What I Want to Learn (Part 1)

What I Want to Learn by stepfoutside.com

A short reflection of where I’ve been and where I’m going and where I am.


I haven’t gone on a local hike since last fall. It’s strange for me to think that most of my wilderness activity have been in larger national parks like Death Valley, Zion, Joshua Tree, and Bryce. Now I’m yearning for local trailheads in the Angeles National Forest. While I admire these bigger public lands, there’s a kind of “wonder” exploring what is nearby. I like surprising myself with what is accessible, how I don’t have to drive too far to spend quality time in nature.

I often hiked up Echo Mountain when I lived in Pasadena. The trail started in Altadena. There were trees, shrubs, sage, and sometimes the toxic poodle-dog bush. There were mountain rocks crumbling. I first started hiking for exercise, but I began to seek it for mental retreats.

Last year, I hiked to the Devil’s Chair twice, just near the town I grew up in. I hiked it in early February, while there was still some snow and ice. I remember the crisp air. I remember the fenced trail at the end, leading to a point where you can see large desert boulders. I met two strangers who had just relocated from the midwest, and they said what they were most excited about coming to California was its access to all types of terrain and nature walks. I told them that it was my first time hiking that one, even though I grew up in Lancaster.

As I continue to explore these spaces, I want to go deeper into learning more about what makes it beautiful, dangerous, healing, and living.

I want to learn more about their birds, marmots, snakes, and bears. I want to learn about its geology, climate, and history. I want to learn about its plants, their age, how they contribute to the ecosystem. I want to learn about its original residents. There are so much more for me to learn about these spaces that I visit.

I always felt the benefits of hiking and camping, but I haven’t taken the time to try to understand these environments. I’m going to change that about myself.