Sitting in an Empty Mall

So I need new glasses…lenses actually. I went to the disinfected eye doctor successfully and got a new prescription, and the lenses are ready, so now they need an hour to pop them in my glasses. Fun. It’s an indoor mall, so it’s closed, but a few people are here and I’m sitting on a chair, blind as a bat, with the iPad about two inches from my face, typing this. My mask is on and I’m pretty sure I’m cross-eyed. This is the level of paranoia I will have at school. No. I will be more paranoid at school. I will be sitting in my classroom by myself for 7 hours a day in less than two weeks, yelling at anyone who tries to come in my room. Depressing and lonely. It is staying alive though. Hopefully.

So I’ve been getting a little art done. The days slip away so quickly. This binding will take a while.

I actually really like this part of the process…it’s relaxing, although the pins (and cats) are pokey.

There’s 470” to do of the binding and the sleeves. That is 13 yards. Really? Shit. That’s a lot. So Sunday I did two sides…four to go. I didn’t do any last night. I was working on Patreon embroideries. I finished one on Saturday or Sunday night (can’t remember which)…

Damn either she’s blurry or my eyes are getting worse. I’ll wash and iron and rephotograph when I can see. And when the blurry-eyes-tryna-focus headache goes away. I also started this one…

And finished it. Note to self: design more simply. That woman with the rainbow hair was complicated.

This was after dinner, when I was contemplating what to do with the rest of my evening.

Definitely needs a bath and attention from an iron.

Saturday, I managed to get the man to go with me on a walk at the beach…

We just hung out at Dog Beach…not a ton of people and a nice breeze.

We actually ignored the real beach and walked where there were fewer people. I enjoyed it. IDK about the man. His foot has been bugging him and his work is stressful. But he did it and that’s something. I know outdoors is more important to my moods and sanity than his. Although I think it would help him too, I know everyone has to be making their own choices willingly for that good outdoor feeling to work though.

With that in mind, my science co-teacher and I headed to Sunset Trail in the Lagunas yesterday for some much-needed planning and venting.

It was a little warm, but we did a fairly short hike…with her dog, Watson…

We both had masks and Watson’s leash is the requisite 6-feet long to help with visualizing appropriate distancing.

This is one of my favorite hikes. Not hard, great views.

We stopped for a while and took some notes about how to do school this year. Science will be a challenge. And then her shoe died.

The entire bottom sole came off. Folks, here’s my shoe PSA from someone who has had plantar fasciitis multiple times…new boots every 500 miles. New other shoes when the wear is obviously changing your stance. It’s OK…she’s going to REI today.

Water of the Woods…aka the cow pond…no cows today.

Watson got too hot or just plain tired after a while (note: his limit is about 2 miles, maybe more if it’s cooler), so he got a ride.

He didn’t seem to mind not walking…

Lucky dog…

Weird tree growths. We have ideas for videos from the trail and the kitchen or garden for school. It will be hard to implement those while sitting in my empty classroom. I’m going to apply for field trips. For me and my co-teacher. Even walking in the neighborhood of the school and looking for relevant stuff would be better than sitting in an empty room.

We have another hike planned for next week, adding another teacher to the mix.

All good things. Part of my sanity.

Right now, Calli wants to go in the pool, I have a bunch of quilty things I need to work on, but first, I’m eating a late lunch. I made pancakes with leftover sourdough starter earlier and froze them. The hardest part of going back to the physical classroom is not being able to get stuff done at home. It all gets shoved to the weekend. Grading comes back with a vengeance and all gets pushed online, so more computer time. Like I wasn’t already staring at a screen enough before. But it keeps us safer, so we will do it. I have to laugh at the people who thought we were only working 3 hours a day before…well, they’re welcome to try to do my job before they say how it should be. Hoping I get it all figured out in the next few weeks. This is the most unprepared I’ve felt since the first year I taught. Nice feeling.

