Today I had to drive out to the Valley to pick up my bike wheels and pay my rent, so I thought I'd hit up the Nugget Creek trail while I was out there. In all of my two years living here, Nugget Creek is one of the few established trails I've never ventured down. It's strange, actually, that I've never seen Nugget Creek before. It's an easy, quick morning hike ... about nine miles round trip, fairly flat, skirting the sideslopes above a stunning (and incredibly hard to photograph) gorge. But I never did it because it was just one of those "eh" hikes. It reminds me of the vacation my family took in Disneyland. We bought three-day passes and my sister and I vowed to go on every *every* ride in the park. We had a whirlwind first two days, but by the third day we were slogging our way through Dumbo and Toon Town. By the time we got to Small World, we stood in line with a sour feeling in our stomachs. Were we really waiting in line for Small World when the Matterhorn was right over there? Just so we could say we'd been everywhere? I guess this is the way I've felt about trails like Nugget Creek.
Interesting thing about deep-woods trails like Nugget Creek is I always have the distinct feeling that I'm inside an amusement park ride. Not an exciting one like the Matterhorn, but an unintentionally spooky one like Alice in Wonderland or Small World. Since I grew up in the West and did most of my vacationing there, my only experience with that rainforest brand of clammy, stagnant humidity was inside those rides. Like inside the Terror Ride - the air was so dense it breathed on you. So now, when I'm slicing my way through the liquid air of the rainforest, if I lose myself too much in my memories, I'll start half-expecting a naked mannequin streaked in red paint to jump out at me. Especially when the trail's destination is this place: