CA – April 2021, Wildflowers of Shasta County (Part 1)

I was on a walking/hiking timeout after pushing my knee rehab boundaries so when I was told about these fields of Tidy Tips (aka Tidytips) and California Goldfields, I just had to see for myself. I found fields along Millville Plains and Manton Roads.

Little did I know I’d also find among those tightly packed blooms, this mystery plant I later learned was Woolly meadowfoam Limnanthes floccosa, California Rare Plant Rank: 4.2 (limited distribution). Source: Calflora

I didn’t know if these had bloomed yet but according to a local botanist they hadn’t and he gave me the location of where he found some blooming. In a ditch! Yes these plants like water and are often found near vernal pools. They are tiny. The pods are only about 1/2″ in diameter. So after wandering around for about an hour I found success!

I sent a friend out to see for herself and even though I said 1/2″ pods and 4-6″ plants she was expecting something much different. This provides better size perspective.

The fringe pod displays were enticing as well.

The Dwarf Brodiaea were just starting to bloom.

White Brodiaea

The Blue Dips/Dicks shared center stage with the Tidy Tips.

Even the bees thought this was a marvelous treat.

They may be my new happy flower.

I was especially grateful I could access these beauties with very little effort. They truly are roadside flowers.

CA – April 2021, Wildflowers of Tehama County

Probably the best area to hike and see wildflowers in Tehama County is at the Sacramento River Bend Recreation Area (link).

This area offers amazing wildflowers viewing in the spring. The rolling hills of this oak woodland are carpeted with purple and yellow in all directions. The Hog Lake Plateau and the Yana Trail are great locations to view open expanses of blooming wildflowers.” Source: BLM website

The displays aren’t as splashy as at North Table Mountain Ecological Preserve in Butte County which I shared previously (link), and you might need to share a bit with the cows, but it’s much less busy with several trailheads providing access and varying terrain. The 360-views are phenomenal on clear days where you can see the snowy peaks of Lassen, Shasta, the Trinity Alps and Yolla Bollys.

Another positive is that there are several opportunities to spend time along the Sacramento River, either dipping your toes or viewing the soaring eagles and others who fancy flight.

These photos were taken primarily from my hike starting at the Iron Canyon Trailhead. The Bird’s-eye Gilia tickled my fancy. I couldn’t get enough of these bright cheerful flowers.

This was my introduction to Glue-seed (Blennosperma nanum). There were plentiful as were Popcornflowers.

Possibly my favorite find was Padre’s Shooting Star (Primula clevelandi). This was my first year to notice white shooting stars and I mistakenly thought they were all the same variety but discovered that Henderson’s can also be found in white and various shades of pink.

Johnny-tuck aka Butter and Eggs Triphysaria eriantha plus a bonus Goldfields

Not positive on this one. The Seek app identified as Smallflower Woodland Star (Lithophragma parviflorum).

Isn’t this a great name? Definitely descriptive. Cowbag Clover (Trifolium depauperatum).

White Brodiaea Triteleia hyacinthia

California poppies and Mediterranean Stork’s-bill

Nature’s perfect bouquet.

By mid to late April the wildflowers fade away to be replaced by brown grasses, rattlesnakes, and stickers while the beauties go into hibernation waiting to spring forth the next year.

CA – April 2021, Wildflowers of Butte County

I was introduced to this volcanic area in 2013, before it was popularized, regulated and overrun by the masses. With the exception of last year I’ve been traveling every spring since then and haven’t had the opportunity to return. Last year it was closed due to COVID, this year I was determined to return. It was one of my knee rehab goals. But I have severe crowd anxiety. I’d prefer to skip these opportunities rather than share with the masses. I also have a no regrets policy so I was determined to find a way to enjoy regardless of it’s popularity.

This 2013 photo clearly shows I didn’t know about not crushing the blooms, but then again it taught me to behave like the cows.

I clearly remember visiting the waterfalls, especially making this sketchy descent to explore the cave and cool rocks below one of the waterfalls. I hear a rope now exists to assist with that steep section.

