Saturday, March 21, 2009

Hiking to the Water Tower: Sweetwater Summit Regional County Park

“I recommend that you hike to the water tower,” Ranger Louis Chertkow commented pointing to the massive white cylinder atop the distant summit.

Walking to the water tower seemed like an unlikely destination for a hike in Sweetwater Summit Regional Park but I didn’t debate the suggestion. Sometimes when I feel in a relaxed mode, I find it easier to just let someone else make a simple choice for me. Why would it matter? I just wanted a quiet, scenic walk outdoors.

The way to the water tower led me from the blacktop park roads to a dusty single-lane dirt road. Vehicles had not passed through here. Narrow geometric patterns showed a few bicycles recently traveled the road. U-shaped impressions in the dirt indicated horses and their riders use the road too. Then, I saw an unusual marking in the dirt. It looked like someone had just taken a stick and made a line in the dirt perfectly straight across the road. My eyes scanned the puzzling mark then I saw what created the line – a snail. The creature was on a journey from one grassy side of the road to the other. As I watched, it did not move so I continued on my way wondering just how fast a snail moves.

In relative size, the snail’s crossing probably equaled my trek to the water tower. I moved slowly too turning many times to admire the view of the reservoir and mountains at my back. The higher I climbed in elevation, the better my view. And, when I reached the water tower and summit, I enjoyed a surprising panoramic view – highways and fast moving traffic, clusters of suburban houses, chocolate colored mountains, bright blue water from the reservoir, blossoming cacti and green grassy fields waving in the breeze. No wonder Ranger Louis told me to come this way. This 360-degee view was worth the climb. I hope the snail’s journey gave him the same heartfelt satisfaction.

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