Back to Monday…

Yes, it’s Monday. Mondays are not my friend. This Monday is the first Monday after Spring Break, also difficult. Plus the man has been gone for a whole three days, and apparently that will be harder than I had hoped. I forgot what it was like to be solo on a Saturday night, and during pandemic times, when things I used to do are still shut down or not exactly feeling safe to me, it sucks. I’m really proud of him for taking on this hike and keeping moving…I am…but I was unprepared for how I would feel. Luckily, there are three cats who cuddle at night (well, mostly…sometimes they just whack, since they are calicoes, but they try). Also, my family is around right now to see my dad, and so this week, I have a lot going on, which is nice, and hopefully I’ll be more used to the alone time once they leave? Who knows. It could be a very long 6 months. I need to shift what I do a little to maybe hang with more people. I have a hiking group; I just haven’t hiked with them since before COVID. They hike at different times than I usually do, so hence the shift. Things to think about. Keeping the brain occupied.

Speaking of the man, he is still hiking.

He’s got a few miles to go. Yes, he is planning on thru-hiking the whole thing. He’s moving slower than a bunch of people (but faster than some), but he is moving. I actually get to watch him move at the moment…

My kids will tell you I was a little obsessive with watching the app the first day. I was. It’s OK. I admit it.

But the second day, I did better, although once it got dark and I knew he was still hiking because of water issues, I did worry and watch it more.

Still gotta go down in the dark to get to that lake. He took a day off…that day 2 was difficult…and today he’s on to the next milestone. I hope it stays nice and cool for him, he manages to keep his glasses on his head (that was an issue on Day 2), and he just keeps moving for as long as he needs to.

Meanwhile, I’m back at online school today, trying to deal with all the last-minute changes and kid moves. I’m really done with this school year. It makes me cry on a pretty regular basis at the moment, and that’s not healthy, but it’s what I’ve got. I made some agreements with myself about what I was dropping for the last 10 weeks, things that help others but that I just can’t do any more. It sucks, because as a teacher, I really try to do what’s best for kids and families, often to my own detriment, and I just can’t keep on keeping on with that this year. It makes me feel like a shitty teacher, but it also gives me another hour a week for my own sanity. And I need that right now.

The girlchild is here to see her grandpa. She’s working during the day, but she’s on East Coast time…

so getting some sun after work is a thing. With the dogs…

Yes, Simba gets spoiled by her. He doesn’t seem to mind. What a weirdo.

I hiked Saturday on my own…I had worked (school) almost all day and needed to get outside.

I was the only person out there; I saw no one but one lone coyote and a bunch of crows.

They were probably ravens, actually. I was really tired, physically, and it was a slog for the first mile…

Eventually, my body kicked in, I ate a snack, peed in the wild (off that trail, y’all…I’m not a heathen), and then it was better.

It sucks to do it alone; I did tell someone where I was going, in case I disappeared.

The flowers are starting to pop, which is my favorite time to hike. I’ll need to vary my locations in the next few weeks to get the full flower drama.

I think this was Friday night’s drawing…getting the head in and the birds I had dreamed about.

Then Saturday night, I gave her hair and numbered her.

Lots of weaving in this one. She has 890 pieces. I will start tracing her some time this week. I’m sort of buried in stuff at the moment, but I do want to start. I’m still as exhausted as I was before Spring Break started, so I did the sleeping part wrong, I guess. I did go to bed early last night, but couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t stop thinking about school; not healthy, but normal. Hopefully pure exhaustion will kick in and let me sleep the rest of the week.

So teach all day, family dinner tonight, then trace some stuff, then sleep like a cat. Cats sleep better than babies, y’all, way better.

He’s Headed North…

It’s the last weekday of Spring Break. I feel like it’s whipped past me, faster than a 12-year-old on a motorized scooter. As always, though…it’s never long and relaxing, mostly because we try to shove a trip in there, plus get everything else done. Today was the big day, though…today I dropped the man at the southern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail and waved goodbye, potentially for a good 6 months (that’s the hope for him anyway). I’ve warned him that I’m getting a new animal for every month he’s gone (not really…probably, we’ll lose one in that time to old age and cancer). It’s weird, though…it’s been stressful for him leading up to this, the prep and the mindset, but also for me, trying to figure out how to remember all the things by myself. Although the boychild’s memory is good, he’s not here all the time. Plus petting all the cats. That’s stressful (not really). Also, because it’s the end of break and I was gone for 6 days, I have a to-do list that is double the normal size. That is totally stressful. I’m banging through each of the things as fast as I can, but the big ones (a book to finish copyediting and school stuff) are hanging over me. So that’s today and tomorrow, fast as I can.

