Every once in a while I am overcome by this feeling of needing to charge to the top of a mountain. I’m starting to see a pattern with myself. Often before this need to mountain walk happens, I will have a few weeks of low-lying anxiety, and stress or tension that I can’t seem to shake. And then, when the time comes, it just sort of hits me and I have to GO. I have to go out in nature and walk with a mission. Seriously… It’s not like a regular stroll. There’s something else about it. I push myself farther than I typically would (or possibly should), and I feel a strong need to keep going. Like I’m being magnetically drawn to the top of the mountain and I must get there no matter how tired I am feeling. I am starting to realize this is some kind of cleansing/purging for me.
I felt that “Mountain Pull” this morning as I was sitting on my front porch going through emails and answering my daily customer questions from my online crystal shop. I had learned a couple of weeks ago about the first phase opening of Bear Creek Redwood Preserve in Los Gatos, CA. Since the moment I learned of this new park opening it has been on my mind. I knew I would be visiting the park soon, I just didn’t know it was going to be today!
Once I finished up all my work I headed out to the park which is only 8 miles from my home.
My intention: FIND THE GRINDING ROCK. For thousands of years, this region was home to groups of Native Americans, now collectively known as the Ohlone Indians. The Ohlone made bread and porridge from acorns and grass seeds, which they ground into flour at milling stations – a group of rocks where grinding would take place. Over generations the grinding process wore deep holes, or mortars, into the rock.
In addition to the Ohlone history of this land, there are other neat stories of more recent history here. In 1906, heir to a large San Francisco mining fortune, Dr. Harry Tevis, built a 50 room mansion in the hills of this park. At its height this home had a giant swimming pool and library, stables and there were as many as 43 full-time gardeners working here at one time… They were known for growing prize-winning dahlias, lilies and roses.When Dr. Tevis died in 1931 the land was purchased by the Sacred Heart Novitiate, a Jesuit order that had operated a center in the Los Gatos hills nearby since 1886.
The Jesuit’s built classrooms, dormitories and a chapel. Then, from 1934 to 1969, the land was the site of Alma College. For years, Jesuit priests in training studied the Bible and meditated in rustic classrooms buildings amid the forest. Check out what I found while exploring……
Across Bear Creek Road from the main parking lot is a trail entrance that sits right next to a babbling brook. And that’s when I felt the pull happen… I was being led up this trail, and it was a STRONG pull! The trail goes uphill or 1.5 miles. I found myself charging up the hill as fast as I could. Pushing myself to the point where I actually threw up. But I kept being pulled to the top no matter what. I made it and had a feeling of accomplishment, but boy was I tired.
After a long rest I headed back down to the parking lot. Along the way I saw lots of wildlife including an unexpected giant salamander… And I mean giant!! Some portions of this trail have a very eerie feeling. It felt like ghosts from the past were watching me from the forest. I know something was following me at one point, and it was large enough to break branches under its step, but it kept it’s distance. On this three mile hike I only came across two other hiker. The seclusion felt nice. And the smell! The scent of this forest is just amazing… The combination of scents was almost overwhelming at times. So beautiful!
I recommend stopping by this new park if you are in the area. It is awesome to see the outcome of our tax dollars at work. Be sure to pack drinking water as potable water is not available. The Upper Lake Loop Trail is paved and flat, and easily accessible for all levels of physical ability.
The other hiking trails across Bear Creek Road are open for hiking only at this point but will be open in a year or so for mountain bikers. There are two more phases of this park opening up over the next few years….neat! For more information visit www.openspace.org