I had closed all the blinds but the one I was assured no one could see me sleeping from, which was the window near the end of the bed. I couldn’t see out it, but Tucker could. And waking up to him standing up and doing a double-take when he looked out the window was all I needed to know I was kicking off my 47th spin around the sun in the perfect place.
Outside our window was a forest. And when we stepped out the front door, we saw the lake and steep mountain on the other side.
So we bid farewell to our little cabin, keeping with us the memories of kindness and generosity.
He wasn’t wrong.
Just the parking lot of Mosquito Flat Campground, the starting point for Little Lakes Valley to Gem Lake trail, was stunning.
SPOILER ALERT: If you want to go on this hike and be surprised by the beauty, don’t scroll any further. If you don’t think you’ll ever make it here or want to see ahead of time, keep going. No camera phone could do this place justice, but I’ve tried my best.
Despite the serenity of the campground area that we could have enjoyed for hours, Tuck was ready to get moving once he saw the trailhead.
When I hike, I don’t do it for the satisfaction of completion (although that is a perk); I do it for the journey. And I was walking through one of the most magnificent art galleries I had ever seen of Mother Nature’s. I wouldn’t rush through the Louvre just to say I’d been there. I’d take my time and let the images and energy soak in. So that’s what I did in this gallery. No words could capture this place.
So here are the photos, lake after lake after stream after valley after lake… the art transforming with every change of the light as the sun slipped behind a cloud, dipped below the mountain peaks, or stood front and center in the blue sky above like a spotlight.
I used to hike like walking into a museum not knowing the closing time or what the exhibitions were. Now I hike like I’ve researched the museum, reviewed the art, and know where I’ll be every minute.
This entire trip, unplanned in details, is how I need to hike. This walkabout was magnificent and magical. I was only cranky due to the expectation of time. We humans have a rather finicky relationship with time. We claim it goes slow, goes fast, sometimes we make good time, sometimes it goes by too quickly. But time never changes; our perception does. So I changed my perception, and focused on the incredible beauty before me. I wouldn't have changed a single step of the journey. Even the time of day and the minute we passed by a certain vision would have been different if we had been there a moment earlier; a cloud, a shadow, the breeze lifting a leaf--the moment mattered.
So after taking in the moments here, the air, the energy, the delight of every vision, we stood up and made our way back. I wanted to make it back by dark, not just for safety, but to see the entire trail's beauty around me before the light of day faded entirely.
But this was already perfect. I didn’t need to indulge. Day one of the my 47th year was pretty spectacular. There are many more days to come, and many more adventures for Tucker and me.
So as twilight fell, we headed south back to our basecamp in the San Fernando Valley. Along the way, as traffic slowed in the Antelope Valley, we watched a shooting star dive across the sky, and fizzle out high above civilization's lights.
Had I kept to my expected schedule, I would not have been right there, right then, to wish upon a star.
You need not plan every moment of your life. Just pick a few must-have's, a few plot points you want your story to have. Then allow the story to unfold. The more space you give it, the more elaborate, magnificent, and amazingly beautiful it becomes.