Oh, to be out again in the early morning and on such a beautiful day. After a long break from routine due to my recent visit to England and a series of wet and cold weekends, we were ready for some exercise.
The bikes were loaded onto the car the night before and at 6:15am we were on the road. Alviso was our destination and the salt marsh and the miles of easy riding on the levees were our goal.
Alviso gets better each time we drive through it and the Marina area has really improved. An area of 18.9 acres near the car park is now called the Alviso Marina County Park and there is an easy walking trail around it with lots of information boards along the way. Today though we are riding on the Alviso Slough Trail which starts from the car park and the first part of the trail is along the the short circular trail around the marina. Just past the first observation platform we turned right.
At this time in the morning, there is nobody else around. In fact the rabbits outnumber us. They sit in the middle of the trail and then turn tail and lope off to the side as we approach. Tom stops to take photos and a couple of American Avocets take exception to him being there, even though we were on the trail. They screeched and screamed and attempted to scare him off. I remember a few years back being dive bombed by terns on the other side of Don Edwards as we were riding the trail.
Last time we where here at Alviso, there was a dredger working and mounds of fresh clay lined the levees. The mounds are still there but they
have rounded off and are beginning to be covered with pickleweed.
The water level appears to be lower because there are more mud islands out in the slough which I have never seen before. Either that or it is a very low tide.
We follow the trail over the railroad and stop to look north at the inaccessible ghost town of Drawbridge in the distance. As I have said before, it’s very tempting to walk the rails and to actually visit the town but I understand it is not safe at all because Drawbridge is slowly sinking into the marsh.
We pass a sign which says this trail is closed for duck hunting between October 18 and January 25, so it’s OK to ride it now. We don’t go too far because there are just too many bugs around. They were getting in our eyes, mouths and noses and we were covered in them.
Back over the rail tracks, we turn right. There are no trail markers out here so I have no idea which trail we are on. We just keep cycling and eventually we will either go round in a loop and arrive back where we started or we will have to turn back and try to remember which way we came. The levees seem to go on and on for miles.
Tom stopped in front of me and seemed to be pondering something so I stopped too. Then he pointed out the power lines overhead. I hadn’t noticed them at all but now Tom had pointed them out, it did seem strange to have them out here in the middle of nowhere with not a house or any sort of building in sight.
It was very peaceful out there with just the sound of the gulls and marsh birds. The American Avocets are making the greatest noise but the most common bird around is the Western Gull. A Red Kite passed overhead and circled over the slough.
We came to another junction and discussed which way to go but off to our right we spotted a flock of white pelicans, so the decision was made. There were about 15 of them and, to begin with, they were close to the levee but they moved off and were soon in a feeding frenzy. Pelicans are an unusual bird to look at with their long beaks with the big pouch underneath. Brown Pelicans are more common in California so it is always a rare treat to see white pelicans.
While Tom was taking photos, another couple on bikes came towards us. It was only after they had gone by that I realized I should have asked them if they were on a loop trail. We cycled on for another couple of miles but seemed to be moving further away from the start. As the hunger pangs were beginning to gnaw we decided to turn back. (I checked a trail map when I got home and it is actually called the Alviso Slough Trail Loop and it is 8.9 miles long so we could have carried on.)
The ride back was pretty uneventful until we were on the final stretch. Tom spotted a Red-tailed
Hawk sitting on a log beside the levee eating a rat. I’d ridden right past and had not noticed. I did hear Tom, who was several yards behind me, say ‘Whoa’. By the time I had stopped and turned, the hawk had flown away, clutching the rat in his talons. But he didn’t fly too far and I was able to watch through my binoculars. Tom didn’t have time though to get off his bike and set up his tripod and camera before the hawk had moved out of view.
There is nothing like getting up early and taking a bike ride before breakfast to get you into the right mood for the day ahead.