Holy Smokes, It’s Holy Jim

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After yesterday’s disappointment I was ready for some real California wilderness today. My cousin Melissa and her son (also my cousin) Max picked me up around 10:00. We headed south toward Cleveland National Forest and the Holy Jim Trail.

I know. Weird name. There is a story.

“Jim Smith was a talker—no ordinary talker. . . a man given to blasphemous eloquence. When he started cussing. . . he could peel paint off a stove pipe.” – GORP.com

We entered the forest in Rancho Santa Margarita, then drove a few miles down a dirt road to the trailhead. It was rutted with rocks poking out in spots. All I could think of was settlers heading west a few hundred years ago riding roads like this for thousands of miles.

I’m not yet a westerner. I don’t yet understand all the nuances. There are homes in the national forest. Some are substantial. Most have rock foundations. Some have propane tanks and outhouses with solar cells. No power lines. No phone lines. No cable TV.

One cabin had a small Yagi antenna pointing toward civilization. Cell service for them, not me!

After 28 years in Connecticut it’s time to get used to a new look. Look down in Connecticut you mainly see green. Look down on the Holy Jim Trail it’s mostly dirt.

Though we’re in the midst of a significant drought the trees were mainly green, but the mix was weird. Trees and cactus comingling.

The trail runs through Trabuco Canyon. We were bounded on both sides by steep mountains.

The goal was Holy Jim Falls, but we never got there. There were time restraints, but more than anything I really felt out of shape. This walk was a wake-up call for me.

We left the trail and headed home, with a detour. We stopped at Cook’s Corner, a biker bar with its own Wikipedia entry!

The place was filled with motorcycles and bikers. Some looked menacing in leather. Their swagger was trumped by the vibe at Cook’s. Nothing bad was happening here.

As we headed to the parking lot I spotted three deer on a nearby hill. Our first wildlife of the day… and they were behind a restaurant.