Pinole/Hercules Adventures

Quick Links to Content:
#1 POIIP: Chalk Hill
#2 POIIP: Graffiti Walk
#3 POIIP: The Pinole Reservoir
#4 POIIP: The Eucalyptus Grove
#5 POIIP: Coastal Cove and Cliff
#6 POIIH: The Hercules Haunts
#7 POIIP: The Two Tree Village
#8 POIIR: The Giant Powder Company Ruins

Adventure? In Pinole? That’s right, the is such a fictional concept as adventure even in a small town such as Pinole. Pinole has served as my home town for all of my life and some time during my sophomore year of high school I snapped and decided to explore. My reasoning was that nothing interesting was happening at home so I would instead look for fascination. I decided that you have a better chance of having an intriguing and fun time walking around downtown than you will sitting on your ass at home. That was the best bit of insanity I ever let consume me and ever since then I have experienced many places that most people have no idea ever existed.

Human nature dictates we are curious, but ever since humans set roots in suburbia we have left it to television to entertain us and nurture our curious needs; showing us far away places, but never for us to feel, touch, smell, etc. I, frankly, would rather die than forfeit the chance to discover and experience the world first hand. It is with this idea in mind that I show you the world you are missing in hopes you will join me. Make an adventure by stepping outside and walking where ever your interests take you. Even bring friends and make a wonderful day out of it, because everything is better with true friends. I promise nothing to everyone and everything to someone, that experience is the most valuable teacher you will ever know with knowledge that you will never forget.

Though, I must caution adventurers that the places I show from this point on will require daring as well as curiosity to access. I will warn you before each article, but know that there are just as many bad times as good that can happen, so be ready for them. Regardless I will say to my dieing day that there is no such thing as a bad experience.

It with this that I let my articles do the rest of the informing. I wish happy trials to everyone and hope that if I helped you that you post a link to my blog on Facebook or other advertising mediums.

Warning:For most the places I am advertising it is technically considered trespassing to be the land. I warn you of this for your own benefit, but assure you that I have yet to hear of legal harm being received from going to any of these places. I ,personally, don’t care about trespassing in reasonable places and if the law says otherwise it can kiss Mother Earth’s titanic, round, enticing, geographical ass! As long as your intentions are good then you should be in the clear, because most people can see you wish no harm.

    #1 Place of Interest in Pinole: Chalk Hill

This not the picture you were expecting I’m sure, but this is the entrance to the hill from the back. This is also the most obvious site on the list, because if you live in Pinole you see it every single day, which is exactly why I would be disappointed in anyone who hasn’t been up there. This is the beginning of any adventurer’s experience in Pinole or , at least, I know it was mine. I saw my surroundings and was giddy at the thought of a whole town left to explore; something that you can’t help feeling when you get a good look at the view.

It is interesting to note that though the hill is named for the chalk that is used on its heights to mark the year of the graduating class at Pinole Valley High School; chalk hasn’t been used  in years. Now, people who are courageous enough to grace the hills breast with a mark use white trash bags filled with the dirt from the hill.

Lazy, yes, but it is convincing enough to deceive onlookers from afar, so why not? They certainly continue a tradition that is well worth preserving. Keeping the hill and its meaning alive.

    #2 Place of Interest in Pinole: Graffiti Walk

Call it “The Chill Spot”, “The Graffiti Gala”, “The Messiah Mosey”, or whatever you want, but this is a hidden treasure of Pinole. Well,  only if you like echos, dark tunnels, and GREAT GRAFFITI! I love this place, because you will never feel more like Jesus than you do here. This is because the tunnels are not level with the creek so one side get more water than the other. This makes one side have just little enough water to walk on without getting your socks wet.

I actually do appreciate graffiti as an art form and love to stumble upon places like this. The entire place is a just a canvas for those who want to take some time to make some really clean designs. Tunnels, train yards, old buildings, etc. are the portions of suburbia that are meant to be free paint places and I’m glad they exist where they don’t interfere with anyone and can be a pleasant surprise for those who look. (*Warning, I rant. This may be amusing and true*) Unlike Scribblers… those useless taints of society. If you don’t know who I’m referring to then just look around town and I’m sure you will find them in plain sight in all of their etched ugly glory. I use “scribbler” as my own derogatory(insulting) definition for those stupid taggers who quickly write their persona on stop signs, freeway overpasses, and other unsightly places just to get themselves noticed by a select group of people they know that think they are cool for maybe a second. These cowards think they are so courageous, while quickly running out and tagging some object before the next car by and scares them off. You really want to show some brass balls; go out to tag a stop sign and make it elaborate and colorful. Then it will be an improvement to the view and not your sorry ass scribble burning my eyes into submission and I drive down a street and thus causing another unneeded car crash.

