I was born and raised in Denver. And while it wasn’t nearly the hip and vibrant city it is now, it was still a great place to grow up. I spent a good deal of my childhood in the nearby Rocky Mountains.
My family would take day trips to hiking spots near Dillon Reservoir or in Estes Park. When I reached my teen years, I slightly resented those out-of-city respites. “I want to hang out with my friends!” But now I feel lucky to have been exposed to the wilderness at an early age—walking in the mountains trying
to find moss, searching for long pieces of wood to use as walking sticks, and generally steering clear of bugs. I didn’t camp as a kid, but my family does now. And our kids love getting outside, seeing animals or evidence of them, wandering around the open spaces, and making mysterious connections with butterflies and ladybugs—or in my son’s case last summer, a less magical encounter with a tick at Lake Tahoe.
In Orange County, it might not seem there’s much opportunity for these sorts of wilderness experiences. But it turns out our slice of California is full of serene wild spaces and easy ways to get there. As Karin Klein tells us in “Into the Wild Lands” starting on page 90, there are plenty of options no matter what activity piques your interest. Whether it’s practicing yoga in a canyon or walking a pristine reserve for bird watching, all you need for any of these excursions is to show up ready to go. I’m keeping my schedule open for the next moonlight hike at Crystal Cove, because something about being out in the open gives me a chance to recharge, reconnect with my past, and appreciate this amazing place.