It was worth it, but I can say been there, done that, don’t need to do that again. There are 9 waterfalls that can be viewed during the rainy season on an 11-mile cross-country loop (link). I’ve only been to a few so someday I’ll go back and hike this complete loop.

My goal this trip was much different. My knee was a little extra sensitive so my plan was to take it easy and see what I could see given my limitations. To minimize crowd encounters I arrived on a weekday at 8am and followed the cow paths rather than the waterfall trail. The poppies were still sleeping, so while I waited for their 10am wake-up call, I roamed and found many more photography opportunities.

Kellogg’s Monkeyflower
Seep Monkeyflower
Fringe Pods

“Created by ancient lava (basalt) flows, the approximately 3,300 acre North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve is an elevated basalt mesa with beautiful vistas of spring wildflowers, waterfalls, lava outcrops, and a rare type of vernal pool, called Northern Basalt Flow Vernal Pools.” Source: North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve webpage

Jan’s perfect bouquet!
Owl’s clover, Bird’s-eye Gilia, Blue Dips/Dicks, Lupine, Poppies, Popcorn flowers and green green green!
Owl’s clover and Bird’s-eye Gilia
Bird’s-eye Gilia and California Poppies
California Poppies, Lupine and Blue Dips

I enjoyed seeing the vast color swatches.

It was a great day to hang out with the cows.

On the other hand far in the distance I could see the waterfall trail conga line.

When I arrived just before 8am there were maybe a dozen cars in the parking area. When I left around noon there were hundreds with hordes of people every which way. My strategy was successful and I didn’t encounter others until the last few minutes of my day. For those wanting to explore the large variety of wildflowers, the season covers several months and includes over a hundred varieties. You can download this botany guide (link). For further information and preparation, be sure to visit the North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve website (link) to purchase your day use permit, CDFW Lands Pass (link). If you go please respect private property signs and fences, and carry a litter bag to clean up after those less thoughtful.

Peak wildflower season is short. Usually 2-3 weeks in late March to early April. Once things start drying out, the large stickers pictured below will ruin your shoes and socks, which will keep you to the main trails.

I felt like I was one in a million, the pink among the blue.

It was a no-regrets day. If it wasn’t a 4-hour round trip drive, I’d return more frequently to find individual blooms like the fairy lanterns.

“I must have flowers, always, and always.”
― Claude Monet

CA – March 2021 (Part 2) Wildflowers of Shasta County

WordPress has decided it’s time for change. Can my old brain adapt? Well, this is the message I receive repeatedly, “Updating failed. Sorry, you are not allowed to edit this post.” Fun, right? Please let me know if there are any problems with content.

I spent the month of March on the trails around Redding delighted when I found new blooms. The elevation was 500-1000 feet. I’ll repeat a few from my previous posts so you can enjoy the progression of blooms through the month.

The below photos were taken on the following trails:

This is the best resource for current status of Redding area trails (link).

Blue Dicks photobombed by my friend’s dog. They’ve recently been renamed Dipterostemon capitatus and slowly will be referenced as Blue Dips.
California Buttercup Ranunculus californicus seem to be the first show of color in this area.
Another sign of spring are prolific spreads of Indian Warrior or Warrior’s Plume.
Pacific Hound’s Tongue Adelinia grande
Henderson’s Shooting Star Primula hendersonii
The first white I’d seen of Henderson’s Shooting Star Primula hendersonii
Pussy Ears aka Tolmie’s Star Tulip Calochortus tolmiei
Pussy Ears aka Tolmie’s Star Tulip Calochortus tolmiei

I was introduced to these lilies last year and have been obsessed since, always on the alert for these hard-to-miss gems. They appear as dead or dying plants but when you look inside or catch the light they are A+ beauties.

