4.7 miles the signs say to Inspiration Point past the ruins of the “white city” in the fog, past two trails to the Mount Wilson Toll Road, into clouds swirling about Castle Canyon, other hikers are Chinese, Chicanos, Filipinos, white folks (Europeans too?), Koreans (of course, not so many in the mist), we ascend huffing and puffing—I’ve been sitting around with too much paperwork, “story of my life”—through still beautiful forest and rocky cliff slopes, Coulter Pines and oaks, the slopes smell dry, even though the trees are dripping and shower us with droplets when we brush low hanging branches, the brush releases the smell of dryness, end-of-summer, the poison oak has dropped its leaves and gone dormant, the rabbitbrush is dry and gray, grasses dry yellow stalks, the yuccas have bloomed and died, the tall spikes of the stalks are blonde and dead, black seeds scattered on the trail, flowering parts of all the plants are dessicated and brown, the wiry buckwheat everywhere is rusty red, the central stalks gone violet, the whole outward facing slope of the range releasing the smell of summer’s end. Voices come off the trail now and then, out of the fog that floats and swirls, as if rocky cliff faces of the mountains expand and contract like the heart, but it’s just clouds moving by, as we descend.

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