Sinking Is All I Had Planned*

Took a day off from all the things. Looking ahead to May, I can see some stressful events and lots of meetings (three in one day? Really?), so I wanted to do a hike before all that. We originally were looking at a short one, but the weather was right and I had this hike that had been bugging me. Last June, I tried to do a hike with the boychild, but I had recently started taking a new medication, and it fucked with me…so I ended up having to get helicoptered off the mountain (that was a fun experience actually). The situation was scary, though, in that when that happens, you get paranoid that it will happen again, where you’ll feel like you can’t control or trust your body and do the things you want to do. So it’s been on my list since then to do the hike again (it’s one I’ve actually done 5 or 6 times anyway), just to prove to myself that (a) I can do it and (b) it was the meds, not me.

We go out Sunset Trail, then pick up Big Laguna back…pretty simple, not too much climbing, gorgeous views and a meadow.

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It was a gorgeous day, weather was warm but breezy, not too bad. Probably better than last June, which was hot. The fires came through here however many years ago, so there are always new trees that have finally succumbed and are lying around.

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This was a perfect time to go…lots of meadow and mountain flowers, plus the oaks have all their new pinkish growth coming in.

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Seriously, there were flowers everywhere…

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We didn’t see any animals, except lizards and birds…not even the cows that are usually in the meadows!

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Looking down at Water of the Woods, which had quite a bit of water in it. There were only about 4 hikers on Sunset Trail, but a lot more (mostly bikers) on the Laguna trail. Bikes aren’t allowed on Sunset…that’s a plus.

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This bird is loud and weird. Pretty sure it’s a
Red-winged Blackbird.

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You can listen to one here…but the one I was listening to seemed to have been listening to a bunch of electronic music. He had a definite electronic twang to his song.

Walking up from the pond, that tree was just leaning there, most of its bark gone, just perched on its stump.

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Some dead trees, some burned trees…

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A view of Cuyamaca Peak, Middle Peak (to the right), and Stonewall.

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Then we come to where I sat for about 20 minutes or so last June, waiting for the helicopter to show up. They had sent out the Forest Service guys who were already out there to check on me, and then the official rescue people hiked in from Penny Pines. Boychild and I had debated if I could hike another mile, mile and a half, to Penny Pines, but I was barely able to walk more than 10 steps without feeling like I was gonna pass out by then.

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So the helicopter landed there. I had plenty of water, had drunk, had eaten. And yesterday, I was fine. No problems at all.

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So we kept hiking.

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A view of the meadow from Sunset Trail…

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There were pinecones all over the place.

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We kept going around the meadow, avoiding the mountain bikers…

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Nature at its best…

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And there’s water in the lake!

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I’ve actually never seen this much water…then again, I didn’t hike there right after the rains last year…I’m sure there was more than this.

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But it was nice to see this much anyway, along with the swathes of color across the meadows.

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No cows. Girlchild would have been disappointed.

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Heading back…

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A little over 8 miles. Definitely tiring…I zoned out most of the afternoon, but it was good. It felt good. I’m glad to have conquered that.

Meanwhile, I did buy fabrics for the background of the new quilt. There’s a contrast challenge between bodies and fireplace and floor and background wall. The left is part of the fireplace, the middle is the wall, and the right is the floor.

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I got these too. Maybe if my kids ever have kids, they will realize what all the alien fabrics are for. Or not.

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These two are still nervous about each other…

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Friday night I finished cutting out all the Wonder Under with Simba’s help…

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This mermaid with two tails was in the Starbucks in the morning…

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I finally got off the couch yesterday afternoon and sorted the Wonder Under…it didn’t take long.

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We got dinner at the new Mexican place in town. I don’t believe that Frida actually said that.

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And then I started ironing.

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I didn’t get very far, because I was tired and it was late and standing hurt my feet at that point, but it’s a start.

Some blues for a backpack…

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I’m expecting the ironing to take at least 10-12 hours…so all week, really. Hopefully I’ll be cutting pieces out by next weekend. That’s the plan anyway. Stay on task. I might need to grade some stuff sometime soon though. Sigh.

Today has a long to-do list, as always. Better get on it…

*Aimee Mann, Humpty Dumpty

Things Don’t Feel Right Over Here*

Yesterday we had a nice hike planned, and it started out that way, but didn’t end so well. I almost wasn’t going to write about it, because on some level, to me at least, it’s embarrassing, but realizing that first of all, I do write about a whole shitload of my personal experiences on here because it helps me process stuff and get it out of my head, and second of all, I really have nothing to be embarrassed about…that shit happens and I should try to see the interesting and the good in all of it. That’s how I’ve been trying to roll for the last few years, and I should just keep on keeping on.

