Walking the Pacific Crest Trail

It is a blustery, sunny day with feathery clouds filling the huge expanse of sky as we drive up Los Coyotes road toward Hot Springs Peak. I parked the car off the road on the span of dirt between the barbed wire fence and asphalt.
With my baseball cap and sunglasses for sun protection and jeans and hiking boots to protect my legs from injury, I am traveling light. Lip gloss, iPhone and a bottle of water are tucked in the pockets of my wind breaker. The trail is lined with jumping choya and other spiny cactus and the possibility of meeting a rattlesnake is always a consideration.
Fran and Gary arrived yesterday. They are my buds from Wyoming. Two years ago we explored Peru together and I am so happy to be able to share a little of my hood with them. Joel drove down from L.A. this morning. Joel lives in Naples and just spent the weekend camping in Zion. We are close friends who live far and look forward to these opportunities to share time together.
We climbed through the fence and walked the jeep trail towards the rock outcropping known as Eagle Rock. Eagle Rock is on Warner Ranch land now owned by Vista Water Co. The Pacific Crest Trail passes just to the south of it. This natural rock formation is so realistically detailed some have doubted that its artist is Nature. The Indian tribes who were here long before the white man moved in have treated this land as sacred. Nature doesn’t create such magnificence by accident.Eagle rock 2eagle rock
Sitting on the rocks that surround and protect the Eagle, the view is impressive. To the north, it appears we are almost eye level with Hot Springs Peak, the highest point in San Diego County. The mountain tops are green, covered in manzanita, creosote, and live oak trees. Looking south, the Observatory at the top of Mt Palomar, is barely visible through the hazy sky. I’m not sure of the source of the haze. We have had some fires lately. A “controlled” burn got out of control last week burning nearly 3000 acres less than ten miles from my home. Perhaps it is a distant fire burning or maybe just the moisture coming up from the ocean that is creating the hazy skies to the northwest.
Looking more to the west, Lake Henshaw and the dam are visible and the great valley that lies between the lake and us. The feeling of spaciousness has a good feeling for me…as if my chest can expand larger and each breath comes in full and deep. The trail heads off in this direction going down through Warner Springs and on towards its northernmost end point at the Canadian border.
I look to the southeast. The PCT is a 2,650 mile trek between Mexico and Canada, passing through California’s deserts and high sierras. Today we are going take a short jaunt heading southeast from Eagle Rock toward my house which sits just a mile off trail at the 101.2 mile marker. My goal is to walk into the manzanita forest I know lies just across this stretch of ranch land where the trail heads down into the oak groves that mark the valley I live in.
The wind almost takes my hat and the temperature soon has me tying my wind breaker around my waist. The trail is narrow and dusty. The rocks always attract my attention. I notice the beautiful colors and sparkle of composite granite, quartz and other shiny minerals that are strewn along the path. In less than thirty minutes we reach the first of the manzanita.manzanita1 manzanita2
For the next half hour we wind though a magical forest of these amazing trees. We pause to spend time marveling at one large specimen. The orange bark curls away from grey that appears to be dead. It is as if the tree builds new life on top of old dead wood. The tiny fruits that hang from the branches are super sticky. The wood of this tree is so hard it is used for parrot perches. Parrots can crack walnuts so a perch that they can’t destroy has got to be tough.
As we walk along, enjoying the desert plants, feathery clouds, and deep solitude of the back country, we spot our first critter. A tiny horny desert toad is in the path. He seems chameleon-like as he blends in with either rock or plant, shadow or sunlight, wherever he parks himself. Unafraid of our close inspection he lies perfectly still as we angle our cameras in attempts to capture an image of him.horned toad
He was the first of four siting’s of his kind in the next few minutes. We wondered what his message to us might be…be still and be safe? Blend and become one with your environment?
Too soon we reached a rim, dropping down into a valley of oaks. At this point we decided to turn around and head back. A brief two-hour walk on the PCT was a delightful way to spend the afternoon and made me hungry for more. I am planning to take a day soon and walk the five miles of trail between my house and Eagle Rock. I was just getting my stride and the solitude, the slow pace and the sunshine are calling me back.Eagle rock approach

The Old Man and the Young Woman

Pacific Crest Trail logo

“Those are some Keen boots you have there,”
The old man said.
“The better to climb mountains with,”
The young woman replied.

