10 km later

I planned to go to Santa Cruz to visit a few friends, but it didn’t quite turn out that way.

Since my meetings were in the morning, I wanted to go for a hike first. Cara reminded me that there were lots of trails in the Santa Cruz mountains and that I should look there.

After a easy Google search I found a trail that was on my way to Santa Cruz. I’m surprised that I didn’t know anything about it, as it is relatively close – closer than a lot of the other hikes I did regularly when I lived here.

I drive towards Santa Cruz and get off at Bear Creek road – an exit that I was familiar with from the various times I rode my bike around the Lexington Reservoir.

I drive up the winding road to the Bear Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve trail parking. I walk over and look at the map. I calculate how much time I have to hike – it is 11am and I need to meet people at 12:30 in Santa Cruz. I set my alarm for 45 minutes and start hiking.

The first mile is a constant climb. I look forward to getting to the trail intersection.

I get to the to and look at my watch. It is 11:42 so I have a few minutes before I have to turn around. The choice is more climbing or a trail that is going downhill. With only 3 minutes left I wanted to do the nicer trail, so I go downhill, knowing that I will need to turn around soon and climb back up.

At 11:44, one minute before my alarm goes off, I realize that I had not accounted for the 30 minute drive to Santa Cruz. I’m 45 minutes into a hike and won’t get back to the parking lot until 12:15 at the earliest – even though it will be mostly downhill, it will still take me some time.

I return to the point where the trails intersect. My phone goes ‘bing’. I look at the messages, thinking that I might need to send something to report that I’ll be late. I really just want to continue hiking, it is so beautiful up here. One of the messages says that B isn’t going to be able to meet with me. I was already struggling with the driving all the way to Santa Cruz, and this was the last thing to tip my mind. I cancel my earlier appointment in Santa Cruz and go back to hiking.

As I approach the redwoods I feel the age of this forest. I can smell the ocean in the breeze. I also feel the healing energy. I’m suddenly feeling well mentally and physically. I had been looking for a place to go on a retreat in Nova Scotia. It occurs to me that this last week has been the retreat I’ve been looking for. I’ve spent great time with friends, hiked with a friend, and hiked on my own. It was everything that I needed. Then I think, I should make this an annual retreat. I should plan to come for a week and stay at Cara’s Retreat Centre (that is Cara’s home if she’ll have me), and I can reconnect with friends and go on hikes. I’m already looking forward to doing this again next year.

I continue hiking and at this point start thinking about doing the entire look rather than doing a there-and-back hike. At some point, I will reach a point where it makes more sense to continue and do the loop and I’m approaching that point. I decided to cancel on my friend, and continue the hike. This hike is what I need more than anything right now. My friends understand.

I get to the trail intersection (not quite the top as the next segment of the trail involves going up). I see the sign. The parking lot is 2.7 miles in both directions. I’m at the middle of the trail.

I continue hiking, enjoying the shifts in view from redwood forest to high shrubs and back again into forest. At one point I notice a sea of forget-me-nots. It seems really appropriate. I will keep that image in my mind for the next year, whenever I need to take a deep breath and see beauty.

The high shrubs are all in full bloom.

At one point I notice a sea of forget-me-nots. It seems really appropriate. I will keep that image in my mind for the next year, whenever I need to take a deep breath and see beauty. It turns into a 3hr almost 10 km hike. I made it with only one water bottle, which was my main concern. Fortunately most of the trail was shaded. I recall someone saying “I always thought I wanted to live in the Redwoods, until I did” – the large trees are beautiful but they also block out the sun. It is nice to visit, but dark to live in.

This was almost double my previous hike. I started out this week struggling to hike 3km and have ended with a 10km hike. I did well on the hike, and felt good afterwards, but tired. The next day – my last day – I was too tired to contemplate another hike. I went back to bed and slept until noon. I’m visiting a few other friends this afternoon and then this evening. Hard to believe the week is already over.

I feel good, and happy, and I’m looking forward to getting home to my puppy (and my husband too)!

  • Becky

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