Our last day on the California Missions Trail, Los Gatos to Santa Clara, Thursday, July 13, 2023
From author, Sandy Brown, in the introduction of his book, “Pilgrim Route, Hiking and Biking The California Missions Trail From Sonoma to San Diego.” (www.cicerone.co.uk): “The Early American Period (1848-1884): Gold Rush, Land Rush – And Genocide. In the 1840s, American settlers began to trickle into California. Spurred by the US annexation of Texas, war broke out in 1846 between Mexico and the US, and after sporadic fighting, on February 2, 1848, Mexico ceded its territories between Texas and the Pacific Coast north of the Rio Grande. California was now a part of the US. Just nine days earlier, gold had been discovered at Sutter’s Mill in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The trickle of American immigrants now became a torrent. Within two years California was accepted into the union as the 31st state.”
“While Mexico had promised to emancipate the Native peoples of California, by the end of its first session the new California State Legislature had passed sweeping laws that gave California settlers the right to remove Native Californians from their land, to indenture them in servitude in exchange for paying legal fines, and to allow the indenture of Native children until their adulthood. Worse yet, in 1851, California Governor Peter Hardeman Burnett set aside funds to arm local militias to fight against Native Americans and began to reward settlers who killed them. The US Army, local militias, and American settlers conducted a legalized genocide of Native Californians between 1846 and 1873 in massacres at places like Clear Lake, where 400 Pomo people were killed. Estimates indicate that as many as 100,000 Native Americans died during the first two years of the California Gold Rush, subsidized by $1.7 million in California state funds. One estimate suggests that between 1846 and 1870, the Native population of California plunged from 150,000 to 30,000.”
These snippets of history written and heavily researched by Sandy Brown are lengthy to include in my travelogue – yet it’s just the “tip of the iceberg” and I really feel compelled to include some of it here to perhaps entice others to look deeper. Check out Sandy’s book and other resources If you are fired up and/or interested in more details.
As for current activity on the California Mission Trail there is also a Facebook Group: California Mission Walkers. “California’s Natural History: California sits on the Circum-Pacific Belt of active volcanoes, formed as the edges of the tectonic plates slowly push against each other. The result is a rugged and earthquake-prone geological foundation for six major mountain ranges, twenty volcanoes, hundreds of major and minor earthquake fault lines, vast deposits of minerals, and huge underground reservoirs of fossilized sediments (oil, that is).” “Pilgrim Route, Hiking and Biking The California Missions Trail From Sonoma to San Diego.” Author, Sandy Brown (www.cicerone.co.uk)
We slept quite well after our long trek yesterday, and we were up at our usual 4:50 a.m! Only hitch was the toilet clogged up – ewww! And just before we headed to the lobby for our Grab and Go Breakfast we heard it unclog. TMI?!? Auspicious Beginning to our day…
We walked out of the charming town of Los Gatos at 6:40 and into a very urban setting. We were so early that there was not much traffic and we enjoyed the temperature and refreshing scent of eucalyptus trees. Once again we had to walk on the road and cross back and forth to avoid blind corners. An hour into our walk we came along side a big lake and realized that we had missed the entrance to Vasona Park.
Instead of going back, we plugged into GPS the eventual cross street we were to reach and thus ensued our strip mall five-miler. We didn’t know until after the fact that we missed a true “walk in the park” along more of the Los Gatos Creek Trail. As a consolation we DID end up walking by the Netflix headquarters… Los Gatos and Santa Clara are considered to be part of the Silicon Valley.
Once we took a break at the Safeway store in Campbell we further realized we had yet another five miles of walking beside the highway on sidewalks, by strip malls, shopping centers, apartment homes, and supermarkets – in a suburb where we would even come to two big malls sitting across from each other before we would arrive at Mission Santa Clara on the Santa Clara University campus. We are two strong women with nothing to prove to anybody, and we quickly came to the consensus to call Uber again! This way we would have more time to enjoy the university campus and mission. And the sunshine – instead of traipsing in that sun generated heat, on sidewalks wearing our backpacks, with nothing edifying to await us. We would however, end up missing the famous Winchester Mystery House “nearby”. From “Pilgrim Route, Hiking and Biking The California Missions Trail From Sonoma to San Diego” written by Sandy Brown (www.cicerone.co.uk) “After suffering the loss of her husband and infant daughter, heiress Sarah Lockwood Pardee Winchester began a 36-year home renovation project that would result in a sprawling, unfinished mansion of 160 rooms, with 10,000 windows and 47 stairways (www.winchestermysteryhouse.com).” Christine had been there years before and frankly, I wasn’t heartbroken to miss it. So we made The Call and by noon we were on the peaceful and beautifully manicured campus of Santa Clara University with stunning rose gardens as far as our eyes could see!!