This morning, we arrived just before 8 AM…

He’s been planning this for months, when he knew he was being let go from his job. He’s hoping to do the whole thing; I just tell him to keep walking.

His pack feels heavy, he says. Not a surprise.

He has a Garmin and I’m sort of obsessively following him (it pings his location every 10 minutes at the moment). I’m sure as we get a few days in, I won’t be so obsessive, but right now, it’s where my head is. I am worried about him getting injured and being alone, but he has an emergency beacon and lots of snacks, so I think he’ll be OK. And I hope it helps him find what he needs right now. He loved his job until near the end…jobs are more about the people than what you do, I think, and that became a problem. But he’s a hard worker and flexible, and will come back from this stronger and ready to go back.

Meanwhile, I have had a conversation with the cats and they know to come to me for pets (they already do; it’s OK).

Meanwhile, the art is back. I almost walked away from this drawing the other day. It wasn’t really talking to me, and I’d dealt with a host of show rejections and wasn’t feeling it. I left it for the 6 days we were gone, just to see. But coming back, I wanted to just make my own thing, fuck the rest of it. But then I gave it one more chance and it started talking to me, so I kept going.

It knows what it wants now…

It needs a head, and I dreamt most of that last night. I have some different techniques and materials I want to try with this one, so that should be interesting. We’ll see how it goes. I’m hoping to finish the drawing tonight or tomorrow night, then numbering and tracing. After I finish all the other work I have to do.

I hung out on Zoom with my stitching friends last night for just a little while…got more of this done.

It’s not a quick process.

Speaking of not a quick process: all these need trimming.

Eh. Not on my priority list.

This is coming up…

When I have a link to the online show, I’ll post it too.

My niece released a new song…you can find it on Spotify and iTunes.

She’s in college, but has been writing music and singing for a while. The artistic genes jump around in this family, but they’re there.

This butterfly…fell in the pool, I pulled it out, then it went back in.

So I pulled it out further away, so hopefully it would survive. I know their brains are small, but sheesh.

OK, I’m already exhausted (up early to drive to the terminus), but I need to do a ton of things. Going to stay caffeinated and maybe don’t watch the Garmin app too closely. He’s still moving; that’s a good thing.

The Rest of It (Not Resting)

If you know me, you know I suck at resting. The closest I get is sitting on the couch and stitching, or the bad version of that, scrolling endlessly through social media, which is, of course, silly. Short blurbs of that while waiting for someone to get out of the only bathroom or for the cat to get her blood draw…that’s cool. But just staring at it for an hour? I try to force myself off the couch for that. Even when I meditate, I have a hard time staying still, physically or mentally.

Anyway, our vacations tend not to be particularly restful physically, although I do my best to leave my job at home. I have not answered a student email since last week some time, so I guess that’s a good thing. All this lack of rest thing is why we got up early on a perfectly good Easter morning, ate a hearty breakfast, and drove the nausea-inducing, vomitous, hour-long drive from the Sequoia National Park Foothills entrance up to where the real shit is. You know, the trees. My lord, that road. Blech. Ten-mile-per-hour hairpin turns up and up and up. I was driving and still felt sick to my stomach. Beautiful sights, though…although I am still worried about the terrified deer that was tap-dancing its way down the walled-in road. IDK where it came from (cliffs) or where it was going (hopefully not cliffs).

I don’t know if my parents ever took me to Sequoia…I remember the Kern River, but I’m not sure when and where that was. Last year, we were supposed to camp in the park, which also has no showers (I’m sensing a smelly trend here), but this year, I was worried about temperatures being really cold at night, because Spring Break was earlier than last year. I’m not sure I needed to worry about that. The campground is down in the valley and I think the temperatures I was seeing are up at the top, a good 6000-foot different in elevation. So next time! Next time, we left a lot of Sequoia to explore. We wanted to get in early because the ranger the day before had warned us about parking and people (it was Easter weekend). We started at the General Sherman Tree lot and hiked in to see the biggest (in volume) tree in the world.

