West Tiger 3
27 Jan '17 — The movement and smell of mountain air
On Saturday, my husband and I were driving around the mountains to get a feel of the area and see if there's a place we could potentially live. While passing the base of a mountain, we saw an unmarked parking lot. It was full, yet cars were continuing to head in. A few minutes of aimless driving went by before we turned back to check it out.
As we got out of the car, we saw people packing parachutes on a grassy field. There were signs telling us to watch overhead for hang gliders. At the end of the section, was a trailhead that ran up the mountain.
We decided to head up, despite not being properly dressed. In fifteen minutes, my long cardigan (a thick wool Eileen Fisher, my recent thrift store treasure) was completely drenched in sweat. Not a good idea. But despite the sweat, I kept thinking, 'oh I wonder what's just beyond the next turn'. In another half hour, we had a view of the sky. Rain clouds were rolling in. We headed down as fast as we could and went home.
Today we decided to visit the same mountain but from the opposite side. On Saturday during our brief hike, we saw many people going up and down. It seemed like a popular spot to enjoy nature. The views were beautiful.
With proper clothing this time, we hiked West Tiger 3. There weren't many people on the trail and the summit was reached without much trouble. It was challenging enough to get a good workout.
On the way up, I found three different types of forests. The bottom was swampy, the middle, cathedral-ly, and the top, Christmas-tree-y.
The bottom segment had a tangle of trees that look like they were in a helpless warp, growing in all directions, some large ones were toppled with roots unearthed. Imagine if people were being swallowed by quicksand, how their body and limbs would writhe in desperation. That's what the trees were doing. A trickling stream meandered through piles of leaves, fallen trees and the side of the path. It was quite relieving to hear when we made our way back down.
Entering the middle layer, I felt like I was entering an old European cathedral. The trees were lofty, not many branches were sticking out until they were closer to the top, at least 12 meters up, like vaulted spaces.
My mind goes in strange places when there are less distractions. So while I was thinking about cathedrals, my mind moved into thinking about La Catedral, Pablo Escobar's "prison".
The trees got shorter and bushier, and as the trail became steeper, I found myself in a different terrain. There were more Christmas trees and the air smelled of sweet pine. It was sensational. I wish I could take the air home! Slabs of crushed snow covered parts of the path, but they were easy to avoid. The ground had more rounded stones and I made sure to slip on some on my way down.
The best views happened five minutes from the top. Before reaching the summit, there were several clearings where we could see the mountains across. One clearing allowed us to see a fluffy cloud move across at eye level. We watched the varying veils of white cover the deep green forest on the other side.
The summit didn't have any views but we stopped to drink some water and have a snack. One bird was very interested in my backpack. We stepped only a few feet away and it was all over my bag. We had to yell at it to go away.
The hike was enjoyable but what makes me want to go back is the smell of sweet pine.