Henderson’s Shooting Star Primula hendersonii and Checker Lily Fritillaria affinis
Checker Lily Fritillaria affinis
Checker Lily Fritillaria affinis
Checker Lily Fritillaria affinis
Red Maids Calandrinia menziesii
California Dutchmans Pipe Aristolochia californica (not a wildflower but cool and my first sighting)
Popcorn Flower Plagiobothrys tenellus 
Henderson’s Shooting Star Primula hendersonii and Saxifrage
Stork’s Bill Erodium cicutarium
Baby Blue Eyes Nemophila menziesii
California Poppy
California poppy and a Blue Dick

I was pretty excited to find this one. I don’t believe I’ve seen it previously. No evidence in previous March photos. I haven’t checked my April files yet, so maybe . . . .

Fivespot Nemophila maculata
Wild Cucumber
Fringe Pods and ? maybe non-native radish
Purple Sanicle

I spent days in search of these. Friends kept spotting them but my timing was wrong and finally it was my day. Of course it was a breezy day so I got lots of blurry photos but in the end I was happy to have a few blog worthy!

Scarlet Fritillary Fritillaria recurva

I took some friends to see the Baby Blue Eyes and Fivespots. They were way more plentiful than when I’d been there a week earlier and we also found this surprise. Upon investigation we found this to be a Desert Bluebell, not something native to this area. A little more detective work and we discovered mixed wildflower seeds were given out after the 2018 Carr Fire and included was this beauty.

Desert Bluebells Phacelia campanularia

The wildflower seed packets also explains why the Baby Blue Eyes and Fivespots were found growing in proximity. We had our own theories until we found this much more likely answer.

Baby Blue Eyes and Fivespots

This baby fivespot was too cute not to include.


With the help of my friends I was introduced the Skullcaps.

Scutellaria is a genus of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. They are known commonly as skullcaps.
Tomcat Clover Trifolium

Spring would not be spring in California without poppies.

California Poppy

This is the first year in many I’ve been “home” to enjoy the local spring blooms. My knee rehab is continuing to progress and being able to spend time on easy trails adorned with flowers has made the time pass quickly. I’m looking forward to expanding my geographic region in April in my quest to find more spring blooms. For those of you in cooler climates I hope these photos bring you smiles.

Knee rehab bragging rights:

  • Longest walk – 8 miles
  • Most elevation gain – 600 feet over 6.5 miles
  • Max pace – 2.8mph (on flattish pavement)
  • Flexion – 130+ degrees (equal to other side)
  • Squat – Full heels on the floor backcountry potty position!

I’m currently working on speed and agility training. I feel like I’m getting ready for soccer or football. My gait still needs work but I’ve seen huge improvements over the past few weeks.

CA – March 2021 Jaunts . . . starring Shasta County (Part 1)

I continued marching my way toward freedom from knee surgery rehab (link) during the month. My first big accomplishment was on the Sacramento River Trail in Redding when I was able to walk the hilly side to Ribbon Bridge. My gait was still awkward on inclines/declines. I continued working on hip/quad strengthening.

There’s nothing like stairs to help me gain fitness, and in this case it’s a bonus rehab workout. This 42-step staircase provides a great detour on my walking route.

After a friend recently hiked the Oak Bottom Ditch Trail at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, I was encouraged to do the same. It’s one I’d previously bypassed due to it’s proximity to the highway, plus being relatively short at 2.5 miles and nearly zero elevation gain. But for rehab purposes it was perfect. That’s Shasta Bally in the background.

There were large patches of Indian Warrior aka Warrior’s Plume.

Most exciting was finding first-of-the-season Pussy or Kitten Ears.

When you get spring fever, what do you do? That’s right, pull the paddleboard out of storage and on this 75-degree, no wind day, make a 2021 maiden voyage. If the photo looks familiar it might be because my walk previously was along the right shoreline.

The Churn Creek Greenway Trails provide an option to the paved Lema Ranch Trails on McConnell Foundation land. They include wide gravel paths as well as single track along the creek. Buttercups were showy as they welcomed spring.

It was a milestone day as I reached 8 miles on the mostly flat Upper Sacramento River Ditch Trail, part of the BLM Keswick Trails system. I walked between the Walker Mine trailhead and the Flanagan Trail junction enjoying the rare treat of being outside a burned canopy.