OK, I’m not sure it’s that one. I seriously spent a lot of time wandering around looking up and taking pictures of trees. I know the man has a picture of it with tiny me in front of it. Hang on. I got this.

See me? See tree? The man has a newer phone than I do and it has this cool feature where he could zoom out and get the whole thing, where I was stuck taking pictures of either the bottoms of trees or the tops of trees, but not both. Makes me want a new phone, just for that.

Sometimes the trees lie down for you so you can take pictures, right?

So we did the Congress Trail and then tried Bear Hill (no go on that…trees down and snow and up and it got old fast). What’s interesting is that a few years back, we went to Humboldt to see the redwoods there, and it’s very moist and wet and rainforesty, and this is totally not that. I mean, snow is wet, but there wasn’t a ton of undergrowth and it was much drier than Humboldt.

We did see two marmots.

Weird little furry beast balls. There was snow on the trail, but just enough to make it interesting…we had poles and spikes, but didn’t need them.

And it eventually warmed up enough to be in short sleeves with no issues.

We drove down to the main area and braved the crazy crowds there, although we skipped the Big Tree loop in favor of Moro Rock, which still had a lot of people. This photo is from Beetle Rock.

This is Hanging Rock, which scared the crap out of my height-hating self. I’m usually OK at the tops of things, but maybe I’m getting worse. The man walked out to that edge and looked over, and I just stayed way the fuck back. It was weird.

But no way was my brain letting me go out there. Too much down.

It was definitely much warmer at this point.

We didn’t go up Moro Rock. It was rock stairs and I was kind of done with that. Plus too many people. I can look at a rock without having to be on top of it. It’s OK.

The other thing that was different about Sequoia compared to Humboldt was fire damage. Almost all of the big trees had it…

Some much worse than others.

Burns had definitely come through this area multiple times. It was gorgeous though. Especially when we found the trail away from the road and ditched 90% of the people.

These redbuds were popping out everywhere in the lower elevations. Happy bees.

The drive back down didn’t seem as bad, for whatever reason. We did about 9 1/2 miles of hiking total and were completely exhausted by the time we got back. Although first, the man spoke to this turkey and made it shake her tail feathers and do a little dance.

Until she realized he was not good mating material. We’ll have to go back some day, because we didn’t get our National Park book stamped. We had to wait in line for the store, and by the time we got back down to the first visitor center, the rangers had packed up, and they weren’t out in the morning when we came though. COVID hours still. Or winter hours? Not sure.

Back to our little house in Exeter, where Tiger Roll (his real name) eventually parked his pointy butt on my lap and kneaded my boobs for a while. Ouch.

Also I finished the second Homegrown block, sitting outside and resting (my version) post-shower. Showers are wonderful, y’all. Really, they are.

The previous night, we Zoomed with the man’s family. They wanted a group/family hug of sorts before he left on his PCT hike. Here he is planning while I draw.

He leaves Friday. He’s hoping to do the whole thing…we’ll see how he does. Being in San Diego means I can drive to somewhere near him for like the first month of the trip…but unless it’s desperate, I’m going to pretend he’s further away…until summer, when I’ll meet him in Northern California somewhere. It’s weird prepping for a trip like that…on my end, too. Someone remind me that all the Oregon and Washington maps are in the bathroom and I need to take them with me when I meet up with him.

The next morning, we packed everything up, said goodbye to Tiger Roll and the peacocks and all the other animals…

And drove home through Los Angeles…this is near Castaic, where I had to start driving. Block 3 of Homegrown was not finished by then.

But I did manage to finish it at night when we got home.

Three done. IDK how many to go. I haven’t been focusing on these really…just sewing stuff down on them because that’s easy to do when I have no brain power. And I can’t show you the other one I’ve been working on because it hasn’t been published yet.

