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Frequently Asked Questions

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Below are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions regarding our group:

Where
Where do we meet?
Check the
website and click the Upcoming Hikes link, then click on the title of the hike you are interested in to find directions to our meeting location.

Will anyone from my area be carpooling?
At this time we don't have an easy way to query who's coming from where or establish any type of carpool system. As an alternative, I encourage members to join the Members-Only Discussion List and submit carpool requests to the private email list.

Basic safety tips for carpooling and meeting new people:
  • Use the Member's only forum to arrange carpools and hikes.
  • Be aware of risks of arranging rides with a stranger via email.
  • Don't give out personal information to a stranger online.
  • When you are ready to tell someone your name and/or where you live, at first stick to first names and be vague about your address (just your city is enough).
  • When you do meet someone new, do it in daylight, with a friend or in the group, in a public place and tell someone where you are going.

    Where do you typically hike?
    Since our name is the East Bay Casual Hiking Group, we tend to stick to the East Bay. So most of the hikes are in Contra Costa County around the 680 corridor (Danville, Alamo, San Ramon, Walnut Creek, Concord), or Hwy 24 (Orinda, Lafayette, Moraga, etc.). We will also venture out from time to time to Clayton and out Marsh Creek Road, and even into Alameda County occasionally.
    Check out our Past Hikes page to get a better idea where we go and what trails we have hiked so far.


    Can I suggest new trails to hike, even if I don't want to lead a hike?
    Absolutely! Please use our Add A Trail submission form, if you've got a favorite spot or trail we haven't been to yet.

    Where can I purchase permits for the East Bay Parks District Trails?
    For trails managed by the East Bay Municipal Utility District, including many East Bay Parks trails, you may purchased hiking permits online via the EBMUD website .

    Is there possibly a hike that starts close to one of the Bart stations or is there an easy way to get to where the hike begins via a mode of public transit?
    Unfortunately public transit is not always a great option, at least for Contra Costa County hikes, as I don't think buses stop anywhere near many of the places we hike. And most of the local buses do not operate on Sundays. Our Mount Diablo Waterfall hike, for example, could be reached via County Connection Bus #110 from Concord or Pleasant Hill BART, but that route does not run on Sundays. (Although if the hike was Saturday looks like the bus DOES run!) Unfortunately the County Connection, which serves this area, does not publish their route maps online, but I have since discovered you can find their information on the 511.org website (see below).

    There are exceptions, however. One of the members in our group, Paul, has led a hike along the Contra Costa Canal trail ... this is a flat, paved trail ... and he often starts from the Pleasant Hill BART station! Here's an example of a past such hike: Contra Costa Canal Trail from Pleasant Hill BART

    Another potential hike is our Lime Ridge hike, which is just down the road from Cal State East Bay. Both the County Connection and AC Transit operate buses to that campus, though I do not know if that is true on the weekend. But it is a very busy road (Ygnacio Valley) and I'm not sure you'd want to walk along it, but I bet you could find someone wiling to swing by and pick you up from the campus and drive you to the hiking spot.

    In the Oakland hills, Inpiration Point and Redwood Regional Park offer bus service within walking distance. A great resource for what public transporation options are available to the hikes we do is to check out websites such as Bay Area Hiker and 511.org. The 511 site will let you input your starting and ending locations, and the time you need to arrive at your destination, and then determines public transit options for you!

    And, of course, another option is to carpool. If you are subscribed to the Member's Only Email list, you can use it to try to find a carpool. Or someone willing to pick you up from BART. Can't guarantee you'll always be able to find a ride, but worth trying.



    Pets
    Is it ok to bring a dog?
    Pets are definately allowed from the hiking group point of view. Obviously different people react differently to large dogs and otherwise "intimidating" creatures, so please be sensitive to this and be sure your pet is on it's very BEST behavior! :)

    Having said that, the rule of whether pets (dogs in particular) are allowed on a hike, really depends on the specific trail we will be hiking. Most trails do not allow pets (especially dogs); but some do. Dogs are never permitted on the Mount Diablo trails or within any State Park, for example, (though you will often see people walking with their dogs there), while many of the East Bay Regional Park trails, such as Briones, permit dogs.

    What's the difference? Honestly, I couldn't tell you exactly, but I suspect it has a lot to do with the natural wildlife surrounding the trail. Since dogs will typically chase anything that moves, they can be a threat to the other creatures there. Their pee and poop also leaves a scent which can also disrupt natural wildlife.

    Whenever I know for a fact that a trail permits dogs, I will state so on the website. If I don't mention it, it means they are either NOT permitted, or I haven't verified it one way or the other. In which case, YOU should contact the appropriate parks department or ranger station and pose that question, before bringing your pet. I'm not sure what would happen if you got caught on a trail with your dog when it wasn't permitted, but you can expect to be paying a hefty fine at the very least.

