Our first full day at Quail Springs was an adventurous 7-hour hike up the watershed, led by community member Brenton, who had also kindly picked us up from the Bakersfield airport the day before and driven us on a 1.5-hour trip back to Quail Springs, filling the time with facts about the fields of orange trees and rock formations we passed along the way.
To begin our journey, we drove out to our starting point, riding in truck beds and feeling the fresh, warm California air around us that we still savored with every inhale.
Although Quail Springs is located in the desert and averages 6 inches of rainfall per year, this year has seen a bit of a drought. The beginning of our hike included a trek through a swampy, ice-cold stream, but we walked on cracked clay ground as we followed the rest of the dried riverbed up into the mountains, keeping an eye out for animal tracks and steering clear of the beautiful, but pokey yucca cactus along the way.
When we were almost at the top, Brenton told us to get into a single file line, close our eyes and walk forward until we were near the edge. Huffing and puffing from all of the climbing up, we opened our eyes to the breathtaking view we were all waiting to see – a view that certainly didn’t disappoint.
We took our time at the top, lazing around in the sun, looking through Brenton’s binoculars, marveling at the world from 4,000 feet up laid out before us.
The golden hour was setting in as we crashed our way out of the brush and headed back to Quail Springs, feeling strangely refreshed instead of weary after a long mountain hike, thankful to have touched our bare feet to earth and felt a warm sun beaming down on us in the dead of January.