However, my annual quest remains the same regardless of where I am: to find Fall. In Los Angeles, I worried autumn may never come. After a hot summer, the fall wasn’t looking any cooler. Leaves change color when the kiss of frost is touched by the morning sun. We had sunshine aplenty, but frost was nowhere to be found.
An online search for where to go to see autumn colors in Southern California brought up a trail called Ice House Canyon in part of Mt. Baldy—a mountain I had yet to explore. It was listed as 7.7 miles up and back which is a bit long for Tuck and me, but with an elevation gain of 2637 feet, I thought the length might prove in our favor as it would be less of an incline. I honestly was going for the parts that touted the fall colors near a stream on the canyon floor, so if we didn’t make it all the way up the mountain, so be it. At least I’d see fall.
Autumn in the Golden State is exactly that: golden. Seldom do you get the reds and oranges and other colors that blanket New England. It’s all a yellow-gold.
After less than an mile of hiking, I figured out that this trail was named Ice House Canyon not for the chill in the air, but because the giant white rocks gave an illusion of bricks of ice tossed into the valley.
For Tucker, this was instant agility heaven.
We had been hiking for over 3 hours, and although I wanted to let Tucker rest more, we needed to get back down the mountain. I assumed the descent would be significantly quicker than the ascent, but I was wrong.
Less than a half mile into our descent, Tucker held a sit in… then a lie down. I waited five minutes, uneasy that this portion of journey could extend into nightfall if we continued at this pace.
I urged him on and when we came upon three boys in their twenties taking a break on their way up to smoke some pot, Tucker decided these guys were totally his speed. He lay down beneath one of them who was sitting on a rock in the middle of the trail.
I enjoyed conversation (and a slight contact high) while Tucker took another ten minute nap. Once the boys were done with their break, Tucker and I resumed our downward journey.
One of the boys had questioned if perhaps Tucker’s hiking days were over. I exclaimed No! Absolutely not, he’s only six. He’s got at least five more years left. As he ages, I know our hikes will need to be shorter and less strenuous. But I’ll never go hiking without him. And if he needs to stop, then I’ll stop with him. Because I’ll never leave him behind. And he’ll never leave me either.