Yesterday, I went to visit Crispin’s hometown at Lake Arrowhead. I took off from my home at 10:07am. It was a 71 mile drive to reach his home, including a 5200 feet climb over a 20 mile span up the mountain.
I finally reached his place at exactly 11:30am – yes, I was speeding. I’d never seen a home like his before. There were seven differently levels of stairs. Sunroofs filled the high ceilings; two different entrances to a spacey balcony; the house was built on a very steep terrain with supporting beams; the fireplace was on the 4th floor or so. Out of respect for his family, I resisted taking pictures of their magnificent home.
Crispin first showed me around the lake, and we proceeded to swim around in a private dock. He taught me how to do a running front flip into the water while I taught him how to dive. I forgot to close my eyes when doing the front flip and my right eye was abused by the splash; it stung for the next hour. I could hear the dead catfish floating nearby laughing at me.
After we finished swimming, we ate at his favorite restaurant in the city. We ordered a guacamole bacon cheeseburger and mint chip/black cherry shakes. So delicious.
The fatty meal subliminally caused us to hike up a river afterward. The roads leading to the trail were very undermaintained. We had to park alongside the rocky road and walk to the entrance of the makeshift trail.
Hiking up the river was an adventure in itself. Because it isn’t an officially marked trail, we had to traverse through shrubs, climb over rocks, and constantly cross from one side of the river to the other. In the meantime, mosquitoes endlessly attacked us. Besides the breathtaking view of nature, we saw many other interesting things along the way: a tree that was growing out of a gigantic rock, a pool of blood surrounded by flies in the middle of a rock, randomly placed fish swimming on the bottom of a pool, and a rope dangling off the side of a cliff.
We took a break at a small oasis. Crispin sat down at the mouth of a small waterfall and said that it felt like a sauna. Right as he was about to recommend me to try it out, he jumped up and panicked. He brushed his hands behind his back, only to find that he wasn’t the alone on the rock. His hands were filled with small leeches, and we spent the next couple minutes getting them off of him.
After sitting and talking about school, futures, beliefs, and fears, we decided to head back water buffalo style: through the waters. This proved to be a less-than-simple feat for me, as I struggled to balance myself holding my shoes, camera, and water bottle. I slipped and grazed a submerged rock and had to get a couple leeches off of me as well. In the meantime, we fought off aggressive mosquitoes.
We were safe from wildlife once we were back on the road… or were we? As we walked back to the car, a sprinkler turned on to the right of me. Except it wasn’t a sprinkler system. It was a rattlesnake, rattling about seven feet to the right of me. Crispin immediately told me to get away, and I didn’t second guess his eagle scout judgment – a part of me wanted to take a picture of it, but that wouldn’t have been a wise move. He later said that the last time he had seen one was when he was ten years old.
We drove back to his place and I met his mother and stepfather. They were both very friendly and welcoming. We took a little break, then drove to his friend’s house to pick up paddles and keys to go kayaking in the lake. We had each kayaked once before. Crispin had gone for the very first time the previous day and told me the troubles he went through to finally hit the water. As we walked down to the docks, he mentioned how his friend had forgotten the keys, brought the wrong paddles, drove to the wrong dock, all culminating into an hour and a half delay. He then suddenly stopped in his tracks and embarrassingly stated, “I forgot the keys.” Back to the car we went. Oh the irony.
Kayaking was gruesome fun… and scary at one point. Several minutes into the water, I noticed a spider at the front of my kayak and started splashing it. It was tenacious and clung on with ease. Crispin wanted to have a go at it so he started splashing it, but the spider wouldn’t budge. He finally swatted it off the water and yelled immediately thereafter; the spider had ran on top of the water and jumped onto his boat. I swatted it off on twice, and on both occasions it ran above water back onto his boat. I finally swatted it off far enough that it started running in the wrong direction. And then I slapped it really hard and killed it. My bad.
My lower back, deltoid, and trapezius muscles were getting a killer workout. We almost went from one end of the lake to the other. We passed by the docks that we had been swimming around earlier, and we decided to stop by a small abandoned harbor. Crispin wanted to hop ashore. Luckily, some ropes were off to the rocks on the side. We used those to secure our kayaks and and climbed aboard. We were greeted with more water spiders, cobwebs, a destroyed staircase leading up to the home, and a shack whose door was knocked off its hinges. There was a broken, dusty refrigerator inside, as well as dusty chairs and empty cans and bottles. The paint on the dock had worn off, and it creaked a bit. We were definitely on some haunted harbor.
After climbing back onto our kayaks, we rowed back to our takeoff destination. We secured them onto the docks and walked back to our car. As I was walking, a red spider (or so I thought) suddenly jumped at my arm and I screamed like an… I’ll admit, distressed wimp. Crispin turned around and said something, only to have one land on him as well. As I was inquiring if he had gotten rid of it, another one jumped up at me. We then sprinted as fast as we could to his car and were met by hundreds of flying red things. If you’ve ever seen The Mummy where thousands of flying mantises swarm and kill the Egyptians, that was the equivalent for us. As we got the car and sped away, a lot of their guts splashed on the windshield.
After returning the paddles and keys back to his friend, we returned to his Crispin’s home. His family had made us a half rack of ribs, potatoes, spinach salad, and a fruit and spinach smoothie. Dessert included brownies and ice cream. The meal was excellent.
Crispin then drove us to the top of a mountain range. We passed through a gated area that said something like “no trespassing” which must be code for “do trespass.” He led me to a barbed fence and said that a section had been cut off, only to find that the fence had been repaired. As I turned to walk back to the car, he tried opening the gate and found it to be unlocked. How ironic to section off the fence, only to leave the gate unlocked.
If you live in the LA/OC area and are familiar with Rowland Heights “top of the world,” we were at Lake Arrowhead’s equivalent. We had walked into an abandoned radio tower and Crispin suggested we climb to the very top. Ever seen those radio towers one or two hundred feet high on hilltops that blink red? Yeah, we climbed one of those.
First off, I was definitely uncomfortable with the prospects of climbing that tower. That tower was TALL. It was an unprotected vertical ladder that, if you slip, you’re falling a couple hundred feet to rock bottom concrete. There was no cage behind us, nothing to grab onto. Just a long steep fall. We started climbing from the rooftop of the control center, yet it took me almost ten minutes to reach the top. To complicate things further, a metal line blocked the middle of the ladder and several thick electrical tubes dangled to my left. I was glad to have finally reached the top.
The view made everything worth it. We were approximately 6000 feet high, on the very top of one of the highest peaks in sight. Riverside and San Bernardino County were in the foreground, and we could see the moon’s reflection off the lake behind us. We climbed back down after a short while and drove back to his house. I said my goodbyes and we parted ways.
Electro-house music while driving down roads with no visibility was priceless. What a fun day. Crispin summarizes today best: “Rattlesnakes, flips in the lake, kayaking, Deep Creep, Malt Shop, hiking, filming, Strawberry Peak, Jesus spiders, armies of leeches, zombie flies, good conversations, abandoned boat houses. Today is absolutely going down in the books. Represent Berzerkeley!”