Today it’s been raining cats and dogs in Palo Alto, but on Monday it was a ripe 86 degrees. Weather forecasters that we are, we celebrated Earth Day early this week by strapping on our hiking boots and hosting a company off-site in the Santa Cruz mountains.
After a hearty breakfast, we all packed our backpacks with plenty of healthy snacks and just enough water before hitting the road. We caravanned to the Portola Valley trailhead of Windy Hill Open Space Preserve, where it may have been the stillest day at the summit that typically exemplifies its namesake. We truly couldn’t have picked a better day. The sun was shining and the clouds in the sky were pure white; no threat of rain.
Once re-assembled, our team embarked on the 7-mile loop through the wondrous ecosystems of the Santa Cruz Mountains. At the summit, we took a quick team pic after staring in awe at the clear view of the tip of San Francisco down the Peninsula to San Jose looking East, and the rarely visible Pacific Ocean facing West.
We laughed and some of us may have cried a little on the inside. We shared stories of growing up in different parts of the country and sang songs through the wooded hills of our now collective backyard while munching on fruit, organic gummy snacks and granola bars (hey, when in Rome…). We saw lots of lizards, one snake, and the likely remains of a coyote’s lunch.
As we moseyed on down the hill back to our cars, the promise of burgers and beer beckoned us from the Alpine Inn where we all relished in the accomplishments of our day without one mention of work. Nature has a wonderful way of turning off that mode so we could spend a little time getting to know each other and the Earth beneath our feet, just a bit better.