There were a few Indian Warriors blooming but the Toyon Berries were really putting on a show.

This trail offers views down to paved Sacramento River Rail Trail I’d walked several times in February, and where I’d set my previous milestone of 6.5 miles.

When a friend shared photos of a couple wildflowers I’d been anxious to photograph, it was time to revisit Princess Ditch Trail, part of the BLM Mule Ridge trail system. Rain was in the forecast but I knew overcast skies lent themselves to better photography. I started from the Stoney Gulch Trailhead walking south toward the down tree that turned me around on my last visit. The Buttercups spread their cheer along the trail.

First on my search list were these white shooting stars.

I struck out on finding Scarlett Fritillary but I was happy to find these Checker Lily (Fritillaria affinis).

The trail was loaded with Henderson’s Shooting Stars.

I found my first Mariposa Lily bloom of the year.

The Blue Dicks were just coming into bloom.

The most recent WordPress update makes it nearly impossible for me to edit posts, so I’ll attempt to use their new formatting on my next post. If it’s too much work, this may be the end of my blogging for now. Google is also making changes starting in June where I’ll no longer have free photo storage so that’s already had me researching options. Argh CHANGE! sometimes good, sometimes bad, but usually requires adaptation or failure. Wish me luck!

CA – February 2021 Jaunts . . . starring Shasta and Tehama Counties

February was a month of newfound freedoms. This long rehab (link) has given me an appreciation of things normally taken for granted.

I began the month by walking crutch-free on nearby trails like those at Lema Ranch made available to the public by McConnell Foundation.

The Sacramento River Trail in Redding provided opportunities to dream about the snow I’d be missing this year.

I found the confidence to try the sandy paths at Turtle Bay Arboretum Gardens.

With time I moved from the wide paths to expand my exploration.

With warm spring days the turtles decided to make an appearance.

Slow steps gave me time to watch early spring brighten the gardens.

The Lenten roses in their various hues captured my attention.

The summer snowflake seemed to be an appropriate name as we transition from winter to spring.

Euphorbias are a favorite.

I had time to study all the mosaic art details.

I found more early blooms on my neighborhood walks.

The paved trail surrounding nearby Mary Lake was another place where I could practice walking while enjoying nature.

By mid month I was feeling the need to escape. I hadn’t been more than 30 minutes from town since before my surgery. So I took a drive to Lassen Volcanic National Park where I could at least feel the tease of snow.

As I continued my loop drive I just HAD to stop by and visit an old friend.

I couldn’t resist the urge to test my footing on this beautiful path, after all I just happened to have my hiking poles in the car.

To say I was elated was an understatement. YES I walked 2.5 miles on the PCT!

At the end of January, with crutch assistance, I was able to walk 4 miles; but, in early February, without the crutch, I was maxing out at 2.5-3 miles per session. I came up with the brilliant win/win solution of carrying my UL chair and lunch so I could turn my outing into two sessions. SUCCESS! I made it 6.5 miles with a few sit down breaks while out on the Sacramento River Rail Trail, and by carrying the pack I was getting ready for a future backpack trip.

As my gait improved, I was motivated to find easy terrain like nicely switchbacked Princess Ditch Trail, part of the Muletown Recreation Area.

I was rewarded with a few blooms including these shooting stars.

Hound’s Tongue


My next walk was on the Cloverdale Loop Trail in the Clear Creek Greenway Recreation Area.

I found one patch of Indian Warriors.

One of the most challenging to photograph, Buttercup.

My final walk of February was on the Yana Trail at the Sacramento River Bend Recreation Area, where the Sacramento River and Lassen Peak are showcased.

This area should be full of color in another few weeks. On this visit the Blue Dicks were just starting to open.

After the past few weeks, I’m feeling much more optimistic about my potential to hike and backpack this summer. The surgeon said I most likely would be ready to begin hiking in April, thus the reason I’m calling these dirt trail excursions, walks. At my last physical therapy appointment I completed a survey about my recovery. One question was whether I could walk stairs. I answered NO. The therapist challenged me and said you can’t or haven’t tried. I said I don’t have stairs. He took me to the hall where there was a 12-step staircase. Ok YES I can!!! So now I’ve been incorporating nearby stairs into my walks. I’d already been using an aerobic step at home and had worked my way up to 15″.

