Sunday, December 4, 2011
The trail to Red Rock Mountain begins by winding through the bleached grasses that line the nearly dry creekbed. Ochre colored sycamore glow like beacons in the cool, dim light. There are 14 of us, walking in fairly tight formation - and when the woman in front of me suddenly bends over to remove something from the trail, I am nearly impaled by her trekking poles. I drop back, only to have the person behind me climbing up my heels. But these are minor annoyances....
After reaching Pianobox, the trail crosses the stream and begins climbing steeply toward the saddle below Red Rock Mountain. From the saddle we leave the trail and scramble up the extremely steep, rocky mountainside, slipping and sliding. I am grateful for the rough chaparral we are pushing through - it gives some feeling of security as the ground (mostly loose rocks) continually gives way beneath the feet.
The rocks are incredibly beautiful though - perfectly egg shaped, streaked with iron, glazed from ancient infernos. I cannot resist - and more than a few find their way into my pack.
As we descend towards the canyon again, the fading afternoon sunlight just touches the furthest hillsides, beckoning us homeward.
Lagging behind the others to take some photos, I cross the final potrero in the gathering dusk. A chill passes through me that has nothing to do with the cold wind rattling through the nearby trees. The very air seems alive with the restless spirits of long departed Chumash who made these canyons a sacred burial ground.
Back at the car, we finish the day with a feast of turkey enchiladas, pecan pie and a warm blanket so generously shared.