After Christmas, Calaveras Road


A couple days after Christmas, we were driving up I-880, the Nimitz Freeway, from San Jose back to Berkeley. The Nimitz is a grind. Lots of traffic; lots of fast traffic; lots of trucks; long stretches of heavily built-up suburbs, malls, strip malls, big-box centers, and auto rows. But even from the Nimitz, you glimpse what a gorgeous piece of territory we’ve converted into a metropolis. A long line of hills runs parallel to the highway. High hills, up to about 2,500 feet. When it’s clear, they’re beautiful. They’re beautiful in the winter, when they’re green. After a storm–they’re beautiful then, too, with a backdrop of towering, dramatically lit clouds.  

So, a couple days after Christmas. We were driving north, and little gray shreds of cloud were hanging onto the top of the ridge to the east. It was late in the afternoon. I asked Kate whether she’d ever been up in those hills. No, she hadn’t. There’s a road up there I’ve cycled on long rides–Calaveras Road. Among other times: some other riders and I ended up out there, going from Berkeley down to the edge of San Jose, then back up to Fremont to catch BART home. I asked Kate whether she’d like to see the place if I could find it. She was game, so we got off at the Montague Expressway in Milpitas, then headed east, toward the hills, until we couldn’t go any farther, the intersection of Piedmont Road. Then we went left, north, until we hit Calaveras, then went right and up hill for a long time. Eventually we hit a steep uphill left into a steep, narrow ravine–still on Calaveras–and shortly popped up on the east side of a ridge above Calaveras Reservoir.

The light was fading, but we found a place to get out and walk. Oaks were silhouetted on the hillsides, and cold-looking gray clouds were starting to slide down the ridge across the lake.


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