15 February 2010

Sibley labyrinths

Deb and I spent some of our Valentine's Day afternoon over at Sibley Volcanic Preserve, an erstwhile rock quarry, since returned to nature, in the Oakland hills.

I can't remember where I first got the idea to visit this park, sometime in the mid 90's--it may have come up in a conversation about nearby hiking spots, while at a barbecue with friends at Tilden--but the surprise and awe I still recall registering, at coming across the labyrinths tucked away in the various quarries therein, has me remembering that no one had mentioned them beforehand. This can't be true. I can't now believe that someone would recommend visiting Sibley without also mentioning the labyrinths...

I've only been there maybe three or four times since, years pass in between; but I remember, that first time, getting some unusual help in appreciating the place as a sort of resource: I feel like we'd maybe been taking the least "up" of whichever forks the path took (although, again, there's not much trust to be placed in my memories of this), and thus had stumbled across three or four "lesser" labyrinths before we topped a small berm and looked down into the deep quarry home of the Big One. The other labyrinths had been some peculiar pieces of geo-art to find unexpectedly in the wild, fun things for hippies to do with rocks, and fun, too, for the rest of us to find, in their far flung locales--kinda like anthropogenic twists on the natural order, like, if you've ever taken a long hike in the Sierras, across broad granite surfaces where no trail is evident, and found your way marked with small cairns. But this bigger labyrinth, situated on the floor of the deepest quarry, had at its center a little pile of... tchotchke? Sort of a little altar, an agglomeration of odd items items mixed in with the rocks. I remember digging through it and finding all sorts of small treats. One of them was a tiny black plastic box with a button, which, when pressed, spoke something along the lines of "take something and leave something". It was revelatory.