As soon as I got out of the car, I was overcome with the memory of places like this from my time living on the West Coast. I think it's the combination of the morning chill and the saturated aroma of sage, madrona, eucalyptus, and oak. What a powerful sense memory, and an incredibly feeling of well-being.
I started to climb.
And take deep breaths.
And climb more.
And more deep breaths.
And with each step, the feeling of well-being deepened, until I heard a big sound. I turned around, expecting to see a person. But I saw nothing.
I kept climbing.
I started to see tracks like this.
Could it be a mountain lion?
Didn't I see something about mountain lions when I started out walking? Why didn't I pay attention to it? I wasn't even sure what you are supposed to do when you encounter a mountain lion.
I kept climing, and so did my anxiety.
I saw more tracks.
I wanted to keep going because I wanted to REACH THE TOP, because I am just a little bit goal oriented. I knew I wasn't too far, because I was getting closer and closer to the tree line, and also, the trail I was on was called Bort Meadow Trail, and I had not yet come upon a meadow. But I saw more tracks.
I kept climbing.
Finally, I saw some people coming down the trail—the first people I'd seen all morning—and I noticed that I felt some comfort in numbers, so I took a last look at the view, and I turned around and headed down.
Not that I couldn't encounter a mountain lion on the way down the trail, but if I did, at least there would be some people there to help do something about it.
Down was just as beautiful as up—more so maybe, because the sun was coming up over the trees, and throwing down beams of light on the path.
And of course it smelled just as glorious going down as it did going up. And the light kept streaming through.
And then about 1/2 hour later, I was back at the trail head, and read the sign I had only glanced at when I was just starting out.
I still didn't know if the tracks were from mountain lions, but I did learn that in case they were, I did the right thing to stick close to the other people.
It was a beautiful hour in the woods, but more than the sights, and more than the feeling of climbing up up up up up, if I could bottle that fragrance and bring it back with me, I would. Does anyone make a perfume called chilled Redwood morning?