This post is sponsored by Crystal Geyser Sparkling Water.

I was camping with some friends up at Tahquitz the other day and decided to go exploring. We'd already checked out Jenks Lake and Big Bear Lake as well as some of the creeks surrounding the area, so I set my sights on our next hiking destination: Big Falls.

Big Falls in Big Bear It seems that our family is inherently drawn to water wherever we go. It's not really intentional, but the fact is that we've lived near water almost our entire lives, with both Nate and I growing up in Washington and making our way down the coast to San Diego. Everything we do seems to be centered around water. When we're giving directions, we often tell people to drive towards or away from the beach. Anytime I find myself in middle America, I feel entirely discombobulated and unable to locate my internal compass.

And so it happened that just hours outside LA, we went clambering over boulders in search of the nearest wellspring.

Boy tripping over a creek

I think the thing about water that pulls us in is its ability to make anybody stop in their tracks. No matter how busy your life is or how much you have on your plate, running water makes you stop and stare. It soothes and calms and causes groups to congregate and pause, united in the enchantment of this life-giving force. I feel small when I'm next to the infinite ocean, steady when I'm surrounded by the rushing force of our world. The introspective side of me stops to wonder where those droplets started, what they may become and what my part is in this process. There's something empowering in knowing that we're all dependent on this element, interwoven no matter how distant our lives may seem.

Standing at Little Falls, next to Big Falls in Big Bear

My mind wanders in contemplation and then one of the boys calls out, “Look, Mama, a bug is floating on this leaf.” We watch his tedious journey over the rapids and to the shore, and for a moment I see my own struggles in the smallest parts of nature.

Stopping for a drink of Crystal Geyser near Big Falls in Big Bear

We pull out a little picnic next to the aptly-named “Little Falls,” and ignore a ranger scowling next to us. I don't blame him for his apprehension: this space is littered with small remnants of other people's celebrations. It thrusts a general uncertainty into the situation, a sharp reminder that we're only borrowing this beautiful backdrop. Our break is just a moment for refreshment, though. We take a few sips from our Crystal Geyser Sparkling Water bottles that were snagged from our truck's on-board refrigerator at the last minute. A 3/4-mile loop hardly calls for a gear checklist, but the heat of Los Angeles can creep up on you!

Walking to Big Falls in Big Bear

With the toddler dragging at this point we scramble on up to “Big Falls” and stand in muted reverence over its power. Its persistent movement here seems to dare the big city to creep closer. Residents flock to this spot to refill their proverbial tanks.

Little boy standing by Big Falls in Big Bear

Sidekick looks thoughtful, as usual, and I can't help but pry. He wants to know why they call this mountain “Big Bear,” so I explain to him that there are big bears on it. His eyes widen in disbelief and he accuses me of teasing. There couldn't be bears around this many people! I nod my head vigorously in confirmation.

The trail to Big Falls in Big Bear

“We do shape this land,” I tell him, “But nature was here first. The bears, the water, the rocks, they'll be here when we're gone.”

Crystal Geyser bottle

There's a certain comfort in the sentiment, and maybe that's why we keep coming back to the water's edge. Standing toe-to-toe with the the essence of life fills us with wonder, awe, and connection.

We make an impact on nature, but watching her push back is a real sight to behold.

Is your family drawn to a particular outdoor feature when you travel?

Exploring Big Falls in Big Bear, right outside of Los Angeles.