    If you do plan to bring your pet, also remember to bring along some plastic garbage bags too. It is YOUR responsibility to pick up after your creature. Failing to do so may mean the loss of that privilege for all pet loving hikers. :(

    The
    East Bay Parks website has a lot of great info, including tips on proper trail etiquette, related to bringing dogs on hikes, including Safety Tips for You and Your Dog .

    Speaking of dogs, you might want to check out another great dog related hiking site I recently found, which is posted on the Related Links page. This site lists not only some of the trails where you are permitted to bring your favorite pooch, but open leash dog parks as well! Visit For Pet's Sake. Another good site regarding taking your dog places is dogfriendly.com. And finally, another good site to check out regarding rules concerning dogs in California State Parks.



    When
    How often do you hike?
    Whenever I have the time. Right now that's once a week on Sunday mornings. This summer, I hope to add a weekday evening routine to the mix. In the fall, the Sunday morning routine might change if my schedule changes.

    Why don't you do earlier hikes? Why not start at 7AM or 8AM to beat the heat?
    I'm not an early riser. Simple as that. 8AM, especially on a weekend, is just not a realistic starting time for me. Besides, I really don't mind the heat. If you would like to lead some hikes at earlier start times, you are more than welcome to do so, and I will be happy to post them on the site. I, however, will NOT be joining you on those. ;)

    Do you hike all year round?
    Yes, we try to hike every weekend, even in the winter months, unless it is raining. All depends on who is available to lead a hike, however, so if there is no hike posted that means no one was available or willing to lead a hike that particular weekend. The more people willing to lead hikes, the more hiking options there will be!

    I recieved your [Weekly RSVP] notification of the hike this weekend but no information about where or when to meet? Is it just me? Can you tell me how to get the details?
    Details are always on the website.. Go to
    http://hiking.bondon.com, click on the Upcoming Hikes link, then simply click on the name of the hike.

    Why don't you offer more hikes on (insert day of week)?
    Our Thursday hiking routine has been pretty consistent now for several years, but there is no hard fast rule that restricts other days. It's really up to whomever is leading a hike as to which day a hike is offered. And usually depends on whatever day is convenient for him/her. We have done some Wednesday and Friday hikes during the week, but Thursday has been the most common.

    As for weekends, both Saturdays and Sundays have been offered. When I was leading hikes I usually did Sundays, but there was a time when I offered only Saturday hikes. It all depended when I was available and least likely to have a conflict with my tennis schedule.

    If you would like to start a routine of a certain day or time, I would encourage you to consider leading those hikes yourself. (or find someone to co-lead with). Pick a date/time and location, then invite your hiking friends by posting it on the EBCHG website. That's really how our hikes come to be. Someone willing to take the lead and sharing that hiking opportunity with the rest of us.

    You can learn more about leading hikes by reviewing the Leading Hikes section of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page.



    Hiking Ability
    How difficult are the hikes?
    That's really hard to answer, as level of difficulty is really a relative thing. What's difficult for you may be a piece of cake for me -- or vice versa!

    Generally speaking, though, our hikes range from the very mild and easy, flatter terrain of a paved Iron Horse Trail walk, to the very steep, uphill struggle of an Eagle Peak or Remington Way dirt trail hike. Everybody walks at a different pace, so don't feel obligated to have to keep up with the rest of the group if you can't, or you just aren't interested in going any faster. :)


    How long are the hikes?
    Each hike varies, but typically they range anywhere from 3 -6 miles in length. So plan about 2 or 3 hours for a hike. The longer ones might run 4 hours. When the exact mileage or distance is known, that will be listed on the hiking details page for that particular trail. If the information isn't listed, I don't know.

    Is the group pretty quick, athletic, and fast when they hike?
    We range from the highly lean, athletic body types, to the slower paced overweight types, and everything in between. Even if you think you are extremely out of shape or don't "measure up" in some way, don't be intimidated. I named this group the "Casual" hiking group because I am not into the fast paced, hard core hikes. The whole idea of the group is to take each hike at your own pace. Our members are pretty diverse ability wise and body type wise, I'm confident you'll feel pretty comfortable hiking with us. :)

    There is a section that asks me to designate my "Local Emergency Contacts". Are your hikes dangerous?
    No, not at all. That is merely my attempt to be proactive and capture this data now, for those that wish to provide it, in the extremely unlikely event there is ever an emergency. We have never had any injuries or problems on our hikes, nor do I ever anticipate such, as we stick to established trails, so we are never hiking in what I would consider "dangerous" terrain. But my attitude is always best to be prepared. If you ever were to get injured or suffer some type of medical emergency that might render you unconscious while hiking with the group, being able to quickly pass this information on to the paramedics or hospital staff where you are transported to might help speed up notification of those who may need to make quick medical decisions on your behalf.


