What a way to end the year! We (my dogs, aka “the girls”) explored a new-to-us trail that had been recommended by someone we met on the San Bernardino Peak Trail. This trail didn’t climb much but followed the undulations of the mountain as it circled more or less at the same elevation. The difference between the trail head and the destination, John’s Meadow, was about 300 feet, not much unless you consider that to reach said “meadow” one had traversed up and down, up and down a hundred short dips in the trail.
Despite the flawless weather, there was only one other vehicle parked at the trailhead which served two separate trails, so I wasn’t surprised to have the trail to myself. We passed through stands of venerable sugar pines and cedar, bearing scars of wildfires long forgotten.
Gradually the trail gained altitude, though the hum of highway traffic below followed us for a couple of miles. The girls were delighted when the trail crossed a trickle that might pass for a stream in wetter years, where they greedily lapped and lounged in the clear water.
We left the sounds of civilization behind as the trail worked its way into the recesses of hidden canyons where stunted buckthorn and manzanita made feeble attempts to encroach on the trail. The south facing slopes were bathed in lovely winter sunlight.
Pausing at the top of a ridge, I heard an unfamiliar, distant noise. It sounded almost like a wind stirring in the treetops, but there was no breeze. As we approached a deep canyon, I realized with some amazement, that what I was hearing was rushing water. We had arrived at Forsee Creek, still flowing after almost a year without rain!
We crossed the creek following the trail up the far side of the steep canyon to find that after cresting the hill, it dropped into another canyon with yet another, smaller stream. While stopped to retrieve a jacket from my hydration pack, Sadie uttered a low growl. Ears pricked towards the brush lining the stream, I followed her intense gaze. I could see nothing but I heard a rustling of something larger than a bird but smaller than an elephant. Having no interest in facing a bear, I gathered up my pack and scurried back up the trail. There’s nothing like the thought of danger to lend wings to tired feet.
The adrenaline rush soon subsided and I became increasingly aware of my weariness and sore feet, but the trail remained as lovely and quiet as before. Only the distant growl of a passing jet, hidden by the canopy of trees, reminded me of the miles to go before I sleep.