January 5, 2022

Thoughts on Hiking

Last summer we decided to drive up the coast and go hiking at Butano State Park which is a little tucked away place off of Highway 1 you really have to go quite a bit inland on Gazebo Creek road. This meant getting up relatively early, brushing teeth, putting on the traditional Santa Cruz layers, for me a short skirt, sweat shirt, and a heavy scarf. Plus sunglasses, mask could be needed, and of course my ubiquitous phone which really serves as my camera.

We stopped to get sandwiches at Cafe Evita, my favorite turkey and havarti sandwich on multigrain bread, and a pack of lightly salted potato chips. 

The drive was uneventful except for seeing the dancing layer of fog on the horizon and wondering if today was actually going to be cold or hot. 

While driving we decided to name as many state national or county parks that were in one hour driving from our house. We came up with 30. This is why we have a state park pass. At any given time in our backyard we can go hiking at the Pinnacles, be up in the redwoods at Big Basin, or simply take some time at the beach near Waddell Creek. Today's adventure was just north of Pescadero, Butono State Park where we do love to hike, and actually considered it for our wedding venue back in the day.

Parking was easy enough, and we had our pleasant picnic with stern warning not to leave any crumbs for the Blue Jays, who then might eat the eggs or birdlings of the Murrieta foul. We started off on the trail at an easy pace, but it quickly grew quite steep and I found myself counting my steps and needing the stop about every hundred or so, and take 30 seconds to do some deep breathing. Now I'm not going to say I'm out of shape, maybe I'm pear-shaped, but mostly I feel like either Tweedledum or Tweedledee. Yet I can move with the agility of the goat on these tiny trails, finding my footing as a little branch slips underneath my sneaker, or some other moment where I thought I was going to trip but instead I held myself gracefully.

We clamored around going over bridges, observing the creek, finding the blossoms of July - amazing choke berries, upright daisies, that ubiquitous don't say that one more time redwoods. All of this was in start contrast to the burnt out redwoods. We were not sure if these were from the recent fires or more ancient, until we crossed over, switch-backing this way and that, oh my aching thighs, all the way up to the other ridge. Now we could see the devastation of last year's wildfires the dark black skeletons of trees in contrast to the ones that had clearly died from the heat but still had brown prickles on them a little more natural looking if you will.

It was so quiet, it was not just quiet, it was silent. Walking along that luminous path with the dapple sunlight just spraying through the red woods, hearing my own breath, the crunch of my husband's feet behind me, the sense that the birds had also gone still. There was the babbling of the creek earlier there had been the waterfall. Later, as we cross the fire road and then the main road to get onto Mill Oak trail, I could hear a hum in the distance. I pointed this out to Chip, and we wondered if it was this the roar of the ocean, the traffic along Highway 1, or simply the sound of the wind in the trees. It had been so quiet, and yet we were markedly more silent just a few moments before in the deeper crevices of the wild. Maybe I was in the deeper crevices of my mind, I certainly knew I had to pay attention to my feet, not the amazing canopy or views around me, but really be grounded not slip, not trip, find the tiniest goat steps steps nimble, nimble, nimble, as we backtracked time and again over these tiny little trails.

At last we came to the point where it was either flat or downhill, since the beginning of our hike was all uphill. We always long for the downhills, but you have to pay just as much attention. It can be easily as treacherous ,as one feels more at ease, looks less at one feet, and does not remember that these are narrow trails at best.

What a metaphor for life. When we feel oh everything is easy going downhill. When we feel our muscles because we're going uphill. Where is it feel narrow, and when is it we come out to those broad vistas, new perspectives.