Trail Mix 

Four days to beat Diablo

THU-SUN 4/24-27

Turning out city slickers to the ways of the wilderness is no easy task. But each year, Ron Brown and his cohorts at Save Mount Diablo lace up their hiking boots and give it the ol' college try. Brown is the executive director of the nonprofit, and beginning Thursday, he'll lead hikers of all stripes on the annual Four Days Diablo backpack excursion. To make it more enticing for the greenfeet among us, the hike is a mild 36 miles, very doable for the "reasonably in-shape," he says. And, each night trekkers enter camp, they'll be treated to gourmet meals catered by the East Bay's finest restaurants. Heck, on the first night, Prima's executive chef Peter Chastain will be in camp to serve up the pasta and wine."We like to pamper," Brown says. "It's a good way to get people on the trail and show them what's at stake."

Since 1971, Brown's group has worked diligently to preserve the mountain's natural values. To date, it's helped steer legislation to preserve 83,000 acres, up from the 6,788 it started with. Even so, there's much left to protect. Aside from the lush wildflower meadows and dense woodlands the hikers will take in on the trip, Brown will also lead them along the eastern side of the Morgan Territory, where developers are hoping to build a new patch of McMansions. "Hopefully," he adds, "they'll see how the development will eliminate public access to these spots, and how these big homes will pollute the visual aesthetic of the mountain. Not to mention how it invades the natural habitat."

One year, Brown says, a newlywed couple took the Four Days Diablo trip, but the new bride had yet to be initiated to the outdoor lifestyle. As Brown put it, the acolyte had never "slept in anything more rustic than a Motel 6." Oh, the learning curve. By trail's end, however, she'd redefined herself as a mountain woman-in-training. Just then, as the group trekked to the finish line under a hot sun, a coyote perched itself on a ridge, carefully watching over the visitors as they exited its territory. The new bride surprised even herself: Not only did she resist the instinct to bolt like a well-heeled roadrunner, she stood in awe, marveling at the creature.

"She learned," Brown recalls, "that it wasn't so bad after all."

The cost for the trip is $750 per person. For more details or for sign-up, call 925-947-3535 or e-mail smdinfo@savemountdiablo.org-- Justin Berton

SUN 4/27

Tee Off!

Spring golf tournaments

Two golf tournaments, both at Berkeley's Tilden Park, both for worthy causes: The Cougar Golf Classic, a best-ball scramble plus dinner to benefit Albany High School's baseball program ($125), takes place Sunday. Call 510-525-2608 for more info. On Monday, it's the Sam Singh Memorial Golf Tournament, held in memory of the beloved golf course superintendent. The foursome scramble plus barbecue ($125) benefits a scholarship fund named for Singh. 510-549-8942.-- Kelly Vance

SAT 4/26

Hit the Trail!

Spend Earth Day weekend biking the hills and dales of West Contra Costa. You'll get a good workout and obtain a warm glow from knowing you haven't polluted the planet for your fun. This Saturday, a special bike tour of Richmond's Bay Trail -- led by Phil Maynard of the Trails for Richmond Action Committee (TRAC) -- begins at 9:30 a.m. at Central Avenue and Rydin Road just west of I-580, then continues along the Bay Trail on its way to the West County Earth Day Festival. The course is flat, approximately twelve miles long, and offers riders a look at completed and planned segments of the Bay Trail. For more info, log on to www.ci.richmond.ca.us/trac/-- Kelly Vance

SAT 4/26

High-Class Pedalers

Bike riders in top hats? Whatever turns you on. Saturday morning, legions of bicyclists in Pleasanton have a choice. Will they ride 10 miles or 25? Will they try 50 miles, or even 75? Whichever level they choose, participants in the Top Hat Classic Bike Tour will benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society by signing up for the tour and enjoying a scenic ride through the pleasant environs of Pleasanton. Stagger starts begin at 6:30 a.m. Details: 1-800-FIGHT-MS. -- Kelly Vance

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