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We went on the most wonderful hike on July 4th. It had been a while since we’d really gotten out and stretched our legs, and boy-oh-boy did it feel good. To celebrate our independence, we went out to the San Gorgonio Wilderness near Jenks Lake and hiked out an undulating trail to a beautiful lush creek near an area known as Johns Meadows.
As with darn near every trail we’ve hiked, it starts out going UP. I like to think of this first, ovary-busting section of the trail as “the proving ground”. It’s usually hot, dusty, and rutted from heavy traffic. It is the section tackled by women in cute sandals, men who rarely leave their easy chairs, and Game-Boy-athlete children (thumbs of steel!) who huff and puff their way about two-thirds of the way up that first big hill. Thinking they have traveled many miles deep into the wilderness, they begin to worry about bears—and realizing they have no water left, and they are kind of hungry—give up, turn around, and slog the half mile back to the trailhead—later bragging about the killer hike they tackled over the weekend.
What they don’t know about this testing part of the trail is that once they crest that first big ole hill, they are rewarded with a path that gentles, coming alive with wildflowers and plant life. They are gifted with the trees' earthy, piney, cedar-y scents that soothe the soul, generously shade the trail, and welcome you to the wilderness.
I believe this is your reward for sticking it out—for having the gumption to get up that hill and the determination to continue on to your destination, while, of course, savoring every step of the journey. Ah, Wilderness!
Our first reward was this breathtaking wild iris that I’d never seen before—we almost overlooked it. We were nearing the end of the winnowing part of the trail. Our breath had fallen into an even rhythm and as we curved around to a fork, we found the delicate lavender flowers with dark purple veins, bobbing in the light breeze, displaying the most beautiful and perfect shape. It was a photo moment, that’s for sure. We snapped away and I knew it would make a great painting.