Monday, October 31, 2011


Digby and I went up to the Angeles National Forest on Saturday. I hadn't been up there since the Station Fire and thought it was about time to go up and take a look. I am glad I waited; the re-growth is coming along, though there are large swaths of ghost forest (standing burned, dead trees), there is surprising amounts of intact growth along the road in a lot of places.

How a chilly dog gets toasty.

A nice little day use area at Chilao.

Along the creekbed, willows have turned yellow.

Digby on the alert for squirrels.

Yes--we have fall in California! A pair of cottonwoods show their fall finery.

Digby chilaxin' in the the back of the truck.

My favorite day spot, Chilao, is like an island in the midst of some of the worst fire burned area--virtually untouched. Buckhorn was also left intact, which made me really happy as this is a most idyllic piece of the forest, with giant Western Red Cedar, Jeffrey and Coulter Pines. Set down in a canyon along a seasonal stream, this spot is one of the most lovely in the forest.

The narrow road into Buckhorn is quite lovely.

One of the beautiful campsites at Buckhorn.

When we got up to the 6500' level, the air became increasingly cooler, and ranged from 58-64 degrees throughout the day. (Yes, I know that seems like a heat wave to a lot of areas of the country!). Digby actually got chilled and I had to wrap in in a blanket for a while.

We had a light lunch of cheese, apple, and crackers, and I got out my Brunton Flex backpacking stove and heated some water for tea. Then went for a nice long walk. I was pleasantly surprised by how easily I could now walk up at altitude, due to all the extra walking I've been doing with the dog the past couple of months. Truly a pleasure!

After an hour we headed down to Buckhorn. We hiked a ways on the Burkhardt Trail and then continued on down the road. We drove the length of Highway 2 from La Canada to Wrightwood seeing hardly any other vehicles, which was lovely indeed.

View from about 7000' down into the San Bernardino area. Nothing but wilderness down in those canyons, where deer and bighorn sheep roam.

We drove home via the Antelope Valley, Soledad Canyon, and the 5. It was a long day--8 hours total, and we were both glad to get home.

Traveling with Digby is a lot of fun; I forgot how much fun a dog can be and what swell companions they are! Can't wait for our next adventure!

Monday, October 3, 2011


A couple weeks ago my partner and I decided to add a dog to our family. We’d been talking about it for a few years, but never lived anywhere that we could have one. We were also going to wait until we retired.

But a recent medical scare for my partner helped us make up our minds. She is supposed to get a lot more exercise now and we thought walking a dog would be just the ticket. Little did I know that it would benefit me so much as well!

I haven’t had a dog for about 27 years. My last pooch, a miniature poodle named Fiamma (‘flame’ in Italian), lived to the ripe age of 17. She was a good dog and a fine travelling companion. She loved to camp, hike, swim—that dog never knew she was a poodle!

I’ve missed having a little four-legged outdoor pal, and Valerie had never had a dog before and really wanted one, so we started looking.

Our main consideration was one that would get along with our cats. A puppy was out of the question, as we don’t have the time and energy to put into the training. So we hunted for an adult dog that had been (hopefully) socialized with cats.

A couple days of online searching through some rescue groups and we found a likely candidate: Digby! A group called Tiny Loving Creatures based in Simi Valley, who usually only rescues Chihuahuas, found Digby in the Ventura County Animal Shelter and decided to rescue him, too. He was considered a ‘Beagle/Chihuahua mix’, but at 14 lbs, he was a lot larger than all the other dogs. Still, they thought they could find a home for him. He’d already been given a long extension at the shelter because he was so likable.

To cut to the chase, we went and met Digby at the Petco in Simi Valley on Saturday, September 17 and fell in love with him. He’s sweet and quite a little character. Our vet thinks he is Beagle and Bulldog, and we also think he may have some ‘Doxie” in him, too. He’ got over’ the cats pretty quickly, especially the younger one. The 10 year old took a little longer, but it was a peaceable kingdom after only a week.
Digby in his new bed-first day home

This past weekend I took him on his first trip to the mountains. It was quite an adventure for him, I’m sure. All the smells were unfamiliar. It was a long car trip for him, but he’s really mellow and just laid down and dozed in the ‘shotgun seat.’

Chillin' in back of the truck
Enjoying the forest

I’m looking forward to many more adventures with this little guy!

McGill Campground, Mt. Pinos
View down into Frazier Park from McGill