Some believe this tunnel actually leads to another dimension and others think it just may be Narnia on the other end. I can tell you now, that it is not the case, because the other end is just ducks,  empty spray cans (PICK UP YOUR TRASH, TAG ARTISTS!), and a hobo sleep spot. So, unless the fourth dimension is all about hobos spray painting ducks (this may be cool), then there is no portal. I could see why they would think so though.

In many of the places I will display there is graffiti, but this one is a great spot relax and let the day roll by, though I would wait for the summer to come when this underground aqueduct is dry enough to sit on. During those days it a cool(literally, even on a hot day) and a great place to relax, but watch out during the winter months when the rain may make the creek too high. This is also a good spot to smoke. I only know, because of the friends who have told me so and the pungent smell of burning chronic in the area. If you need to cut the smell due to a dislike of the smell, then pick this plant.

It is wild mint and grows abundantly in the area. Yes, mint like the tea. It smells just like mint tea and you actually could make a nice tea from it if you were so inclined, but DON’T SMOKE IT! I research it and there would be some bad mojo brewing in that cloud. Try to have a pleasant time here; if you can find it. I’m not telling you how to get there or hint where it is, except to say it is in Pinole. Look low and get high, if you wish. =)

    #3 Place of Interest in Pinole: The Pinole Reservoir

I will admit it. This is not the most exciting picture, but! How about this?

There, my attention magnet has been laid. I would wager that most people in Pinole do not know about this grand attraction. I have heard it been dubbed “Hell’s Gate” by the taggers that make their home there (as you can see I’m sure), but I would call it “The concrete coliseum” or “The Stone Stadium.” Though that is just because I have a weakness for wordplay.

I know it is difficult to see it as anything but a lot of garbage and some dried paint down a 37 foot drop, but this was a functioning reservoir once. (Interesting history) After four years for work the reservoir was finished in 1902; used to supply water for a power plant not far away. This old girl held 8,728,621 gallons of water that couples would sometimes row boats on if it was a fun sunny day. In 1934 the reservoir was no more mostly due to the water it was leaking, but partially due to its necessity drying up.  Deeds to the land changes hands between various people and now I have heard a rumor that a friend’s grandfather has the deed, but I am unsure of that. Now, the reservoir serves as place of mystery, history, and space for people to enjoy… if they dare. Seriously it is one of the more intimidating spots to access due to the drop and the barbed wire, but that isn’t so bad, when you realize that the ladder down is rusted, busted, and otherwise out of order:

If you are thinking that the ladder looks manageable then be forewarned about the barbed wire set right in front of the ladder on the wall. There are ways across and down like a rug over the wire or some wire cutters, but then that is destruction of property and of course I don’t endorse that… Look, in my eyes the entire area embodies destruction so, maybe it is fitting? That may be why taggers named it after such a chaotic place as hell. Speaking of the taggers, here they have nothing but one large sheet of concrete to work with and they have, many times.

Amazingly, that “Phaze” is about 30 feet tall. Simple design, yes,but what it definitely does not lack is size. In places like this hidden from the world view, the underground usually seeps out and excretes paint everywhere it know no one knows of, which makes  beautiful the display for those who look. I would also like to mention the outer rim of the reservoir is a nice rest area full of benches and a swing!

If you were looking for a swing in the right picture and couldn’t find it, you aren’t blind, but  you are just disappointed as I was. There is a great rope swing near the benches, but it is currently being lazy in the treetops, because some choice asshole through it it up in the canopy. Don’t worry. I, or someone else who cares, will extract the swing from its branch break and soon young folk can swing happily again. My sincerest pleas go out to hoping whoever tangled that poor swing will burn in hell… or at least get stuck in Hell’s Gate (This may be harsh, but who mucks with the natural order of swings like that!?). This is a natural note on the side of this story, but if you look around you should find a very distinct plant among others that can be found all over the bay area. It is called Miner’s Lettuce.

