I tried a long hike today but an hour and a half in I found myself completely drenched. My rain jacket has seen better days, days that are, at this point, a distant memory, and the goretex lining on the inside felt as futile in staving off the elements as our democratic process has been these days in keeping cronies and corporate lobbyists out of Washington. It was windy as well, and cold enough that hiking for another four or five hours might be hazardous to my health. So I decided to turn back and call it quits. The rain is good, though. It’s been a relatively dry winter, here in the Santa Cruz Mountains, or so it’s seemed to me. This is, after all, a freaking rain forest, by technical classification: very dry summers but pouring buckets in the winter months. And of course California needs all the precipitation it can get. My hike notwithstanding, I welcome the downpour. No pictures today, from this hike. Smartphones don’t like monsoon-like rains, fickle bastards that they …
Feeling a bit of AK nostalgia, posting this photo from one of the winters I was in McCarthy. Like many places in Alaska, when the snowpack forms and rivers freeze, it creates an entirely different place. A snow machine or a pair of skis open up new trails and roads that are inaccessible during the warm months. Just one of many of the things that make Alaska such a dynamic place, a place where I can always feel in my bones my mortal impermanence and tenuous existence.
I thought that I knew Fall Creek State Park, the Redwood forest that’s only a stone’s throw from where I live. Yet I recently uncovered a network of undiscovered trails, and so a week ago I went off the beaten path, then wound up off the path altogether. Eventually I came to a residential area and from the looks of things on Google Maps, I realized that I wasn’t far from the town of Ben Lomond, so I hiked down a very long, very unknown road, along the way encountering castles and copulations and, of course, a lot of redwoods.
I grew up in the northerly Midwest, experiencing “lake effect” snow from Lake Michigan and bitter Dakota winds — so I do know a little bit about the cold. This photo was take a year ago, in Maine.
Since my winter home is twenty minutes from the beach, in a place that gets no snow, my perspective on winter and the holidays have shifted a bit.
I’ve heard it said of locals who live in the Santa Cruz Mountains (my neck of the woods) that they tend to spend more time at the beach in the winter when the tourists are away and when the Vitamin D from sun rays are in short supply, among the redwood forests. Hangin loose was just the thing to hit the spot tonight — that, along with a burrito from Paradise Point.
It’s been a fairly dry and warm winter thus far, here in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It’s practically ungodly. Yet a few days ago I rose early, and I actually felt a little cold, even seeing a frost covered soccer field. It may not be looking a lot like Christmas, at least for me, someone from northern Midwest states, but I’ll take the nice hiking weather.