Lytle Creek Trek
D Harrison

 

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 home..."

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 water’s 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 others.

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
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