February was a great rehab month! It was a huge improvement over the proceeding months. March is going to be even better. Every day of walking is getting me one step closer to hiking and backpacking. I’m grateful for public lands with varied trails. Summer is coming and I’m going to be ready! But first, I’ll enjoy a spring filled with butterflies and wildflowers.

2021 – From Workaholic to Playaholic, a podcast interview and more

I had an awesome career; however, I wasn’t very successful at the work/play balance. I was all about achieving goals, much like focusing on destinations such as mountain summits or some cool waterfall, rather than enjoying all the other wonders along the trail. In late summer 2014, I said goodbye to the office and hello to opportunities. A few years earlier I’d discovered this new passion called hiking and backpacking. Little did I know it would open doors to travel and living more nights in my car than my tent or house.

My home on wheels . . . Crazy cool (or just plain crazy) to realize I’ve spent around 400 nights sleeping in my car over the past 6 years, with 123 nights in 2019 being the record. Over the past 5 years I’ve averaged 150 nights annually away from home. Want to know all the details? I have an entire section on my blog dedicated to exactly this, Me & My CRV (link).

Meanwhile I’ve spent an average of 56 days per year over the past 6 years backpacking with 2015 being my banner year at 74 days. Those days closely mirror time spent in my tent. I’ve written several blog posts about my decade of lessons learned (link).

After listening to Zoe Langley-Wathen on a Trail Dames podcast (link) talking about saying YES more, I realized listeners might be interested in how I transformed my life by saying YES more as well. I reached out to Anna, Mud Butt, and as a result this podcast interview came to be (link).

As I prepared for the interview I thought about those little life events that became ah ha moments, eventually pushing me away from my career and into this new playground.

  • Perimenopause was not kind to me. I started the insomnia cycle which led to poor performance, lack luster enthusiasm, and spiraling health status.
  • Driving a forested road woke up so many senses and stirred a desire for something more.
  • Getting shot while riding my bike in a drive-by shooting was a serious wake-up call about regrets.
  • Watching family and friends face ailments that removed quality of life and their retirement dreams.
  • Finding adventure groups who knew how to fill their calendars with adult play.

Did I feel financially prepared to retire without income? Did I know what retirement would look like? Absolutely NOT! However I felt compelled to take this career break before my health declined further. I lived frugally and didn’t have debt. I decided to take a leap of faith. It didn’t happen immediately. For a few years I reduced my work hours while training my replacement and taking care of some neglected projects. When I couldn’t focus any longer, I knew the day had come. 

My last day of work was 8/7/14. I took a couple weeks to settle things at home before leaving for 3 weeks in Washington.

Those trips were affirmation of my decision to say YES to play more work less

This inReach map with over 2,600 check-in messages provides a good visual of my playground.

Travel Summaries:


Previous Podcasts:

2021 – Winter Wisdom . . . Quantum Leaps and Silver Linings

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s been to readjust expectations. Reflecting back to March when COVID-19 sent me home, I had to reimagine how I’d live under house/town arrest. I was continuously lowering my expectations about where and when I’d walk or hike or backpack. But as the weeks led into months I got better at making the best of my boundaries, my choices.

When my knee threw a temper tantrum in early September and I learned surgery was the only answer, I had no choice but to once again hit the reset on my fall plans. When my surgeon told me I’d be out a month or so, I adjusted. However when he told me during surgery it was going to be 6 weeks on crutches, that took some digging deep to toss all fall planning to the wind. Only at 6 weeks did I learn that was just Phase 1. Best case scenario I’d be able to start baby step hiking in April-ish.

So I settled in for a very long winter, and found myself faced with many disappointments and the need to lower expectations. Those ever important milestones were pipe dreams.