    Kids & Teens
    Can I bring my kids along?
    Though this is advertised as an 'Adult' hiking group, we certainly don't discriminate based on age. Your kids are welcome to join you, provided, of course, that they are mature enough and well behaved enough to enjoy the experience. No one wants to be hiking for two hours having to deal with a screaming baby or unruly child, obviously. But if you are asking, I assume your child/kids are just as into hiking as you are. You might want to consider having them bring a friend or two along, though, just so they don't get bored hanging out with "the adults". :)

    Keep in mind that hikes vary in difficulty and tend to cater to a primarily adult crowd. If you are wanting to bring your children, please take into consideration the challenge/length of the hike, the age/experience of your child and his/her level of enthusiasm for hiking in general. The goal of each hiking experience is for every hiker to have a good time, so when in doubt, check with the hike leader for assistance on gauging how kid-friendly the proposed hike will be.


    I'm a teenager. Can I join your group? Will there be other teens there?
    Even though I call this an "adult" hiking group, you don't have to be over 18 to participate in our hikes. Everyone is welcome, whether you plan to come with your parent, a guardian, sibling, friend, or solo. If you are interested in joining us for hiking, and don't mind hanging out with adults of all different ages, by all means, welcome to the group! I can't guarantee you'll always find others your age on our hikes to hang out with, but you are always welcome to bring friends along.

    Is this hike stroller accessible?
    As a general rule, any hikes we do on paved trails should be considered stroller safe. So watch for hikes with titles like Canal Trail, Nimitz Way, Lafayette-Moraga Trail, Iron Horse or Lafayette Reservoir - Lower Trail. The rest of the hikes we do are typically dirt trails so depends on what type of stroller you have and the terrain planned for that day as to whether it is appropriate for you and your child. If you have a Bob type stroller I'd say probably yes, otherwise no. Honestly though, that's only a guess. When in doubt it is best to check with the hike leader directly. His/her contact information is generally posted on the
    website when you click on the hike name.


    WebSite Help
    How do I answer the RSVP request for the next hike?
    To respond to a RSVP request, do not reply to the email message. Simply click on the web address URL included towards the end of the email message. This is the web address that includes a question mark (?), followed by a series of strange letters and numbers, such as ?CF343ADAA.

    If you click on that link and no page comes up, or you encounter an error, this is most likely because part of the strange looking web address (URL) got cutoff. In this case, simply copy and paste the ENTIRE special web link into the "address" field of your browser.


    The RSVP Link does not work. What can I do?
    Most likely the long URL string (web address) got cutoff. Instead try going to the
    Remember Me page. Copy and paste the Personal ID number from a recent Hiking email message into the web form, and click on the Remember Me button.

    What's with all these annoying pop-up ads on your website?
    Actually, I am opposed to the use of pop-ups and pop-under ads, so we don't employ the use of such on this website. Nor do we currently offer advertising opportunities of any kind. If you are experiencing annoying pop-up or pop-under windows appearing while visiting this site, that is a clear indication that your machine has been infected by some type of malware, such as spyware/adware, or a virus. Use both a good up-to-date anti-virus program (VIPRE, McAfee, Norton, etc.), as well as a trusted anti-spyware program, such as SpyBOT Search and Destroy, and/or Ad-Aware. Personally I use MalwareBytes.

    Visit my Internet Security & Personal Privacy page to learn more about protecting your system from hackers and spyware.


    Can you let me know what if anything I need to do if i can't make a hike? I RSVP'd on one but I was ill that morning so I didn't make it. Is there something I should do when this happens?
    Other than get well? No not really. You can always log back on to the website and change/update your RSVP. If you have cookies enabled, the site should recognize you and display the RSVP form automatically. If not, or if you used a different computer to respond last time, simply save the email and click on the link again.

    But if you're sick I certainly don't expect you to stir up the energy to fire up your computer and go thru all that trouble to change your RSVP. It's really not that big of a deal. We simply use the RSVP responses to gauge how many people to expect to show up. There's no real commitment to do so.


    I have a friend that wants to join, but I don't see where the "Join" link is anymore on the site to tell them how to sign up -- where did that go?
    If it's your first visit to our website, you should see a "Join" link at both the top right corner of the screen, as well as a text link at the bottom. Existing members may not see these links, depending on your cookie settings, as the site will recognize you and offer a slightly different view if you are already a member.

    The RSVP link is missing from the EBCHG web page. Is this intentional?
    It's based on your browser cookie state. If you click the RSVP link in the email a cookie is planted in your web browser to uniquely identify you so that the next time you visit the site it will recognize you and offer you a RSVP link at the top of your browser page. UNLESS you delete your cookies or don't RSVP for several months (the cookie will eventually expire and delete itself). If there is no cookie the site doesn't recognize you and doesn't offer you the RSVP option.

