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Date Sent:      July 03, 2013
Subject:           Forever in Blue Jeans
From:               John Bondon

I joined a hiking class at Diablo Valley College (DVC) with a friend one semester.    My friend was interested in getting into a regular exercise routine, and knew I liked the outdoors and hiking.  So she asked if I would be interested in joining the class with her.    I had grown up living close to the foothills of Mount Diablo and enjoyed exploring the trails with friends in high school.  But hiking was not yet fully in my blood.  And I really wasn't familiar with too many local spots to hike in the area yet other than Mount Diablo.  So sure I'd join the class with her.   Figured I'd discover some new hiking spots in the process.  And that I did.  One of my favorite spots to this day is the Remington Hike, which I came to know about as a direct result of taking that class.

Turned out the class had more of a fitness/cardio workout emphasis than simply pure hiking, but hiking was certainly part of it.  And I can't say there was anything bad about the class or the instructor who taught it.  She certainly knew her stuff.  But in the end, I doubt she liked me much.  One thing I came to learn was that she didn't appreciate that I always showed up for a hike wearing jeans.  Apparently that was a major faux pas according to her ideas of hiking etiquette.  Personally I don't consider that a faux pas.  I'm a jeans and t-shirt kind of guy, so showing up for an evening hiking class in jeans suited me just fine.  But one of the last classes of that semester she actually insisted that I leave the hike because she was so irritated with my attitude about the hiking in jeans thing. 

As my wife could probably confirm, telling me NOT to do something is akin to daring me TO do it even more than I previously was doing!  In that manner, I'm a kinda like the character John Locke from the series "LOST".  His mantra was "Don't tell me what I CAN'T DO!".   So not surprisingly, when this DVC teacher tried to dictate to me what I could and could not wear to a public hiking trail, I made it my mission to make sure I showed up wearing jeans!   Up until that conversation I had no idea she found my fondness for casual attire so offensive.   But once revealed, wearing jeans on hikes became my new personal mission.    Of course there were only a couple of hikes left before the semester ended so not really the completely defiant move it could have been.  But needless to say, don't expect this particular hiking teacher and I to be best buds.  I doubt she thinks very highly of me, and I'm totally fine with that.  Though I respect her for her knowledge of the subject matter, I can't say I appreciate how she conducted herself, particularly in my case. 

But it was probably because of that teacher, and that jean incident in particular, that gave spark to the creation of the East Bay Casual Hiking Group.   Soon after it occurred, the class ended.   Rather than sign up for another class with said teacher, the thought occurred to me that I really didn't need a hiking class to go hiking.  We were hiking on local public trails, after all, not on school property.  So I suggested to some of my classmates, "Hey, why don't we just continue this weekly hiking routine on our own?".   Six classmates agreed and from that sign up sheet of names and email addresses the East Bay Casual Hiking Group was formed.   That was back in 2003. 

This summer I invite you to help me celebrate our group's 10 Year Anniversary.  Back in 2003, I led many of the hikes for this group, but over time others have stepped up to lead hikes.  And that is exactly what I had hoped would happen when I started this group.  I didn't start this group for ME.  I started this group for US.  This is as much your group as it is mine.  You have the ability to contribute just as much to this group as I have, but in your own way.  Maybe you would prefer to see more of a certain type of hike offered that is not currently being offered.  Or maybe hiking on a different day of the week or time of day would work better for your schedule.  Then why not set a date and time, pick a trail, and lead a hike of your own?  Invite some friends along by posting it on the EBCHG website

Wanna know why I decided to name this club the "Casual" Hiking Group?   In all honesty it had a lot to do with that Blue Jeans incident.  I'm not a big fan of others telling me how to dress or how to live my life.  But there's a bigger theme than just dress code when I make reference to "Casual".  We all have our own styles and interests when it comes to hiking.   Some people hike because they want to walk fast and get in shape.  Others prefer to go at a slower pace and stop to appreciate the flowers.  Some people come looking to make new friends.  Others just want to walk quietly as part of a larger group.   Some who show up are new to hiking.  Others have been doing it all their lives.  And not everyone carries the same gear -- some people use hiking poles, while others simply carry a water bottle. 

The idea of this group is no matter what your interest, no matter what your ability level, you are welcome.  There is no judgment or trying to make you hike OUR WAY.  You hike your own way.  Not everyone who shows up for a hike will hike at the same pace.  Not everyone has the same stamina or endurance level.  Not everyone is as experienced. 

And you know what?  It's all good.  There is no ONE right way to hike!  So "Casual", as defined by the Founding Father of this group, means come join us just as you are.  All we have to have in common is a desire and interest to HIKE!   How you hike, how you dress, that's all up to you.  No matter what type of hiker you are or what type of hike you are interested in, chances are you will find a comradery with our group. 

And for that, I am very proud of how this group has evolved over the past 10 years.  I hear a lot of compliments about the EBCHG and about the people who are part of it.  We have a good group of people amongst our ranks.  And there is certainly a strong social aspect of our group, too.  It is largely thanks to our hike leaders, though, that this group continues to thrive.  Without their willingness to lead hikes each week, we would have no hikes to join.  As we look ahead to the next 10 years for this group, I hope you will consider leading at least one hike of your own in the coming year.   If each of us led just one hike each year, think of how many more hiking opportunities there would be for all of us?!  Think of the diversity that would mean in the types of hikes offered!   Remember this is YOUR hiking group.  You can help to make the next 10 years even better than the last!

Please take a moment to mark your calendar right now and save the date of Sunday, August 18th.   Help me celebrate our 10 Year Anniversary at Castle Rock Regional Recreation Area in Walnut Creek.  We will have a special lunch time pot-luck get together and, of course, a morning hike too! Blue jeans optional.  :~)  More details to follow soon. 

Happy Hiking!

:) John

Happy Trails,


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