I was looking through some blogs the other day and I came across a curious posting called 22 Things Happy People Do. Among the list of feel good solutions to life numer 16 caught my eye: “16. Meditate.
Meditating silences your mind and helps you find inner peace. You don’t have to be a zen master to pull it off. Happy people know how to silence their minds anywhere and anytime they need to calm their nerves.” Oh to be able to calm the voices raging in my mind. Or even better to turn off the slide show of tragedy and pain I have seen at work. The thing that silences those thoughts the most is my time on the trail and I picked a perfect piece of solitude with a hike through the Las Trampas Wilderness on the Devil’s Hole Loop.
Located outside San Ramon in a series of hills that separate Oakland from the rest of the East Bay the wilderness is a remote stretch of trails that calls for quiet reflection as you pass over their rocky paths. I picked the Devil’s Hole Loop for my hike, a 7-mile roller coaster crossing of a ridge line before plunging down to the base only to climb right back up and down again. It gives magnificent views of the valley and the bay along with a good workout climbing nearly 2,400 feet up and down.
Devil’s Hole isn’t really a hole, but a somewhat ominous growth of twisted trees and brush located at the bottom of the hills. An early hiker most have thought he was descending into the depths of Hades as he worked his way down the seemingly never-ending path.
But today’s hike was the first of the official spring season and the wildflowers were in bloom on the side of the trail. California poppies bobbed in the winds whipping along the ridge line as their bright orange color waved against the still green hillside and deep blue sky.
Clouds and contrails dispersed quickly in the winds overhead giving way to plenty of sunshine through the moss-covered tree branches.
And as I hiked I was mostly alone, an occasional hiker or jogger would pass by by I had the trail before to myself. Only the sound of the wind across my ears and the sound of my own breathing as I labored up the trail. It’s a glorious time on the trail, I really do lose the rush of the work week, the anxieties slip away and those persistent voices calling for attention are silenced for a few hours.
The sights are beautiful enough to erase the lingering images of work from my mind. If it is only for the day I have my peace.