So we started the hike and I was fine for quite a while…it was Sunset Trail, planning to come back on Big Laguna, up near Mt. Laguna off Sunset Highway. I’ve done portions of this hike or exactly this hike maybe 5 or 6 times, so this is not a newbie thing. I was fueled by one of the boychild’s really tasty apple cheddar scones (Smitten Kitchen, amazing taste)…

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It was warm, but no warmer than other hikes. We had expected it to be a little cooler though, based on the weather apps.

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There was a wide variety of seedheads to wonder about…this one was huge.

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And beautiful views, although lacking the partial cloudiness that had also been promised.

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I took a photo here of both kids about a year ago…

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And here as well…

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I was still doing OK here. I had plenty of water and was moving slowly because of the heat, but I was moving.

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Here’s Water of the Woods…no cows this time (boychild says they were just beyond here to the right…)

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Certainly more water than we saw last year…which is partly why I wanted to come up here…to see water in Big Laguna…

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Going up the hill to the second section of Sunset Trail…this is where I started to really feel the heat…

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But I was still OK enough to see and photograph wild strawberries.

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And then sometime after that, in the next mile, my body revolted. I’ve had heat exhaustion before, but this was pretty bad. I started a new medication earlier this week that probably contributed to this…it causes dehydration and dizziness. I’d had one bout of dizziness early on after starting the med, but was fine the two days before, so I wasn’t expecting my body to just stop. But stop it did. Every time I stood up and tried to get another few 100 yards, I would feel like I was going to fall over. At some point, the boychild and I decided to call…so that’s my helicopter. I got lifted out to a local park where they evaluated me. After some cool air and rest, they released me to my promise to get electrolytes in me and that the boychild was coming back to get me…which he did. He hiked back and got the car and came to the park for me.

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I had 5 Forest Service guys, who helped out and trained a newbie on how to assist a heat-exhausted hiker who had plenty of water (I really did…this is where the med was an issue), then 2 guys with the helicopter, 3 in the ambulance, and a paramedics truck with 2 more guys in it. Another newbie was training in the ambulance. I’m glad I provided them with a willing victim on which to practice.

One of the best parts was the helicopter ride…there was no door, but I was strapped in and holding on with both hands. Pretty awesome…although as he landed it in the park, there were 17 people recording the landing with their phones. Oh yeah. I thanked everybody, except my own body, which wouldn’t follow directions. Came home, called doctor, and she pulled me off the medication. Seems that’s not what it’s supposed to do, shockingly. I’ve drunk a ton of fluids and I’m still nauseous and headachy…it takes up to three days for the medication to get out of my system.

I’m often frustrated with my body’s inability to behave. I’ve been diabetic for 15 years now and I try to deal with it the best I can, but it’s frustrating as hell some days. If you’ve seen my piece Fully Medicated, you can see the issue’s been around for a while…

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Yeah, that’s the second penis-free quilt that AQS pulled from their exhibit last year…all about managing medications and how they affect your body. I would love to be medication free, but it doesn’t happen. So I’m back to a previous medication now and trying to find a better balance, whatever that means.

I will hike again as soon as I get this shit out of my system. Although now I’m nervous about it, worried my body might fail me. No matter how stubborn and persistent my mind is, my body needs to be well enough to follow through.

I did finish Block 9 of Folk Tails last night though. This is not the 9th block I’ve finished…just Block 9. I think it’s the 7th one I’ve finished…

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This looks like the 6th one I’ve finished, but there’s another half-done double block lurking somewhere…not sure where. Attached to something else probably.

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This is Block 10. A bigger hippo this time.

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I have two nights stitched on here as well…mostly two different blues on the left, filling in the herringbone stitches with fly and straight stitches.

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On Thursday night, we did an artists’ talk at Sparks Gallery for the Allied Craftsmen show…

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It was interesting, although it would be nice to have more people show up. It is downtown though, and a Thursday night. It was nice of them to host it. The best part was hearing fellow artists talk about their work and process…sometimes what we do overlaps and sometimes it doesn’t. Turns out I’m a planner (didn’t used to be…and I wanted to do one this summer that wasn’t planned…not sure that’s going to happen at this rate). But you probably knew all that by watching what I post.