    Why do you ask for my phone number as part of my contact info?
    You are not obligated to provide any information you are uncomfortable in so doing, but such data is helpful for various scenerios. The primary reason is if the web site suddenly starts encountering a problem with your email address, I might phone you to check in prior to forceable unsubscribing you. Or if for some reason you experienced a medical emergency while hiking with the group, this provides a potential way to get in contact with your family. Also if you lead hikes and wish to display your phone information, this same data would be used. Even if you provide your phone information to me, that is never published on the website unless you specifically state you wish to do so. All information, including email address, is hidden ("private") by default.


    Email List
    How do I stop receiving your emails?
    You can remove yourself from our mailing list simply by clicking the "modify your subscription or personal information" link contained at the bottom of each Hiking email or at the top right corner of the web site (depending on your cookie settings). Simply UN-check the "RSVP" and "Announcements" checkboxes to stop receiving any further emails from us. Your changes take effect IMMEDIATELY once submitted.

    Alternatively, if you no longer have a copy of the latest RSVP email on hand, or if you do not have the "Modify" option displayed on the website, please use the
    remove me self service page to remove yourself from any of our mailing lists. Be sure to carefully follow the directions emailed to you or your remove request will not be accepted. Changes made using the Remove Me page are processed and take effect IMMEDIATELY!

    I am not receiving any emails? What can I do?
    First check your subscription settings and make sure Active is CHECKED. But more likely the emails are getting blocked by a spam filter. Check not only your Inbox, but also your Bulk Mail or Quarantine folder for Hiking messages, or check with your email administrator for help. If your Spam Blocker allows Whitelisting, considering adding Bondon.com to your whitelist.

    Below is a list of some popular ISPs with directions on how to add Hiking.Bondon.com to your trusted sender's list, also commonly referred to as the "whitelist".

    Lastly, if you've NEVER received email from us, including the Welcome message when you first joined our group, it is also possible that either you accidentally mis-typed your email address, or at one time mail to your email address was bouncing back as undeliverable. In such a case, I will manually disable emails to you by unsubscribing you from the ACTIVES list.

    So in a situation like this, try re-activating yourself simply by going to our Sign-Up page and re-inputting your current email address. If you are already on our list, you should receive a Welcome message. If you don't receive it, contact either myself or your local email administrator for help. If the website doesn't recognize your email address, then it never had the correct one, so proceed thru the the rest of the sign-up process. Once you finish you should receive a Welcome email message.

    Alternatively, you can read past emails since April 22, 2004 on the website via the Past Emails link.


    What is the difference between the Members-Only list and the other email lists?
    There are presently 4 email lists associated with this group.
  • Active RSVP List - emails about future hiking opportunities and request for RSVP. Usually sent once a week.
  • WeekDay Only List - for those only interested in receiving notifications of future weekday hiking opportunities. This list tends to be limited to summer time usage only.
  • Announcements List - announcements about changes to the website, and other non-hiking related matters. Sent infrequently.
  • Members-Only List - allows members to send a message to the group. Carpool requests, advice on gear purchases, ad-hoc hiking announcements (not formally posted on the website or out of the area) and anything else related to hiking can be discussed here.

    The first three email lists are used exclusively by me. The newest email list, the Members-Only List, allows any member of the group, to send an email to everyone else. Note, however, that subscribing to this new email list is optional, so distribution of your question or post may be limited.


    What is the difference between the Members-Only email list and the Members-Only (Digest) list?
    Subscribing to the regular Members-Only list means you receive each email in real-time, or as soon as they are sent. The Digest version is the same list, only it is a summary sent that day. The idea being you cut down of the volume of emails received from the list, because you only receive it once per day, though you may have a lot of separate messages to look thru in that one email!

    Why can I not / no longer sign-up for the Digest version of the Members-Only Discussion List?
    Your membership settings will show that you are not subscribed to the Digest version of the Members-Only List, yet there is no option to subscribe to it. This is intentional, and hopefully, temporary.

    I disabled access to the Digest list for the time being, due to technical issues with that list. Most notably, under testing, members who sign up for the digest version, could not send messages to the regular list. This should not be. Regardless of which list you sign up for, everyone should be able to partipate equally.

    I will continue to work with the vendor on this issue, and if it can not be resolved, may create my own email list software. We'll see.


    Why am I getting a lot of spam after joining your group???
    We do not sell or disclose your personal information to anyone. Your information is not for sale, nor will it ever be shared with a third-party. Even hiking leaders do not have access to individual email addresses! If you choose to display your email address on the Who's Hiking webpage, however, you can expect to receive a ton more spam. Also bear in mind that participation in the Members-Only Email list may increase your junk mail load, as junk mailers may join the list with the sole intention of collecting email addresses! (While your email address is not viewable in the mass emails I send out to the Actives list, it is visible to everyone if you post a message or reply to someone else's post on the Members-Only List.)

    For tips on how to reduce the amount of junk email you receive, visit my 9 Tips for Preventing Spam page located at http://www.bondon.com/technologyman/Spam/.


