The Angeles Forest gets smaller and smaller the more I see it. The first time I went in (post-childhood) was during a backpacking trip with my ex-girlfriend Tawny about four or five years ago. We parked at Redbox Canyon and hiked down a few miles and camped and took mushrooms and it was very beautiful and very fun. I remember the feeling though that I was really getting out there. At the time we lived in downtown Los Angeles. The drive probably didn’t take more than 70 minutes and yet it felt like a big distance.
It feels so small now.
Some friends and I drove farther in on Monday and hiked up Mt. Islip, itself a wonderful hike: easy enough to take anyone, long enough to feel like you put some work in. I could see Baden-Powell in the distance. Beyond that is Mt. Baldy and even farther is San Gorgonio and San Jactino. All hikes qualify as BIG. All take you up into the high country. All of them I want to do again and again and again…sort of.
I sort of want more. I don’t want high country, I want HIGH COUNTRY. Is this the consequence of a dissatisfied mind? Will I want more with everything in my life? I don’t know. I hope not. Presently I need to seek out bigger places and bigger things. It’s not the hike really that I’m addicted to. It’s the place. It’s the journey there. Or maybe really I just need to go someplace that no man could live. Not for a long while at least. The Angeles Forest has its big places, it has its high country. Baden-Powell, Baldy, Iron Mountain, even Strawberry Peak. But it’s been settled. All of it. It’s been settled for a long while now. At the top of Mt. Islip, which we hiked on Monday, is an abandoned building. Three walls and a foundation are all that’s left. I think it was a fire station one time but I can’t really remember. The whole range has places like this. Old rail stations. Old buildings. Huts. Concrete. Flag poles.
The Angeles has been settled for a long while.
I want to go someplace that isn’t settled. Or at least someplace where I can trick my brain into thinking it can’t be. Someplace not entirely made for man. I need the high country. I need the Sierras. What do you need?
© 2013 Christopher Dart