I turn off highway 138 and point my '86 Toyota pickup truck in the
direction of Lytle Creek situated deep within the Angeles National Forest of Southern
California. Just three more miles, three more miles of constant bump-along-road. Given the
severe rains each pothole seems much deeper than I remembered and it seems there were some
added. Upon reaching the end of the road I am thrilled to see that I am the only hiker in
the area this morning.
The sun is just making an appearance over the top of Cucamonga Peek. As I step out of the
truck, I stretch and try to decide just how many layers of clothes I'd need to be
comfortable. Finally I choose my summer hiking boots and flannel shirt. So strapping on my
backpack off I go to explore the land before me, much as John Muir did.
Moist winds carry pungent smells. Such welcome delights of sage, deer grass, and pine.
Twigs snap under the weight of my boots. Loud echoes of the consistent rhythm of my
stride. I remember the times, the many times my father and I danced together to this same
rhythm, our "Hiking Song." His passing 11 years to this date still leaves
emptiness, though I am drawn to him once again as I wander the terrain of Lytle Creek.
Upon reaching the creek a calmness begins to take over my usual anxiety prone stance. This
is my passion, this my release of the "other life." Spring time at Litle Creek
is such an abundant time. Lady bugs hatch by the thousands and I stoop to run my hand
along the crinkled bark of a low branch filling it to over flowing with the tiny red and
black spotted creatures. Their activity tickles my hand,"Ladybug ladybug fly away
The suns perfect reflection kisses the ambling waters and then darts away. I squint at
this dazzling display trying to see past it into the waters depth. I see from the
corner of one eye the quicken movements of a Rainbow Trout as it dodges the penetrating
light beam to find shelter under a muddy overhang. There was a time that I stood here
fishing pole in hand, catch and release we called it. Now I catch only with my eyes the
grace and beauty of the rainbow displayed under the waters rippling currents.
Following the creek north a Mule Deer emerges from its bush covered security, stepping
into the open clearing to drink of the placid waters pooling there. The majesty in which
he presents his rack telltale of his age, a young buck. I can see the taunt muscles of his
flanks every ready to whisk him away at the smallest hint of danger. Our eyes fix and I
look deeply beyond what is seen into his very soul. I hear the rushing of his heart, am I
friend or enemy? Neither of us moves, except the constant periscoping of his velvet ears.
Caught up, I think back to the days when I'd see my father pack up his rifle for yet
another deer hunting adventure. I didn't understand it then, why all his hunting buddies
came home with trophies, and he didn't. I understand it now. I believe it was because of
situations such as this one now. He simply could not look into the soul of a such a
creature and squeeze the trigger. He was not a poor marksman, but rather a rich
communicator with the wild. I return my thoughts to the deer before me, watching it sip
until satisfied. Then slowly it moves deeper into the safety of its natural habit. I to
move on pondering, how rare the souls of man and beast meet like this.
Bird watching has always been a deep passion for me. Something handed down from my
grandmother. Just now above me the Red Tail plays with the wind currents. In the
surrounding trees Jays, Towhees, and Juncos combine to bring a chorus of unmatched song.
I've learned to recognize these songs without actually having to see the bird, it was a
game played over and over on father daughter hikes. What a wondrous sky where both Eagle
and Vulture, Osprey and Sparrow can move about without infringing on the territory of
Around the next bend...I chuckle here. Dad was always saying, "It's just around the
next bend." You see he couldn't bare to leave without knowing what was just around
the next bend and the next and the next. Suddenly, a familiar sight comes into view. The
beaver dam that has stood the test of rising and falling creek waters, occupied by several
generations of beaver in my life time. Such engineers these wide tailed buck toothed
animals. What to us seems like a mixed up pile of sticks, actually is quite an engineering
feat. Each stick laid with perfection as if thought out in advance. Seems no one is up yet
and so I pass it by quietly as to not disturb.
I head across the meadow, abloom with a wild flora of Poppies, Mustard, purple Lupine, and
bright red Indian Paintbrush. It is among this carpet groundhogs, squirrels, and weasels
make their home. Rabbits scatter as I approach, both cotton tail and Jack who's ears give
them away even in the tallest Deer grass.
There are fox dens, scratchings on trees from bears marking their territory, dragon flies,
bees, butterflies and grasshoppers. Each one being so important to this place.
Back to the creeks edge I choose a moss covered rock to sit on. Here I find serenity above
the roar of a waterfall that over the years has polished the rocks like that of a
baldheaded man. Some smooth while others displaying patterns of wear. Evening is fast upon
me, I can not terry much longer. Though I wish to stay forever, forever here among the
tranquillity of embracing pines that seem to enforce the fact that there are places one
can still find peace on earth.
Copyright © 1998 D Harrison
Published on the World Wide Web by "www.storymania.com"