From Sandy Brown’s guidebook, “After the Mexican government began to dismantle the Spanish mission system, Mexican settlers and American immigrants started to compete for the vast Native American lands. One dispute led to the 1847 Battle of Santa Clara in the Mexican-American war, in which four were killed and six wounded. In 1963 the City Council voted to demolish the city’s historic downtown in order to receive federal urban renewal funding. Santa Clara is an urban hub of Silicon Valley, and one of its largest employers is tech giant Intel.”
Author Sandy Brown also notes regarding Saint Clare of Assisi, “As a teenager, Clare of Assisi (1194-1253) heard the preaching of Francis at San Gregorio Church, and was immediately taken with his call to a radically faithful life. With his permission, she established a Franciscan order for women, the Poor Clares, and on her own account was widely revered throughout Italy for her holiness. Clare of Assisi was canonized just two years after her death, and her annual feast day is August 11, the date of her death in 1253.
It was a short walk to the University’s chapel, the historic Mission Santa Clara de Asís. Our surroundings were very tranquil given school is out for summer, yet we did run across the paths of several potential students on a tour through the chapel. Most of the following photos were contributed by my walking partner, Christine.
This will be the last really long excerpt from Sandy Brown’s Hiking and Cycling guide to the California Missions Trail. Perhaps it’s lame of me to rely so exclusively on one source – it’s certainly lazy! But I know Sandy, his academic background and his diligent, passion driven quest for truth and equality. So I feel very comfortable not only promoting his book, which is one of limited choices on this missions route, but also in sharing his research. In fact, I feel strongly motivated to do so because though I knew the Native Americans were poorly treated, the specific details here have angered me and encouraged me to learn more. I feel this incredulous history is most definitely integral to “the story” as Sandy certainly did when he included so much in his book, both from his scholarly perspective and from his ancestral connections.
“At its dedication on January 12, 1777, Franciscans gave their eighth mission the name Santa Clara de Thamien, after the Tamyen people who lived in the neighboring village of Socoisuka. By 1784 floods and fires at the Guadalupe river site led to a move to the second site on higher ground floor (now Memorial Cross Park), where the mission operated between 1784 and 1819. With the wide Santa Clara Valley as its territory, Mission Santa Clara de Asís quickly outpaced neighboring Mission San Francisco de Asís for production, and the Franciscans established Mission San José to relieve overcrowding. The proximity of the Californio settler village of San José led to strained relations over boundaries and properties. Settlers resented the free Native labor from which the mission benefited and sometimes hired laborers from the mission or paid Native workers from outside mission boundaries to work on their farms and ranches in the fertile valley. To reduce tensions, the mission priests set Native American workers to the task of building a road, El Almeda, between the two settlements so Pueblo de San José residents could worship at the mission church. With secularization in the 1830s, the lands were sold by the Mexican government; few Native Americans were recipients. Jesuits established a college at the site in 1851, which became Santa Clara University.”
“In 1925 a fire destroyed the mission’s much-remodeled adobe church, and in 1929 the college consecrated a new chapel on the site, which can be toured when the university is in session. An adobe wall adjacent to the church remains and between the two is a colorful and well-tended garden. Artifacts for the mission era are kept in the university’s De Saisset Museum (www.scu.edu/desaisset/), which also features art exhibits. A few blocks away, the Women’s Club Adobe preserves original workers’ houses from the mission (www.santaclarawomansclub.org).”
After enjoying time in the mission, and on the university campus, we headed to the Caltrain station a few blocks away. We took the L1 to San José Diridon station and then the L3 to Milbrae, at which point we got on BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to the Balboa Park station near our neighborhoods. I took the 29 bus to my place and Christine took the K train to hers – all said and done by 12:30 PM. We still walked over 5 1/2 hours and 10.5 miles!
We enjoyed wonderful conversation and companionship, had plenty of personal reflective and spiritual time, saw some beautiful and historic artifacts, communed with amazing trees beside sparking, sun drenched bodies of water, experienced urban/suburban sprawl, felt the spirits and ghosts of the Silicon Valley tech explosion – walked as free, healthy, solo women a total of 49.6 miles! We felt safe. And also confident with the very handy resources at our fingertips, such as Christine’s pre-research gleaned from the Butch Briery guidebook and the gathering of transit options, Sandy’s guidebook details and of course our cell phones and GPS! We did this four day adventure on our own yet The California Mission Walkers Facebook group often plans group walks and note them under their “events”.
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”. Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go