Sunday, June 24, 2012

Summer Solstice Sunset Walk to Parker Mesa Overlook

I started out on Los Liones Trail. The sky was deep blue and clear. Now that I have walked this trail a few times, I found my stride right away. The long grasses brushed against my legs. Walking. Breathing. Sweating. At the junction of Los Liones Trail and the fire road leading to Parker Mesa Overlook, I realized that I hadn't seen anyone for a good half an hour; now that the sun was setting, it was likely that I would have the rest of the walk to myself. Up and up and up. The dust rose around me with my steps. There is some plant that grows on many of the trails here that smells like marijuana. Maybe it is marijuana. The sea stretched out to my left, epic blue. Molasses, salt, and dry grass. As I turned the corner into Happy's Meadow, the sun's slanty light illuminated the high, bent yellow grasses. I looked up at a deer staring me down from the next turn in the trail. She let me come closer and then hopped into the brush. But I could see her ears peeking out above her hiding place as I passed. I walked past the junction for Trippett Ranch, and noticed that the whole scene was now awash in pink light. The white yucca blooms glowed in sharp relief against the shady, dark green chaparral, and I could smell the sea. Salt and vanilla. As the sun slid down behind the hills of Topanga, a band of pink and orange light encircled me, and the slopes leaned grey and slate blue in shadow against the gloaming. The white tail of a little brown rabbit disappeared into the terra cotta dirt at the side of the trail while I walked, breathing and sweating. I inadvertently startled another woman on the trail, the first person I'd seen for a couple of miles. She had changed course against the coming dark. I turned off down the hill leading into the riparian cover of Los Liones Trail. Low branches and thick ivy. I thought about stopping to get my headlamp out of my pack. I saw one last view of the ocean flash in front of me as I turned down a sharp switchback, and then it was dark. The picture had changed from color to black and white. Each turn looked like a turn into complete darkness, but then my eyes would adjust. I heard a phone ring in a house far away on the ridge above me, and when I emerged from the cave of tree cover and vines, I was back in the city again, my car waiting there in the parking lot, alone.

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