The square root of 41 miles (as the crow flies) southwest of Quincy, CA on a gravel Forest Service road, a small group of campgrounds are nestled around a waterfall and rushing stream. The sites are not maintained (and therefore free), save for fallen trees being cut to make roads just barely passable. Abandoned picnic tables and fire puts dot the clearing, and an aged sign warns of rotten tree dangers. The restrooms – rather, outhouses – are decorated with cobwebs and tree crumblings. No other cars pass on the road, if it can indeed be seen from here. The stream cuts a deep gash through the wooded landscape, providing a just-accessible source of fresh water, if you’re willing to brave the narrow path trodden into the 75˚ hillside.
These trees are tall, and sporadically drop pine cones as big as my face. The air is of dust and pine needles and is swollen with the cleanliness of a fresh breeze.
Part horror-movie opening, part pristine solitude. It instills a sense of wonderment at the vastness of lands yet to be seen. This is a place where you realize important things: the value of company and the value of solitude.
(Two ducks – male and female – mallards – just came swimming downstream – saw me – paused – and through their wordless lover’s communication took off in a flurry of splashing and feathers. This is not my stream.)
The sense of life, sustenance, and survival. The influence of and on one person. Encounters. Observation. Wonder and why.