Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Back to Baldy
Last week The Grandson (Ben) asked if I would take him and his girlfriend hiking in Mt Baldy, something we hadn't done in a year or so. Ben is twenty now, will be twenty-one in October, and yes, he still hikes with me (aka "Nana"). How blessed am I? Miraculously.
Yesterday the stars aligned so that we could take that hike. Unfortunately, The Goddess Diana (Ben's girlfriend) was off on a family trip to Northern California, so she was unable to accompany us (though the two exchanged text messages and photos throughout the day as she explored the Monterey Bay Aquarium and he the mountain, so they shared each other's experiences in a lovely 21st Century way).
I had some reservations about this hike. With work, writing, an ankle injury and the past spring's pneumonia, I haven't been able to hike since last summer when I enjoyed long walks in Baldy with Sgt. Thomas Tibbs. My exercise lately has consisted of walking him, doing yoga a few times a week, and constant weeding in the garden. I didn't know how my legs would hold up, so I didn't know how far I'd be able to go. I told Ben as much, but he was game for anything, mostly because he can find adventure anywhere, and partly because he'd been promised lunch afterward at Mt Baldy Lodge.
If you've read this far, dear reader, you may be wondering how that hike went, and I must say I'm eager to show you. (Teaser: I'll share a link to a very short video later in the post.) But... will you indulge me for just a moment while I reflect upon the words of William Wordsworth in his classic poem, "Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey"? These are the opening lines:
Five years have passed; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a sweet inland murmur. --Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
Which on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
Certainly it has not been five years, but the poet's excitement at revisiting a place which has carried significant meaning for him is something with which I can identify. I had deeply missed hearing the waters of San Antonio Creek "rolling from their mountain springs" and the serenity of that connection of "the landscape with the quiet of the sky." And I love that mountain because it has been, for twenty years now, one of my favorite places of "deep seclusion."
One of the themes which runs through Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey" poem is that Nature is immutable. In other words, you can leave a mountain for a year or five years or twenty and return to find everything--trees, boulders, streams--in place where you left them so long ago. It's one of the magical aspects about hiking in the forest (although there is the potential for that aspect to inflict profound boredom on others if you keep repeating, "Oh my gosh! I love this tree! I've been passing this same tree on the trail for twenty years now!" and other such statements of joy and familiarity with those who haven't shared the same experience).
But back to that glorious hike in sun-dappled shade along the still-running (despite the drought) creek: Yes, we had a lovely time. We walked farther than I had anticipated I'd be able to go, Ben patiently waiting for me each time I stopped to catch my breath or greet an old tree-friend. Ever the explorer, he found multiple treasures in beautiful stones and sturdy walking sticks, and along the way we had those great moments of spontaneous conversation one can only indulge in when one passes into a mystical realm which holds no cell phone service. We took copious photos and videos, with Ben continuing my education in How to Use an iPhone 6. Later, when I had returned to the luxury of home wi-fi, I deftly uploaded pictures to Facebook and videos to YouTube. (To see and hear the "waters, rolling from their mountain springs," click here and here.)
If I can leave you with any parting thought, dear reader, it is this one: Get yourself up to the mountains or into the woods or the forest. Find a place in which you are surrounded by Nature (so much so that there is no cell service, preferably) and just breathe in the cool air and the soft breeze, and let the music of birdsong replace every other sound in your head, even if it is just for a few brief moments of tranquility.