THE ORPHANAGE – STORIES THAT HAVEN’T FOUND A HOME
Dear readers and fans,
This page is dedicated to all of the wayward stories that have yet to find a suitable home. Maybe you know a compassionate and loving editor who would be willing to adopt them. If so, please feel free to contact me through my site.
Christopher J. Lynch
All I had to do was lead fourteen blind hikers with minimal experience to the summit of the third highest mountain in Southern California.
The group of blind students and sighted guide volunteers on the summit at 10,064 ft.
By this point in my life I thought I understood the meaning of the word ‘challenge.’ After all, I had been active my whole life and had run the LA Marathon, swam in open ocean swims, completed a 500 mile long bicycle journey along the Natchez Trace Trail, and climbed over two dozen peaks including Mount Gorgonio, Mount Whitney, Mount Shasta, and Mount Kilimanjaro. I even had a trip to Everest Base Camp planned for early this year. But those past glories quickly paled when I met a group of brave individuals who truly defined the term I thought I had been so intimately familiar with. They taught me in a few short months what I had spent an entire lifetime trying to learn.
The goal was Mount Baldy. At 10,064 feet, it was the highest point in Los Angeles County and the third highest mountain in Southern California. I had climbed it at least a dozen times before and had led over fifty people to its trademark iron sign at the rock-strewn summit. But those were people with a full inventory of their senses. Leading an unknown group over rutted trails and past steep drop-offs to a summit almost two miles above sea level would dramatically change the equation……………..
Fly Like an Eagle
Soaring high over the San Gabriel Mountains.
The lever that releases our towrope is pulled and I see the 200 feet of nylon fall away in front of me. Our tow plane, a single seat aircraft that once saw service as a crop-duster, veers off to the left, the rope trailing behind it like a lazy tail. Our umbilical is cut and we are free to soar. We’re at 9,500 feet and just north of the snow covered San Gabriels.
“That’s the San Andreas Fault down there,” my pilot, Dale Masters announces from behind me.
I look down to the zigzag line that cuts across the terrain a vertical mile below us. With memories of the 9.0 magnitude Japanese earthquake still fresh, I consider wryly that this is probably the best place to be in relation to a fault that could split half of California off into the ocean…………………..
Malibu’s Watery Gem
The underground waterfall at the terminus of the Malibu Grotto hike.
The earth’s forces have always been at work; volcanoes erupt, tides rise and fall, and our continents move continually at the speed of a fingernail’s growth. Often times, the results of this dynamic capriciousness are tragic and cataclysmic, but occasionally, they alter the landscape in benevolent and even beautiful ways.
Such was the case eons ago when several large pieces of volcanic breccia sheared from a canyon wall several miles north of PCH. Falling a hundred or so feet, the giant slabs wedged themselves tightly above the Arroyo Sequit creek below. This geological cavalcade formed The Grotto, a series of subterranean waterfalls that became one of the top day hikes in the Santa Monica Mountains, and one that is accessible to those in moderate shape………………………
LOWER THAN MOUNT WHITNEY BY A SCANT 326 FEET, THE CROWNING JEWEL OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA IS NON-THE-LESS A MOUNTAIN TO BE RECKONED WITH
The foul odor of the sulfur vents assaults my senses, smelling like a wayward and neglected outhouse and making me sick to my stomach. I was tired, weak and suffering from altitude sickness. My tentmate had kept me awake the previous night with her constant tossing and turning and I was dehydrated, triggering my first ever bout with “The great equalizer” of mountain climbing. Yet here I was, just a couple hundred feet below the summit of Mount Shasta, at 14,179 feet the second highest volcano in the contiguous United States.
Mention the term “Ring of Fire” and some people might think of Johnny Cash’s gravelly 1963 hit or the Hawaiian Islands. But the same pyroclastic forces that created our fiftieth state and added that last star to our flag, extend to our mainland and wind their way through the Pacific Northwest like a string of potent pearls……………….
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I love your website Chris!
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