Written by Mithra Srini.
How it Began…
It is the month of February and wintertime in the USA. It’s been two weeks and the pouring rain has not taken a break. With the sun setting early (4:30 pm ….I KNOW !!!) and the gloomy weather, my mind had gone into the deeper realms of dreamland, a yearning of all the beautiful places I could be right now.
If you are like me then I am sure you too have a list of places you like to visit and for that reason, you have visited them in your dreams a thousand times. Imagining all the beautiful things you would look at, eating the warm food (most drool-worthy and Instagramable ones), taking a hike enjoying peace and happiness that comes with it. Though that was not the case with this weekend, I was unmindfully happy about something.
Earlier today I had checked the weather forecast for the coming weekend and it happened to be bright and sunny. With the weather app open in my hand, my mind was already sorting through the list and shortlisting the places I wanted to visit. Now, at the end of the day, I was more at ease and wanted to plan out everything properly.
Of late I had realized that beaches were not my thing. Nowadays, Every time I look at pictures of mountain ranges I can feel a strange attachment. Something deep inside me said, “You would be happy here”. Through my many drives around California, I realized, my most peaceful ones were along the mountainside. The serene beauty of the trees can never be matched. The undulating greenery in spring and colorful orange, yellow and red in autumn is a scene to look at. That’s how vibrant the hills are. That being said, I had decided, henceforth, to spend more time with the trees. Of course, the top three places I had pulled up today were mountainous parks.
I started looking through the details again on all three of them to make sure I have all the basic details right with me. How far was it from home? (the earliest/latest time I could leave), the temperature there (would I require more clothing, or is it warm enough for a simple jacket), are there any shops nearby or should pack some snacks for me?
The more I looked at those places, the more happy and chirpy I was becoming. After thorough analysis, I had finally chosen my destination for the weekend. What made the cut, you ask?? It was Henry Cowell Redwood State Park in Santa Cruz. Dense trees throughout the trail with a river running right through the centre of it!!!
The D-Day… The Journey Begins.
Saturday arrived bright and beautiful. No sign of grey clouds, double-checked my weather app and it confirmed that nature won’t be sending rain today. Assured of my solitude with trees, I had an early breakfast, packed a few munchies and a water bottle, and started my journey towards the park. It was an hour-long drive to the park. Crossing the city, buildings replaced trees soon enough. I couldn’t help noticing how the mere sight of trees soothed my nerves. My thoughts began to vanish and an eerie sense of stillness settled in. I was now more than eager to reach the park.
I was one of the few early people to reach the park. I parked my car and got an entrance ticket. I made a quick visit to the coffee shop and got myself a hot cup of coffee. At the entrance, there was a wooden board mentioning the different trails available, how long they were and attached to it was a map showing various routes. It also indicated where each trail started. Through my earlier research, I had already chosen which one I wanted to walk through. Just beside the entry point, there was a huge wooden core, dating back to more than 200 years. This tree core explained how a tree ages over the years. I stood there looking at the core and couldn’t stop thinking how huge it must have been when it stood in its prime.
I started walking through my trail. The trees were dense. The slope of the path was wavering in and out of its clutches. The calmness was deafening, as different as they could be from the madness of the city. I was 5 minutes into my walk and So far I had encountered only 2 people. I had moved ahead of them. I didn’t realise I was walking fast. I slowed down and stopped for a second. At that exact moment, I heard a faint sound of water trickling. The clinking sound of water wobbling down over the pebbles. I realized I was very close to the river and a smile washed over my face. I resumed my walk, but this time more slowly and mindfully.
Soon enough, the path weaved through a grove less thick than usual, giving glimpses of the river. The path led me straight to it. I stood there looking at the river, flowing unmindful of people near it. It went along its path not stopping, not slowly for anyone. How do they do that? It got me thinking…asking myself, how in the slightest glance of a person, I could develop a multitude of opinions of that person. I wish I could tell the river how it inspires me to move on in life just like it does. The walking continued along the river in the opposite direction of flow. The path diverted away from the river and then started a steep slope. I stopped whenever I could and made a slow climb. After 20 minutes of heaving and sighing, I had made it to the top.
The view was nothing less than I had wished for. Acres and acres of more trees. Some green, some brown, till the eyes could see. The horizon showing the beautiful blending of clouds and trees. There is no place I would be right now. My heart swelled with happiness, my nerves calm, the rhythmic beating of my heart slowly fading away. I could sit here for hours and watch the day go by. The sun was high up now and the fog in the distance was lifting. Far far away a city became visible. I ignored it. I did not come all the way from the city to look at it. I wanted to take in all of this natural beauty. I wanted to remember the river I walked by, the chirping of birds, the rays of the morning sun, and its tranquillity.
I sat there, eyes closed and realizing for the first time, how empty my mind was and how it wasn’t like this for a very long time. That day I realized these wild rugged mountains will always be my humble abode.
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Mithra Srini is an engineer with a penchant for curiosity for creating contents. She believes in enjoying every day to the fullest while seeking adventurous activities and reading books which definitely her regular go-to thing. Currently, she is on an earnest mission on becoming a better person through travel, writing and learning.