Saturday, October 13, 2007

Into The Woods Again.

I love to hike.

Before I wrecked my back I used to love long-range monster hikes where I'd cover 14 miles in 6 hours. I have no idea why, I think it was just the idea that I could haul ass through some serious terrain with no problem. I also think it was because I secretly hoped I'd just keep walking and never come back; just live out there in the woods and become a wild-man. That just never happened. Since I live in Monterey County I have access to all kinds of environments to explore and enjoy. I have the Central Coast Savannah, which is the low rolling hills filled with Sage and Oak Trees and mostly brown grass. All that it's missing are Zebras and Elephants and it could be Central Africa. Then there's the Coastal Mountain ranges and canyons. Seriously steep ridges that rise sharply to a height of 2000 feet. Certain times of the year you can see migrating whales. Then there are the Redwoods.

The Redwoods can be found either down in Big Sur or up in the Santa Cruz area. There are more tourists down in Big Sur but up in Santa Cruz it's more of a local mix. The park I like will remain nameless but it's the only one in Aptos, CA., so if you need to know the Google is your friend. The Redwoods had been in the back of my head for a few months but I'd always find a reason not to go. So on my last day off I just forced myself to drive up and I'm glad I did. Wow! It was the perfect day.

It was the day before we would get some rain and if you've ever been in a forest before a storm you can feel the trees exhale in anticipation. So as I started my little jaunt I was greeted with the rich aroma of Redwood bark as the trees prepared for a good drink. The Redwoods drop their needles which creates a carpet to walk on, you make no sound as you walk and so long stretches of the hike are almost silent. The wind becomes your partner as if whispers through the trees, I wonder what secrets I would learn if I spoke it's language because the trees seem to not only understand but they were having quite a conversation. The Aptos Creek runs along the side of the canyon and it leisurely babbles it's wonderful song on it's way to the sea.

It's the kind of day that makes you believe in Magic.

I had a secondary motive for coming here. The epicenter of the 1989 Earthquake is right under the park and that earthquake was landmark event in my life. It was one of the things that lead me to stop playing guitar and to pursue more serious things in life. I'll have to tell that story later but coming here is to me just like those old guys going back to Vietnam or Normandy. Something happened here that almost killed me 18 years ago, I like to come here every once in a while and say "Howdy". The great thing is that my last back surgery did the trick and I was able to move around without pain and that means that I'm coming back here again soon. The earthquake was the first life-changing event and my back injury was the second so knowing that I can enjoy the outdoors again has been a great relief to me. Maybe I'll get my foot speed back too, who knows.
The one thing that came to me on this hike was how sad that it is that there are people who'd come here and think "What a great place to build a shopping mall!". I genuinely pity these people because anybody who could stand in a forest like this and only think of cutting it down is spiritually dead. I felt true sadness for people like that because when they win, and get to tear down places like this, they lose and lose big. Well, one can always hope, right?
The rains came the next day and this means that next week that creek will be a little deeper and much faster. I can't wait to return.

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