His favorite hike

He walks south from the trailhead. The sky is clear and blue and perfect. Ground squirrels scramble over the rocks. The earth is smooth, tan streaked with gray. He fixes his gaze on the left side of the trail, deciding to focus on the other side only on the walk back.

A sandstone cliff rises on his left until it towers far above him, 100 feet of sheer pale-orange sandstone, pock-marked by wind and water and time.

Gordon Clanton

Like Adam in that long-ago Garden, like the native people who lived here before him, he had given names not only to the animals, but also to the natural features of the land. This formation, with hints of Monument Valley, he called the “Arizona Cliff.”

In a nest on a narrow ledge of rock halfway up the wall, a pair of presumably monogamous Peregrine falcons feed their young. At the foot of the cliff, the carcasses of other birds attest to the predatory prowess of the falcons, the fastest animals alive, reaching 200 mph during their hunting dive.

Further south, the cliff face is interrupted by an inverted triangle of ascending curved green terraces, a formation he called the “Amphitheater.”

Further along, the cliff face breaks itself into a kaleidoscope of pastel colors no one knows the names of. This “Painted Cliff” is marked by a deep hollow with caramel-colored rock, vertically streaked with a frozen brown veil — the “German Chocolate Cave.”

And now the path is blocked by a flat chunk of gray rock about 10 feet high, perhaps 50 by 50 feet in area, roughly the shape of Arkansas, with a bath-tub-sized rectangular hole cut about where Little Rock would be.

Water pools around the base of the “Flat Rock.” The water is the edge of the Pacific Ocean, now on his left as he walks back north.

The water is cobalt blue and turquoise, accented with the white lace of surf. The air smells of salt and kelp. Dolphins laze along in the shallows, sometimes bursting through the curling face of a wave to momentarily reveal themselves whole. A hooded fisherman catches and releases a leopard shark about a cubit in length.

Squadrons of brown pelicans swoop low, disappearing behind the sunlit wave crests. Several elegant white great egrets feed in the smooth wet sand as the waves retreat. The seagulls feast here, too — George and Katey and their chicks, Steven, Jonathan, and Livingston.

Gordon Clanton teaches sociology at San Diego State University. He welcomes comments at gclanton@mail.sdsu.edu.

Related posts:

  1. Cliff collapses onto Black’s Beach
  2. Opinion: Humbled by nature: In the aftermath of the tsunami
  3. Not a dime’s worth of difference? — Revisited
  4. San Diego council OKs water rate hike
  5. Guided nature hike to be held April 10

Short URL: http://www.delmartimes.net/?p=28620

Posted by Staff on Oct 26, 2011. Filed under Columns, Editorial Columns, One View. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

Archives

Facebook

Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6

LA JOLLA NEWS

RANCHO SANTA FE NEWS

RANCHO SANTA FE NEWS

RSS RANCHO SANTA FE NEWS

  • Community input received on proposed health club and pool facility in Rancho Santa Fe
    About 100 Rancho Santa Fe residents showed up on Friday, Oct. 17, for a health club and pool community meeting, the last outreach before ballots were mailed on Monday, Oct. 20. On the ballots, members are being asked whether the Rancho Santa Fe Association should spend $350,000 on a professional planning phase for the potential new community amenity. RSF Ass […]
  • Czech violin duo to perform at Village Church in Rancho Santa Fe
    In cooperation with the Consulate General of the Czech Republic, the Czech School San Diego hosts a free classical violin concert by internationally recognized Czech violin player Jaroslav Svecený and his daughter, Julie Svecená, who are on a tour of the United States. The concert will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 27 in the Village Church. The father-daughter duo will […]
  • Rancho Santa Fe weekly sports update
    Torrey Pines defeated Canyon Crest Academy 4-3 in a Palomar League opener for both teams on Oct. 9. Alayna Tomlinson and Farah Farjood each scored two goals to lead the Falcons. Samantha “Sammy” Cirino added one goal and one assist. […]