“I came to know that country, not in the way a traveler knows the landmarks he sees in the distance, but more truly and intimately, in every season, from a thousand points of view.”
—N. Scott Momaday, The Way To Rainy Mountain (1976)
“If I think about one lifetime, maybe we have eighty years if we’re lucky. That’s not many seasons to be out. If we only come out during one season we’ve missed out on three quarters of a lifetime.”
I have heard talk of a “hiking season” in the southern Los Padres National Forest, as if walking is akin to hunting and only legally permitted for a short time during a select period of each year.
The reasoning, I presume, is that summertime temperatures in the backcountry tend to be hot, in the nineties and upwards of one hundred. The land and creeks and rivers are dry or stagnant. The forest is swarming with pesky nostril and eyeball loving flies and campfires are prohibited. These conditions differ greatly from spring when the streams tend to flow, the temperatures are mild, the flies have yet to emerge and a rippin’ good fire can be freely kindled.
Self imposed limitations, however, necessarily result in limited experiences, and in turn a narrow understanding of the land, its plants and animals. It may also, perhaps, result in a more limited appreciation for the forest than might otherwise be afforded the person who visits the woods during all seasons and conditions.
A mountain field carpeted in poppies and lupine for a few weeks during the mild temperatures of April is a remarkable sight, but it is all the more striking and incredible when one knows what the field looks like in August during 100 degree heat. (Seasonal Change In Wildflower Fields of Figueroa Mountain)
The dynamic and lively sound of a rushing creek filling a canyon is likely not appreciated as much by those who have never heard the same canyon dead silent during late summer when the creek has gone dry.
I wish to know the forest and everything there within during all seasons, when it’s hot and when it’s cold, when it’s dry and when it’s wet or frozen, when skies are blue and when they are cloudy, when it is not raining and again when it is pouring, when the days are long and when they are short, when the shadows are long in early morning and late afternoon and when they are short at midday.
For during each span of time a world of difference can be found resulting in a greatly varied collection of experiences which all hold in themselves their own unmatched value, and when the various pieces are combined the puzzle is put together and the picture complete.