I’ve been home for a little more than 36 hours now and I’m still exhausted. I have been copyediting, prepping stuff for an online show, picking up a quilt and yammering with a friend for way too long (I don’t get to talk to people much…be kind to me when you do see me because of that). We have groceries. My sewing machine is back from the fixit guy. I have a drawing for the next quilt started but not finished. I have a lot of work to do before we go back to school. I need focus, but have very little of it. Straight up, Spring Break is never very restful…it’s just a break from school tasks, and a mostly short one, since I graded stuff last Monday. I still have three things left to grade (got an email from a good kid about one of them on Monday), tomorrow I meet with my co-teacher to plan as far out as we can to reduce our stress levels, the family is showing up in the next few days to see my dad, and the man is leaving on his hike…which is stressing me out, but probably not nearly as much as it is stressing him out. So there’s that. But I’m not on Zoom 6 hours or more a day, and that’s a major plus. For now. There are 48 days of school left. I can’t decide if that’s a lot or a little. But it’s not the majority, so that’s a good thing. If I do the math for how many Zoom hours that is, I might panic, so I’m not gonna do that.

Also, I’ve been rejected by I think three shows in the last month? Sigh. It’s OK. It reminds me that I don’t make work for shows. I make work for me, and when people want to show it, that’s a bonus. Seriously. It’s OK.

OK. I’m showered. I had a cup of tea. Need more. Need food. Strange cravings for English muffins. No idea why. Need to take the cat to the vet soon, plus a lot of other shit. See you later, hopefully with some art progress. I miss it!

Quilt with Wild Abandon…

It’s been a few days. I lost track of them, actually. The wonder of a 3-day weekend when I did things that weren’t schoolwork, right? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I worked a big chunk of Monday, grading shit, but mostly I ignored school. Mostly. Not in my head; just in my practice. It’s hard to do that, because the work has to get done sometime. In fact, a chunk of it needs to be done before school starts in 43 minutes, but it’ll happen. Somehow.

So Friday night was the last time I wrote. Since then, I participated in two Craft Napa events, and I have one coming up this weekend. I was waitlisted on one and offered today to take it, but um, yeah, so like, that’s a school day. So I picked another one instead. It’s OK. It’s really just a chance to hang out and do artsy stuff with other artsy people. The actual project doesn’t probably matter.

So Saturday night was a virtual wine tasting…

It was interesting and a good distraction for a Saturday night. We enjoyed it.

Then Sunday morning, I was up early for a recycled plastics sewing class with Natalya Khorover.

Let’s hope the girlchild doesn’t recognize the bag of hers I cut into. I don’t actually have a ton of plastic bags in the house. We have reusable bags, so not many plastic bags make it in here.

I was going to do this long quote, but decided against it…this was more doable.

I got all the letters stitched down. Need more embellishment. I’ll do that…

It was fun to take a class after months and months of not doing it. I’ve always wanted to go to Craft Napa in person, just as a break, but the timing with school is difficult, plus expense. This was very doable.

I did start quilting as well, but I’ve been plagued with thread breakages…

I’ve tried switching out the needles, conditioning the thread, cleaning everything…probably it’s a burr in the thread plate, so I’ll try to deal with that today.

So I got the bottom three layers done, the fire and rocks, basically…

Pretty damn frustrating, if you ask me.

I don’t really need more frustrating things right now.

What else? Dogs.

Lots of animals require attention here. I’m OK with that most of the time.

The man is getting his Pacific Coast Trail permit day today. We think. Hoping for the end of my Spring Break, so we can do a little camping/hiking together before he leaves for potentially 5 months.

I’m almost done with this thing…

A few more TV episodes after dinner and it will be done. Stick it in a frame and mail it to its new owner.

OK, now I can go do the school stuff I need to do and teach all day and then maybe hopefully go for a walk. Then sand down the potential burr on my needle plate and hopefully quilt with wild abandon tonight until I need to go to bed to repeat tomorrow…tomorrow, inauguration day, when hopefully the crazy insurrectionists won’t do something really stupid and irreversible. Sigh. We can all hope for some semblance of order and peace, ’til we return to trying to figure out how to mend a bunch of stuff in our country and help people accept more variety in their worlds than they’re used to. Whatever that looks like…because honestly, some days, I don’t know. Until then, I need to answer an email from a kid that came in at midnight (I ignored it) and do all the shit I forgot to do yesterday. Sigh.

Time Is Weird

Well happy New Years Eve, all. Or for some, you’re already in 2019 and that’s just weird. Time is weird though, so what’s new. Yesterday I didn’t write because I was hiking, which was cool. Today the kids leave for Lake Arrowhead…I will follow them tomorrow, when the wind gusts will kick up to 45 mph, so that will be a fun drive. Plus really cold up there for people who don’t own puffy coats. I have fleece. That’s it. Fleece and Uggs. Prepare to freeze.