    How many members have signed up for the Member's Only Email List?
    For the lastest Membership Statistics information, visit the About Us page.

    How do I reply to an email sent to the MEMBER'S ONLY Email List?
    You should reply according to whom you want to receive your response:
  • Simply click the REPLY button to respond ONLY to the SENDER of the message.
  • Or address your reply message to Member's Only Email Address if you wish your response to be seen by everyone on the list.

    How do I unsubscribe from the hiking list(s)?
    Use the modify your subscription or personal information link included at the bottom of every East Bay Casual Hiking Group RSVP email message. Then simply uncheck each email list you wish to unsubscribe from and click SUBMIT. Your changes should take effect immediately.

    I need help unsubscribing from this website or I am not receiving emails from this site and wish to and need human assistance. Who can I contact?
    Do not send an email to the Member's Only email list asking to be unsubscribed. The other member's can not help you, other than to tell you what you could read for yourself here. Instead, contact me, the webmaster, directly at (925) 272-4321 for assistance.

    I'm a little confused; How was I added to this list? Not that I'm adverse to it, but I don't really like being signed up to lists that I didn't pick myself.
    I assure you if you are receiving email from the Member's Only list, you either signed yourself up, or possibly someone pretending to be you signed you up, but I NEVER force anyone to join that list. You have to voluntarily check the box to subscribe yourself to the Member's Only Email list.

    The only lists you are automatically subscribed to when you first join are the Announce and Weekly RSVP email lists, which only I can curently send email to.

    You can UN-subscribe yourself from any or all of the above three lists simply by clicking the "Modify my Settings" link contained in the weekly RSVP emails, or by visiting http://hiking.bondon.com.


    Where do I find the "Modify My Settings" link on the website so that I can subscribe to or UN-subscribe from an email list?
    The "Modify my settings" link is contained in each weekly RSVP email and appears at the bottom of the web page if you have RSVP'd in the past 90 days.

    If the "Modify" link does not appear, use the "Add me to your email list" link and re-submit your email address to have a new Welcome email generated to you, which will contain your personalized Modify link.


    Why was I removed from your mailing list(s) when I did not ask to be?
    There are a couple of situations that necessitate the need to forcibly remove someone from our mailing list(s). First of all, if you make a habit of sending messages of a commercial or otherwise inappropriate nature, that would be grounds for forced un-subscription. The more likely scenerio, however, is if you receive messages from us at a commercial ISP (Internet Service Provider) and you mark us as "spam" or "junk mail" one or more times in a six month period, we may be forced to remove you from our mailing list(s) as well.

    Should this happen, we will send you a courtesy email explaining why you were removed and offering you an opportunity to re-subscribe. If you do decide to re-subscribe, I kindly ask that you do not mark our message traffic as "junk mail". Doing so adversely affects our message traffic rating with your ISP and ultimately can block messages for ALL of our subscribed users.

    For messages you do not wish to read, please simply delete those or to prevent receiving future messages, please take the time to unsubscribe yourself from our mailing list(s).


    How do I whitelist this group so emails are not blocked?
    To prevent Hiking emails from going into your Junk Mail/Bulk Mail/Spam folder, or being rejected completely by your email provider, we suggest adding us to your "Whitelist". A whitelist is a list of email addresses or domains that you TRUST to receive messages from.

    If you are using MSN or Hotmail as your email provider, to ensure that Hiking messages are not sent to your Junk E-Mail folder, please follow these steps to add us to your Safe List.
    1. Click Options.
    2. On the left side of the page, click Mail, and then click Junk E-Mail Protection.
    3. Click Safe List.
    4. Type BONDON.COM, then click Add.
    5. Type HIKING.BONDON.COM, then click Add.

    Below is a list of some popular ISPs with directions on how to add Hiking.Bondon.com to your known sender list. (Last Updated: 11/27/2006)



    I asked to be removed from your email list several days ago. Why is it taking so long for this to happen? Why haven't I heard back from anyone yet?
    This website is a one man operation. I have no staff to assist me. And it is maintained completely on a voluntary, non-paid basis. That means I must focus on my paid activities first and foremost. I have built all the tools necessary to allow you to unsusbscribe yoursself in an automated fashion. Should you require additional assistance, however, such requests must be prioritized at the bottom of my to do list on a first come, first served, basis. Bearing this in mind, please allow me 2-4 weeks to process your unsubscribe request manually. If this is unacceptable, please use the remove me self service page to remove yourself from one or more of our mailing lists. Be sure to carefully follow the directions emailed to you or your remove request will not be accepted. Changes made using the Remove Me page are processed and take effect IMMEDIATELY!

    Would it be at all possible to get information a month in advance for your hikes? I would love to participate but cannot wait until two days before hand to make plans.
    I would love to post hikes that far in advance, and occasionally do, but more often than not, I am not notified of offers for hikes until Wednesday or Thursday. With my busy schedule, I send the email as soon as I can, but sometimes that doesn't happen until Friday. The website always has the latest info. I would suggest checking it the weekend you plan to hike to see where we are going. Then you can gauge whether you wish to join us and get all the particulars.

