Over Labor Day weekend, I flew out to California to meet my five-week old niece, Summer Marie. This is the first grandchild in my immediate family and there is no doubt in mind that there will be many more to come (and soon).
Everything about it is amazing. From her overwhelmingly tiny feet to her big deep blue eyes, it is truly life changing to see a being who so perfectly defines fragility and innocence. It is nearly impossible for me to believe that I was once just like her.
The intense facial expressions on her soft little face show how curious she is about every thing, and when you stick your tongue out at her she does it immediately right back. If you hold her so that she can stand, she clenches her little fingers into marshmallow sized fists and does a signature body builder pose.
Since my brother and his fiance moved out west a couple of years ago, visiting California has quickly become my favorite little luxury. It is my favorite place to go that includes a free room, unlimited great company, and endless mountain views. And now that Summer has arrived, I have a new reason to visit often – that obviously tops them all!
When I say endless mountain views, I mean it. My brother’s house is about two miles away from one of my most favorite hikes, Cheeseboro Canyon. To native Californians, it’s probably nothing special but for a girl raised in the flat lands of Florida it is heaven on earth.
When I first did this hike last year during the holidays, I was in complete awe. I felt like I was finally home. Some people belong in the city, some belong in the countryside, and some belong in the mountains. I have experienced the city life in Boston during my college days and it will always have a place in my heart. But it can’t be compared to the way I feel when I am hiking. High altitudes are undoubtedly where my soul belongs.
The best part about Cheeseboro Canyon is that you can take multiple routes depending on how adventurous you’re feeling that day. To the left is Sheep Coral Trail, an endless path of steep terrain accompanied by mountain bikers, and to the right is Ranch Center Trail, a peaceful, more flat path of unique trees, deer and horseback riders.
Whether you take the left or the right, there are countless peekaboo trails every half mile or so. These can take you up steep, winding lanes alongside the canyon to see otherwise unreachable, breathtaking views. I could do this trail every day for the rest of my life and never get bored.
As if the endless amounts of perfectly imperfect mountain tops aren’t enough inspiration-from trail runners, to bikers and morning dog walkers-you’ll see plenty of adventure seekers to get you motivated. The trails are so vast that you’ll mostly find solitude, but the brisk passing of a friendly neighbor is also a treat since everyone greets you with a smile and a hello!
Another thing I love about this place is that level of physical difficulty and age do not have a negative correlation. It’s common to spot a man well into his seventies peddling his way up an unforgiving mountain side until he makes it to the top.
In honor of this years trip and the birth of precious Summer Marie, here are the photos my boyfriend Hayden and I took when we first fell in love… with Cheeseboro Canyon.