FOREST FALLS – CALIFORNIA

As I step out of the jeep, a memory of my mother’s face lifted toward the sky inhaling the fresh air, reminds me to stop and take it all in. In amazement, my eyes gaze at the tall redwood and pine trees lining the narrow mountain road, casting shadows to break up the hot sun. With colorful rustic cabins and eccentric homes nestled against the hillside, I have this distinct feeling that I am going to like it here. I close my eyes for a moment and let the smell of pine and fresh air fill my lungs, as soft whispers of the wind drift down the mountain and echoes of people murmur through the trees.

After lunch, my friends and I lace up our shoes and set out for an adventure to Big Falls Waterfall. We begin our climb, each step taking us through more shadowed streets, tall trees, and an arms reach from rustic cabins. Twists and turns in the road ahead have me wondering how safe we are walking among the weeds, as vehicles pass with caution and courtesy, giving way of the hiker. We turn up a gravel road, my eyes taking in details to each home; color, design, character, and signs. The stone path leads us to a beach of grey, formed by mud slides and dried out river beds. We lay our soft footprints and leave them behind, pushing ourselves beyond rocks and logs, as trickles of water lure us to push onward.

Elongating our strides, we fall in line with nature seekers moving up and down trails. There is much to see here; water flowing gently down through rocks and roots entwined in the tango, people climbing high above us and cooling their feet in the water, and trees standing firm their ground as humans make way their markings. Intrigued by the hue of a redwood, I reach out my hand softly touching the rough bark, feeling a surge of earthiness, before moving forward. Holding firm to our balance and the grip on our shoes, to allow us to reach the other side of the stream without getting wet, we successfully conquer without fear. We stop for a moment to analyze our next move, one foot here, hand here, push up and do it again, and again, until we are all standing a little higher than we were. The idea of what goes up must come down, briefly crosses my mind and is quickly pushed out by my eagerness to continue. I reach for my last boulder and push myself up the rock. Steady I stand relying on my balance to keep me from letting gravity push me downward. We rest here, taking swigs from our water bottles and refreshing ourselves in the shade, as a breeze feathers our bodies before we begin our journey back following the stream until we can no longer.

Consuming ourselves with nourishment after our hike, we all fell into a resting coma. I crave to write, to tell you of these moments, to relive what I don’t wish to leave behind, as I will in the hours ahead. My best friend joins me on the deck for a few moments before we hear “crepes are ready.” Neither of us move, instead our bodies rest under the canopy of trees, listening to the wind and feel the forest pulling us closer.

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