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Trail mixed

I have taken a nap. I have watched Columbo. I have taken a bath with bath salts. I have gone to the market for cat fud and toilet paper and bananas and a latte. My legs still feel the hike, even though it was nowhere near as intense as last week's.

When I started on the hike, it was 9:15 in the morning and cold. It seemed like my hands would never get warm. I was wearing layers but thought I should have had at least a few more, at least a hat and gloves.

I had stopped at Scolari's on the way out of San Luis Obispo. I wandered around the store a while, hoping to find some bags of trail mix smaller than the 7-ouncer I first came upon. I was concerned that if I bought the larger bag I might start eating it and not stop until it was empty, and that would be a lot of calories. But that's what I did, ultimately, bought the larger bag. It was raw, unsalted, and as it turned out I didn't open it until after I got home again.

On my way out of the store I met someone I know. I said hi to her and she said hi back. She said I looked terrific. I said thanks, didn't know what else to say. She looked grayer and heavier, not unhealthy but certainly older than when I last saw her. She said her husband, Terry, a longtime friend, is sick, and she will tell him she saw me. I expressed concern for him and that was that. In those few minutes I was thinking yes, how healthy I am, and wo-o-o, some people are not as healthy, and what does my health really mean? It was an odd moment, realizing that being healthy myself doesn't solve everything for me, certainly does not bring me closer to anyone or keep my friends feeling good.

I found Santa Margarita Lake easily. It is closer than I thought it was. It's a lake that is most attractive to people with fishing poles and boats, although it has its share of animals. The hike starts right next to the entrance to the park.

My hands didn't warm up until I had been walking some time, over a half hour anyway. I kept trading hands, carrying the bottle of water and my camera in one hand, then the other, tucking the other in my tight jeans pocket. I need 1) gloves and 2) hiking boots. I kept getting little rocks in my shoes.

It was a nice hike. The trail is well-maintained, easy to follow. Maybe half is level, then it starts to rise, gradually. It rises to the top of one of the hills there and allows a 360 degree view, quite a lovely view. I wouldn't call it spectacular but it is quietly beautiful in the way this county is. Restful and quiet and just lovely. The hike itself went through grasslands, oak woodlands, shrubs.

I sat at the top, lapping up the silence as well as my sandwich. Today's sandwich - wait for it - homemade whole wheat bread, home-sprouted lentils, gardenburger, lite mayo, organic herb salad mix. It was delicious. I wish I had cooked like this when my children were younger, but some things take time and peace and confidence to develop, I think. I drank most of my 1.5-liter bottle of water on the hike. So I was fortified and ready for the trek downhill. Oddly, it took as long to go down as to go up, 45 minutes each way.

When I got to the trailhead, the "park host" came out of the little kiosk and asked how the hike went. We got to discussing birds and animals. He showed me a book of photographs of plants and animals there in the park, including a juvenile condor that showed up last week! I sure wish I could have seen that.

I went on from the park to Pozo, to the saloon. Had a cup of hot chocolate. A few outdoors types came in, someone started a fire in the fireplace, so it was nice for a few minutes. Then I came home. I started in on the trail mix not long after I got home but managed to stop after about two ounces. This is going to be a trial - a trail mix trial. But hey, there are worse things to pig out on.

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Judith Lautner
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