On this final leg of the trip, we didn't have much ground to cover but it was uphill to one of the largest view sheds in the western United States. We saw the Sierra Nevada mountains and the San Francisco skyline in a 360 degree panorama. From this height, we could trace not only the path we've taken, but the countless other paths that stretch out in every direction, beginning and ending right here.
Black panthers have been rumored to stalk the hills of the Mt. Diablo area since the 1870s. We explored and investigated the complex history and lexicon of cryptozoology, a pseudoscience involving the search for animals whose existence has not been proven. We searched for evidence and unearthed the difference between fact and fiction as we tracked the area’s most mysterious felid.
John Cloud, historian for the Coast and Geodetic Survey with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), joined us at the summit for a discussion about the mountain’s importance in early coast surveys. Starting with the first U.S. Coast Survey, which became an office within NOAA, NOAA professionals have been climbing Mount Diablo to work and take in the view since the 1850s. John knows all there is to know about the original surveying missions and the various techniques they used to map the mountain—and the entire coast.
Hiker Adam Green periodically took photos facing east from wherever he was and posted them to the Exploratorium’s Instagram account. This provided remote participants with a window onto The Windows and through the landscape. The images will be presented post-walk in the form of a booklet of eastward views.
When we explore exhibits or do activities to learn about science, we bring all of who we are with us, including our social and cultural experiences. On this trek, as we take the Exploratorium experience into new settings, we observed and talked with participants, capturing their interactions and reflections to uncover how their explorations and understanding are imbued with who they are.
Rebecca Solnit's wide-ranging book, Wanderlust: A History of Walking, trespasses through fields as diverse as philosophy, evolutionary biology, and urban planning. Inspired by Solnit's study, Marina and Milo contributed a meta-cognitive layer to the trek by focusing on the activity of walking itself through a series of daily reflections, readings, and simple activities on the wonders of bipedalism.
Exploratorium Explainers inspire visitors to engage with the museum's exhibits in creative ways, help out with floor operations, and lead daily demonstrations. One of most popular demos is performing magic tricks for captivated audiences of all ages. At various interludes along the path, Explainer Marcus Mark reached for his deck of cards to delight and astonish us, while simultaneously exploring the relationship between our eyes and our brains.