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No June gloom in the forest

June 16, 2012|By Reg Green
  • Large growths of Scotch broom line trails and fire roads just above La Canada in the Angeles National Forest. Writer Reg Green says that on weekdays the trails are nearly empty.
Large growths of Scotch broom line trails and fire roads… (Courtesy of Reg…)

The hills are alive with the sound of twittering — the natural kind. The morning may bring June gloom all over the Los Angeles basin, but in the Angeles forest, the sun is shining in a perfect sky and the animal world is loving it.

Driving up Angeles Crest Highway in the clammy mist is uncanny, going from black and white to glorious Technicolor, Kansas to Oz, in 100 yards.

In parts of Southern California, I read, the dry winter has inhibited spring growth; but not here. Perhaps it is the aftermath of the Station fire, which was called devastating at the time. At any rate, the undergrowth has never seemed denser to me. The fire roads and trails on the front slope are bordered by huge growths of Scotch broom, bright yellow bouquets that in places almost blot out the way.

I met a hiker the other day who said he had turned back at 10 o'clock a few days before because it was getting uncomfortably warm; but at 6 o'clock, it is cool and fresh. And like Wordsworth 200 years ago on Westminster Bridge at the same time of day, you can look out and reflect:

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“Dull would he be of soul who could pass by

A sight so touching in its majesty.”

I know these times are out of the question for most people — at overlooks, you can hear, under the blanket of cloud below, the steady throb of traffic as the world goes to work. But don't despair, there are weekends and vacation days to taste this delicious experience.

Even on those days, many trails are still almost empty. One of them, which starts at the 30-mile marker, reminds me of something Ms. Baldwin, an English teacher in La Cañada middle school, told us parents on a back-to-school night two or three years ago. “After this course, your child will like Shakespeare. Money back guaranteed.”

That was the most reassuring comment, as well as one of the most captivating, I have ever heard from a teacher. I cannot be so bold, but let me say that if any reader takes that trail on a weekday and meets anyone else on it in the next two hours, I will buy him or her the most expensive dinner on the menu at any restaurant on Foothill between the 210 overpass and the Firestone tire center.

REG GREEN (nicholasgreen.org) is the author of the highly-acclaimed memoir, “The Nicholas Effect.” He has offered to send an electronic copy without charge to any reader of the Valley Sun.

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