In the Loop

image In the Cleveland National Forest

Today we hit the trail and revisit one of our favorite hikes from last year, the San Juan Loop off the Ortega Highway. It’s not a long trail, only 2.2 miles, but it’s a scenic circle that overlooks the Highway, descends into a green valley, and then winds back up again.

We begin ascending a rocky terrain with views of the surrounding mountains.


A few steps further, the Ortega Highway comes into view.


And it gets tricky navigating the rocks.


Notice the mountain bike tire tracks in the picture above. Two guys blow by us as we scurry to step aside and find some footing on the rocks. Correction… one biker seamlessly flies down the trail, while the other hesitates, bounces along and keeps saying, “Holy Cow!”

Up we go as the path narrows. We try to hug the mountain to our left while looking straight down the side of the mountain to our right. Below, the sun reflects the sky, coloring  a pool of water bright blue.


Water and rocks? Jeff stops at a viewpoint railing to throw rocks into the water. (He claims he is determining how deep the pools are!)



What goes up quickly begins to descend gradually. I stop and capture the beauty of the present moment.




Then the terrain becomes less rugged, more lush, and greener. We walk under the canopy of large trees as we approach the valley.



The sun highlights a rocky cliff above.


As we loop our way back, the Ortega Highway peeks through the trees.


After crossing through a campground, closed for the season, I am captivated by some rock formations



and the red berries on this tree.


It’s amazing how much more I noticed on the hike this time. But the best part is that Jeff’s bum leg didn’t give out on him, bolstering his confidence and reassuring him that he is healing.

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