OK, so I have work planned out for the next few days. I’m hoping the nausea goes away and I feel more like myself soon. I’m hoping the new med gets out of my system and lets me exercise without feeling like dying. I’m hoping to get back out on that trail and next time pass by that meadow where the helicopter landed and keep on going, strong as I ever was.

*The Roots, Don’t Feel Right

I Don’t Get What They Do It For…

I think I’m officially in panic mode…and it’s because we were proactive Wednesday and started planning the first science unit of the school year. But then you start thinking about what you need to do, what needs to be set up, what changes you want to make from last year. And you start to panic. You think about how many hours a day you will have to be grading and planning, on top of the hours at school, plus meetings etc. And how are you going to get everything else done? And new schedules and students and realizing you’re getting ALL the little brothers and sisters of the kids you happily said goodbye to in previous years. And then yesterday (I didn’t even have time to write yesterday), you have a nice luncheon with teacher friends, and it gets worse. I know I do this every year. I freak out about a week or two before school starts, because I realize how little I got done and how much is left to do, and I’m losing days left and right to school crap. Plus the kids will be leaving for college at about the same time, and that sucks too.

And the art stuff has been difficult to get done this summer, between working another job and having machine issues. And today I found out I have another project that has to get slotted in there. I mean, it’s a good thing, it’s something I wanted to do, but I’m hyperventilating.

Stop. Deep breaths. Manage.

Thankfully, all the construction noise that surrounds me at the moment didn’t start up until 9 AM this morning. They actually let me sleep a little. It’s been a sleepless summer.

Yeah. Gotta get my head out of this crazy.

So Wednesday, we hiked, and then I quilted a little bit Wednesday and Thursday nights…I’m up to 10 hours in. And I’m hoping to get it done sometime tomorrow.

I originally hoped to be done today, but it’s already 10 AM and I have errands, plus gaming tonight, so that ain’t happening. But hopefully I can get significantly into the background today.

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There’s a lot of detail on this thing, and some fussy little stuff for quilting, like those passion flowers, but they look awesome now that they’re done.

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I got the whole lower torso done Wednesday night…

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And even moved on to the heart…

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Then Thursday night, I did the right breast, covered with cat…

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Strategically placed flower for nipple…and then did the tiger (hid the nipple in the fur pattern) and the cactus and the seaweed to finish up the left breast and arm, except for the octopus. It was midnight. I was tired.

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So today, I’m going to do the head and the right arm, plus the very top of the torso. And then start the hours of background. This one has a lot of it.

So I had been wanting to do either a Cuyamaca or Lagunas hike all summer, but it takes a while to get out there, plus weather, so this last Wednesday was the first one I felt organized enough to pull it off. I have to make dinner ahead of time and figure out the leaving time based on sunset and hike times, etc. I wanted to repeat a hike I did in January 2015, but that was full snow. I read the organizer’s description, but there was one section I couldn’t figure out, so I emailed him and he sent the GPS map, which actually turned out to be way more useful than all the Afoot and Afield pages I photographed. In the end, it was a well-marked trail and we only had one minor crisis of direction. It lasted about 2 minutes.

It was a gorgeous day for it…nice and cool for most of it. They threatened thunderstorms in the early afternoon, and the clouds definitely looked like they could pull that off, but we didn’t start hiking until 5 PM.

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I love the mountain vistas, the pines, even the dead grass.

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And the views. Smartass.

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There was some minor bouldering, just because.

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I like hiking with my kids. It’s gonna suck when they’re gone. We did see a deer, but I couldn’t get a photo of it in time. We thought we’d see more when we got to the meadows, but the cows were out and so were the mountain bikers, so just the one. And girlchild didn’t see it, so she was pissed.

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There’s something about climbing up…

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Lots of bugs and grasses on the back end of the trail, the Sunset Trail portion.

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And then we came out into the cows…and the Water of the Woods, which still has water. Last time I saw it, it was mostly frozen over.

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The meadows are gorgeous, even without water in the lakes.

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We came back via the Big Laguna Trail…there weren’t any other hikers that we saw…just one pair of bikers on this end, and then a group of about 15 of them near the end, and we could outwalk them on the slopes.

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Big beautiful pines that survived the fires. You can see the burn marks on the trunks.