  1. When your surgeon says 1-5 days on crutches, but you learn otherwise during surgery.
  2. When your surgeon says 6 weeks on crutches, but you learn that’s just the beginning.
  3. When your PT says 2-3 weeks to transition off crutches, but that’s off double crutches. 
  4. When your PT says 8-12 weeks to transition off solo crutch, but that all depends.

My first big outing was a month after surgery. Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is about 15 minutes from my house and offers this view from the Visitor Center. With few people around this became a regular event. How far can I hop?

My front yard tree was a way to enjoy the changing of the seasons. I could spend time sitting on my front patio in the sun. Oh the sun, was a huge healer.

I gained a much greater appreciation for ADA access. It was challenging to find places to sit with paved flat access near parking. I’m grateful for this spot on the banks of the Sacramento River which is only a few minutes from my house.

By Thanksgiving I was ready to start working on solo crutch walking. My driveway was too steep so I figured out this solution. The cul-de-sac became my workout arena.

As my strength and endurance improved I found myself looking for more places to escape town. This pullover at Whiskeytown is a JFK Memorial. It includes a picnic table! Another area was the Brandy Creek boat launch area, where I spent many days with the SUP this past summer. I’m hoping paddleboarding will be an option come spring.

As I started my 10th week of rehab, I was finally able to start spinning. The stool came in handy for getting me on the bike. Having an inside gym has been essential in my rehab.

On December 12, I decided to see if the walker would give me better mobility. Well one day of use and the next I took my first independent steps! PT nixed using the walker but I enjoyed a one week break from the crutches.

Shortly after Christmas I was given solo crutch speed walking as my homework. This was my first recording. Hard to imagine feeling excited about walking less than a half mile (my tracker must have been wonky as there aren’t any hills unless you count speedbumps). Once again it’s all about expectations. 

Friends told me Shasta Dam was a good place for a picnic. They didn’t realize getting from the car to a table was more than I could do initially. But by early January I could crutch walk across the dam, making 1.5 miles round trip.

This is a neighborhood park and was a good place to test my improvements on a paved trail, with benches and picnic tables providing a nice .75 mile loop. At first I could only crutch to the first picnic table, then it was to the bench, then it was around the lake once and soon I could make it around twice. I even saw a muskrat or otter.

Finding flat places with decent pavement was a challenge. The neighborhood streets were traveled regularly on one of my twice daily jaunts. I found first blooms. We already had a 75-degree day; too warm, too early for my liking.

What once was a ranch was absorbed by a philanthropic organization to preserve green space, as urban development found itself stretching boundaries. I really like this trail system as it’s free of bikes, scooters and dogs. It was a safe place for crutch work. It includes several ponds so it’s also great for birding. Fruit trees have been maintained and are now available for public pickings.

We have a 17-mile paved trail with easy town access. Many places are too busy with bikes, kids, dogs, scooters and now fast motorized versions for safe crutching. Others are too hilly. So this spur that I call Avenue of the Giants has become one of my spots.

Another area is part of the rail trail. It’s further out of town so somewhat less busy. I believe this trail system is now about 17 miles one way. When I first started using these trails about 20 years ago often you wouldn’t see anyone. This has become a perfect example of “if you build it they will come.” I’m glad to see the community more active. As I neared my 4-month post-op mark, I was up to 4 miles averaging 2.4 mph.

Being able to walk for 2 hours opened up possibilities like walking through an oak savannah where I could enjoy reflections like these in Turtle Pond.

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area doesn’t offer much in terms of ADA paths, but this one to Crystal Creek Falls was worth a visit. It’s amazing how much you’ll seek out options when you need to escape urban noise.

Whiskeytown was devastated by the 2018 Carr Fire. This bridge was recently rebuilt to give access to historic Tower House and some gentle dirt trails I’ll use during a future rehab phase.

Hopefully this nearly worn through crutch shoe signals freedom. I’ve made quantum leaps over the past 4 months. From hopping to sliding to weeble wobbling to gimp limping. Neighbors have been monitoring my progress and say my limp is barely visible while using the crutch. PT continues to tell me you can lose the crutch when you can walk without a gimp independent of the crutch. It’s all about regaining strength to support my body in balanced walking. My biggest challenge right now is single-leg squats.

