We were in our hometown of Ridgecrest briefly over the holidays and took an afternoon hike through the Rademacher Hills. It’s not far from my parents’ house, a ten minute drive. I love exploring the desert with my sisters. When we were little we used to get so excited when we discovered old rusted cans, glass bottles, beautiful rocks, shotgun shells. We’d collect our treasures, play “make believe,” and soak up the sun.
The hike to a lookout in the hills isn’t rigorous. To the eye of someone who didn’t grow up in the desert it may look a little bland, but I love it. There’s something about the desert that just feels comforting. The seemingly sparse landscape is beautiful, and when you look close the variety of plant-life is startling. The rocks bear markings of wind and weather. Everything stretches to the sun and has unique ways of surviving in extreme heat with little water. Rabbit and snake holes dot the hillside. We hike up the trail and climb over some rocks, even though it’s December 28 the sun is warm and there’s no need for jackets. Looking down from the top of the hills the town spreads out beneath us. We point to certain neighborhoods and share some memories. The Sierra Nevada Mountains frame the view to the west, stretching up to Mt. Whitney. The sun is slowly making its way toward them and we play a little with our long shadows. No matter how far I go from the Mojave Desert, it will always feel like home.