It will be fine. I’m looking forward to some artmaking time today, but also to a diabetes educator appointment. My insulin isn’t working right. Or I’m not working right, which is more likely. So I got a last-minute appointment to go in. Apparently no one wants to go to the nurse on NYE, but me…I’m OK with that. I’d rather deal with it now than try to fit it in during school. It’s so difficult to get appointments of any kind around my job. Frustrating. So maybe we can figure out WTF is going on with my body as part of the new year.

But yesterday, we hiked to Eagle Rock, which is on part of the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail). I’ve been there a few times, and it’s a relatively easy hike, but not super short…I think we did 6 1/2 miles.

First we drove way the freak out to Warner Springs…

It was chilly at first, but exercise warmed us up enough to shed the outer layers, even in the shade of the oaks…

It was a beautiful clear day, no wind, just a bit of a breeze…welcome as we got out into the flat areas…

I call this hike mostly flat. My hiking partner did not agree. I think I just forget about the hills after I hike them.

Mostly flat.

There were a lot of people out there, but not too many. Most of them had dogs.

Ah! There’s the eagle in Eagle Rock…and my partner, glad to be halfway. When we started dating, he had written that he liked to hike…

I’m not sure he and I agree on what hiking is…but he’s a good sport about it. Here’s the view of the valley from the rock formation.

The hard rocks that survived erosion over the years…

Proof I was there!

The last time I hiked this was May 2014…more flowers then. More water too, strangely.

There’s this place in Ramona that looks like a total dive from the outside, but is pretty hip on the inside, so we stopped for some food and a drink before driving all the way home.

Came back to lounging tiredly around post-hike, with puppy, who did no hike at all…

He ran around a lot in the morning.

I took a long time to draw this…just tired, I guess.

Yes, that’s T. rex as a spirit animal.

Girlchild eventually showed up again.

Puppy likes her. Although I think he slept on everybody. I haven’t seen the kid much…friends in town.

I finally started cutting out, but late…

It was an Avengers night…but it doesn’t look like I got much done.

Seriously, that’s three hours of cutting. Sheesh.

This is what’s left. A lot.

I’ll do some of that tonight. I’m not a fan of big NYE partying. We have errands to do today and I have that collaboration piece I need to get done by next Sunday, so I should get going on that today. I’ll go to Arrowhead tomorrow with all my crap that needs doing, hang out with the kids etc. for a few days, and head back to face the fact that I’m going back to work. Stressful. Oh well. I had time off…I still have almost a week. Use it wisely.

PCT: Desert View Picnic Area to Kitchen Creek Road

I seem to regularly be about two weeks behind in posting this (Must Get Caught Up)…It’s not the end of the world, although it may be the end of my disk space for photos. This was the next section of the PCT we hiked, from Desert View Picnic area south to Kitchen Creek Road, where we ended a few weeks ago. Here we are at the start of the hike…it was a little chilly at the start, but warmed up…

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Here’s the view of the desert from the start…

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This was my first trip with the new camera, PLUS I was carrying poles, so I didn’t take as many pictures. It’s hard to hold a camera and poles; in fact, I had a long conversation about the future of things like photographs (think Google Glass) and how technology would be even more integrated into our lives. I don’t have a problem with that.

The hike started out in mostly mountain pines…

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As we were hiking, we saw all these pink ties on the the bushes, trees, and PCT markers…is it Breast Cancer Day? What the heck?

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We stopped here to divest ourselves of all the extra layers of clothing…it doesn’t take long to warm up when you’re hiking.

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There were beautiful long vistas of the surrounding mountains as we hiked.

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And then we found out what the markers were for…apparently this was the weekend of the PCT 50 mile trail run…25 miles up and back from the Boulder Oaks area, basically through all of what we were hiking today (and more). So any time you think I’m crazy for the hiking I do, just think about running the trail for 50 miles in one day.

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It ended up being kind of a pain in the ass, because we (were nice and) had to get off the trail for the runners. So that seemed to slow us down (except it didn’t…it just meant we didn’t stop much to rest). There were at least 168 runners (we know that because we saw number 1 and number 168)…we applauded them, encouraged them. But it made for a very choppy hike for this section of it. Eventually we got past them all…or they got past us…or something.

