In October I wrote a piece the point of which was that Walking Does a Body and Mind Good, So Indulge!
In the Summer of 2003 I took my first hike into the mountains, a journey of exploration with members of an Orange County writers workshop that I belonged to at the time.
It was a leisurely, nearly 3 mile round trip, stroll along the trail to HOLY JIM CANYON AND FALLS, in the CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST, in the South Orange County community of Trabuco Canyon.
It is said that this hike is the most popular family hike in the OC.
I hauled a camera along and took some pictures, some of which I have dug out of the photo album to share for this story.
I was a total wreck BEFORE we even began but, by the time it was over, though tired, a bit wet, and soon to be sore from head to toe, I was a very happy man.. ;-D
For my very first hike I couldn't have chosen a better one than the one I took that afternoon.
Live oaks, sycamores, and alders, oh my!
A narrow trail that winds its way upward to a small waterfall nestled in its own private grotto.
A shrine to all that is beautiful, wonderful, peaceful, relaxing, mind-expanding, and soul refreshing about nature, and the activity of getting close to it, and becoming one with it, that is hiking.
The afternoon started off with me taking the bus down the coast along PCH to Laguna Beach, and taking 2 more busses to reach the point, near Trabuco Canyon, where I was to be picked up by 2 ladies in a red car.
An hour, and what seemed like zillions of red cars later, our guide shows up to pick me up in a truck, instead. ;-D
Seems the ladies couldn't find the intersection. ;-D
No harm, no foul, and we all had a good laugh about it when we met. [ They DID manage to get me to the right spot to begin my trip home, later, though. ]
At the entrance to the dirt road that we carefully traversed to reach the trailhead was the above, well preserved, motor vehicle, left, I presume, as a warning to all who dared to go forth along the rutted road ahead. ;-D
Well, if you take the road at 10 mph you will manage to make it, an hour later, to the trailhead, none the worse for wear, despite the numerous joltings your body took along the way.
After a visit to the porta-loo we all set off on what turned out to be quite an adventure.
It was hot, but there was plenty of shade along the trail, and the climb is rather easy, despite the narrowness of the trail, and several stream crossings.
Mother Nature, in all her glory, was on display, and, as we swatted away at the numerous mosquitoes out for what they mistook as their own personal buffet, we took it all in.
We passed numerous cabins, plenty of cactus, and the above mentioned trees, along with various rock outcroppings, and though we didn't see any large animals, the constant chirping of birds in the near and far distance reminded us that the surrounding hills were alive with the music and presense of God's creatures.
There are several natural resting points along the way to make this trip a little easier for kids, and first time adults as well, if needed, and I recommend taking the opportunity to sit, and rest, and take it all in.
Getting to the falls should be only the final reward, of many, on this trip.
Along one wall, next to the trail, was a large mound of dirt, shaped like an ancient arrow flint, and we debated whether it was a natural formation, or whether someone had managed to climb up and put the effort into making the mound as a prank.
There was one stretch of the trail that went under a short, extended canopy of branches, and I can't describe what it felt like to see this and to walk through it.
Finally, we came upon the approach to the falls, and my first look at it, through the trees, didn't even begin to prepare me for entering the secluded grotto at the end of the trail.
The first thing I notice is that I seemed to have passed through a doorway into a world of seclusion, a place where there is little room for noise other than that of the water cascading down the small waterfall rising above me.
I look up, and up, and see the water coming over the vegitation at the top of a cliff through which the sky can be seen, and pouring down the plant covered wall, and into my own private wading pool before burbling out and along a narrow creek- bed down into the canyon below.
Then I remember the rest of the group I'm with and smile at my own minds musings. ;-D
The pool is something more than ankle deep, overall, but not close to being half way up to your knees, unless you are a small child or very short adult, and is full of pebbles and rocks of various shapes and sizes.
I imagine that, with more rainfall, the pool expands and gets a bit deeper, depending on the season.
My pants were soaked to the knees, but what else do ya expect when you go splashing around? ;-D
It is also full of life, and while no salamanders were seen, we did encounter a frog, though none of the ladies dared to kiss it. ;-D
On 2 sides of the pool is a small rocky alcove suitable for a small group to sit around, and, near a pile of rocks, a large tree with a branch quite reachable for anyone wanting to sit in it.
The water is pure, clear, and so cold and refreshing that you are sorely tempted to strip off all your clothes and immerse yourself in it for hours on end.
Except the mosquitoes would then have a field day, and you wouldn't want THAT now would you?
Actually, the little darlings weren't THAT much of a pest, at least for the 45 minutes we had the grotto to ourselves, and so we took off our shoes and socks, pulled up our pants legs and waded in to splash around, and generally act like silly children without parents around to supervise us.
Getting soaked by the falls, lifting a log briefly out of the water, taking numerous pictures, and eating my sack lunch, I left the cares of the outside world, and my life there, behind and relaxed and unwound for a wonderful, though brief, period of time.
Finally, we had to leave and, gathering up our belongings, and taking one last look around, we headed back down the trail.
I am, and always have been a bicyclist, but, after that day, I think I realized that I can squeeze a little walking and hiking into my life as well. ;-D