Lettuce, as in “Let us eat.” (Ha ha ha! what!? It is my blog!) It really is edible and is a good source of vitamin A, C, and other trace minerals. I have tasted many times and it tastes a little like the skin of an apple if you chew it long enough. I would also recommend washing it first just to be safe, but apparently settlers and Indians have been eating it for years.  The Indians also laid the picked plant next to ant hills to gather formic acid to use as a dressing of sorts. I would not recommend that, but why not try some when you spot a patch. (If you don’t believe me, research it yourself, like I did) At this point you may wonder why I became a naturalist all of the sudden and it is just an interest of mine that I figure many other people would not mind some news about. As I have stated, I’m not going to tell you where to go to find this ancient realm, but I will say that it has a beautiful stairway leading to it.

    #4 Place of Interest in Pinole:
    The Eucalyptus Grove

Wondering how a stretch of trees got on a list of special and hidden places? Well, try to find it. I am serious. This is one of the most unexpected and hidden places in Pinole, but it is full of mature eucalyptus trees. I remember being shown this place by a friend and thinking “What wrong turn did I take to end up in Australia?” That instant, I start speaking with an Ozzy accent and talking about koalas throwing some wild parties in the tree tops. A strobe light flickering in the canopy with bottles of beer bottles falling from the tree tops (as well as the occasional koala), it would be like it was snowing koalas (my secret Christmas wish every year). How magical that would be and how magical this grove is. I was right to be surprised. I walked from the entrance to the grove within a few short steps.

Twas quite the unexpected jump, so I turned back instantly to make sure the portal that transported me had not closed. Lest I be stuck in Australia where the beers and Poisonous antelope roam. Though this place has all the benefit of being in an Australian forest without the chance of a poison plant or animal reaching out and taking off half you leg.There is pungent smell of eucalyptus wafting around and you will be lucky not to leave with yourself drenched in it. You will also find that since eucs shed so much there are many high quality sticks lying around.

Maybe I am just showing how childish I can be, but I still like to take  some sturdy sticks and fight my friends with them and here, the grove makes beating your friend’s cocky smile from his face easy. Yeah! Still you might want to watch who is watching you, because this place is right between an apartment complex over looking the grove and houses on all sides. It is a short and possibly supervised walk, but the scent is pleasant and the walk is grand. Maybe I am only speaking to naturalists and lovers, but even so I’m glad there are places to cater to both in Pinole.

#5 Place of Interest in Pinole: Coastal Cove and Cliff

I felt bad about having such a land loving bias, so I decided to give some attention to my friends down under by showing off a cliff and cove close to their home. Though this might be bad advertisement for them considering that this spot is regularly fished by people on the weekends. If you ask the men “Is the fishing is any good?” then they will probably say “Que?” considering most of them are Hispanic. With the wimpy bit of Spanish I actually know I haven’t gotten around to asking them, but since I see three or four poles out every time I visit, I am pretty sure some kind of incentive is floating around.

For the bay, this sand bar and cliff are geographical gems. The cove (First left picture), is a satisfying spot if you ever need a taste of the beach and you can’t stomach the hour of winding driving to the ocean beach. It has a small alcove on the side and towards the back there is a shelf sitting above the ocean that hides from the public eye almost completely.

I have been here several times to explore and each time I travel to the stone shelf in back I am surprised to find someone has made a mini bonfire. As Illegal as this is, even on most beaches around the area, this is so far from the land I can’t see major harm in a little pyrotechnics. My only worry for such a time would be the wind, because that seems to be the constant in the bay area and this cove is no exception. If the wind did kick up you could always travel to a more secluded location. Say, up a cliff?

I would like to imagine the cliff not to far from the cove as a giant face looking out into the ocean. This face, is servery elongated I realize, but I will show you why. The entrance up the cliff is almost a natural staircase to take you up about 30 feet above the railroad tracks adjacent. You have just crawled onto a head and are within a forest of hair. My first thought is that this head needs some serious shampoo therapy, because he has got some graffiti trees going on and what looks like a shrine from far away.

I personally don’t think keeping shrines in your hair is very healthy, because where there are shrines there are followers and the last thing I would need in my hair is lice. Further forth on the head we look down and can see a mouth!

A mouth that I have yet to explore, because I haven’t encountered this cliff on super low tide. Seems like the only other way to get to it would be some swimming, but I am not so sure about the bay as far as safe swimming goes. Along the path on the head you will also see some piercings.

These were probably placed there long ago in an attempt to ascend to the mouth. Maybe a teeth cleaning gig or something, but now there have been left there as remnants of the deed. This place is elevated from sight as a wonderful cover from curious sight and most of the elements; an aspect that has been taken advantage of on more than one occasion by many people. The condom wrappers I found were proof enough of that and why wouldn’t you want to? You can lay back with someone you love and watch a beautiful bay with privacy as your comfort.

