Devils Slide, that’s the name of the trail we took. Located in the San Bernardino National Forest in Idyllwild, Ca, I soon found out it was appropriately named.
As we drove up the mountain it was a particularly windy day. The air was cool but not too cold.
Reaching the trailhead, we started on the path. Barely a few steps in, there was a wooden sign on the side telling us that the path was dangerous and to use caution. We decided to throw caution to the already howling winds and go up anyway. The trail was indeed difficult, at least for me. Going up, the terrain was rocky and covered in gravel much of the way.
The trail increased in elevation and we covered almost 1000 feet fairly rapidly. This trek was certainly good training for Machu Picchu. I had to stop a great many more times on this trail due to the air thinning out quickly and getting colder. My lungs were burning and my heart was pounding at least three times faster than my steps. As we rose in elevation the temperature continued to drop. At one point the winds were howling so fiercely we huddled next to a large rock and tree stump, held on and waited for the threat to die down, fearful that nature would win the battle and hurl us quickly down the mountain. We watched the nearby trees bend and sway in response to the fury and hoped they wouldn’t break. After the gusts died down a little, we pressed on, stopping frequently for me to take a lot of pictures. I also used the time to catch my breath, maybe that’s why I take so many.
Although gorgeous views were as abundant as trees, the increasing wind and decreasing temperatures told us it was time to turn around.
At that point we’d been out a little over an hour and the sun would be setting soon. Not wanting to be on a new trail after dark in inclement weather we went back. The descent is normally faster but with the narrow trail, occasional steep drops offs, gravel and the ever present wind we went slowly and cautiously.
Nearing the end, we stopped and climbed on top of a large boulder.
With our arms wrapped around each other we took in the almost unobstructed view of Lily Rock, covered in light and shadow from the sunset soon to follow, and listened to the forest.
We sat there watching the tree tops dance and shimmer and listened to the sound of the wind. Sometimes it was so loud it sounded as if a huge powerful waterfall was crashing nearby. Shards of light peeked through the evergreen trees and created a kaleidoscope of green colors on the leaves and bark. The beauty of the forest was peaceful, no cars, few people, just the sounds of nature. I took a big, deep, down into my soul breath and I felt good. Healthy. A woodpecker flew overhead and landed on a tree next to us. His lower feathers were definitive black and white lines and his brilliant red head feathers glistened in the sun. He sat for a moment and flew away before I could capture him with my camera. That was the only disappointing moment of the day.
Breaking the spell, my Prince Charming husband asked if I was ready to go. I wasn’t. I wanted to sit there with his arms around me and enjoy the moment for a while longer. Would a week be too long? Soon however, we did go and he promised we’d come back.
Not long after we were down off the mountain and the hike was over. With each hike, each step and every new trail I’m healthier. I can breath better and I am stronger. I’m also happier, feeling good about myself and what I’m accomplishing and feeling like everything is going to be ok. I end up confident, thinking that things are looking up and everything is going my way. Is that endorphins? Maybe. Maybe just doing something wonderful in an amazingly beautiful place makes me happy. Either way, I love that feeling.
Back in town, we stopped and got something hot to drink at a small coffee shop. On the wall there was a sign that I found compelling. It said ” Awaken your inner self.” Today I did. Can we do it again tomorrow?