When the drive to the hike is cooler than the hike…
Whomp! Whomp! Okay, that might be a tad exaggerated, but I was able to drive over the Pardee Dam. I thought it was pretty cool, even though it’s a one-lane dam, monitored by a stoplight. Which means I am entrusting others to pay attention to the light they are supposed to be stopped at.
I only knew about Pardee because a friend had gone fishing here and said it was pretty. So, I saw it on AllTrails and I figured why not give it a go. But in my attempt to plan this, I visited the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) website, because I learned you need to buy a day permit to hike. I bought the day permit but then read those out-of-county residents were not welcome, due to COVID. And after the fact, I learned the day permits are only good for the day you purchase them.
When the trail opened to more people, I was confused about what to do next with my expired, non-used day permit. I was just going to buy another one, but I decided to give EBMUD a call and I actually got through. The lady was super nice and just revised my daily permit for the day I wanted to go hike. The permit was only $3 but definitely added a complexity to this hike.
The app has you arrive at a very random parking lot for the John Bull Loop Trail, which only had a few cars when I arrived. There were also a few horse trailers parked too. It was desolate and barely anyone there, but easy to find the trailhead.
You start on a dirt road with no shade and you wind your way to what seems to be someone’s home and loop around it. Again, this hike really only has two points where you have a beautiful view. Otherwise, there are bugs, you’re exposed to the elements, and it’s kinda just desolate. Oh and I cannot forget all the damn cow patties!
The first lookout isn’t really hard to get to, you are essentially led to it. There was a cute little picnic table, but it was ‘closed’ due to COVID. The second outlook could be missed. There is a sign, but if you aren’t paying attention, you may just walk through the gate to keep hiking. The path to the outlook isn’t really noticeable, because you have to walk through dry brush. If you look close, you can see a light path from people walking on it to get to a faux trail to hike up to the overlook. Be glad you did it, it is a great view.
I was starting to think I was doing something wrong with the hikes I was choosing. I wasn’t amazed anymore. I realized I had to reframe my thoughts. Hiking isn’t only about the ah-ha moments and awe-inspired views, but they aren’t only about technicality or length too. This hike reminded me to be grateful for my body, which allows me to hike eight miles without any issues. I am grateful I have the luxury to hike because I don’t have to work on the weekends as a necessity. I am grateful for my support and strength, which allows me to feel comfortable and supported to hike by myself.
This was my third solo hike and I didn’t see many people until I had about a mile left to the parking lot. There were a handful of groups making their way out. I was ready to be done, it was super warm, and I was bored for the lack of a better word. Besides listening to Audible, at times I’ll throw on Spotify to listen to music too. However, I’m kinda conflicted about this. Not only could it be annoying to fellow hikers, but does it disrupt nature? I’m sure it does, so while I listen to it, I also feel bad sometimes.
Paredee was pretty from afar…