The Accidental Steep Trail
“Want to go to Hidden Lake?” my son’s autism helper/hiking buddy tossed out cavalierly one chilly afternoon. Badass destination names like “Pirates Cove” and “Hidden Lake” make my heart flutter. A wish-list destination hadn’t been on my radar that day, but why not?
“If you think we’ll have enough daylight, sounds great,” I said. A midafternoon start meant a race to beat the January sunset.
Lake Lagunitas shimmered with a grayish-green winter pallor. After a short jaunt along the lake, we turned up a trail featuring wooden footbridges and a stretch of redwood trees.
“Wrong trail for Hidden Lake, sorry,” said the hiking buddy, checking a trail map. Daylight hourglass running, we persisted with our accidental trail.
Rocks and fallen tree debris indicated infrequent use.
We climbed. Twisted rocky turns moved us upward but not far forward.
“Maybe this is a good break spot,” our hiking buddy said. My son was dragging after all the steep climbing, and light was fading.
“The trail junction only looks like another quarter mile or so,” I said wistfully.
“Go ahead, I have him here.”
I’m pretty fit for strength, but not for cardio. The encroaching dark had me running, but the trail junction was elusive.
I’ve only felt spooked on a trail a handful of times. Something about the dirt path and scattered leaves reminded me of a short story about a couple who were entranced by birds in an isolated forest, only to vanish.
I finally reached a faded, vague jumble of crossing paths. I hadn’t made it to the crest I sensed by the light through the trees, but at least I’d hit some sort of junction point.
I jog-walked down the trail to find the rocky snack break spot empty. They must have started back down. My heart raced as I pushed to catch up.
“Not doing that one again,” our hiking buddy said as we descended back to the lake.
“Those steep stretches were a son of a gun,” I agreed, “but it was good.”
Any trail is worth walking once. Even if it’s steep. Even if it’s dark. Even if it’s hard.
We don’t always have a choice. Keep putting one foot forward.
This week’s Hike Notes lead along the Colier Spring Trail from Lake Lagunitas (just “Colier Trail” on some maps), a steep, sometimes rugged trail with some old growth redwoods that makes for a great cardio workout, even if you don’t go all the way to the top.
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New this week:
Hike Notes 59: Colier Spring Trail from Lake Lagunitas
Sharing insights and hiking highlights (Hikes, Hike Search by Area) from the special needs caregiver front in San Francisco.