The buzz of electricity filled wires knocked against my eardrums as I stood at a crest midway up the first dale of the Irish Hills. I was standing next to a gigantic steel tower, which had gray beams that crisscrossed against the blue after-work sky. Blue. Not midnight blue. It was about 5:30 p.m. on a Monday, and I was on a little hike.
I took the wrong fork in the wide trail that jogs up the hill a few hundred yards from the Prefumo Canyon Road trailhead and it ended in a wide green swath of grassy hillside that overlooked Laguna Lake Park in San Luis. Pretty sweet, but not the quiet serenity of peace I was looking for—it was louder and more urban than that.
The Mariposa trail was what I should have followed, but I took the other one. Back on the Mariposa trail, the path shrunk into a narrow mountain bike trail that sunk into the ground like an earthen halfpipe. I saw an older man and his spry pup as I crossed over from the short trail to the right trail, and that was it. The rest of the trail was mine. Mine to watch over and give voice to. Mine to travel up and look out over the valley without interruption. A rarity.
Uninterrupted pensive reflection and footsteps that rolled over unstable rocky footing. Of course, my first thought was that a mountain lion could take me out without anyone knowing, and then I thought, I would probably let the dog have at it and watch the ensuing damage and destruction while being scared out of my mind. But after that, I got down to hiking business; climbing along the path that got rockier as I went higher and then widened out at the top of the first ridge line, a scrub-filled hilltop with low-growing trees and the smell of sage.
Fog began stealing the late afternoon’s golden light as I neared the vantage point I wanted to reach. There it was, that peace of accomplishment I was searching for, without the buzz I wasn’t.