Los Padres NF, Santa Cruz, 2018

Even the greatest of plans cannot fail when foiled by nature, and such was an ambition to get into Mission Pine Basin. I studied maps and decided the Santa Cruz trail would be the best place to push on in. My trail pal was getting sick and couldn't come. The trail started wonderful, just the great expanses of the Los Padres peeking into glorious river canyons each begging you to explore them. But, after 19 Oaks, the trail rendered its judgement; an intreped backpacker in front of me found a way across, but with 60 pounds on my back and a 150 foot drop should I slip, and having forgotten to pack a rope, this was not to be a risk for me. Swallowing my pride, but also loving spending great time in these mountains with a pack on my back, I turned around and headed on out. At the trailhead I left a note. Maybe someone will read it.

But if not, things are still OK, as the land there is beautiful. What can compare with the startled excitement of a flock of quail fluttering haphazardly away as you tromp around a bend, the insistent call of a western jay that is hungry for the trail mix in your pack, the ashes from the fires that make this landscape what it is. Walking among them with a pack on my back, even if just for a few hours, is a gift.

The starkness helps you realize both the beauty of where you are but also where you have been; the springs become beautiful and life saving, providers of sustance and, perhaps, partners in life; and a kick in the head that sometimes life isn&t best lived alone, but as a team...and knowing that, without a team, there are times you need to turn back. Each time we step on the trail, the trail is what it is, and we are who we are. We carry onto the trail the burdens of our minds, for the trail its washouts and slides, for us, the baggage of life, lost love, love yet to come and the transcendence of the moment; upon seeing an oak with a burned trunk but green leaves it is there; it is there; proof that our lives surpass and overcome flood and fire, that regardless of our perils, we live. We live! And nothing, nothing ever, will ever take that from us.

The Photographs

Picutres were from the a900 system with the 24-70 lens.

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