Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wealth on the Jesusita Trail

Today I took a solo hike on Jesusita Trail.

Jesusita Trail is mostly an easement trail that passes through several properties on its way to intersect with Tunnel Trail. It's shady and riparian most of the way, which is why I chose it on an August morning. I also chose it because the trail is the first trail of 9 in a hike/run called the 9 Trails or Ultimate Hike. I had been thinking that I might like to schedule a 9 Trails hike and have others join me for the adventure. I had also been thinking it might be nice to do it as a 6 Trails hike and turn around mid-way rather than have to figure out a car shuttle at the end. A 6 Trails hike would actually be longer — 20 miles instead of the 9 Trails' 17.5 miles.

I hiked from the trailhead near the water treatment plant up to Inspiration Point, a rather uninspiring high point on the trail, and down to the junction with Mission Creek, which was dry today. Most people who do the hike stop at Inspiration Point because it is the highest point on the trail. But the trail continues all the way to the junction with Tunnel Road, the paved road that begins Tunnel Trail.

Along the way I was disappointed by the stinky smell of dog poo at the beginning. Later, the smell was gone and people were sitting and taking a break from work right where the smell had been the worst earlier in the morning.

Most of the creeks on Jesusita Trail still had water in them. The water was mostly cloudy but in one spot it looked clean enough to filter and drink. This was not necessary, though, since I brought enough water with me and the trail has a nice water faucet available. The faucet is a beautiful sandstone drinking fountain installed next to a shady lean-to with a picnic table and chairs. It's a great place to take a little rest on your way and I feel grateful to the landowners who installed it. Later on my way back, two horses were drinking from the pooled water in the faucet. It has been designed for horses and dogs to be able to get a drink, too.

As I hiked up the trail, it seemed there were many more signs indicating the direction to go than there used to be. I think maybe people were getting lost and trespassing on the ranches and avocado farms and the signs help to prevent that.

A few other people were out hiking this morning, mostly couples and their dogs, or young women in groups. One woman traveling westbound, opposite my eastbound path, saw me descending toward Mission Creek and then ascending again later to Inspiration Point. She must have thought I was doing laps because she joked to me, "What, once wasn't enough?!" When most people hike trails they go to a summit and turn around, so her mistake was thinking I must be going for the summit a second time.

It felt good to be on the trail. I enjoyed seeing blunt-nosed leopard lizards and being yelled at by scrub jays. I enjoyed sweating in the heat and cool humidity of the coast. I saw a honey comb on the trail but the bees nest in the tree that has been there forever seemed empty. I played my pennywhistle on the way down. The trail seemed smooth and easy to walk on and I completely forgot that I was wearing sandals after a while. There were no big struggles, no spooky coincidences, no great epiphanies like there were on the PCT. It was just me enjoying my time among the oaks and bay laurels. Even right here in my own home town, I can feel the wealth of my limited time on Earth.

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