Today I imagined I was on the trail, 11 months in the future. With my pack full, carrying 20 lbs of water. Green spines poking at me, a rattle below my feet-the penetrating rays encumbering, an endless reminder of my one and only objective=walk. I start to feel the balls of my feet. I start to feel that place in between my toes where I've been rubbing the last 230 miles. And I walk. The only voice besides my own I hear is the one that is my life-partner, my best friend. Walking with me. We're 10 days in, 230 miles of a 2700 mile journey. Already crossed the line from one nation to another. And my initial euphoria fades from red to yellow. With green spikes. The water on my back, and the water trapped in the trunk of those green spikes. Politics, gone. Worrying about rent, gone. Stressing over a career, gone. The only certainty, walk into the uncertainty. With my home on my back, and my best friend by my side. And an insatiable hunger.
That's what I imagined today.
Tomorrow I come back to today. And the next day and the next. Until we get on the trail.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
The most accessible hike from where I'm at right now: The Skyline to the Sea trail.
At 34 miles, this popular hike traverses the gorgeous coastal vistas, as seen from the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains, meandering through old-growth redwood and banana slug inhabited forests that stretches west toward the powerful Pacific Ocean.
Since we didn't have the time for the full 34 mile hike, Jacob and I decided on an easterly bound out and back; by starting at Waddell Beach, a popular kite-surfing destination 18 miles north of Santa Cruz on Highway 1. Across from the beach parking lot we began our hike. We started by weaving through a freshwater marsh that, I imagine, is a welcome refuge for migratory birds. The first few miles follows an old fire road through ranches and fields before we entered into a dense, green, riparian zone consisting of fern, wildflowers and moss; moist, calm, inviting, and peaceful as reflective of the salamander crossings we encountered. I fell into the familiar rhythm that provides the melody for good conversation. Following Waddell Creek,
we walked at a slight incline deeper into the now redwood populated canopy until we reached Berry Creek Falls, an exuberant 70 foot cascade over sandstone bluffs. Jacob and I reached this first bench mark, about 6 miles from the our starting point in the mid-morning with a full day ahead of us. Instead of continuing on the Skyline to the Sea trail, we ran into a biker that told us about a pretty offshoot that went up onto the ridge line to the highest point in the range for a view of the coast. A cold stream crossing awaited us; so we rolled up our pants, took off our shoes and socks and waded into the crisp water. The slick rock below proved to be a bit of a hurdle and took Jacob waist deep into the current. Only the blackberry Jacob carried in his pocket protested the dunk, a reminder of our looming return to civilization.
Dense riparian forest gave way to a hot, dry, and exposed ridge; something I love about California, this representative diversity. Our conversation flowed as we walked, and I relished those blissful moments of freedom; serenity. We found ourselves at the highest point on the ridge, with a vantage point that, to the west, showed us where we had come from, the pacific blue; and to the east, the Santa Cruz Mountains, over which is our current place of residence. The only thing about an out and back that I don't like is retracing your steps. With unchartered territory, it's easier to get into a rhythm, whereas backtracking causes me to become increasingly aware that the time on the trail is coming to an end. So a recommendation to anyone who is going to do this day hike; try to find a way to make it a loop. After 8 hours and 20 miles that characterized this hike with my best friend, I felt peaceful, relaxed, and although reluctant, prepared to go back and face the everyday realities of my current existence.I highly recommend this mild, accessible, and beautiful day hike.