    Pleave remove me from your mailing list. I've told you several times by way of your instructions to unsubscribe me and you continue to e-mail me. I will not be attending ANY of your hikes!!!
    You need to carefully follow the instructions that get emailed to you or your request will be ignored. This is to prevent someone else from unsubscribing you without your consent. In the future, please pay particular attention to the unsubscribe link contained in the email that is generated from your "remove me" request. You could have very easily taken care of this yourself without getting all upset.

    I've spent a lot of my personal time trying to make the website as user friendly as possible. I strongly feel if you would simply pay closer attention to the instructions provided, you could have saved yourself a lot of grief. If you disagree, then I'd appreciate hearing how you feel the instructions could be improved.



    History
    How long has this group been around?
    This group started back in October of 2003 with just 6 members. By October 2008, it had grown to well over 2000 members on the Active email list, with 20 to 30 typically showing up for a hike!! For the lastest Membership Statistics information, visit the
    About Us page.

    How did this group start?
    This group came about when I signed up for a hiking class at Diablo Valley College with a friend. Once it ended, a group of us from that class decided we wanted to continue the routine. That was the driving force behind starting this hiking group, and the start of this website dedicated to it.

    A co-worker had created a website for me to track the RSVP responses for a Lunchtime Soccer group I also organize. I took his code, modified it, and solicited his help once again to help me retool the RSVP portion for the hiking website. By December 2003, that website, still not yet completed, found it's way into the major search engines like Google and Yahoo! Sometime around late April 2004 the first web based RSVP system for the EBCHG, with a very simple non-graphical layout, was fully functional.

    That original website resided on my employer's web server. Their web server hosted the soccer site as well. As 2003 drew to a close, I moved both the hiking and soccer websites to my own server. And in so doing, the permanent internet address for the EBCHG became what you know it as today - http://Hiking.Bondon.com .

    Most of the content of that first website was contained in a single page, which made for A LOT of scrolling. And it didn't look all that professional either. So in 2004 a high school friend of mine offered to create a new graphical layout for the hiking website. His contribution is the professional looking website you see today. Unfortunately, the new design did not integrate well with my existing coding, so a complete redesign of the backend (web programming) was required. It took me well over a year, working infrequently and in my spare time to sort out all the bugs and problems along the way (remember, I'm still new to web coding so I made lots of silly mistakes that would cost me severals days, sometimes WEEKS, to figure out!)

    Finally, in the early morning hours of September 21, 2005, the new website debuted, with it's sleek new look and completely revamped backend. Today word about our group continues to spread thru word of mouth, search engines (Google/Yahoo/etc), reciprical links with other hiking websites, occasional postings on Craigslist, and thru occasional listings in local newspapers.



    Who
    How old is everyone in the group? What is the age range of the members of the group?
    This is probably THE most commonly asked question. We are all ages. From early twenties to early 70s. Some teens and kids under 12 have even been known to accompany mom or dad along too! Most of the regulars, though, are in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s.

    Who started this hiking group?
    That would be
    me, the webmaster of this site. My name is John. You can learn more about the history of this hiking group under the History heading. To learn more about me, visit my personal homepage at Bondon.com.

    Who organizes the hikes? How does one become a trail leader or guide?
    Since this group was my creation, I initally spearheadied most of the hikes. This does not mean, however, that you are barred from leading your own hikes. Any member of the group is welcome to organize and lead hikes.. And as a matter of fact, in recent months, many others have begun leading hikes of their own! Which is great! That is the whole idea of this website. If you are interested in leading a hike of your own, please use the web based "Lead A Hike" link to post the info on the website.

    How do I contact the hiking leader if I have a question about an upcoming hike?
    You can find answers regarding upcoming hikes by visiting the hiking website ( http://hiking.bondon.com) and clicking on the name of the hike. That will take you to a page with more detailed information, including directions and the contact information for the leader (unless he/she doesn't want that info made public). A photo will also be displayed, when available. When I lead a hike, for example, my picture is posted so you can identify me easier. :)

    How many members do you have?
    For the lastest Membership Statistics information, visit the About Us page.


    Misc
    What should I do if I encounter a mountain lion?
    Park staff suggest walking with a partner when in parks. If visitors do encounter a mountain lion, they should stay calm and avoid running because that may trigger the lion's instinct to attack. They should also try to appear larger by raising their hands.

