This time I took the switchback and went up to the Rim of the Valley Trail.
The switchback makes it easy, but don't be fooled by the short back and forth lures. To get there you start off at the fantastic facilities at the parking lot and go up to the trail head. Follow dirt and take the first left. You'll see the humble beginnings of the switchback that gently slopes in a languid, passive taunt, hiding as just another trail to pass the time. Up and up you go, traversing back and forth. "You can do this!" the trail encourages! And yes, you don't notice that the incline is almost a 45 degree angle. The trail is gentle and charomed with creek bed rocks as all the trails in Deukmejian have. You see the beautiful view as you see at the top header of this page.
Then, when you think you're at the top and the view is as gorgeous as it gets, another "easy" switchback taunts you in the distance. Take a look at the picture below:
Easy, right? Just a few steps and you'll be strolling up another easy switchback.
I thought so too. Until we started our way and I saw another option open to us marked-Difficult with a capital "D".
So, I says to Emma, with her 1 inch tongue - "What do you say?"
Emma was all too happy to spend a longer time exploring!
Ha! I scoffed at the Difficult warning. How can another sloping switchback be difficult? Then, we started down. Went went down, down, down.
We went down so far, we hit earth bottom. There was water and lots of it! My camelback was still filled and I brought extra water for the trek so we continued. The mountain claiming "difficult" was no where in sight. We descended onto forest floor and came to sights only angles knew about.
The profound silence with only the flowing babble of water refreshed our resolve to find the top of the mountain.
Crossing the rock bridge over the creek made the whole scene feel like we were in some sort of wild forgotten Japanese garden, but I believe the beauty of this trail was the careful architecture of this nature made oasis.
People could not plot the trees or the river or the leaves the way nature could. Simply put, we'd descended to a place that felt like home.
I didn't want to leave this canopy of tranquility until I saw the steps beckoning us to our goal - The Mountain that needed to be taught it was not so tough.
So, a giant man-made stairway led us into the sun! This was where it got conversely claustrophobic and acrophobia.
A one person trail with the right side a cliff and the left side a drop off to death was a bit perturbing with a dog that laughs in the face of vertigo.
Emma was running, running, running back and forth while I made sure my steps were firm and my ankles wouldn't break over. Tripping or falling because of weak joints wouldn't be the excuse I'd want to give my family for missing out on Thanksgiving dinner. Which, by the way, this hike was on Turkey day.
So when I saw the peak after endless back and forth over a gorgeous view, I raised my fist and claimed, "I have you!"
To which the mountain exclaimed, Come and get me!
I totally did! Me and Emma did it together! When we got to the top, we realized, it wasn't the top. A fellow hiker walking down from the trail told me this particular path led up the towers another 4 miles. Wow! I'd just hiked up this behemoth for an hour and a half. I was ready for cranberry sauce.
So, after snapping a picture of what was to come, we turned back and started our way to family dinner. I'd felt blessed for exploring the bottom of the earth when we got back to the terrace of the forgotten garden. The way down proved the incline formidable. But after the death defying drop of doom and death was averted, we had a easier go of the incline that led us down to paradise.
Speed: 1.8 mph
Climb: 1,125 feet
Time: 2 hours, 12 minutes
Dogs: on leash--one trash dispenser at trail head
Notes: Bring water and sunscreen. You will be out in the sun for the last stretch.
Theme: Grasshoppers that eagerly show you the path.Emma: Gives it a 4 inch tongue difficulty. (Modestly difficult.)
Thank you all who helped put this trail back in order!