It was on February 22, Washington’s
Birthday, that Hal and I started in the early morning
from Berkeley, for a trip to Wild-cat Canon. The
birds are singing their Te Deum to the morning
sun. The California partridges run along the
path ahead of us, their waving crests bobbing up and
down as they scurry out of sight under the bushes,
seldom taking wing, but depending on their sturdy
little legs to take them out of harm’s way.
A cotton-tail, disturbed in his hiding, darts away,
bounding from side to side like a rubber ball, as if
expecting a shot to overtake him before he can get
safely to cover He need not fear, as we have no more
deadly weapon than a camera, though we should certainly
train that upon him if he but gave us a chance.
High overhead we hear the clarion honk, honk of wild
geese, cleaving the air in drag-shaped column, while
the dew on the grass dances and sparkles in the sunshine
like glittering diamonds.
After a hard climb we reach the top
of the hill, and look down at the town just awakening
into life, and out across the waters of the bay partly
hidden by the blanket of fog rolling in from the ocean.
Did you ever stand on the top of a
high hill in the early morning, when the eastern sky
is beginning to put on its morning robe of variegated
colors, with all the blended shades of an artist’s
palette, and watch the town, nestling in the valley
at your feet, wake up after its night of slumber?
Here a chimney sends its spiral of blue smoke straight
in air; then another, and another, like the smoke of
Indian scouts signaling to their tribes. The
lights in the windows go out, one by one; the sharp
blast of a whistle cuts the air, the clang of a bell
peals out, the rumble of a wagon is heard, and the
street cars begin their clatter and clang. All
this comes floating up to you on the still morning
air, until an ever-increasing crescendo of sounds is
borne in upon you, telling that the town has awakened
from its nap, stretched itself like a drowsy giant,
and is ready once more to grapple with its various
We pass a grove of tall eucalyptus
trees on our left, their rugged trunks like an army
of tattered, unkempt giants. From the brink of
the old stone quarry, we gaze down into its prisonlike
depths, the perpendicular walls looking as if they
had been carved out of solid rock to hold some primeval
malefactor; then we descend the hill on the other
side to the canon.
The view on every side is magnificent.
Rising out of the canon, on the farther side, the
rounded domes of the hills, clothed in velvet green,
roll from one to another like huge waves of the ocean,
while far to the right old Grizzly stands majestically
above the others, its top crowned with waving verdure,
like the gaudy headdress of some mighty warrior.
We descend into the canon by a well-marked
trail, and the shade of the trees is most grateful
after our walk in the sun. We follow downstream,
where the speckled trout lie hid in the deep pools,
and the song sparrows sing their sweetest, and at
last find ourselves at the object of our quest, opposite
There are three or four of these,
large and small, which were used in former times by
the Indians. We had fully intended to climb the
face of this almost perpendicular cliff, to explore
the caves, and photograph the interiors with the aid
of flashlights, but decided that the climb was too
hard, and the ground too wet and slippery for safety.
As a false step or an insecure foothold would send
us to the bottom with broken bones, if not broken
necks, we contented ourselves with photographing the
face of the cliff from a safe distance.
Retracing our steps, crossing the
stream, and making a long detour, we tried to reach
the caves from above. It was a hard, tedious climb,
over rough and jagged rocks, but after nearly an hour’s
struggle, slipping and sliding, holding on to every
shrub that offered the semblance of a grip, we reached
the top. Then by a more tedious and dangerous
descent, we reached a large flat rock just above the
caves. Crawling out upon the rock, and venturing
as near the edge as we dared, we found it almost as
impossible to reach the caves from above as from below,
and finally gave up the attempt.
But we were well repaid for our rough
climb, for a more magnificent panorama could hardly
be found. We looked for miles up and down the
canon, in either direction, so far below us that the
head grew dizzy. The trees followed the tortuous
course of the canon, and two men that we saw far below
us looked like pigmies.
Far above us a sparrow hawk circled
above the trees, and we were told that an owl had
a nest somewhere among the rocks. We did not look
for it, but certainly nothing but an owl, or some
other bird, could ever hope to scale the rocks successfully.
We rested a long time on the top of the rock, enjoying
the view, and regaining our wind for the climb to
the top. This we accomplished without accident,
save for the few scratches incident to such work.
It was the season when the flowering currant puts
on its gala dress of pink blossoms, and the banks of
the creek for a long distance were like a flower garden.
On the higher ground the beautiful Zygadene plant,
with its pompon of white star-shaped flowers, and
long graceful leaves, grew in profusion. Maidenhair
ferns, the only variety we saw, sent forth their delicate
streamers from every nook and cranny, forming a carpet
of exquisite texture.
When we reached the top of the hill
on our return, and looked down upon Berkeley, the
sun was obscured by a high fog, and a cold wind came
up to us from the bay, making us step lively to keep
the blood circulating. We reached home late in
the afternoon, worn, and leg-weary, but well satisfied
with our holiday in Wild-cat Canon and the beautiful