Covid Chronicles, Hiking Chino Hills
The stay at home order that governs all our current lives during this pandemic can be mentally disabling. I highly recommend getting out for walks or hikes for your physical health and your mental well being. This is California so even the governor recommends a little daily exercise. Here, in Orange County, most of the hiking trails were reopened after around the third week of the order. Now, they’re all open. The trails can get crowded during the weekend so I continue to hike during the week day.
Chino Hills State Park is just a five minute drive from my house so it’s one that I hike often. This particular day, I would experience a low lingering fog that hugged the landscape late into the morning. I had the feeling that I might see coyotes or even a mountain lion that roam this area since the temperature was still cool. l had seen coyotes here on my prior hikes but, fortunately for me, I didn’t see either predators today. The hike started as if I was on a cloud and I could only see 100 yards in front of me. The trails here are a heavily used by mountain bikers but there are also single person trails that are prohibited for bike use. I would use two of these trails, Easy Street and Gilman trail which would take me to my objective of Gilman Peak.
The trail would be relatively flat for about a mile until I get to the start of the Gilman Trail. This is where the heavy breathing begins as you ascend to the summit of about 800 feet. For the avid hikers, it’s probably a walk in the park but it’s still a great challenge. The grass and weeds along the trail were also overgrown and the fog had yet lifted so my vision was severely hampered. I kept my head on a swivel looking for snakes and anything else that could ruin my day. I pushed myself and only took short breaks to take photos as I hiked up the trail. I reached Gilman Peak in about an hour but the fog had still clung to the hillside. I couldn’t even tell I was on top of the hill if it wasn’t for the sign. I couldn’t see the canyon below or the apposing hillsides. Here, I rested for 10 minutes before I continued on my route.
I hiked along the North Ridge Trail where I didn’t have to worry about social distancing as I wouldn’t see another person along this trail. It was time to descend from this high ridge and that’s when the fog finally lifted.
The spring colors of the park was now visible. The yellow of the wild flowers sprung up from the side of the trail and ushered me forward. I could now see the green hills as I move down the path. Telegraph Trail was now my choice of path as hung a right headed back to the Easy Street Trail.
I would use this trail to make my way back to the entrance. The view would be so much different from when I started my hike. This section of the trail was unrecognizable because of the fog at the start of the hike. I looked back toward the hills behind me that were once buried in fog just a short time ago and I could now see their peeks.
As I got closer to the entrance, the end of my hike, I noticed other hikers. I used the bandana I had in my pocket as a face covering. I expected to come within just feet of these hikers but they were headed down another path. Better to be safe than sorry. As I reached the Rimcrest Trailhead, I was a little disappointed because of the fog but on the other hand I was glad it wasn’t your typical hot desert weather of Southern California.
7 miles and almost 3 hours of hiking, it was another great day outdoors during the social distancing of the pandemic. Another day well spent at a time of despair.