On a more naturalist note (as seems to be my new custom), in the general area during the months of April and May you can find a pond that follows the length of the railroad tracks on one side and this is prime spot for polliwogs! If you have never played with polliwogs or kept some for yourself while watching them grow into frogs, then I apologize for you not having a childhood. There are all over this time of year and they make a happy visit for me when I peer over and see them flee from my shadow. Joy from fear, who knew?

    #6 Point of Interest in Hercules: The Hercules Haunts

Before I start, you should know that this place is not in Pinole, but in Hercules. I will still annex it as part of pinole, just because it is so close. If you have some problem with this, make sure you have actually been there, so you are not arguing the location of a place you don’t know. Lets not be silly.

Not every journey is a pleasant one, but we still are drawn to abandoned houses with unknown origin. Human curiosity is almost unshakable when it is affixed in the right individual and within me it stands as a drive to search even forgotten realms. I tell all of you right now that I will comment on this place, but I do not think anyone should go unless they are among amigos; for this place tests courageous curiosity that some may pride themselves in. I also must mention that this location is entering a broken into abode, so the law could construct that to mean “breaking and entering”, if, you get caught. The entrance to this place is well from street view and as long you are quiet you should be safe…from the law, but you can never be too cautious in these places.

Yes, I was wary and for good reason. There is one entrance into a building that is half consumed in darkness. My first greeting was the sound of crushed glass beneath my feet as I stepped to the floor. I was luckily aided by a friend who brought a flashlight (two things I advise strongly).  I walked into the hallway in front of me to find it lost in darkness and only some of the rooms illuminated by the sun in the windows. That light didn’t reach some of the obscured rooms, so with the flash you are seeing what I couldn’t.

Rooms that were wrecked by previous occupants that I was on the watch for and though it may be cliche, it was a stormy day outside when I visited this hall. This gave me concern as to who wanted to escape the rain and take shelter in a nice roomy vacancy. I walked slowly down the hall and listened with precision as I spoke jokes to my friend to keep her in better spirits. At the other end I found nothing but the remnants of a sleepover long done.

I was relieved. No inhabitants; only their records left all over the walls and floor. Soon after my fear subsided I looked at my surroundings and was angry. (Rant warning) I am fine with artists, but not vandals. The windows has been shattered, spray cans left strewn about everywhere, and anything breakable was done so. No effort for order was even considered and they left everything as it fell. I don’t mean to sound so uppity, but what idiocy possess you (my guess is adolescence) to ruin a house. A place of safety turned into a den of primal chaos. It is absurd and wrong to disgrace such a place and if I has a broom in hand would have attempted to clean, but to what end… For in the end it will happen again and I will still be a hypocrite for ranting about a lifestyle that allowed me entrance into such a place.

I called this place a haunt and you may wonder why without any mention of ghosts. Are there any ghosts? Maybe; if there were I didn’t see them. Still, I felt haunted by every step I had to take and with every sound made by mysterious source. The stagnancy of the air and the feeling of being alone even with a friend is what sticks with me. That is what a haunt is to me.  To others this place was a hell begotten haven for misdeed and it sure does annoy me something fierce. What sustains me is my experience and all that I accomplished. I can only hope this place does the same for you. Just remember that there is only one way in and one way out; no exceptions.

    #7 Point of Interest in Pinole: The Two Tree Village.

    Calling two tree houses a village is just about as ridiculous as a two man army, but how often do you see two tree houses so close to each other on a hillside. Now they aren’t close enough to spit at one an other, but that is good right? There is a little walk across the hill to get to each of them, but you have know what you are looking for or you may miss them. I recently was wandering about when I saw some wood from the top of the tree that wasn’t barking at me. I came closer only to find a rather impressive sight greeting me (The right picture up top), so my instantaneous instinct was “Climb!”

    One foothold after another and I got to the top to fins a platform about 30 feet of the ground that had a tree growing through the top floor. Then I checked stability to find it was fine. I was excited beyond what most people would be to find this as it validates my beliefs. I had no intention of finding such an interesting spot, but of all the possible marvels in this world I found one of them as a reward for just walking the world and watching for wonders. One of these wonders being a swing; unharmed by vandals and ruffians. It is of simple design and is meant for you to put your foot in it and stand while you are being pushed. A simple amusement, but are not those the best kind?

    Don’t forget! This is a two for one special. I found another house not too far away by accident (Left picture up top). I began to think that there was a tree tribe of wild natives that I might be disturbing, but as I got closer to this new cabin I found the only creatures I was disturbing were the spiders in webs.

