a long stretch in the open, it is nice to enter a short tunnel where the sunlight, filtering through the trees, creates a kind of marbling on the ground. Uphill from this spot, I once met a coyote. Neither of us was particularly excited about the encounter, so we decided to go our separate ways with just a nod as salute.
My recent walk in Briones Park occurred on a day where I needed help quieting the turmoil in my mind. I took this image of a path carved on the side of a hill as an invitation to forge ahead.
Humans and coyotes are not the only creatures sharing the park space. Cattle grazing occurs in Briones Park year round. This page explains how grazing animals benefit this and the other parks that are part of the East Bay Park Regional District:
Livestock grazing utilizing cattle, sheep and goats is used as a vegetation management tool to maintain and improve habitat conditions for resident plants and animals and to prevent wildfires. [source]
There are various ways of enjoying the natural beauty of the park: hiking, biking, horse-back riding, or resting with your back on the grass and your eyes to the sky.