It had been a long time since I've hiked with my buddy Aaron, but even after years without getting outside together, I knew that it'd be an awesome and intense time. Luckily, this time I was able to convince him to settle on a very reasonable start time (8 am breakfast vs 5 am roll-out to Duckabush...), so I was ready to take on the world by the time he arrived for caffeination and catch-up.
Aaron, like a true historian, is thorough and digs deep, rarely content for casual chit-chat and one word answers. He sparks the type of conversation that can make the two hour car ride to Guerneville seem to short. Luckily we had a day on the trail to come. We loaded up on citrus and hummus from the farmer's market; and bread and snacks from the pastry mecca that is Wildflower Bakery in Occidental and made for the redwoods.
We were in the middle of a heat wave and couldn't be more stoked about it. As the trail roller-coaster climbed through the forest, we were treated to patches of intense sun, followed by groves of shady redwoods. While we had initially worried the trail might be too busy since it was a double holiday weekend (President's and Valentine's), the aggressive nature of the trail instantly thinned out the crowd of all the impostors and weaklings.
After about an hour, I thought I saw a familiar head and backpack through the trees...could it be...? Yes, it was, a good cycling buddy Kurt and his girlfriend were just ahead. A small world yes, but a greater reflections of the need to escape the commercial and stuffy aspects of Valentine's weekend. Why sit in a stuffy restaurant and buy ugly cards when perfect weather and great views beckon? Hiking higher and higher we peered over the whole redwood forest, views extending towards the ocean. Sights like that, weather solo, with friends or with loved ones, are hard to give up, and I wouldn't trade them for nearly anything.