Monday, September 22, 2008

A Wilderness Experience

Israel promptly attempted to jump the wooden rail fence that stood as the divide between he and the craggy rock below. I managed to stop him, only to be faced with a barrage of grumbling that he wanted no part of this particular hiking experience, if it wasn't going to prove to be as adventurous as he's like.

As he struck out on his own, on a path that would lead him to 'the caves', I handed him the cell phone. Perhaps, if anything went wrong, we'd be able to find him via a satelitte transmission.

Now look - I wasn't really worried. Even though the man at the trailhead was.

"What? You let your son head out on his own?!?" he quiered, incredulously. "I don't think that was a good idea!" He was an accomplished hiker of the area, naming nearby mountains, and describing various anad sundry trails that criss-crossed the granite display of granduer.

I bit my tounge on his lack of tact, and reassured him. "My son is fourteen . . ."

"And he's very physical." my friend finished my sentence for me. I appreciated that.

Heavens. If only that man had superhuman vision into the all-things-climbing-capabilities of my son.

But I digress.

We now stood, post hike, panting in the noonday heat, listening to the stranger harp on safety, and Israel was nowhere to be found.

The Devil's Punchbowl indeed.

The mile hike, we had thought, appeared to be a simple enough jaunt around the edge of the magnificent rock formation on top of the San Andreas fault, aptly named.

We were wrong.

Winding our way down into the canyon, the two schnauzers scampering happily, if not hotly, back and forth, whilst KellerMan rode comfortably in the Maya, was the easy part. There were vistas and crevices; shadows and long slants of noonday sun. Juniper trees and yucca dotted the knolls, giving scant moments of reprieve from the blatant beating of scorched brightness.

For every pace we took, the dogs took three, elongating their hike all the more. Finding the cool of shade under a rock became a bit of necessary game for them, and shortly, we, too, joined in the search. Exertion became our companion; even Keller welcomed sips of water, as his cheeks flushed rasberry red in the heat.

Discovering that our path had turned upward, muscles taught and hot breath exuding from each of us, we considered the starkness that surrounded us. Suppose this were our life? Suppose one had to survive in these conditions? There was no doubt that snakes and spiders and scorpions were the nocturnal inhabitants of this lonely landscape. The breathtaking beauty had little promise on saving one from such dangers.

The heights were also a consideration. One wrong slip of the foot, and the rocky jaws below could easily become gravestones.

The hours rolled on, and the sight of the wooden rail fence that I'd prohibited Israel from scaling proved a welcome sight.

So we stood, face to face with the man, chiding me for allowing my son to spelunk free, and as of yet, no return call or text from the cell phone Israel was in ownership of.

I had to make a choice not to feed the fear this stranger sought to introduce.

I forced myself to recall the numerous times my boy had victoriously - albeit perilously -engaged in similar activites with no ill results. We returned to the car to wait.


The red cap jostled above the dried vegetation, signaling my heart to release any remaining tension associated with ugly thoughts of danger and peril on the trail my son had taken.

Nonetheworse for wear, yet proudly sporting a scrape as a trophy of his adventure, my once grumbly boy was now engaging and happy, all sorts of thrilled that we had taken the time to discover this, our latest geological find.

1 comment:

Dawn Sodini said...

"All is well that ends well." Enjoy your visit and for heaven sakes come home soon.

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