If you know what's good for you, head out for a hike the day after a spring rain. My hiking partner and I went to Scout Camp today, where the sagebrush, bitterroots, and oceanspray looked like they'd been specially washed and buffed for our viewing pleasure.
And the smells! The elderberry blooms, curl-leaf mountain mahogany, and oceanspray were in spectacular form. Don't get me started on the misnamed bitterbrush either: Even with the blooms already gone, after a rain that scraggly shrub has a sweet aroma.
About a half-mile in, we stopped for a quick snack overlooking the canyon ... and ended up staying at least a half-hour because of all we saw and heard. A Kestrel slipped across the river and into a hole in the canyon wall across from us. A Canyon Wren serenaded us with that song that reminds me of a Steve Miller song (I'm pretty sure it's only me). Swallows swooped and darted. A Song Sparrow called. A Turkey Vulture swung low, perhaps assessing our age and whether we were too close to the cliff edge.
Most spectacularly, an Osprey perched on the opposite cliff to watch the river with us (you could see to the bottom today). Then suddenly the Osprey rose high, spun around, and dove smoothly toward what I'm sure would have been a tasty fish. At the last moment the fish must have slid from view because the Osprey broke abruptly, almost skimming the water before rising back up to a perch.
I used to hike for exercise, and to some extent I still do, but it turns out that stopping and sitting quietly can be at least as rewarding as working up a good sweat. Besides, it's uphill on the way back up the Scout Camp trail, so you can get your exercise after you watch nature put on a show.