Not every adventure can be an isolated multiday far away from civilization. I’ve been extremely lucky to have a plethora of hiking trails newly discovered in my part-time residence here in the San Diego area. These trails are little hidden gems in the midst of urban sprawl. The climbs may have buildings marring the view but the climbs themselves give a taste of the wilderness, the herons are just as graceful here as they are in the backcountry and the views of the distant ocean are breathtaking from the peak of a local park as they are in the early morning mist of northern California’s rugged sealine trails.
The smallest dormant volcano in North America requires some short but rugged climbs to get to the top. A reservoir at the foot of this fascinating geological structure is home to fish, waterfowl and attracts an assortment of local wildlife. Behind the volcano is a network of trails sprawling across the rolling hills.
Stages of Decay 8 x 10 Oil on Panel
Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve
Forest meets chaparral through this network of trails exploring the bubbling rush of a creek and up upon a peak overlooking the land onto the ocean in the distance. The trails offer the rocky, rough terrain hikers crave and the ease of proximity in San Diego county. There are easy walks and tough climbs as the trail network creates fascinating out-and-back hikes or can be linked together for a slightly longer loop.
Exploring 8 x 10″ oil on panel
In complete honesty I crave the expansive backcountry of long trails with nary another soul in sight. In the interim, these little tastes of wild home tides my wanderlust and sooths the soul until the next big adventure.
I dreamed of traction spikes crunching into ice and snow gracing the soaring geology of the Grand Canyon in winter. It was a dream we rush into reality as my pregnancy moves along into the fifth month. The frigid air nips at our unacclimated faces on the porch of the Yavapai Lodge as we disembark to the South Kaibab trail. Herds of elk meander along the rim while condors freewheel overhead, striking the clear blue sky through with their imposing black wingspan. There is no snow despite the cold. The brutal series of switchbacks decending into the canyon peals away layer after layer of breathtaking scenery of the Grand Canyon’s interior.
They cut my abdomen open and gave me cabin fever when I birthed my son. A c-section is major abdominal surgery. Combined with the residual pregnancy-complication related back and hip pain, I spent the first few weeks of my son’s life teetering around with a cane. I was a postpartum wobbly tornado of stir-crazy eagerness.
Needless to say I wasn’t in the most reasonable mindframe when I swore that I was going to solo trek the Trans-Catalina Trail at three months postpartum.
I’ve done this trail a few times before. There really is no excuse for not knowing better. The trail traverses the length of Catalina Island just off the coast of southern California. Its unmaintained, meandering singletrack follows the coastline and diverts deep into the interior of the island where there is no refuge from the unrelenting sun and arid conditions. The harsh climbs and off-trail wanderings around bison are the price paid for beautiful campsites on the beach.
I’ve seen this trail wreck athletes with ultralight packs and trail runners with support.
I board the boat and set off for Catalina Island anyway.
We don’t see much of anything when we arrive at Moab, UT. A half day’s drive stretched into the wee hours of the morning. Such is life when on the road with a three-month old baby. After a few hour’s sleep the morning sun reveals the powerful Colorado and beautifully bizarre red rock formations characteristic of the land – just steps away from our camp site. Despite my apprehension for the day’s plan, I stop and paint.
The baby is left in his grandma’s good hands. I am new to this. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m putting my faith in my wonderful friend and skilled river-rafter to get me from point A to point B still breathing. We load up the agile two-person raft and set off along the Colorado.