By: Laurel Bard, CivicSpark Fellow
The sun was already setting behind Mt Konocti and the Black Forest was deep in shadow by the time I started the climb. There was no official trail, but someone had left hints: cairns stacked atop decomposing douglas fir logs, or balanced precariously on huge boulders; and, best of all, a sturdy branch carved on one end into the perfect walking stick. I have a habit of following social trails, but this one was particularly steep, and the rocky dirt under my feet meant that for every two steps I took, I slid back one. Whenever I was about to give up, turn back – surely only deer had gone farther than this, any person would have stopped by now – I would see another cairn, another sign that my determination wasn’t unique. I kept on.
I was trying to reach something that I’d seen from the ground: a tall bluff of exposed rock on the side of Mt. Konocti, which juts out into the Black Forest like the figurehead of a ship. I have a condition called being a climber, and it means that when I see rock, I must touch it. And that was some big rock. The only trouble: as soon as I entered the Black Forest, that bluff disappeared. The trees stood so thick that when I looked behind me as I climbed, I couldn’t see Clear Lake, despite the severity of the slope and how close the Black Forest is to the lakeshore. Forget seeing above me to the bluff – I had no hope of that at all. I just had to imagine that whoever set the cairns was also interested in getting to where I was going.
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