A first time to hike the Eaton Canyon Nature Center. Ever.
Barely escaping the barrage of vehicles parked sporadically in a dirt lot, the wide, dry trail lead us toward the canyon. You could hear the trickles of moving water off in the distance in the flat rocky terrain. With each step the mountain walls grew and pushed us together.
Nature continued to nudge us near one another. People and puppies prepared to promenade up the trail. Some of us took a different path or found a cool hollow with a canopy of a giant oak tree to enjoy. At least one of us tried to keep her sneakers dry.
All the way up we zig zagged across the stream. If you jumped too fast, you would cause the domino effect. My foot stretched above the water to the nearest dry surface. I felt the jiggle of a wet rock beneath my feet. I exhaled. A slight slip as you jump to another could be a wet setback. I held my breathe. With each miss step, the water trickled into my tennie through the tiny cavities. I gasped.
As we paraded up the canyon, all around you witnessed puppies pulling parents and parents pulling puppies. The young ones clinched their claws and drugged their bottoms to their first adventure in the woods while the old trotted on by. The juvenile jump and tug to break free from their leash that bounds them. Everybody came out today: the cranky and happy, the large and small, and the fluffy to the neat and short hair breeds. Buds are busting and bushes are blooming. Everybody welcomes Spring.
The weary clutch their partner’s hand, belt loop, or arm. Please don’t let it be me that slips and falls. The log purposefully wriggles as I tight rope across. That rock before me has been stepped on a thousand times. The dreadful leap breaks it free to slide down the stream. Nope. Not me. She succumbs to the force. Screams, last second arms stretched out reaching for air. BOOM! SPLASH! Bottom down!
For over a mile and a half, we all meandered back and forth across the stream. Some water spots had huge deep pot holes. We avoided them. Some of the walkers had no intentions of getting wet. We were grateful they pulled over. If you hesitated, the youth was right behind you itching to pass. Some used blinkers like excuse me or sorry. And off they went. There was a sense of urgency. Like a leaf caught in the crevice of a rock swirling in the tide pool wanting to break free, I was consumed by the energy. I stopped. I sat on a rock and watched. Is it true if you hurry up and get there, it won’t be crowded? After all this is going to be a dead end.
Every time we came to the merging of humans and stream, there was a pile up. Most of us were going up. Some were coming down. At least one of them gave in and walked through the water. With each plunge a hint of melted snow grasped my ankles like a cold damp towel being placed behind your neck on a hot summer’s day. It’s so fun to go off trail. Break free. Embrace this rare, special treat. Get off the beaten path. Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city life. I’m like a wet dog trying to shake the feeling that I’m trapped right in it again. I’m just trading people and puppies for cars, rushing water for two and four wheel machines rambling down the road. Chirps and tweets for honks and beeps.
Awe, the mist filled the canyon. The roar silenced the chatter. The crisp clear water transcended our souls. I took in all in. I sat and inhaled. I felt the sun’s kisses, the cool breeze and the tingling of my toes. What a day it is to be sitting next to a waterfall.
All the wild critters know to stay away. It’s rush hour.