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Like I said, beautiful mountain trail…this is past the Burnt Rancheria section I think. According to our fearless leader, this is an area of the forest with a beautiful landscape of trees and wildflowers. From here, we passed through Horse Meadows and down to Long Canyon, where we hiked through another shady area lined with trees and passed by Long Canyon Creek. Then we descended around Fred Canyon and down to the Kitchen Creek Road endpoint. I wish I could tell you from my photos where all that happened (I am not remembering a creek…sorry), but I can’t. But I think this is the trees and wildflowers part.

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This part of the Lagunas doesn’t have a lot of fire damage, which is nice.

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Apparently I’m not in the mood to raise my arm…

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This was not a physically difficult hike in terms of ups and downs. I had the poles (and I’m glad I did), because it was supposed to be a loss of 2540 feet and a gain of only 553 feet, so first of all, that’s why we went north to south (more downhill) and second of all, I thought the poles would help with the downhills. In reality, none of the downhills were really difficult, but the length of the hike meant that at about the 9-mile mark, the poles helped because the downhills were really rocky and you were already tired and not picking up your feet well, so they gave you some stability. Basically, it meant I didn’t fall down. That’s probably a good thing.

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I didn’t take a lot of flower photos…poles, new camera…long hike. It took my legs a while to wake up and remember how to hike.

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Oh hey…this might have been Long Canyon. We stopped somewhere in here to eat lunch…we didn’t take long, though, because we knew those runners would be coming BACK, and they’d be behind us, and it would just be a pain in the butt again.

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More long vistas of mountains…

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The hike gets a little more desertlike out here…lots of low bushes, trees gone. Luckily, it wasn’t too hot and we had plenty of water…plus the race had fueling stations with Gatorade and water, so we could have gotten more. We didn’t see a lot of thru hikers today…they were probably trying to avoid the race.

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I think that brown stripe on the mountain is Sunrise Highway? Maybe not. Can’t remember. That’s the problem with writing about it two weeks later.

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This last section of the hike was a narrow trail on the side of a mountain…this would have been a bad place to intersect with runners.

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The trail is still pretty rocky at this point. I was tired on this hike.

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A long view to the east, where you can see Interstate 8 heading for the desert.

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More narrow trail views to the west…

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You could almost see to the ocean from here…

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We stopped at this rock for photos (none of which are on the site, so I can’t pull any of them…sorry)…as we were standing there, we saw the number 1 runner go by, going back towards Boulder Oaks. That motivated us to get our butts in gear, because we knew at least 167 more were coming and we didn’t know how far ahead he was…and that trail was too damn narrow to be getting over all the time, especially with runners coming from behind.

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There were lots of interesting rock formations on this side of the mountains…definitely some metamorphic and volcanic action going on here…

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Light on pictures this time…we did beat all the other runners back to the finish at Kitchen Creek Road (they kept going, which explains all the runners we’d seen two weeks earlier on the section from Lake Morena to Kitchen Creek…they were practicing). Number 2 came by while we were standing around at the end. We did 12.5 miles in about 5 hours. I really felt it the next day and thought, OK, there’s your limit…12.5 miles. Ha! I was wrong. But there are days when you’re tired and days when you can walk forever. This was not one of those days. It was a nice hike…although I preferred the first part of it. And as a thru hiker, going the other direction is probably kind of tiring…lots of minor climbing that you probably don’t notice until your legs start complaining. At some point, I’ll count up how many miles of the PCT I’ve done so far (not many)…

Eagle Rock on the PCT

A couple of weekends ago, I did another small section of the PCT, this time with the purpose of seeing Eagle Rock. It was a warmish day…

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But the first part of the hike, which leaves near the Warner Springs fire station, is mostly under big oak trees, running next to a stream.

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It was quite pretty on this section…

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We were not a huge group, but that’s because there was some race going on that blocked traffic from North County making it to Ramona, so we were missing a bunch of people who were supposed to go.

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There were these great big meadows of grasses that stretched out under the warm sun…

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This reminds me of the area near Sacramento, where I spent the first 7 or so years of my life (obviously imprinted on me).

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Of course, that’s because things here turn brown very early…we haven’t had much rain this year.

