Athletics are a large part of any university. At Cal they are known for their varsity sports, recreational facilities and Cal Adventures (water sports at the Berkeley Marina). Since this is the summer session there are no varsity sports currently being played. Football home games do not start until September when the fall semester begins. Many varsity athletes are on campus training and taking summer sessions. I have met girls on the field hockey team, basketball team and rowing crew. With my student membership I have access to all of the classes, swimming pools, courts and receive reduced rates for rentals and programs down at the Marina.
I thought I would try classes that I did not have the opportunity to take part in back in Toronto. On Tuesday and Thursdays during the lunch hour there is a women’s only aqua exercise class. The class is held outdoors in one of the three Hearts pools. The pool is marble and very private. I find the workout to be as challenging as you make it. The age range spans fifty years between myself and the other participants, many who work with the University. By noon the sun is out making the pool even more enjoyable. When a member of the class complains about the temperature, the instructors reminds them about what the class is like in the winter months. I have laughed to myself at these moments because back in Toronto it would simple be too cold and snowy to have the class outdoors. Last week one woman told me I was lucky to find the class and she was completely correct. I get to spend an hour with other friendly members of the Berkeley community exercising in a pool that is open just for the class.
With a determination to take every opportunity for adventure, I decided to join the Sunday morning paddle offered through Cal Adventures down at the Berkeley Marina. I love kayaking and have years of experience. With a sunny Saturday I did not worry about the weather until I heard it raining in the middle of the night. Sunday morning was foggy and grey. I was hoping to be able to see San Francisco and paddle out to the Bay Bridge. However due to weather limitations the group was restricted to the marina bay. This was a three-hour paddle where the wind blew onshore the whole time and the salt water covered my lips. The fog filled in the bay area creating a small Berkeley Marina bubble. I am happy I had the experience to paddle however I have missed the small Ontario lakes.
Besides all the rec sports Berkeley, and the entire Bay area, is home to outstanding hiking venues. Over two different weekends I was able to go hiking with friends in Marin County. To get to the trailheads we had to drive over the Golden Gate bridge which gives one of the best views of the Bay. The first hike was in Muir Woods home of the famous redwood trees. The hike was over four miles and we were able to take two trails, the Ben Johnson and Dipsea Trail. I loved the Ben Johnson trail as it was filled with tall redwood trees that had a beautiful smell.
Originally we wanted to hike from Muir Woods all the way up to Stinson Beach, however due to time restriction we drove up to Stinson beach after the hike. The water was too cold to go swimming but we were able to dip our toes in. The Tennessee Valley trail runs parallel to the ocean. With the fog settled in, it was hard to know if we were in California or Ireland. Since we were right along the ocean there was a strong breeze. On the way back to the city we took a quick stop up at Twin Peaks a look out over San Francisco. The view was exceptional and since it was a clear day the whole city was in view. I learned I really enjoyed hiking and pushing my self outside of my comfort zone.