A Heavenly Morning With The Devil

Just as the river flows through the cut canyons of sedimentation, so too does the rich history and meaning of the area flow in the blood of those who feel its beauty most. 30 years and counting my parents have known it as a safe refuge from the bustle of an overwhelming City of Angels. A place to spend with the best of friends, who introduced the area to them after a lifetime of family memories. As those family memories turned to memories shared amongst young friends, so too now they return to family memories as the next generation begins to find its own meaning in the expanse of the Angeles National Forest.

My number has hit 20 years. 20 years of “Second-Thanksgivings,” skeet shooting, potluck food, and cornhole. 20 years of sweaty heat, unprecedented snow, and everything in between.

Today, the number, however, is 22. Twenty-two of us adventurers in total, all connected by a single cabin that sits in the beauty of the San Gabriel Mountains, owned by a single family with a history of sharing their passion of their land with those they care about most. What began as family memories turned to time with best friends. Yet, as history always seems to do and repeating patterns emerge, it is clear that family memories actually never ceased. Rather, the memories spread as the family simply gets bigger…

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I stood right along the San Andreas Fault, 300 feet below the vista of what is The Devil’s Punchbowl, enveloped on either side by sedimentary rocks, the smooth product of millions of years of weathering. A plentiful winter rainfall brought life back to the previously bone-dry creek, as snowpack runoff washed my feet and the smooth rocks on which I stepped. Just as the water brought life to the cracks of the rock and the tadpoles fighting against its very stream, so too did it refresh us twenty-two adventurers in the heat of the sun.

As we progressed along the creek, layer after layer began to make their way from my body and into my backpack. The warmth of the sun on my bareback with the cool water rushing under my feet created the perfect balance. And as the heat of the sun began to feel intense, we arrived at our next relieving obstacle: A venture down into the water buildup that lay a level below. With backpacks above our heads, we one by one slid and jumped down into the water that lay below, plunging into a pool of refreshment that did no less than build excitement for the next relieving obstacle.

Continuous conversation and laughing balanced the sound of our boots passing over each creek rock. Just as usual, it was 3 hours of a heavenly morning spent with the Devil.

- OA

Oliver Ambros