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There is a section that is more desert-like after the trees…

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You can see mountains surrounding the valley…

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We were blessed with a decent breeze for most of the hike…

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Lots of far-off vistas and beautiful blue skies…there were many through-hikers of the PCT on this section…apparently Warner Springs has good pancakes and omelets, so they were motivated to get up and move.

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This was not a difficult hike, about 6.5 miles, with no real climbing.

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It is out and back…and I’m sure it’s very hot during the summer, so lots of water…

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More of those grassy meadows stretching for miles.

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There were lots of wildflowers around too…not that I took many pictures of those…this was the last hike my old camera made it on. To get it to take photos, half the time I had to remove and replace the battery. So yeah. That’s what finally motivated me to get a new one.

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Not a lot of trees in this section…

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Oh yeah, and it’s not a hike in Southern California without some cactus…seriously, this stuff grows everywhere.

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All the while, I’m keeping my eyes open for something big enough to be called Eagle Rock…

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More flowers…notice how dry the ground is? These won’t last long…

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It’s not a wide trail…

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Rocks? In the distance?

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These were actually west of the formation itself (which is not on my PCT map at all)…

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And there we are…you can’t see this from the PCT…you see the back end. It looks like someone did some selective chipping to the beak area, but otherwise, that’s an eagle all right…

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It’s big enough to stand on. No group photo this time…not enough motivation for that, I guess. This is looking south towards the PCT. Someday I’ll do this section…it’s supposed to be nice.

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More southerly looking…

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Giant flowers…seriously, bigger than your hand, just growing right out of the rock.

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A view to the west…

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And back towards the south…there was a steady stream of through-hikers on that section.

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Thistles…

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Rocks…in case you’ve never seen one.

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People eating lunch on rocks…we actually hiked this really fast, so it was more like brunch on the rocks.

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Bird…refused to turn around and pose.

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I think this is a blue-belly (despite the lack of actual blue belly showing)…I had a lizard expert helping me stalk these around the rocks…we heard a rattlesnake under one of the rocks too, but we never saw him.

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More sitting upon the rocks…

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A spiny granite lizard…there were a bunch of these, but they were photo-shy. This one did push-ups for me.

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No photos please…

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After a short stop, we hiked back the way we came…

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It always looks a little different on the way back…

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One of those big flowers ready to bloom…notice the lavender tint.

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And those big old beautiful oaks…

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More flowers, even on cactus…

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Back through the desert wash area…

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And into the meadows and trees again…

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I could live out here…except for all the hikers. And the summer heat. And the fire danger.

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We made it back quicker than it took to get out there…

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Here’s the sign for food at the Warner Springs stop for the hikers…they must be good for business.

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Like I said, it was hot and dry…over 80 degrees, but a nice breeze kept it bearable…

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This would be a great hike with kids old enough to make the distance…just be careful of snakes, especially around the rocks. Oh yeah, and if you just want to see the rock, you can drive up very close and do a super short hike to see it (wimps!). It took us about 3 hours, I think, to do the whole thing…it took longer to get OUT there and park, because yes, it’s in the boonies if you’re coming from San Diego proper…but definitely worth it. Crossing it off the list and trying to figure out how to hike the section south of it next…

 

PCT Continued: Lake Morena to Kitchen Creek

I’m behind in documenting hikes…a couple of Saturdays back, I hiked the section of the Pacific Crest Trail from Lake Morena to Kitchen Creek, including a side trip to Kitchen Creek Falls. It was about 10.5 miles and took us approximately 5 hours with a couple of stops for lunch and exploring falls.

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This hike was beautiful, roaming through a variety of landscapes, from oak-dotted meadows…

 

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That seemed to stretch for miles…

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Into the mountains on either side

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There were wildflowers everywhere of all types…

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Into more desert-like areas…

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This section of the PCT is not particularly difficult…

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The day was warmish in the beginning…I’m sure it’s a bit hellish in the summer.

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We did climb through a few mountainous areas…

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Again with the funky flowers…

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An arch in the rocks…

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And long trails like this…

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My first official viewing of a California Horny Toad…

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which are really lizards…and lots of yucca in bloom…fascinating plants.

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Lots of long vistas with mountains rising in the distance, as we hiked across the valley…

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This butterfly landed on the thistle just as I took the photo…

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The rock structures in the area were strange at times…

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And succulents nestled in rocky cracks

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A long stretch of rocky ground…

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I think turkey vultures were our only bird visitors…

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We were a medium-sized group, about 16 hikers.

