Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Back in November Paula and I headed up to Angeles National Forest for a day of adventure and birding. It was a lovely day and the weather was cool, which was a pure pleasure from some of the heat we'd been getting in the flats. Both of us have way more energy for hiking when it's cooler. The view above is looking back down the road from a pull out that was about 3/4 of the way to our destination.
When we reached Buckhorn Campground Trailhead, we found this sign. It didn't affect what we had planned, so we promptly ignored it.
We did, however, pay attention to this one! we were warned, but the "Ursine Folk" never made an appearance.
There was quite a bit of water in the stream and we figured it must be spring-fed, as it hadn't rained in some time. There were lots of neat little waterfalls all along the trail. Unfortunately it was a steeper slope than it looks in this photo, so this is as close as we got to the water.
This old tree is spending its final days as a piece of natural trailside sculpture.
The start of the trail looked so inviting. The trees here are magnificent: Western Red Cedar, Coulter Pine, Spruce--and all so very, very tall.
These odd branches really caught my eye. Trees have a way of contorting their limbs to sustain themselves through drought, destruction, wind, light.
And then there's always that rebel in the bunch that has to stand out from the rest. I'll never know how a tree can grow from what appears to be sheer rock, but I have read that their seedlings are strong and they are able to sprout in a granite crevice.
Note how the branches all seem to be on one side--the side that gets the most sun during the day.
After about a mile or so we found this narrowing of the trail. We didn't walk too much further, as it started sharply downhill and we didn't feel like walking back up (we are adventurous, but we are also lazy!).
When we looked towards the NE, this was the view. True high-country topography.
A natural 'dolmen' along the trail added an air of mystery...
And a rock fortress across the ravine beckoned us to explore.
Paula taking a break and enjoying the scenery. It was absolutely gorgeous here and we plan to go back--after the winter snow is gone, of course! This area is buried right now. But it's something to dream about.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
An oak grove seemed like a most appropriate place to celebrate the Winter Solstice. Noel and I went to Topanga State Park this morning to hike and revel in the beauty of this place. I've been exploring my pagan roots ever since I decided to embrace the matriarchal side of my family; both grandmothers were Scots-Irish (the Germanic side of my grandfathers doesn't resonate with me all that much). As I've immersed myself more and more into nature and gotten involved with conservation issues, I feel very connected to the Earth, in often deep and compelling ways. And so this Winter Solstice will be just the beginning (as it should be at this time of year) of a new life and new year celebrating the calendar round of the ancient Celts and Druids.
- Common Raven
- Red-tailed Hawk
- Oak Titmouse
- Spotted Towhee
- California Thrasher
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Campsite under the oaks
This is why I don't backpack--I'm too much of a hedonist!
The "Mystery Bug" - Still haven't identified this little oddity.
Acron Woodpecker granary. There was a large family of them that had claimed the whole area around our campsite. It was neat waking up to their lively chattering, buzzing, and drumming in the morning.
Wheeler Gorge, July 2008
Backtracking a bit with this post, to a camping trip taken this past summer. It was bloody hot that weekend, which made hiking at all but dusk and dawn nearly impossible. It was nice to be outside all weekend though. Each evening we walked out across the road to the visitor’s center parking lot to watch the bats come out.
On the second night, as we were sitting in camp and just gazing up at the gathering dusk, we were treated to a big shooting star that streaked across the SW sky; one of those fortuitous moments when you happen to be looking at the right time. No fires were allowed, due to high fire danger, so we had a ‘dark camp’ each night, too.
Of course some bozos were racing on the road a few miles up from the campground, went off the side, and started a brushfire. We watched as a parade of fire-fighting vehicles roared past for the next half hour. Fortunately they got the fire out, but Paula and I were at least mentally prepared to evacuate if the need had arisen.
There were also quite a few bozos in the campground that were having campfires despite the ban and when the firefighters were coming back down the hill they must have seen the smoke because the drove through the whole campground and made them put the campfires out. There’s always some who never think the rules apply to them—and do not care who else they put at risk.
When we were breaking camp on Sunday I managed to piss off a yellowjacket when I was trying to shoo it out of the tent. I was waving my hand around when it turned and stung me on the left index finger. Wow, that smarted! Needless to say the rest of packing up was a bit more difficult.
It was a nice ‘shake-down’ trip for Paula and I though, as this was our first camping adventure together. We found out that we camp together well and had a great time. And we plan to visit this area gain during winter when it’s cooler and less crowded.
[Composed while listening to soundtrack of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King]
Saturday, December 13, 2008
We lost a great man and champion for ‘urban wild’ this past Wednesday. Milt McAuley, who wrote the first hiking guide to the Los Angeles area and was an avid hiker until age 85, passed on of natural causes.
He grew up, literally, in the outdoors; his father was an engineer for the Southern Pacific Railroad and one year the family lived in a tent for a year as they followed a work train through the Oregon wilderness. He was a boy scout and led hiking and backpacking trips from age 16. One of the 10 hikers who plotted the Backbone Trail across the Santa Monica Mountains, he also led a 7-day hike across that trail when he was 83.
McAuley was a firm believer in letting more people know about hiking trails, despite some critics that felt the areas should be protected. He said, “If you don’t build a trail and invite people in, someone would come along and subdivide the land. To preserve parkland, you need to access to it. Otherwise nobody will vote the funds to acquire it.”
So long, Milt. I know you are hiking the hills of Summerland and watching down upon those of us who love this Earthly land as you did, and guiding us to continue our promotion and protection of this great gift.
[Composed to Capercaillie's "When You Return"]