Rancho San Dionisio //
Hot coffee and fresh baked chocolate chip cookies lure us over to the community kitchen this morning where we join in conversation with fellow travelers. Clarence & Isabel, the owners and hosts of the ranch, have a way of bringing people together, it’s one of the many things I love about this traveler’s paradise.
With a lawn at our doorstep, rolling out our mats and starting the day with yoga is a no-brainer. Afterwards we refrain from the temptation to spend the day laying in a hammock and instead seize the opportunity to go on hike. The ranch is located within the Sierra la Laguna Biosphere Reserve with a stunning trail starting right from the property. Clarence’s recommendation, via a hand drawn map, is a loop that will include both hiking on the trail as well as a quarter mile section of climbing up and over boulders that line the stream bed.
We set out mid-day with the essentials…water, snacks, bathing suits and towels. Some natural pools along the way would likely call for a mid-hike swim. Halfway through we veer off trail and find our way to the boulder-lined canyon that would lead us to the pools. We happily run in to our friends Len & Brenda who are also staying at the ranch and had set out on the trail just before us. Together we slowly crawl, climb, slide, and balance our way up and over the rocks until we come upon the most pristine pool of crystal clear water surrounded by two story tall palm trees, vertical canyon walls, and boulders the size of cars. Mark, myself, and Len all agree that the water is cooler than expected but this oasis is too stunning to pass up so we all go for a swim. Afterwards, Mark & I sun ourselves on a boulder, enjoying our snacks and surroundings, while Len & Brenda continue on.
Our hike back underway, we have another sections of boulders to navigate before reconnecting to the trail. It’s slow going as foot placement and balance is key. Mark & I choose different paths around one of the many pieces of giant granite rock when I hear him yell “oh f*@#” My adrenaline spikes as I run back his direction. He slipped and hit his head on a rock. Visibly shaken, he asks if he’s bleeding. I see a quarter-sized chunk of skin scraped off the top of his forehead but no major bleeding. Next he lifts his pant leg to reveal a saucer-sized scrape on his hip that is immediately bruising. It looks as though his side caught the brunt of the fall, saving his head from a much harder hit. We’re both extremely relieved that he’s okay but shaken by how much worse it could have been.
We navigate the rest of the boulder field even more slowly than before and once we’re back on the trail, we discuss what my best course of action would have been had he been severely injured or knocked unconscious. While we had a satellite messaging device on us, there were several other items that we should have had. It’s easy to get complacent when you spend so many years hiking and never use the many items you bring along “just in case”. This was a clear reminder that we needed to be more diligent as we do most of our recreating far from civilization.
A few hours later we arrived back at the ranch relieved to be back safe and sound. We decompressed with snacks and hammock time and closed out the evening with great conversation had among new friends.
Mark asked me what he thinks I’ll remember about today, the 90% of the hike that was extraordinarily beautiful and wildly satisfying, or the 10% that scared the shit out of us. I’m pretty sure I’ll remember this…
A freak accident could change the course of your life in a second. We don’t know when, how, or why. It could happen in an exotic location or inside the comfort of your own home. But anything can happen, anytime. And if or when life gets turned upside down, I hope I can be proud of how I’ve lived my life up to that point and not be riddled with regrets. That’s what I’ll remember about this day, the tangible reminder we got that life comes at you fast, enjoy it while you can.
gear mentioned or used in this post that we love…
We use the Garmin InReach for two-way satellite messaging.
Some of the essentials that should have been in our packs while hiking include a whistle, a headlamp, and a first-aid kit.
We also are notorious for forgetting our hiking poles which are great for balance and stabilization.
Photos taken with the Canon R6.
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