This is a beautiful hilly area with some great trails. I hadn't been to this particular reserve before but am familiar with the general character of California scrub hillsides. Since it's recently been raining (indeed, we got out of the park just before a front moved through and dropped some more), all the plants were fresh and bright.
It also meant that the trails were muddy. The park has some paved and packed-dirt trails but... Well, I have a specific approach to hiking. One might call it a manic interest in nature, emphasis on manic. :)
When I'm out hiking, I tend to like the rougher trails that get you right out among nature. I think that hiking should involve trails where you have to watch your step, work around trees, and hop some streams. I consider deer tracks to be valid paths.
This is somewhat contrasted with Kit and Brian's view of hiking. They're more in favor of paths that don't make it a challenge to remain upright. And there's nothing wrong with that! Everyone has their own preferences for hiking and that's cool.
But after the first 20 minutes or so on a wide paved trail, we had the option of descending a hill and returning up a different valley trail. It's always more fun to hike in a loop rather than retrace a trail.
So we went that way, down a smaller dirt path. And it became narrower, steeper, and wetter as we went on; I became happier, scampering down the wooded trail. The trail got quite challenging as we descended through a clay layer in the fold of the hill. With the rains, the clay became a lubricant on the inclined trail, adding to the challenge. As for me, I was having a blast. A rat in the woods.
I did apologize to Kit and Brian afterwards, in case I was rather dragging them along. But they claim it was okay with them and all's good. Though I suspect Brian now has a much clearer understanding of why Kit and I don't often hike together. We ended up going 4.5 miles in 2.5 hours; it doesn't sound like a fast pace until you realize that there were sections where we had to cling to tree trunks while descending hills.
All in all, a glorious day out in nature! My soul is soaring and my shoes are soiled.