By Wendy Langhans
It had been a dream of mine for so long that I had almost forgotten about it. Fifty years ago, I was a moonstruck child, in awe of anything having to do with astronauts and space rockets and setting foot on the moon. I pleaded with my mom to wake me up early to watch the Mercury 7 launch. My mother was a wise parent; she knew the importance of nurturing a child's sense of wonder, even if that meant missing some sleep.
My dream was to become an astronaut, seeking out and exploring new worlds. The second part of that dream - the seeking out and exploring new worlds - that has come to pass in an unexpected way. I lead full-moon hikes.
Moon rising over Towsley Canyon
I watch the faces of the parents and children on these hikes, as they explore a new world in a familiar place, the canyons at night. We listen to the silence, and discover it's not so silent after all. We feel the cool, almost imperceptible breeze that flows across the canyon from the hills above. We talk about the animals who live there. Where would you go if you were a bobcat, seeking to catch the scent of of a rodent without giving away your own position? We gaze at the Sacred Datura blossoms, shining in the moonlight. What creatures seek out and pollinates these flowers at night? And when the moon finally appears over the crest of the hill, we search for our moon shadows, stretching out along the dirt trail.
Sacred Datura blossoms open at dusk.
In the canyon, with the moonlight shining on our faces, I observe a budding sense of wonder. And who knows where that sense of wonder will lead a child (or an adult, for that matter). As the poet T. S. Elliot wrote,
"We shall not cease from exploration
and the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive at what we started
and know the place for the first time."
And as for the first part of that dream: last fall, on a visit to the Smithsonian, I finally got to touch a moon rock.
Upcoming Outdoor Events:
Saturday, July 11th and 25th, and every Wednesday, 8:00 AM. Trail Maintenance Volunteers at Towsley Canyon .
Come join our trail maintenance volunteers for camaraderie and a heart-thumping workout. For more information contact Steve Ioerger  at 661-291-1565.
Tuesday, July 7, 7:30-9:30 PM. Full Moon Hike in Towsley Canyon. Wear close-toed shoes and bring water. An easy walk, suitable for families. For map and directions go here .
Sponsored by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.
You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report", brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.