    What about ticks?
    Though most of the trails we hike on, it is unlikely you will ever encounter a tick, there are some narrow trails where the risk is much greater. It is always advisable, however, to check for ticks after hiking. Especially check those areas where a stowaway tick is most likely to be hanging out, such as in your hair, and any warm area of your body, such as in your armpit or groin region. Here are some great resources for additional information about ticks and the associated risk of lyme disease:

    How to Properly Remove a Tick
    American Lyme Disease Foundation
    Safety Tips for You and Your Dog
    Centers for Disease Control (CDC)


    What about spiders? I understand there are tarantulas on Mount Diablo. Will they hurt me?
    Simple answer, NO! As long as you leave them alone, they will leave you alone. Tarantulas are actually quite gentle creatures. And contrary to popular belief, no person has ever been killed by a tarantula. A tarantula bite is similar to a bee sting. Fairly harmless. The really dangerous types of spiders thankfully do not live on Mt Diablo.

    When driving up Mount Diablo, be on the lookout for tarantulas, though, and please avoid running over them. They tend to love to hang out on the hot asphast road at night to absorb the heat from the road. It is feared that the local tarantula population is a dying breed on Mount Diablo, which would be a great shame, as they play a very important part of the local ecosystem.

    To learn more about Tarantulas, visit http://www.mdia.org/TarantulaTime.htm . KRON TV Channel 4 also ran an interesting story recently about tarantulas on Mt Diablo. Read it here.


    What does poison oak look like? How do you treat poison oak?
    Poison oak grows from sea level to 5,000 feet of elevation. Characterized by alternate leaves with three or occasionally five veined, shiny leaflets, poison oak thrives throughout California. In the autumn, the leaves turn a deep red color.

    To learn more about poison oak, visit the California Poison Control System website . But be advised, hiking member Brian cautions NOT to follow the advice about using rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) on affected skin areas. According to Brian, "the latest medicinal advice is never to use it on already damaged tissue." Thanks for the tip, Brian! :)


    What if it rains? How do I check whether a hike is still on?
    Check with the leader of the hike the morning of to determine if the hike is still on. In most cases, his/her contact information will be posted on the web site for that hike unless they specifically requested it to remain private. In some cases I will update the website with a "CANCELLED" notice if I am notified in time that the hike was cancelled. To check on current weather conditions, check my weather page.

    Does each person need his/her own EBMUD permit, or is there one for the group?
    Most of our hikes do not require a permit, however, for those that do, you are responsible for your own permit. If you show up without one, often someone else may be able to cover you on theirs, but you should not expect it. One EBMUD permit can accomodate family members and up to 4 friends, but don't expect the trail leaders (or anyone else for that matter) to be able to cover you on his/her permit. EBMUD permits may be purchased online.

    This will be my first attempt at Hiking. Can you send me information on proper shoes, and hiking equipment needed?
    REI has a whole page about hiking boots, which you can read in depth here: http://www.rei.com/online/store/LearnShareDetailArticlesList?categoryId=Camping&url=rei/learn/camp/footwear3f.jsp

    But to be honest, I'd say just wear what is comfortable for you. You don't have to spend a fortune on brand name or high end hiking boots, but if you plan to hike anything with hills (which most trails in this area are!), I would suggest you probably want to invest in a decent pair of hiking type shoes... something with some traction on the bottom and ankle support, rather than your old tennis or running shoes. Basic shoes are fine for flat, paved hikes, but for loose gravel and the steeper terrain, spending a few extra bucks on hiking shoes is definitely worth it! But at the same time, you don't need to spend a fortune either. Besides REI, Big 5 and other similar shoe and sporting goods retailers are sure to offer hiking shoes of various varieties. Shop around and choose the one that best matches your budget and also the one that is most comfortable to wear.

    As for other types of gear, some people swear by hiking poles, especially for support when going down hill. I've never found them to be useful myself, but that's just me. You might try them and disagree with me on that. I definitely would suggest you invest in a good water bottle (or two or three!) as THAT is the most important item to carry with you -- filled with water, of course! And something to carry it in, like a backpack or fanny pack, would probably be helpful, but not a necessity.

    Dressing in layers is definately advisable as well, so bringing a warm sweater or jacket, but wearing something cooler underneath (shorts/short-sleeved shirt or tshirt) is advisable as well.

    Here's more advice from REI on items to bring along for day hikes: http://www.rei.com/online/store/LearnShareDetailArticlesList?categoryId=Camping&url=rei/learn/camp/hkdayf.jsp&vcat=REI_EXPERT_ADVICE_CAMPING

    Again, use your judgement and use this checklist as a guide, not as "hiking law". I for one have never invested in "hiking socks" for example, and probably couldn't identify it in a lineup if my life depended on it. Do what works for you. After you do a few hikes you'll probably develop a checklist of your own for the items that are important to you to carry.


    What advice do you have regarding personal safety on your hikes?
    For tips and my thoughts about personal safety while hiking, refer to my June 9th, 2006 email regarding this very topic.


