Yesterday afternoon, instead of taking Fergie and Jake on our usual three-mile hike up the dirt road that winds up to the Top of The World (yup, it’s called that), I decided on the “other” hill, the one paralleling Laguna Canyon Road. Haven’t been there for awhile. With all the rain, the meadow on the left of the steep tarred road glows with a spring-like green. A single house halfway up, perches above the canyon.
The end of the road flattens on the left into a spot that looks like a helicopter landing pad, but is actually the remains of a foundation of a house that burned down; a white slat-backed bench and two Adirondack chairs arranged just so sit under a tree complete with rope swing. There’s a lot of history here, evidenced by the words “1947, Don” carved into a low cement wall. The property is now owned by someone who, unable to get permits to build on it—access problems—gave it to his dad to maintain as a kind of little park for those who discover it, or so I hear. I’m grateful for this.
At this point, I usually let the dogs charge around while I admire the view, one of Catalina Island on a clear day, and part of Laguna’s main beach; from this angle and height, the breaking waves look like white brushstrokes.
But then I realized that the hills around me had lost their thick summer shag, revealing that path that leads up to Bermuda Hills Drive. I’ve taken it a couple of times. Today, I’m going left. There’s no path. I do love an adventure. Though, with those giant houses peering down from the hills above I’m not exactly in unchartered territory. It’s the feeling I’m after, the feeling that I found a new path to try.
Jake and Fergie soon take the lead; it’s grabbing-onto-bushes kind of steep. I pass what looks like a mini acacia, Africa’s umbrella thorn tree. Trying not to slip as I angle across the incline, I find myself thinking about the time I was nine, looking for gold in the hills around Barberton, South Africa, where my dad made bricks for a short stint. This is an area that contains some of the oldest sedimentary rock formations in the world, site of a gold rush in the 1880s. I didn’t find any gold. Instead, I discovered an abandoned mine shaft filled with vines and a couple of parrots swooping in and out.
I didn’t find anything like that today, not even close, unless you count the acacia look-alike. Still, I enjoyed an invigorating hike until I came to a gully, newly formed by the looks of it with Jake and Fergie perched on the edge looking back at me. There’s a way around but it’s getting dark. Another time. I turned back, satisfied.