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Apparently yucca flowers are edible…

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They are also beautiful.

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This is looking down at the valley from where we came…

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We hiked towards Interstate 8, moving north on the trail.

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The day was beautiful…and that bridge down there on the left in the middle? I think we go under it at some point.

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This section of the trail is fairly well signposted. Here we had traveled 3.5 miles from Lake Morena.

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Some signs are less official-looking…

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Here’s that bridge from below…

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Underneath the bridge, there was some graffiti…this looks like something my students would draw.

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The other side was a bit more acceptable PCT graffiti…

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We crossed what looked like a dry river bed on the other side…

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And another sign showing 2 miles to our lunch spot at Boulder Oaks…

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It was in the high 70s that day, maybe a little warmer…

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At least at the beginning…

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More oaks everywhere…

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These trees are older than my parents, I think…

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More green meadows…

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Some trees had lost their will to stand upright…

 

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I was really tired for this hike; I can only blame jet lag from traveling back to New York (and maybe staying up for 24 hours straight on Thursday).

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We stopped at the campground to eat our official lunch.

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There were cars parked here…and we saw a lot of runners on the next section of the trail. If you just wanted to go to Kitchen Creek Falls, you could leave from here (not sure of the mileage).

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There are gates along the trail…

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This section ran next to and then under Interstate 8…

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We are finally north of the freeway, heading into the Lagunas…

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There’s the 8 going east…

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A rosy boa!

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I’ve never seen one in the wild…

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Manzanita tucked into a rock…

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This section got more up into the mountains, but still wasn’t a difficult hike…

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We were pretty stretched out here…I had wobbly legs for part of this.

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And then the rain cloud started to wander in…

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But looking towards the freeway looks more like summer.

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Hey! It’s my old school…I used to teach out there…Mountain Empire High School (I actually taught at the middle school, which was on the high-school property and is now closed).

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We lined up for a photo…

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Here it is from below…

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Again, that rain cloud is lurking…I think it dropped about 4 drops on us.

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It looks ominous, though. We were trying to find the path off to Kitchen Creek Falls on this section…

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We actually asked for directions and then headed down a hill…

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A slightly steep hill…heading for that section in the middle…

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The falls weren’t particularly large, but they were pretty…

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A snail…Ken kept finding wildlife for me…

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The rocks on the walls surrounding the falls had plants and lichen wedged in between them…

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Water bugs…

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Exploring the falls…

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And some form of squishy freshwater algae (squishiness demonstrated)…

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It was a lovely place to hang out for a bit…

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Different flowers to what was up on the path…

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It had been a while since we’d had rain, so the falls weren’t particularly wild…

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But the rocks surrounding the falls area are certainly interesting.

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Yes, they are perusing an actual paper map…

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This little guy was watching us from up on the hillside…

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More rocks and plants…the weather by now had cooled considerably…

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Cactus blooming…Southern California is an interesting mix of plant life…

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The water colors the rocks.

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While some nap…

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The light was interesting for the last section of the hike…I think the last section was only 2 miles, but it seemed to go on forever…not because it was boring, but because I was tired.

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Somehow I ended up between the speedy hikers and the slow photograph-taking hikers…

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It gave me a chance to quietly walk and take photos…note the lime-green lichens…

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And to focus on some flowers

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Way up in the distance, you can see the speedy hikers. They would occasionally stop and wait for me and make sure the last group was within sight or hearing range, and then they would set off again.

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At some point on most hikes, you just want to get done.

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Although this was still beautiful.

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I had to stop to see the flowers more often…

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See? They’re waiting for me again. My legs? Still tired. Couldn’t keep up with them.

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There’s more of Kitchen Creek…

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And finally! We came out to the end of the trail…this is the group behind me…

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And the last group finally making it out.

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We were dirty and tired, but it was a good hike. Good weather, beautiful landscape and flowers, not particularly difficult (as long as you’ve had enough sleep, I think). I’ve now done 21.5 miles of the PCT…only 2,628.5 miles to go! Or something like that. We did shuttle cars for this trip so we could hike through the whole section and not double back. The section we’re doing in a couple weeks will be north of this…and I think I’ve already done part of it over 10 years ago, right after the fires went through that area.