Something different for today...
On the mountain, the clouds lay shadows like giant thumbprints on freshly kneaded bread.
The gray-green fuzz of new growth from spring rains soften and mellow the harsh, rocky outlines; inviting me to walk among the sage and Tecate Cypress, which grows nowhere else.
On the mountain, the air is clean, scented only with the brush and bloom of the season. The sun is strong and harsh, making the dips and curves of the trails that take me into shadow and shade feel cool and damp by comparison.
On the ridges, among the cactus and the scrub oak; the wind scours the rocks into weird hollows and crevices that match the burrows and hives of the insects and reptiles, the bobcat and burrowing owls.
On the trail leading from Dog House Junction near Dulzura, to the peak overlooking the ocean; the Coronado Islands and the mountains of northern Baja, you challenge yourself for words, for air, for water. You climb upward on a twisting, turning, dusty truck road. Unpaved, barely marked, no billboards or phones or people distract you. And you wonder why you are there, on the mountain.
And when you reach the peak, no one waits for you there. No one slaps you on the back, hands you a drink or a banner or a ride back down. No one disturbs you as you turn, silently, your breath having returned only to be taken again at the view of all that lies below you, on the mountain.
Or no view at all, the clouds rolling in from the Pacific; cool grey fingers of moisture and solitude seeking to penetrate this hot, dry place. The lake lies below you, somewhere, in all that mist. The city too, dark spires of buildings poking through incongruously detached from the streets below. The noise and the crowds and the quickening pace of traffic are far below and you sit, the sun setting lower as the seconds slip by, enjoying the feel of sweat drying and heart beating and brain relaxing as you find yourself.
On the mountain.