The first ascent of our trek began on this day, just east of Camp 1 at the entrance to the Berkeley Hills fire trail. The view expanded as we climbed Panoramic Hill and glanced back at the San Francisco skyline. From the crest, Mount Diablo was suddenly and dramatically visible. It remained in sight for the remainder of our trip. Below were the towns of Orinda, Lafayette, Walnut Creek, and Danville. We worked our way down, across the Lafayette Reservoir, and made it to Camp 2 in time for sunset.
Jessica Purificato, a fisheries and wildlife biologist from the East Bay Municipal Utilities District, shepherded us down the hill and discussed her work monitoring fish, wildlife, and plant species on the East Bay watershed lands, including a project to watch for the presence of the endangered Alameda Whipsnake.
A scientist and landscape architect from WRA Environmental Consultants accompanied the group through the Wilder, California, housing development and spoke about the extensive creek, riparian, wetlands, and special-status species habitat restoration that has taken place in the valley. Wilder is a community under construction surrounded by hundreds of acres of preserved space.
We took a well-deserved dip in the pool at the Soda Aquatic Center. Exploratorium artist Jamie Topper and senior scientist Charlie Carlson explored multiple methods of moving through water, including propelling, hovering, and sculling. We’ll broke for lunch.
On a scenic trail overlooking the Lafayette Reservoir, the Shenaut sisters offered an interactive presentation about blisters. What causes them? And what exactly happens under the surface of the skin when a blister forms? We brainstormed ways to reduce friction in our shoes and tested out materials with varying coefficients of friction. Emily offered her first-hand experience and strategies for blister prevention and care, and we tried out various blister-prevention strategies on our own feet using first aid supplies the sisters provided.
We stopped in for a series of afternoon and evening student concerts at the Campana Music store, one of Lafayette’s oldest and most colorful businesses. The event was a tribute to its late founder, Joe Campana, who ran the store from 1947 until the day before he passed away in 2010. The store provided free hot dogs, chips, and water as students performed into the evening. This event was created with Ben Renwick, a woodwind instructor and Campana employee since 1980.
Marina McDougall and her son Milo engaged Elizabeth Stampe in a discussion on the challenges of privileging the pedestrian in car-centric environments. Stampe works with the advocacy group Walk San Francisco to create a “more livable, walkable city” in public spaces. We met in the Campana parking lot and walked toward the Highway 24 overpass, learning and meditating as we moved.
We experienced an evening of night science as the moon approached full. People enjoyed a nature talk or night hike, peeked at the sky through a telescope, explored the science of glowing, and listened to an old folktale about the moon. Exploratorium staff and friends joined with Ranch staff to present this night of programming.
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 took 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.