TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Different Sounds of Silence

Oh, woe is me! When will I have the time and strength to wander again? This past Sunday, even in my lagging and out-of-shape condition, I did finally make it out to the wilderness to wander. Recently, I learned that Trabuco Creek Road had finally re-opened, so being so long away from my friend Cussin’ Jim, I made the trip out for a late morning hike. No running involved. I didn’t want to kill myself.

To begin, I didn’t arrive to the Holy Jim lot until about 10:30, and there were no parking spaces open. That’s expected on a beautiful warm spring weekend. I found a spot to squeeze my truck in about a quarter mile outside of the Holy Jim Lot, just past the volunteer fire department. There, I parked in between two other trucks, one of the owners still packing his gear for a fishing trip along Trabuco Creek, not twenty feet from our automobiles.

I cannot tell you just how many hikers I came upon along the road to the trailhead, and also along Holy Jim for a bit. The creeks were still flowing strong, even in many places that I have not seen water in many years. There were mini-falls over boulders, and creeks to cross even across roads. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI lost most of the hikers at the Holy Jim Falls junction, as that’s the main attraction in these parts. And after that, well, it’s a pretty hard ass hike. It’s not the worst of hikes, just a relentless, switch-back after switch-back, mostly in the sun.  And I’m not good in the sun anymore (still it was worth it!).

Spring flowers littered the landscape, and after about mile two, Lupin was in full purple bloom. Even though I always hope that it could, the camera can never illustrate the spring flowers full beauty. But it’s close enough to snap a shot anyway, again and again. 

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I sure do love Holy Jim. But it is not a hike for the weak, and I’m teetering on that. There are so many beautiful scenes – ridges from afar, orange rock trail walls, flowers and snakes (I saw a rattler!), and every so often, glorious tunnels of shade through small groves of trees.  I wasn’t quite sure just how far I’d make it up the trail. And since the heat was strong, I really could have turned back at any time. But I endured to a little over mile four, to a location where I took a seat and looked out over these Santa Ana Mountains. 

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Just before my turnaround point, about a half mile or so, I decided to unplug the music. I thought that the silence would suit me better at that point. I was hot, and I was tired. And the silence definitely did me better. Amazing how many sounds there are in the silence. Insects flying by my ears sounded like cars whizzing by on a tiny highway. The breeze blowing through the trees sounded just like the gentle ocean waves crashing onshore about quarter mile from my house. And as I got further down the mountain, I the stream broke through the silence. It was fierce and loud, kind of like an angry wind storm blowing through the trees. I didn’t miss the music piped in from my ipod one bit.

Miles: 8

Elevation gained: 1,964’

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