    Leading Hikes
    If I want to lead my own hike, do I have to do it on a certain day or time?
    No. My rule of thumb is, if you are willing to lead a hike, YOU get to pick your own time & place to hike! Decide where you want to go, and when you want to go, and then consider inviting your fellow hiking friends along by posting that info ("invitation") on the website. :)

    I want to lead a hike. How do I post the information on your website?
    You can now post your own hikes on the website! These hikes, however, will not be published until reviewed and approved by a site administrator. This is to ensure relevance and to discourage spamming attempts.

    In order to post your own hike, you first need to be logged in to the site and recognized as a member. Simply responding to an RSVP request is all that is necessary for the site to recognize who you are. Once recognized, simply click on the UPCOMING HIKES link and you should have the option to click a link titled "Lead a Hike". Click that link and fill out the form as completely as possible. If you wish to lead a hike along a new trail or location we have not been to before, first use the "Add A New Trail" link to begin the process. Once approved, your proposed hike will appear under the
    Upcoming Hikes section of the website.

    I posted a hike but it does not show up on the Future Hikes page. Why?
    If the date of your Future Hike is more than 90 days away, it will not appear, even though it has been properly recorded in the system. Only events that are approximately 90 days out or less for local hikes (1 year out for Out of Area Hikes/Trips) show up on the Future Hikes page, and only hikes that are about 30 days out show up on the RSVP pages.

    I am considering offering to lead a hike, but have yet to join one of your hikes. Should I lead a hike for your group sight unseen, or should I hold off until I've joined in a trip lead by someone else?
    Yes, you are more than welcome to lead a hike, even if you haven't already attended one yourself. Most of our hikes are about 4 to 6 miles in length. Those type of hikes usually draw anywhere from 16 to 30 people. For something like a 4 peaks hike, 20+ miles in a single day, I would expect maybe only 5 to 10 fellow hikers to show up. And I personally don't tend to hike when it rains as I use that as my excuse to sleep in! But you are welcome to proceed as you desire. Again, I expect rain will deter most of your fellow hikers, but more power to you if you are willing to go rain or shine. :)

    If you wish to lead a hike or two even prior to attending a hike lead by someone else, I have no problem with that. Please use the web based forms to post all of the particulars (proposed hike/trail information, including total distance, level of difficulty, and elevation gain; directions to trailhead or starting point, optional carpool meeting location if organizing one and directions, mapquest link to starting point (if available), and any related informational links (appreciated whenever possible). Also, if you are willing to have your cell or home phone number posted as a contact number (for questions/directions/etc.), use the "Modify My Settings" to update your contact information. (If it doesn't show up let me know and I will get that fixed.) Simply refer to the format of some of our posted past hikes by clicking on the Past Hikes link on the website for examples of what type of information is contained in our postings..

    If you lead hikes, I ask that you keep safety in mind first and foremost. I don't expect you to keep track and take personal responsibility for everyone. After all, we are all adults, and everyone can exercise freewill. But I do ask that you stick to marked trails and use good judgment. And render aid when appropriate. Before starting each hike we usually go around as a group and say our first names and call off a number. I do this as a way to break the ice and allow everyone to get to know each other. The number serves as a sort of headcount, so you can better keep track of who's missing along the way, particularly if you stop along the way to allow stragglers to catch up. Of course, some people leave early, so the headcount is not an exact science.

    Another practice that we used to do but that I no longer advocate is that we typically waited an extra 5 or 10 minutes (often as much as 15 minutes) from the posted starting time before starting the hike. This was intended, to allow late comers time to park, traffic, account for those lost, etc. But this is not fair to those who make the effort to arrive early and are ready to start on time. So I no longer support this practice. Of course this is all really up to the hike leader as to whether to start on time or not. You are not obligated in any way to delay due to a late arriving hiker.


    Why do you say "Parking at BART is not advised without express written permission"? Are we allowed to park our vehicle's at BART to arrange carpools?
    Generally, no. Be very careful about using commercial lots, such as shopping center lots, and BART station lots, to arrange carpools. Typically these lots have time restrictions and use by patrons may be verified. Park at your own risk! Instead, residential streets and Park and Ride lots are advised.

    For someone leading hikes via this website, what are the geographic limits? Should they be in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties?
    It used to be but not anymore. Anything within Alameda and Contra Costa qualifies as East Bay and shows up on the website as a "Local Hike".. Anything outside of that now shows up as "Out of Area". So you don't have to limit yourself to just leading east bay hikes, but certainly that is the focus for most of what we do. But also want to open up the site to those interested in hiking other areas as well.

    What is the deadline to submit hikes? Why wasn't my hike included in the Weekly RSVP email?
    The Weekly RSVP email is now automated. It goes out to the members every Wednesday afternoon. A new hike can be posted at anytime during the week, but the RSVP email only goes out once a week. Therefore to be sure to be included in that email, please submit your hike by the preceding Tuesday by 12PM Noon to allow enough time for your submission to be reviewed and approved. Once approved it will be posted to the website and included in the next Weekly RSVP email.


    This Page Last Updated:     Saturday, November 01, 2014

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