Hiking with Mitzy at Dry Creek
The welcoming view as we set to hike at Dry Creek Park.
Dry Creek Park has always been a paradise treat for my mini-schnauzer, Mitzy. It’s her Disneyland where she’s an eternal puppy, carefree and ageless. Although the drive to Dry Creek can be a boring 10 minutes, once she sees the parking lot on the Union City end of the park, her eyes begin to light up, her tiny tail wags uncontrollably, and her ears lift up a notch, carefully sensing the adventure that’s about to begin.
The hiking route we take stretches from Union City’s Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Park and ends at Garin Regional Park on the Hayward side. We normally take the frequently traversed Meyer Ranch Trail, where we enjoy the pleasant views of plants, trees and grass, and if we’re lucky, horses and cows. We pass by various creeks along the way, which could either be as dry as the cracked soil underneath it during summer, or whistling with a stream of running water during winter.
Mitzy’s leash remains on her up until we reach the so-called second gate. Then her fun really begins. There is no denying that this is her turf, her “territory,” if you will. She knows the place as if she’s lived it in her dreams every night, and now she sprightly hops (like a rabbit, literally!) from one plant to the next, digs her nose into bushy grounds, and leads the way from one bridge to the next.
Except for warning her every now and then about getting near poison oak (of which there’s a-plenty on the trail), Mitzy goes off on her own expedition. Oftentimes, she’s a few paces ahead of us on the trail, even disappearing from our view. Admirably, she would pause to look back at us, or she’d even wait for us to catch up with her, until we are just a few steps behind.
Once we reach Jordan Pond, we would have covered about 3 miles of land. Sometimes, this is our final stop before we head back to the parking lot in Union City. The sight of the waters is a welcome respite for us, and we’d sit at the nearby bench to rest our feet (and butts!), as we enjoy the calmness and serenity of nature, and watch, with delight, a number of ducks that have taken refuge in the pond.
But Mitzy does not rest, unless I carry her up the bench to sit with us. Otherwise, she continues her trek, as if memorizing the scent of the hills and trees that shelter us. We let her be, as long as she is within our sight. It’s as if she can’t be idle sitting with us, since she knows we may be heading back any moment now. I look at her and see how much joy this wonderful terrain brings to her.
If we’re still up to it, or if Cezar or I need to use the restroom, we’d continue to follow the trail to the red barn. It’s a short walk from Jordan Pond, but the views get amazingly better –hills upon hills of green grass (or brown soil during summer) that shape the skyline. During summer, the Garin Barn Visitor Center opens its little shop, which also houses a collection of old farming equipment and tools.
Then it’s time to head back. It’s another 45 minutes of hiking to get back, taking on the same trail that we just took. We count the bridges as we cross them, probably 5 or 6 of them. And then we reach the ‘second gate.’ And it’s time to put on Mitzy’s leash. She knows it, and she does not complain. She bids goodbye to the park, tired but ever determined to come back. And we will.