“Love the One You’re With” was playing on the car radio as I was driving to a trailhead in the Santa Monica Mountains. The classic Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young tune got me thinking about how important it is to be open to new possibilities when the object of your desire is denied.
The trail I really wanted to take winds through Rattlesnake Canyon, located in the Santa Ynez Mountains a few miles from my home. However, this trail and surrounding environs was scorched by wildfire last year and eroded by runoff from heavy rains. Other trails in the mountains are in similar shape, and frankly are just plain butt ugly as a result of repeated blazes.
So I headed for the next range south: The Santa Monica Mountains. My son Daniel and I took an absolutely beautiful trail to a waterfall in Point Mugu State Park. Wildlife was abundant and we spotted coyotes, squirrels, a fox, and more rabbits and quail than we could count.
All across America and around the world, weather and the forces of nature alter our hiking plans. But curiously, we resist changing our plans. We hikers, like everyone else, are creatures of habit, and can convince ourselves that only one trail will due for a hike. Then we stubbornly dig in our heels and decide that if that one trail is closed by mud, snow or bureaucratic fiat we won’t go hiking at all.
Nonsense. Find another trail. And take a hike.
Whether its girls, boys or hiking trails, composer Steven Stills had it right: “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”