    No one was there and no one had been there since before those spiders took up real estate there. I was hoping to dodge graffiti and be the first person to find one of these locations, because the tree house before was bare, but scribblers had been there before and had to mark up the walls. Finding nonsensical writing and the anarchy symbol, which they probably know nothing about (know that I don’t speak against all who pick up paint, just the people that I see flailing spray cans in stupid ways), I sat down and realized that this was an amazing little hut. It was in the tree and actually had a roof, door, two windows, and would provide serious shelter to whomever would need it. It is spots like this I hope the homeless find so that they can have a night off the streets. I suspect that whoever built this structure did it for their children to be amused, hence the swing outside. (I know! Another one!)

    Now, it has been turned into a dope box for smoking. I found remnants of tape around the air exits of the structure to keep the smoke in. I found a bunch of old paper lying around that had been burned and I imagine those same happy high people were the ones to brand the walls with red paint. I even found instructions for a “super hookah”

    I would like to think of this place as a small get away for some friend to just hang out. If someone took some time and spiffed up the place to a clean shine there might be some good times to be had. These tree houses are stable fun environments for play and I hope someone gives them some TLC soon. I left everything as is so if you want to see them for yourselves, just look around the hills of Pinole and maybe you can stumble upon them like I did. Crusade and climb in joy!

      #8 Point of Interest in Richmond: The Giant Powder Company Ruins

      I am going to come up front with this location and tell you that it resides in Point Pinole, the park just off of Richmond on the bay. I tell you this not only because  you could easily research the name and find the location on google, but because explaining that anything is on park land is enough of a hint. The location is broad and beautiful, which is enough of a reason to explore, but also a park is a wonderful area that allows for the rules of nature to override the laws of society.  If that weren’t true, then closest you would come to a tree in day to day life is your #2 pencil.

      The simple story behind this area is that it was used to produce dynamite for mining, dam building, and catching fast road runners.  The more complex story involves a lot of explosions and death; no Hollywood had nothing to do with it. (History Lesson) The Giant Powder Company was having one disaster after another. One in the factory they had in San Francisco and another later on in facility in Berkeley, both involved the accidental ignition of the dynamite that they were manufacturing causing explosions that could be heard and felt for miles around. After these egregious events, the company decided to settle down in a spot far away from cities, so that if another explosion was to happen they wouldn’t cause too much havoc. Luckily, once they moved into Point Pinole in 1892 there were no more extreme accidents all the way to the companies end in 1960.  After the deed to the land was passed along across various owners in different parts the land was stripped clean and finally turned into a park. The cement structures that are along the bay in the park are just some of the remnants of the long forgotten explosive empire that once used the land. The park that stands today is a wonderful spot for family parties and a nice flat layout for a hike; with surrounding view that I wonder about. Did any of those exploited workers ever take the time to see what was around them or was it worth it at the time? I will never know, but at least I can enjoy the area and their work yard as my play yard. The ruins offer obscurity and exploration for those willing to climb a their cement pillars.

      I never saw a sign that said the ruins are off limits, but there is always an official to spoil your fun. Here, at least, I can see no major consequences unless you are starting fires like other people who have visited the ruins. Arson is only one of the many hobbies that people have in the park have, such as hiking, horseback riding, geocaching (there are 8 caches in the park), and fishing. I saw many rods set up for fishing and I hear that the fishing is not half bad and, though I don’t have a picture of it, they have a pier that stretches out into the bay to provide some fishing room.  I might just pick up the rod myself soon and take in a view of two. I hope you can find your way to the main event I’m speaking of, because nothing quite gets you as interested in the past as experiencing it first hand.

      I’m back! I thought I was extinguished, but for those who care I will be updating my blog with more frequency as I discover more ground around me. Have a safe adventure and an awesome situation.

5 Responses to Pinole/Hercules Adventures

  1. Skyler Novak says:

    this is pretty cool dude. me gusto.
    i want to find that grafitti tunnel

  2. jay babi says:

    so you’ve already been there before i showed d eucalyptus grove to you? =)

  3. Skyler Novak says:

    you should make a mention on how to access the second floor of the orphange and the other house on the hills nearby.

  4. Hassam says:

    I think a “secret” Interact clean-up could help out “The Hercules Haunts” ;). I’m really impressed by your blog ^_^. You could make good money being a tourist =P.

  5. Gabby says:

    Great Article! You need to do one on El Sobrante, Rodeo, etc etc…

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