Black Mountain Brouhaha:
Much Ado About Nothing

Day 6, Friday, with Tom (60-69 years)

Tom enjoys exploring new areas and doesn't mind too much encountering poison oak, ticks, etc. I had a perfect route for him. We were going to look for and hike a lost trail. For many years, there existed a steep trail that ran along the ridge above Adobe Creek canyon. After a new, well-graded trail was built in its proximity, the old trail fell into disuse. I had hiked the old trail about five years ago and even then, it was quite overgrown. And there was a thicket of poison oak that had to be walked through.

We started from Hidden Villa, an environmental education center, and started on Adobe Creek Trail. Just before it reached Ewing Hill, we cut across to the main ridge and followed a faint path. It was trial and error following that path, but we kept going up. Eventually, we came to a large clearing. On the other side were several paths going in different directions, but they all petered out into the woods. Reluctantly, we abandoned the idea of going further on that trail. We turned left to find the new trail, which I estimated to be no more than a quarter mile away. After some bushwhacking, we found the new trail but our little adventure was over. We vowed to go back and find that old trail.

Tom struggling to walk through the chaparral on the overgrown trail

I wish this lost trail had remained lost.

We spent just a few minutes at the summit and headed back. Tom and I are part of a loosely-organized hiking group called "The Rambling Wrinklies". Our group has no women, but only because there seem to be no women around who want to be identified with a group having that name. We usually hike on Friday mornings and follow it up with lunch in a restaurant. Since today was a Friday, we were going to continue that tradition.

As we were leaving Hidden Villa, we were stunned to see most of the trees of its historic olive grove massacred. It looked downright ugly. The trees were planted about 150 years ago by Spanish settlers, and as far as anyone can remember, they were never pruned. The limbs and the trees had become intertwined and a few trees had already fallen. The average life span of an olive tree is 300 to 600 years, and reportedly there are trees over 2,000 years old in Italy and Greece, still bearing fruit. Hidden Villa had decided to resort to "radical pruning" to save these trees.

A row of olive trees cut back to their main trunks

You have to go to war to make peace. And you have to make 'em ugly first to make 'em beautiful.