Weather has been a silver lining. For the most part we’ve had plentiful sunshine which is such a boost for my emotional health. I’m hoping this turn of weather will signal freedom from the crutch and good soakings for mother earth, something else much needed.

I’ll share a few other things we all take for granted until we can’t. Who would help you? Who will you help? I raise my hand!

  1. Showers – I didn’t get a shower chair instead using a patio table in a stall shower. It took a long time before I was able to move from the chair to the edge of the bathtub where I could swing into the tub and then stand up to take shower. It took more time before I could use the stall shower.
  2. Hands – Not being able to carry things was frustrating. I’m glad I had my backpacks, thermos and plastic containers. I was so glad when I was reduced to one crutch and had a hand! That first cup of coffee in a ceramic mug was the best.
  3. Limitations – There were certain things I just couldn’t do. The first week I couldn’t stand for more than a few minutes so doing simple things in the kitchen was nearly impossible. Doing laundry, changing the sheets, taking garbage out, etc required help from friends. Home delivery of groceries was awesome although I still needed help putting stuff away for quite some time. Tip: you need to ask! friends aren’t mind readers.

What happened? CA – Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Parks Creek Trailhead . . . Let’s Go Swimming (scroll to near the bottom of post)

What really happened? 2020 – A Summer of Surprises (scroll to near the bottom of post)

I’ll leave you with these words of wisdom I found in a recent book I was reading. When I saw my surgeon at my first post-op appointment, he told me my rehab would be a practice of patience. He reminded me at my second, and will probably say it again at my third appointment. My PT tells me no two injuries are the same and everyone heals at different speeds and therefore the right time to get rid of your crutches depends on your ability to walk with a normal gait. PATIENCE! I seriously don’t know how people get better if they aren’t disciplined and/or motivated. I’m doing at least an hour of home PT exercises daily plus walking with my crutch 2-4 hours. It’s a full time job!

I challenge you to look around your communities for trails and ADA access green space areas that you might not normally use but that would be appropriate if you were in my situation. Mark your maps! One of the hardest things for me is finding quiet. I haven’t been successful in that endeavor yet. I know I need to get further from roads and development. That’ll come into play soon. Fingers crossed that I can spend February and March regaining strength, balance and mobility so that by April I can start hiking on progressively more difficult trails. I’m still optimistic about being back to full or modified full condition by summer so I can adventure again! It’ll be really hard to reset my expectations further. If I’ve learned anything it’s that I can dig deep. I can call upon my mountain climbing mantra, one step at a time.

2020 – Where Did Jan Jaunt?

The year 2020 started like any other. By late February I was ready to begin my spring jaunt. I started in Northern California and worked my way through Arizona.

In early spring Pandemic concerns sent me home to far Northern California where I spent the next few months adventuring locally.

Fall and winter were a bust following my injury in early September. I’ve focused on the silver lining that the timing of this body failure was better now than next spring. I’m continuing my rehab and will say goodbye to 2020 as I celebrate my 3 month post-surgery recovery. I’ll still have another 3-4 months before I can start hiking. Just like climbing a mountain, it’s one step in front of another.

It wasn’t the year I had planned but there were enough good bits to make it memorable. It’s easy to focus on what wasn’t but as I reviewed my photos, I was reminded to focus on what was. In this case I still enjoyed 63 days of hiking, snowshoeing and backpacking. I spent 30 nights in my tent and 25 in my car. I marked off more areas on my local maps, and swam more in alpine lakes than I can ever recall. I added paddleboarding to my activity list as well as filled my days with walking, biking and jogging.

In 2018 I wrote, “this year will be mostly remembered for the fires, so much lost especially too many lives. Such a good reminder to live life fully, without regret, making each day count.” I can revise this for 2020 by saying, “this year will be mostly remembered for COVID-19, so much lost especially too many lives. Such a good reminder to live life fully, without regret, making each day count.” I feel like I broke my life rules this year and promise to get back to living without regrets in 2021.

