The other day I had a darn good bouldering session at the Picnic Area and Happy Hunting Grounds on Pine Mountain. Pulling down on 80 grit sandstone is always good for what ails me and I enjoyed the cool and crisp aura of fall while shredding my tips. Enjoyed it so much, in fact, that I resolved to come back again for a little 12 mile stretch of the legs a couple days later. Mountain therapy is good for the soul. I consider it my version of going to church.
It has dawned on me while scrolling back through recent posts that I haven't done a helluvalot in our beloved forest for a while, and though I've kept busy at the rock gym and powering around on my shiny new Santa Cruz (which is now quite dirty and has a warped back wheel), nothing is better for me than sole power, pun intended. Me and miles, miles and me. We go together like fleas and hounds. Time to get back to it. I already knew exactly where I was supposed to go, the high and piney regions of the Reyes Wonderland.
I started from the Reyes trailhead (as opposed to Chorro Grande) and headed over to the summit. This part of the day has two brief but steep climbs through forested slopes. In between these little steps are open areas of ridge-top with classic views of the coast, and looking toward the interior of the Cuyama Badlands. This ridge also hosts some interesting wind-twisted trees, some of which are quite amusing. The climbers out there might be interested in the Astroid Belt and the Mothership, which are just off the trail if one knows where to look. I topped out on the familiar summit of Reyes in what seemed like mere moments.
|Frazier Mountain in the distance.|
After a short time I headed downhill and east, picking up the main trail toward Haddock a short time later. There isn't really a use trail coming off Reyes in that direction but unless there's snow on the ground that trail is hard to miss. Down on the cool and shadowy north side of Reyes I settled into the rhythms of the path and let my mind wander. There's been a lot going on up there lately. I kept my head up and paid attention to my surroundings with a bit more awareness than usual. I didn't want to miss a thing and concentrated on taking in my surroundings, focusing on every aspect of this beautiful forest. I have a newfound appreciation for these moments of solitude. I've spent too much of my energy over the years concentrating on the destination and not the journey. I was stuck by a weird concept, that I've just blazed through so many places and taken them for granted that from here forward I can continue my explorations with a rekindled awareness of the beauty and mystery of such places. I was also hit on the head by the notion that I was truly grateful to live so near to such a pretty place. It was much like the sensation rediscovery.
|Looking down the Potrero John drainage. Been there, is muy dangeroso!|
|Reyes Peak from the east.|
|Haddock Peak from the west.|
I reached Haddock and spent a few minutes there before turning back the way I'd come. I headed back to Reyes at an uncharacteristically mellow pace. I took time to appreciate the views one at a time. From one place I could look over to Frazier Mountain, another stop afforded views of Cerro Noroeste and Grouse and Sawmill and Pinos. At times I could view the summit of Cuyama Peak with it's flanks shrouded in a gauzy haze. I pulled out numerous times along the ridge to gaze out toward the islands or peer down the Potrero John drainage. I peeled off the trail and checked out various buttes and rock formations. I found where several deer had bedded down under the overhang of a huge calico formation. I paused to watch a squirrel be a squirrel. At last I found a pile of boulders hanging off the north side of the ridge which allowed views down into Beartrap Canyon. Here I sat for a while feeling the cool fall air moving around through the pines. I observed several small birds and was content to just sit and watch the world.
|Haddock Peak Summit.|
It was on this day that I came to the conclusion that I had to write the post which precedes this one. I felt very calm and unusually comfortable in my own skin. I compiled the history and the ideas that I wanted to convey in that writing and spent a good bit of time contemplating whether I should write it and what motivation was compelling me to do so. In time I had fleshed out the details of that essay and I concluded that it was something I had to do. The response to that post has been a bit overwhelming and I have written numerous emails in reply to people who have had similar life experiences and troubles with emotional disorders and substance abuse. It was heartening to not feel as alone, but those letters also highlighted just how common abuse and molestation is, and the lifelong impact left on its survivors. I've come to the conclusion that we live in a sick society, one that largely sweeps these distressingly frequent traumas under a rug, leaving the survivor to carry this burden around like a ball and chain, and that those people are pre-programmed by experience to seek comfort in a bottle or some other self-harming behavior. I was also surprised by the number of people that felt that I'd rattled something in their tree which provoked the hard questions of addiction. Not only does our society not want to hear of these issues, it does not really want to have a serious conversation about abuse and its effects, addiction in general, and especially not mental health. There are some seriously misplaced priorities in this nation and the media and marketing machine we're hooked on doesn't want people to give it any serious thought, and consequently the stigmas of the above disorders remain largely ignored in the national conversation. Abuse, addiction, and mental disorders just aren't sexy enough for primetime. It's shameful. And the cycle continues, worsens by the day in fact.
|...from the pines to Anacapa...|
Another peek at Haddock, from the east.
I just want to encourage everybody to take their time out there. Maximize the experience and be in the moment. And be good to one another.