Sunday, February 28, 2010

Flashbacks today on a hike to Chorro Grande

Today I went on a hike off Highway 33 near Ojai. We started at about 3000 feet and hiked up to about 7000 feet. It had rained heavily yesterday and so there was lots of snow on the trail at the higher elevations. It was so beautiful.

One thing I love about California snow is that whenever I go hiking in it, usually it's in February, it's always on a sunny warm day. So my feet will be in the snow but my body will be in the warm sun. Of course, you can get trapped in cold snowy weather here, too, but I don't hike when it's like that. I wait for the sun and then lob snowballs and make snowmen as it's melting furiously in the glorious sun.

I really loved the hike we did. The trail was called Chorro Grande, which is the name of the spring 2/3 of the way to the summit. According to our Spanish-speaking friend from Venezuela, it's a sort of slang for diarrhea. It means Big Spurt or something like that.

The spring itself was a concrete rectangular pool next to a lovely camp under oaks, pines and big cone spruce trees. It reminded me so much of the PCT. That's the kind of water source we would want to find in Southern California, a good clean one built long ago and still there.

The trail itself reminded me a lot of the PCT. The oaks were just like the oaks I saw in the ranges around Baden Powell. Walking in the snow under the oaks looked exactly like the day Tony and I hiked in the snow between Inspiration Point and the Vincent Gap trailhead to Baden Powell. Same kinds of trees, same kind of snow. A total flashback.

Up at the summit we sat at a picnic table next to a snow-covered dirt road. There were interesting boulders all around. I actually sat right in the snow, sitting on my rain jacket and my lined windbreaker. I was glad I brought 4 jackets, because while I sat on those two, I wore my down jacket and used the other to keep my legs warm.

After lunch, we went back down the way we went up. The trail was always gentle and well maintained. It was easy to go up and easy to go down. The only thing difficult was the snow. It was slushy, wet and slippery as the day went on. We postholed every now and then up to our knees. I fell a couple of times, but the snow was soft so it didn't matter. I twisted my foot a few times, which hurt a lot on the sesamoid bone that has hurt ever since the PCT.

Part way down I decided to run. It was fun running down the trail. I got a side-stitch and walked the rest of the way.

As I approached the bottom, with the highway coming into view, it felt so much like the PCT I kept looking toward the mountain range on the other side of the highway, looking for the continuation of the trail to see where I'd be going next. Of course, there was no continuation. But I still had that familiar feeling of dropping down to some lonely road only to cross and climb back up to the crest.

At the bottom at the road I sat down to wait for the others. I looked down that lonely road and it looked just like a lonely California highway crossing the PCT. I felt very homesick and right at home and sad that I would have to get in the car soon to return home to this silly world I have to live in that feels so meaningless, pointless and unreal. Real life is on the trail.

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