Wild weekend of adventure and music on tap at Jack London SHP
By Tracy Salcedo
Call of the Wild event schedule for May 14–15 is packed
Jack London State Historic Park’s first-ever Call of the Wild Weekend, a two-day, family-friendly, community open house featuring original music and storytelling, guided hikes on a newly refurbished trail, tours of the park’s historical and natural sites, and demonstrations of blacksmithing, spinning, and horsemanship, is set for May 14 and 15.
Take a hike
The fun begins early on Saturday, May 14, when visitors are invited to meet in the Ranch parking lot at 8:45 a.m. for a guided hike to London Lake and the trailhead for the newly revamped Vineyard Trail. A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the improved trail, which links the park’s front country with its wilder backcountry, is at 9:30 a.m.
The Vineyard Trail, like many routes in the state parks system built on old service roads or even game trails, was not originally designed to accommodate modern trail traffic, according to park literature. To bolster the sustainability of the trail, improve the user experience, and facilitate access for maintenance crews in the southern reaches of the park, the trail has been updated and now features stone steps, a wooden boardwalk, and other improvements. The work was funded by Prop 64, which (among other things) set aside cannabis tax dollars for use in parks. The project was completed by a state parks trails crew and the California Conservation Corps.
After the ribbon- cutting, intrepid trekkers are invited to join a guided hike to the Ancient Redwood, a gnarled and lovely grandmother tree, and explore the old orchard, which has also seen some recent rehabilitation.
Reservations for the ribboncutting ceremony are required; secure your place online at https:// jacklondonpark.com/events/trailrestoration/. A guided hike on the Vineyard Trail will also be offered on Sunday, May 15, beginning at 9 a.m. Other options for hikers seeking to explore the hike include docent- led tours to the park’s diverse historical and natural features.
Beginning at 11 a.m. on May 14, visitors are invited to partake in a “Walking Introduction to Jack London’s Mysterious Call.” These easy, self-guided, 10-minute rambles lead to four sites on the Beauty Ranch where singersongwriters will offer 10-minute musical interludes.
The featured artists include John Elliott, Diana Gameros, Maya Hall, and Chris Chandler. Elliott, the headliner, draws inspiration from artists like Bruce Springsteen, Eminem, and Queen. Gameros is a singer, guitarist, and social activist whose works have been featured on NPR’s All Songs Considered and Alt. Latino podcast. Hall is a native of Japan and an “explorer of sound and vibration.” Chandler is a performance poet who has worked with Allen Ginsberg and Pete Seeger.
According to the park, the concept of the “mysterious call” is derived from a passage in Jack London’s The Call of the Wild: “But especially he loved to run in the dim twilight of the summer midnights, listening to the subdued and sleepy murmurs of the forest, reading signs and sounds as a man may read a book, and seeking for the mysterious something that called— called, waking or sleeping, at all times, for him to come.”
The musical journey continues at 1:30 p.m., when visitors are invited to join the featured performers at a Songwriters Roundtable in the park’s Winery Ruins for an exploration of the art of storytelling, the craft of writing, and “the mysterious something” that calls creative artists.
The musical offerings culminate in an evening concert performance in the Winery Ruins featuring Elliott, Gameros, Hall, and Chandler. Tickets are $20, and seating is festival-style, so attendees should bring their own blankets and/or folding chairs. Purchase tickets at https://jacklondonpark.com/events/ call-of-the-wild-concert/.
The concert, roundtable, and other musical events were sparked by Jack London Park Partners’ board members Ford Goodman and Glenn McCoy, who both have ties to creative endeavors. “We see this as a way to honor and reflect the whole community, an extension of how Jack London traveled the world to meet and truly understand people,” Goodman said.
The offerings on Sunday, May 15, dubbed “Family Adventure Day,” center on activities the whole family can enjoy. Plowing Playday runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and features plowing and harnessing demonstrations, free horse-drawn wagon rides, and the chance to check out mules, Clydesdales, Percheron, Shire, and Belgian draft horses. Blacksmiths, a spinning demonstration, and a display of early gas engines will be on hand.
Jack London’s “playful side” will be celebrated between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., when visitors can enjoy a “whimsical stroll” through the Beauty Ranch that
Family fun & games
highlights games the famed author may have played himself a century ago. The adventure ends at the Eucalyptus Grove picnic area with a demonstration by “Bubble Scientist” Ron Schultz, who will share Jack’s love of bubbles and offer kids a chance to create giant bubbles of their own. Art Escape will also be on tap, providing “a great art project to complete the day.”
Celebrate young authors
The awards ceremony for the Jack London Park Young Authors’ Contest winners and their families will be held the Eucalyptus Grove at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 14. This annual juried contest invites writers in sixth through eighth grades to follow a writing prompt inspired by Jack London’s work and tell an original story of their own. This year’s prompt focused on community, inviting writers to explore “what a brighter community looks like through your eyes.”
Chow time and a park pass
Whether you are hiking, dancing, or both, you can stoke the fires at the Picnic in the Meadow with the Tri-Tip Trolley food truck, which will be on site from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 14, and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 15. Beer and wine will also be available. Bring a blanket or folding chairs for picnicking.
Attendees can also enter a daily drawing to win an annual pass to the park. Tickets for the drawings will be available in the Ranch parking lot.
Call of the Wild Weekend helps celebrate the 10th anniversary of the formation of Jack London Park Partners, which operates the park “on behalf of the people of California.” Funding for the park is generated by visitors, annual passholders, and donors.
All visitors will receive free admission to the park, normally $10 per vehicle with up to nine passengers. For complete details of the schedule, visit https://jacklondonpark. com/call-of-the-wildweekend/. For more information on all things the park has to offer, visit https://jacklondonpark.com/.