Trailblazers’ Wildflower Ride, April 2001
by Andi Schreibman

Marilyn Russell and trusty seasoned steed Cresta led an exuberant ride on Mt. Diablo on April 14th. It was an incredibly beautiful day, a light jacket breezy kind of day with lots of sun.  The riders were Janet Berkey, Dick Quigley, Jean Schreiber, Jan Carlisle, and Andi Schreibman. 

It started out with Jan realizing she left her girth at home!  Not really caring to try it bareback, fortunately, as always, Jean came to the rescue as she lent Jan her orthoflex saddle. She just happened to carry an extra one.  Gee, what a bummer Jan!  What a shame to have to suffer through that for 4 hours!!!  (I did the same thing a few months ago myself when I locked myself out of my tack compartment and had to borrow Rita’s orthoflex.  We’re really no dummies!!!) 

Anyway, we started at Macedo Gate and rode up to Barbecue Terrace.  The flowers were in great abundance, and we stopped often so that Marilyn could give us our wonderful lessons on flora and fauna (this was actually a  field trip following her slide show, but thankfully she didn’t insist on us remembering the names!).  There were magnificent displays everywhere, it was a perfect time for viewing!  The vistas were breathtaking.  The hikers and bikers we passed were actually well-versed in sharing the trails and were very considerate, and that was great…not at all the experience I’ve often come across in the east bay parks.    

Cream puffs, manzanita, yarrow, wild lilies, blue dicks, monkeyflower, sages, daisies, buttercup, chapparel, mules ears, Indian paintbrush, fields of poppies, holly, lupine, Chinese house, and a plethora of others!  If you’re impressed that I remembered all those names I must fess up and admit that of course I couldn’t remember these by heart, I found them at a great website on California wildflowers at http://www.calacademy.org/research/botany/wildflow/

Just the same, Marilyn is a great teacher and has fascinating stories to accompany her wonderful tidbits of scientific fact.  Dick left us about an hour into the ride because he had to go back early but hey, I think it’s about 5 years since I rode with him so I was honored to have had even that short time!

We had lunch at BBQ Terrace, where we let the horses graze on lush meadows surrounding the tie stalls while we counted our blessings that we are here in California and it’s springtime and we’re healthy and alive and have wonderful horses and have the opportunity to ride in such incredible places and commune with nature.  On the way back Marilyn shared a concept from a book she read where you experience a ‘blue moment’, a moment in time where you just know everything is perfect with the world around you, everything is as it should be;  I believe we all felt a moment or two of that on this ride, of peace and tranquility, of the utter beauty of nature at its finest, and a smile that doesn’t leave.  We returned by way of Pine Canyon, the creeks were bubbling, the birds singing, the breeze blowing, and all was truly right with the world. Thank you Marilyn for sharing such a beautiful day, and giving us even more appreciation of nature around us from a more ecological/biological view.  It’s been a long time since I’ve ridden that side of the mountain, and I really wonder what the heck took me so long!