Friday, June 10, 2011

Nature's Surprises

An entry from my journal about a recent hike:

The forecast called for rain, but we awoke to a splendid sunny day. The wind was blowing lightly and white puffy clouds framed our mountains above Santa Barbara. Deciding whether to run by the sea or go hike in the mountains, we scrambled up some eggs and toasted some bread for a light breakfast. Stomachs satisfied we ventured out to Romero Canyon in the hills of Montecito. 

As we took our first steps up the trailhead, a brisk wind blew making my ears ache from the cold. The previous night’s rain had really cooled things down. It almost felt like one of our winter days. Up, up, up we went along the dirt rode cutting around the side of the mountain. Stunning, expansive views of the coast in both directions took our breath away. The valleys and details of Santa Cruz island were visible from where we stood. A wind blown ocean, kissed the shores of a sunlight filled city backed by a cloud-framed mountain. As we continued on, a dark, ominous cloud was rolling over the mountain’s rim. The smell of fennel filled the air mixed in with sage, emphasized by the humidity in the air. We exchanged a few words about how it felt very much like being in Costa Rica or Hawaii, but a whole lot colder. 
As we rounded the corner and entered the valley area of the mountain range, little cool drops began to fall. Only a light drizzle we walked on, only to stop a moment later when the drizzle became a downpour. Partially protected under a large oak tree we watched the rain fall in streaks. Ironically, we could see blue skies if we looked left or right, but where we stood it was dark cloud cover and rain.
Soon the droplets were bouncing off our clothes and sticking to our hair. Hail! It was hailing. Mid-May and hail…who would have thought? In awe, we stood there enjoying the sounds of little ice balls hitting the leaves on the trees and bushes all around us. The rain returning we decided to continue on, even if this meant getting even wetter. A few minutes later, the rain subsided and a very warm sun shone onto the soaked hillside. Mist rose from the drenched earth and a lovely herbal aroma filled the air. The strangely warm sunlight felt amazing on our chilled bodies. Water droplets hung off fennel leaves sparkling like little diamonds creating Nature’s own chandelier. Passing a small oak grove we admired the beauty of the light hitting the dark oak leaves and the filtered light hitting the fallen leaves and darkened rocks below the great oak. Large fuchsia thistles lined the overgrown path; glowing in the fresh, clean light.

Before beginning the trail back down the mountain, we stared out onto the stunning view between the two mountain tops, clouds hanging in between, blue sky, the islands, the deep blue ocean, and the green city, all framed by this mountain. At this moment, water dripping off my eyebrows, I felt very much alive and present. The hike down went quickly as we walked briskly through oak groves and over running creeks. The weather changing from sun to cloud cover to frigid wind to drizzles from the wind blown trees, our descent was beautiful. 
Back at the trailhead, where the weather was quite warm and the clouds still stood over the mountains but not the city, we laughed at the morning’s crazy weather and for getting caught in the thick of it. Sometimes it’s great to not be prepared for life’s little surprises.

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