“Does that tent pole double as a hiking stick?”
He continued.
“One less thing to carry,”
She explained.

“I’ve never seen such a small, strangely shaped tent,”
He walked around and stared.
“It protects me from the elements,
while I’m sleeping in the wild.”

“What is that balloon-animal-thing
lying on the ground?”
“Why, that’s my air mat with spaces
for sleeping bag loft to keep me warm.”

“Where are you going with that pack-
full of equipment on your back?”
“I’m walking from Mexico to Canada
On the Pacific Crest Trail.”

“Why would anyone do such a trek?
Wouldn’t you rather stay home and watch TV?”
“I’m an adventure seeker.
I like the feeling of testing my body and mind.”

“Well good luck to you then, My Dear.
God Speed and I’ll see you in four months.”
“Thank you for that kindness.
When I reach Canada, I may just walk on to Alaska.”

Sunday Morning Coming Down

yoga

I am feeling groggy. My body thinks it’s an hour earlier than the clock reports with the time change this morning. I have a yoga class in a few minutes so I may have to finish this later. I am so looking forward to teaching yoga this morning. My body needs the grounded peacefulness of my yoga practice. It is going to feel so good to lie in a spinal twist and do hip openers. I am happy to see my yoga student/friends that will be showing up soon.
I am ready to let go of the past few days and the experience of Vegas. My yoga practice will help me clear the over-stimulating electrical/human juju from my nervous system. I feel so fortunate to be in my retreat home. I just gave a prayer of thanks that I wasn’t dealt the hand to be a cocktail waitress at Circus Circus in this lifetime…not that there is anything wrong with that, to quote Jerry Seinfield.

English: Circus Circus Hotel and Casino sign

 Circus Circus Hotel and Casino sign

I’m letting the tension go from my shoulders. I’m drinking my hot tea instead of restaurant coffee. It is so quiet…not a sound to disturb my inner peace. I am resting back into my bones and breathing deeply. Ahhhhhhhhh.
I just finished my yoga class. It went great. One of my students overstretched the ligaments in her knee in a fall two weeks ago and she is rehabbing. It felt good to help her move in a body-friendly way that will facilitate the knee in its healing process.
It is time to stand strong for myself and a lifestyle that works best for me and my body. I am feeling, as I approach my birthday at the end of this week, the best gift I can give myself is a cleanse. It’s time to get out the wheat grass juicer and throw down some serious juice. It’s time to get back to my daily practice on the mat and on the trail. If I can discipline myself to write every day which feels like a healthy choice for my mind, I can also discipline myself to make healthier choices for my body.
It is a picturesque sunny day and I am one mile from the Pacific Crest Trail. I’m putting on my boots and hitting the trail as soon as I finish this page. I know from experience how good I will feel. It’s a “no brainer.” It snowed while we were gone this week so the trail may be wet but the high desert is green and blooming! It will be spectacular. I am so fortunate to live in the mountains of southern California…such wildness, such wonderful weather, such unspoiled natural beauty.
Coming home from Las Vegas, the contrast of what “Mom” does and what “Man” does is in my face. “Man’s” take on creation versus “Mom’s” take on creation…I choose to surround myself with “Mom’s” architecture, artwork, entertainment and her food and water as it comes directly from her without “Man’s” embellishment. For me, more, bigger, faster, newer isn’t better. I’ll take less, smaller, slower. I’ll take life the old fashioned way, thank you very much.

Golden Trout Wilderness, August 2008. One day ...