One of my favorite things about hiking is spending time outdoors, up close to nature’s beauty. Today I found myself pretty close to home, at a place I have been a number of times before. We’d been thinking about venturing further out, but were having trouble finding the information we needed for the unfamiliar hike we wanted to try–so we decided to save that for another day and decided to head to Torrey Pines Reserve instead.
Apparently our idea wasn’t an original one…there were tons of people there! After waiting in a line of cars to enter the park and making our way up the hillside to park, we headed out onto the trails. I noticed right away the deep trenches in the trails, a visible impact of the heavy rains over a week ago.
It was clear that the rangers had employed sandbags and other tools to limit the damage, but nature is strong and water’s power is amazing. I noticed erosion around me, thinking about the differences in this place over the years I have visited. The landscape is constantly changing, pieces of the cliff are undermined by the wind and water and drop off to the beach below. Pathways move and are moved–directing the public away from danger and protecting sensitive ground and plants.
In spite of human intervention, the edge of the cliffs keep changing, moving east away from the sea. As we continued our hike toward the ocean, I noticed all the ways people have worked to shore up and protect access to the beach. Steps replaced the scary ledges I remember traversing on a field trip years ago.
Deep grooves become pathways up and over the cliffs, creating access to other less crowded stretches of beach.
This natural process of erosion creates new landscapes, new spaces to explore and to adapt. It’s a reminder that change is not a choice, it is a natural consequence of our interactions with the natural environment, with people and places, and with ideas. The rains and the wind and placement of our feet forge landscapes that didn’t exist before–some subtle and barely noticeable and some dramatic and barely recognizable.
And as much as we resist change and warn about its dangers, it will come. So maybe nature’s reminder is to pay attention, appreciate each moment, and adapt to the changes…maybe even anticipate the changes, allowing us to work with them rather than against them. Read the environment, nature’s text, the alphabet of rock and soil, as a way to understand both the story of the past and the one that will be written by those to come.
Change is constant, change is natural…so look for opportunities to notice change, to adapt to the changing landscape, and even to sculpt your vision for tomorrow. What will your story be?