The hike begins with a mellow, manicured trail...
  • The hike begins with a mellow, manicured trail...
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I love hiking, but I forget to do it again for months at a time.

Nice views on the trail.

It usually plays out like this:

1) I trek along a path (or non-path) getting lost in the moment… sometimes literally lost.

2) It’s midday and I’ve already finished miles of trails. I’m eating and drinking somewhere, asking myself, “Why don’t I do this every week?”

3) "Hmm. Good question, Dom.” (Yeah, I sometimes say my name in my head.)

Devil's Punch Bowl

This time it starts with a group going on a hike. A crowd of 20 of us – all strangers to me, although some already knew each other – trek to a spot near Julian named Devil's Punch Bowl.

We made it! Not much water, but no worries. The journey was worth it.

After a two-hour hike, we arrived at the bowl. It instantly became clear that this waterhole beckoned for more water (in the spring it's full, I learn belatedly). But for me it was all about being outside and meeting people. And this trail allowed for just that – although I'm fine “hiking” in my Rainbows sandals.

Three Sisters Falls

Jump ahead a few weeks, and to a VERY early morning (6:40 a.m.): I’m in the car with friends made during that Devil’s Drybowl stroll. Jacked with caffeine infusions, we head towards Julian again. It’s a drive similar to the hike weeks before: take the 8 East to CA-79N past a sleepy town apply named Descanso to some windy roads.

(Warning: if you get carsick, make sure to be the one driving – or at least sitting shotgun. One of us almost puked in the back seat before we immediately threw them up front. It wasn’t me, but I felt her pain.)

8:10 a.m. We're the first ones to the trail. No one – no cars, no anything – is in sight except for a prominent sign reading “←3 Sisters Waterfall”, and another explaining, “Entering High Fire Danger Area… Terrain may make escape impossible… Rescue may not be possible.”

My excitement level jumps. Game on.

The four-hour trek starts mellow, like that of the Rainbow sandal affair.

But I’m OK – it’s early, it’s a clear morning, and the group is laughing at random things. The stroll then quickly turns into Interlaken, Switzerland - well, for me anyways. That’s the last time I tried to repel. Oh this is getting good.

The trail climbs down a mountainside and crosses a little valley to our destination, the Three Sisters Waterfall. On this climb down I eat it and rip open some skin on my thumb (which I proudly wipe on my white shirt to communicate my battle scars. Tribal, I know). It’s at this point I am lost in the hike; absorbed in the climbing, swinging, jumping, sliding and feel of being out and about in some fun countryside.

Resting at Three Sisters Falls, looking towards the mountain we'll be climbing to get back.

Both of these hikes are located in the Cleveland National Forest – an area of land preserved in 1908 by Theodore Roosevelt. And I hear that there are many other treks to enjoy here as well. So I think #'s 1–3 might now include, “Man, another awesome hike done.”

Tips: Go early. Bring water. And wear shoes that can grip.

*Ok ok, I might have dramatized the thumb injury – but if you look hard, my shirt still has a little red spot as proof.

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