a hike

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Yesterday I decided I would get out and explore some of the more obscure trails in these parts. I found a likely spot on my gps map called Pinnacle Peaks, which rises about a 1000 feet in a short amount of space.

No problem, I said. I like to hike and don’t mind the wee challenge of having to climb up boulders. It was noisy in these parts so I thought I would find peace in the middle of the forest, sitting on a rock which seemed to beckon me. I expected to get there and have a good long sit, a good long read, and a good long consideration of various things, such trifles as who I am and what I am doing with myself. You see, I’m getting to be a fair bit weary of losing friends when they give up on me finally, or at least effectively.

So, the middle of the forest on a tall rock seemed to be the spot for me. Pinnacle Peaks

There didn’t seem to be a major trail up to there, so I made an approximation and plotted out the best track, finding the minimum altitude gain which would get me to the top. I thought it a good plan.

I drove down the road a bit and couldn’t quite find the place I was supposed to park. I did see the peak in front of me, so I turned around and drove a 1/4 mile back to where a small parking lot for another trail was located.

No worries, I thought I would just hike over a bit and get back to where I wanted to go.

I could see my destination, I’m fairly adventurous, so the clearly defined paths don’t constrain me.

I started out and began walking down a small wash, which was nicely surrounded by manzanitas and other bushes, with the occasional oak and pine tree as well. That these were occasional surprised me a bit for even though this was 4800 feet, oddly enough it was a different sort of terrain, being decidely chaparral rather than forest.

The wash began to be grown over a bit, so I walked out and followed a trail of some sort, weaving in and out of the wash as it rose upwards. Every once in a while I would have to make a decision about the easier course, occasionally pushing through some overgrown branches, or stepping over a boulder. No problem at all, I knew where I wanted to go, and while it may not be the typical going, I was fine and eager to have a challenge.

The occasionally pushing through some branches became a regular pushing through, pushing with my hands or just walking through this brush letting my legs break through the barrier.

Did I mention I was wearing shorts? Did I mention chaparral brush is not made up of airy spring flowers. Chaparral is tough land and it makes for tough plants.

No problem, it was only over the rise a bit, so I kept going, eager to get to the top of the hill and have a better look around. Pinnacle Peak hike

Down the hill I went, stepping cautiously and increasingly finding my path blocked. Not sort of blocked, entirely blocked, a wall of thick and sharp plants overgrown together for yards and yards all around. No worries, I’ll step back a bit and try another path.

It was here I saw the bottom of the hill, and noted a very clear trail in front of me which led exactly where I wanted to go. If I could just make it down the hill I would be fine. Another trail led me closer, then completely filled in so I couldn’t take another step.

Pinnacle Peak hikeAh, there was a small dry creek bed a little way to the left. I’ll go over there and take it down. I slowly made my way over, and crashed through some thick plants only to find more thick plants, another push, and yet more.

All along there was just enough bare patches of earth to make me think if I just pushed more I could get through onto at least a partial trail. It was a deception. There was no trial.

I walked twenty feet in this creek bed and came across plants grown ten feet high all around me. There was no pushing through anymore. I turned around, and crashed back up.

When I got back to the top I tried to find another path. There wasn’t one. The chaparral brush was now so thick in front of me I could only go sideways, trying new patches of dirt with no success.
But there was the trail down below me. There was the destination in front of me.

I realized there was no way from where I was to where I wanted to be. I turned around to find another route farther back. I went to the top of this hill and looked around. I decided to go back down about the direction I came up and try to make my way around the other side of the hill.

No success.

Not only did I not see any trail forward, now I the brush seemed to have closed the trail back. However I came up was hidden, and I was utterly trapped by thick chaparral brush.

I looked at the sun to see how much daylight I had left. It was about 2, and I got to worry a little bit I wasn’t going to get out before the sun went down.

I took cautious steps in many directions, going up, going down, going left, going right, going forward only to retrace my steps to find a way out. Which offered me a chilling challenge indeed.

I decided not to make for another route, but to try to make my way back to where I started, to get back to the trail I left very early on.

Only I couldn’t go that direction either. I realized I was now trapped in the brush. My pushing onward had made things worse. My legs were now fairly scratched up and getting more scratched with each step.

I realized I was entirely stuck, and thought of how embarrasing a mountain rescue team would be, and thought of how I would go about spending the night amidst the shrubbery. I thought I wanted neither, and realized the only way out was to let go any thought of trails.

So, what before seemed a wall, I stepped over and through, deciding to reach about where I had come up, in order to find my way back down. I put my head down and pushed through tall branches, losing my hat, scratching my arms. My legs now were bleeding in many spots, but if I cared about my legs I wouldn’t get home.

I stepped on plants if I couldn’t step through them, and completely lost any thought of my skin’s welfare.

Eventually I made it back to where I saw my own footprints in soft mud and knew the way would get easier from here. There were a couple more spots of pushing, and a few more scratches to be had, but no more walls of thick chaparral shrubs to insist I stay while I insisting I keep going.

At the main trail I thought of walking back up the easier route, then looked down at my legs and realized now that the travail was over I was beginning to feel a bit of pain.

Two hours after I started, and less than a mile of forward progress I decided it was time for home.

I’ll try the real trail another day soon. After the liberal use of neosporin helps my cuts begin to heal.

I note this all because it was a curious adventure for me. I’m used to going off trail in the forest, or the desert, or most anywhere. I’ve never been in a place where I was became trapped in harsh plants, which taught me most effectively not to test their patience. cuts
hiking through brush
It was my fault I know. I shouldn’t have dared the brush. I shouldn’t have pressed forward in what was increasingly causing no end of harm, only because I felt my pride pushing me to do what I started. Because I left the trail I got to the point where I couldn’t go forward anymore, and the way back was bitter and harsh.

It was an adventure, and it gave me a new experience. I know that neck of woods a little better and know now there are sometimes when I can leave the trail, and sometimes when I cannot.

Oddly enough I found a fair bit of lessons in this experience, and found myself thinking of a close friend who has done much the same thing in her life. I made it back and I hope she will as well.

I also wonder if this is a lesson which points towards my own life in the present. I feel there is no way back, and yet the way forward seems filled with brush. I cannot tell which way will give way eventually to pushing and slogging. I know, however, the way forward in my present seems more potent than a rock to sit on. I feel this is not only a place to find peace, it is my grail ahead of me, a numinous quest which demands I press on, even through the overgrown brush.

No it doesn’t feel like an example for me. Unless the example is I would be better off sticking to a trail to begin with rather than forcing my own way upon things. This soul drawn destination won’t let me turn around.

So there you go. Now I need to put some more neosporin on my legs. They’re beginning to sting again.

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