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The sun was definitely on its way down. We had a couple of really slow miles due to…um…chaos. Let’s just call it that. But we sped up on these last miles (and we had headlamps, worst case).

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We figure some virus or something causes these giant ball-shaped things on the old oaks…

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And this has to be woodpeckers…or something. Such perfectly placed holes, all the way up and down the trunk.

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This low-lying plant (not the grasses) had all these weird giant pods all over it.

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We saw morteros galore in this rock…would have been a nice place to hang out in the summer. Much cooler than East County is at the moment.

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I think this was officially sunset. We did think we should have gone BACK the Sunset Trail, so we could have seen the actual sunset, but this worked…

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These tiny flowers were everywhere…

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This was watching sunset hit the trees to the east…

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And the last bit of the path, as dusk fell around us.

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We drove off in the dark, 8 miles, a good hike…probably the last long one before they leave. We’ll see.

And yesterday, while talking to the garden guy who came out to help me figure out my yard, we watched the raccoon who has been hanging out in our yard walk right across in broad daylight and climb the tree…about 30 feet up. He’s sleeping in a fork of the tree up there…

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If you can’t figure it out, the left circle is one of his feet and the right circle is his head.

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I didn’t have my phone when he walked across the yard, unfortunately.

So I’m quilting today. Lots of hours. Need to get done. Construction noise has started up again. So distracting. Oh well. Turn up the noise.

*Amanda Palmer, The Killing Type

Hiking the Lagunas in Snow

This may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but I live in Southern California. Hiking in snow is just fucking crazy. So we did it anyway.

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Sure, there wasn’t much snow at the beginning, but it was cold…it actually snowed Tuesday/Wednesday, and this was Saturday, so not too bad. No chains needed to drive there even.

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It was bloody beautiful though…

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Didn’t expect it to be as hard to hike as it was though. We did part of the Sunset and Big Laguna Trails, a big loop around the Laguna lakes and meadows.

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Thing is, the easiest bit to hike was on the packed snow, but even that required balance…

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And the icy bits were hard to hike, as were the muddy bits, and the icy muddy bits with big pools of water underneath. Yeah those were fun.

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So I’m a little sore today…two days later.

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Totally worth it though. I’ve done this hike in the fall and it’s gorgeous then too…

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Not too much climbing, mostly flat…

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But we took 4 hours to do 7.2 miles, so you know it was harder than normal.

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I’d do it again though.

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One of the lakes, seemingly frozen over. When we came back, a lone duck was sitting in the middle of it, like, where’s my lake?

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There were snowmen scattered all over the trail…in fact, I’m not sure how we would have known where the trail was if someone hadn’t come through before us and stomped it all down.

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Because a lot of it looked like this…

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Yup. Ice.

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We came back by this lake later and took the Laguna Meadow trail…

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The sun was out and it got up to the high 40s, maybe low 50s at one point.

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Definitely shedding layers, fleece off, down to long sleeves and an undershirt…

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You can see what the trail looked like there…

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Poles would have been smart. I do have them. I just didn’t think I’d need them. You’d think I’d learn. Ha!

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Gorgeous day, beautiful trail…

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Great views…

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Two of ours making snow angels…like you do.

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This part of the trail was a little less broken in…

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But still doable.

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I didn’t get snow in my socks until that part…

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You can see the trail here is mud and ice…

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And the meadow stretches for miles…

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More mud and ice…

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We ate lunch with this view…

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These guys in the distance…

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More beauty.

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I guess living in a desert means this never gets old. OK, if I lived in Michigan, this might get old.

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But I don’t. I live here, in a drought, in the sun. It’s 80 degrees today…

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And this stuff is probably melting like crazy.

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Even there, you can see the sun has cleared those pine needles…

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It wasn’t an easy hike…I mean, I think it would have been easy without the trail conditions.

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More trails and the other lake…

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No wildlife, except that duck and some ravens…and all the humans out there…

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Definitely a great hike…went for the pretty and that’s what I got…plus a monster workout. This hike is out of Afoot and Afield. You park on Sunrise Highway at the 19-mile marker. There are two porta-potties, but they were full to the rim when we got there. Fun stuff! Plenty of parking, nice trail. I’ll do this again, both in the snow and not.