January 16, 2016
Bull Valley Trail
Total distance:  1.92 miles

I have attached my heart to a place that is vastly beautiful—Yosemite, where I love to hike.  Most of my children live in the Bay Area though.  It’s easier for me to go there to hike with them than vice versa.  Like last year’s first hike, Joseph was accompanying me on my first hike of 2016.

Outside was grey and dreary, the air moist with fog.  Joe and I headed to the Bull Valley Trail along the Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline.  Carquinez Strait is the outlet of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta flowing to the San Francisco Bay.  We began by walking across the train tracks heading towards Eckley Pier.

Southern Pacific Railroad tracks.

Below the pier, a rusted piece of equipment sat in the water.  My first thought was that it was farming equipment, but why in the water?

Rusty boilers and paddle-wheel.

Later I did some research and learned that it was the remnants of a ferry boat called Garden City. 

Garden City Ferry, 1980.  Image from Dory Adams’ blog, “In This Light”.  Photo taken by Kevin Scanlon.

Garden City was built in 1879 and carried railroad cars and passengers.  It ran until 1929 then was docked at Eckley Pier. Once docked it was used as a sport fishing resort until it was abandoned in the 1960s.  In the 1980s fire destroyed Eckley Pier and all of the wood on Garden City leaving just the boilers and paddle-wheel.

Eckley Pier and the remaining pilings of the old pier.

Rain brought more wetness as we left the shoreline and walked towards the fire trail.  Neither of us minded the rain, but we didn’t want to walk in mud.  When my foot slipped out from under me, I found myself wishing that I had brought a walking stick.

Beginning the hike.
The trail was slick with mud as we headed uphill.

We progressed towards the Overlook Loop Trail where a memorial bench was placed for a perfect view of the Carquinez Bridge.  To our disappointment, the view of the bridge, the water, and everything else was obscured by a veil of fog.

Looking towards the Carquinez Bridge.

The trail led through a mysterious yet fragrant eucalyptus forest whose leaves and branches dripped with water.  Like the tall trees, the trail was sopping.  While walking through the wet woods, we heard the haunting blast of a foghorn.

A stream of water rushed down the middle of the trail.

Coming out of the eerie grove, we walked to the edge of the hill and looked down on the tiny town of Port Costa.

Port Costa, only 101 acres in area.

I turned from photographing the town, and saw a cargo boat glide across the foggy waterway, the source of the ominous signal heard in the woods.

Liberty Bay

We watched Liberty Bay make her way quickly through the Strait.


Walking back to the loop hike from viewing Port Costa and Liberty Bay.

Continuing the loop, we walked through the grassy meadow, up and over the rolling hills and looked out towards the water.  I imagine the view at the top would have been interesting, but it was wrapped in fog.

Looking towards foggy Carquinez Strait.

This was a short but enjoyable trek.  I delighted in walking in the rain with Joseph, smelling the penetrating scent of eucalyptus, and hearing sounds not usually heard on the trails I walk in Yosemite.

Happy to have taken this walk with Joe.

Afterwards, when we were drier, Joseph treated me to a tasty old-fashioned burger at a nearby diner.

Happy New Year, and thanks for reading!