This was our longest, hottest day as we trekked fifteen miles from Sienna Ranch to the Live Oak campsite in Mount Diablo State Park. Just beyond bustling Walnut Creek, we crossed Howe Homestead Park, which leads directly into the foothills of the mountain. A slow, steady, and sunny climb landed us at Camp 3 about six hours later.
All that we see is light. Ordinarily, we see light from so many sources at once that it's hard to know where it's coming from. We explored ways to use pinholes to limit the light we see and consider how light and our eyes work to understand more about what we see and how we see it.
What's the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke? How can we prevent and evaluate these conditions? Exploratorium Explainer and former Wilderness First responder Qian Li gave a practical overview of maintaining and restoring wellness in hot environments.
James Pomeroy Howe, who earned his reputation as an Associated Press war correspondent and Renaissance country gentleman, homesteaded on this land for fifty years. In his retirement, Howe grew walnuts and almonds and raised exotic birds and smoked their meats. He told larger than-life true stories and serenaded guests with flights of his rare Chinese pigeon flutes. In honor and memory of this rare man, Stephanie Stewart-Bailey performed a pigeon dissection in the park.
Mount Diablo—now 3,849 feet high—was once beneath the sea. Tectonic forces caused by the overriding of the Pacific and North American plates created an uplift of the once-horizontal seabed. We looked for numerous large rocks with parts of seashells still intact, and checked out the specks of broken white seashells in the road as we walked along.
Musician Wayne Grim presented a six-channel, site-specific outdoor audio installation incorporating objects found within a five-mile radius of his chosen performance area. These objects were resonated live using a series of transducers. In addition to creating the piece, Wayne discussed how to make an unassuming object vibrate and produce sound.
The former ranch of early Walnut Creek pioneer Frank Borges is the home base for Walnut Creek's Shell Ridge Open Space activities. The ranch complex includes a blacksmith shop, numerous outbuildings, and farm equipment displays. Built in 1901, the ranch houses historical displays of the early 1900s and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We took a quick tour and broke for lunch.
At the Less Is More Oasis, we enjoyed a respite from the shadeless trails of Mount Diablo State Park. It afforded meditation and experimentation with some of the lesser known and counterintuitive properties of a hiker's best friend: water. We witnessed turbulent and beautiful patterns that formed a quenching tea, munched on fruit cooled by water via the sun, and refreshed ourselves with a cooling spray of scalding water. We tried lifting steel with water. And, finally, watched time disappear in its depths.
We gathered around the movie screen at base camp on the final night of Harrell Fletcher's expedition to Mount Diablo. A program of visual storytelling offered meditations on nature and the spirit of curiosity it evokes.
Hiker Adam Green periodically took photos facing east from wherever he was and posted them to the Exploratorium’s Instagram account. This provided remote participants with a window onto The Windows and through the landscape. The images will be presented post-walk in the form of a booklet of eastward views.
When we explore exhibits or do activities to learn about science, we bring all of who we are with us, including our social and cultural experiences. On this trek, as we took the Exploratorium experience into new settings, we observed and talked with participants, capturing their interactions and reflections to uncover how their explorations and understanding are imbued with who they are.
Rebecca Solnit's wide-ranging book, Wanderlust: A History of Walking, trespasses through fields as diverse as philosophy, evolutionary biology, and urban planning. Inspired by Solnit's study, Marina and Milo contributed a meta-cognitive layer to the trek by focusing on the activity of walking itself through a series of daily reflections, readings, and simple activities on the wonders of bipedalism.
Exploratorium Explainers inspire visitors to engage with the museum's exhibits in creative ways, help out with floor operations, and lead daily demonstrations. One of most popular demos is performing magic tricks for captivated audiences of all ages. At various interludes along the path, Explainer Marcus Mark reached for his deck of cards to delight and astonish us, while simultaneously exploring the relationship between our eyes and our brains.