Travel Summaries:

Introducing the Fowler-O’Sullivan Foundation, a missing hiker resource

It’s a fact, hikers go missing. Most for a few hours, some overnight, others longer and then there are those who remain missing for far too long.

Having been involved with a few incidents I’ve learned getting the process started can be frustrating. First, when do you contact authorities? Second, who do you contact? Third, how do you get the word out and coordinate the search? There are a ton of details. It becomes overwhelming quickly.

As hikers, we can help by leaving crumbs to expedite the search. I wrote this post a few years ago specifically to help Search and Rescue (SAR): Dear Friends & Family, If I become a Missing Person . . . I was motivated after Sherpa (Kris) went missing on the PCT. The search was delayed unnecessarily which may have contributed to the fact that he is still missing. His stepmom, Sally, has been a warrior in the process and continues to advocate and mentor. 

I’m excited to join Sally in announcing the Fowler-O’Sullivan Foundation

Mission Statement: With safety and compassion as our core principles, the Fowler O’Sullivan Foundation provides assistance to families of missing hikers, connects them to vetted resources, facilitates searches on their behalf once official efforts have been suspended, and supports initiatives to prevent future missing hiker cases.

You can participate in several ways.

  1. If you are an Amazon Prime member, make your purchases through Amazon Smile (link) and select Fowler-O’Sullivan Foundation as your charitable organization. It doesn’t cost you anything. It’s a WIN WIN! 
  2. Make a tax-deductible donation (link). Your donation will help our continued search efforts of missing hikers or those missing in the wilderness and help fund our preventative projects geared towards hiker safety. 
  3. Volunteer (link). Are you interested in joining our team? Do you have search or investigation skills? Are you interested in image viewing, mapping, research, communications, fund raising, base camp, ground search or other SAR related skills? Training available.

This was Sally’s introductory message:

When Kris first went missing, We didn’t know what to do. Who to call. What to expect or what we were up against. It was the kindness of a stranger, who had been through the same thing, and reached out to me with some advice, that helped us take the next steps. Since then, paying it forward to other families that are suddenly in that same position has been so important to me. Thanks to some amazing selfless people that have been involved with searching for Kris and for David O’Sullivan, our families will be able to pay it forward in honor of our sons for many years to come.

It is my honor and privilege to announce a new and amazing Non Profit foundation that has been created in honor of Kris and David and all missing hikers. The Fowler-O’Sullivan Foundation has been created to help families of missing hikers navigate through the very difficult process of searching for a loved one. It will provide suggested steps to take from day one and if needed, also offer help, guidance and coordinate search efforts, after the official SAR efforts have ended. The Foundation will also focus on safety and prevention. There are many amazing Preventative Search and Rescue (PSAR) initiatives in the works already! In honor of Kris and David, they will also be giving away at least 2 InReach GPS devices to PCT hikers in 2021 and hopefully for years to come.

The Foundation is also excited to be a part of the Amazon Smile program, where you can simply click on this link and sign up and .5% of all eligible Amazon purchases will be donated to the Foundation.  I signed up recently and it was very easy to do! (Link)

Thank you to Cathy Tarr for getting this amazing, life changing NP organization off of the ground! It is NOT an easy task and she and her amazing board members have been working countless hours on this for over a year now. Please click on the link to the Foundation to learn more about what they plan to do to help other families like mine. There is a menu bar on the top right that will take you through the different segments of the Foundation as well as introduce the wonderful people responsible for making this happen.

I have always said the silver lining to losing Kris, are the changes for the good that have happened and the amazing people in this group, and now we will be able to pay it forward to others in a professional and comforting way. I am so very grateful and I know Kris is beyond proud to be honored this way. 💕
Thanksgiving started early…..the perfect time to make this launch!

One last thing, since we are in the season of being thankful and giving, consider a donation and/or volunteering with your local Search and Rescue organization. I consider this a given if you carry an emergency transponder. Don’t wait until you need it to contribute to those who might need to help you.