Mother Saddleback is on fire. Or at least she was. The mountain outside my back window, whose shapes and contours I study every day, was hit hard by something called the Holy Fire. The name comes from Holy Jim Canyon, a settlement of WPA wooden bungalows eight miles into the wilderness from my house. My cop friends carry a pistol every time they mountain bike up that way, saying it is likely home to meth labs
It is only July, and yet I am already feeling the nerves of November. My cross country team just finished its fourth week of training. These summer workouts are when the championships of autumn are won. I normally coast through summer, cursing the twelve weeks between the first day of training and our first September meet. But this season is different.
It is the last Sunday morning in July. I arrived in Paris well past midnight, exhausted from the long drive. The Rue de Rivoli was a madhouse, thick with tourists and revelers. I checked in and walked around for an hour to find a meal, but nothing was open. After settling for peanuts and a cold Leffe at a bistro on the Rue de la Madeleine, I hit the sack. There was no thought of a wake-up call.
The temperature outside is a rough sixteen degrees, though it is more tolerable now that the wind has died. A thin carpet of new snow covers the earth and my car windows, meaning this is the day I get to use the once-a-year windshield scraper I carry at all times. It does not feel like your ordinary day of reckoning, but there is a clock ticking and a few issues that need to be addressed.
Chiquita Ridge is not an oasis, per se. It's an old cattle trail overlooking two distinct valleys. From the nearest road, it's a quarter mile rise to the top. Those that have never made the hike up the trailhead from Antonio Parkway probably don't even know it's there. But there's a magic to Chiquita Ridge. Once you make that climb, it's as if something in the world becomes lighter.