I love hiking, but I forget to do it again for months at a time.
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 Meetup.com 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.
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.
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.