Hiking in the Forest with Jeff

The two peaks and the sway in the middle,  known as Saddleback Mountain, is my favorite landmark in Orange County.  During my research for my first novel (about my ancestors and the Native people in late 1700s) I met with a spiritual man with native California roots who told me the mountain, known as Kalawpa to the people, was very sacred. Rituals took place along the creek leading to Santiago Peak, at 5,687 feet. That was the first time I realized I could follow a trail to stand atop this mountain that had been my grounding point for so many years.

Years later, I heard people talk about the hike to Holy Jim Falls. (which is kind of a half way point to Santiago Peak).  The name is rather an oxymoron as Jim Smith, for whom the canyon and falls were named after,  was a man given to blasphemous eloquence. They say, “When he started cussing. . . he could peel paint off a stove pipe.” At this time my kids were young and I made excuses for not going. I heard about  the hour of dirt road leading to the trail with a couple of miles of potholes large enough to bury a small child in, which had torn up the undercarriage of a friend’s car. I should have taken the storyteller’s penchant for drama into account.

A couple of days ago, I told Jeff about my desire to walk up the peak and he was nearly packing his backpack before I finished my sentence. Seems he’s been hankering for a good hike since his last outing in Joshua Tree. So though we got a late start this morning and I felt like I had too much on my plate, off we went. Ahhh, nature has a fabulous way of making everything okay.

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