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
Nightshade

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
Redbud
Fiddleneck
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
Viola
Phlox

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.

Fivespot

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 – 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

Manzanita

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 – 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 – Blooming April, Spring Doesn’t Care

I recently read a poem about how spring goes on regardless of this pandemic. Since spring brings me joy, I’m choosing to spend as much time seeking out the treats mother nature provides in this all-too-short season.

2020 is proving to be a spring I’d rather forget. I like many others, most likely including yourself, are wishing we could fast forward into summer and be done with Stay Home orders. I’ve learned to let go of things I can’t control and instead focus on those things I can such as my personal happiness. The dark short days of winter can bring on bouts of depression, something I’m more likely to avoid in spring when I happily languish in the warm sunny days. Instead of travel and backpacking, I spent time running, biking and walking primarily from my house. My car didn’t leave my garage for three weeks.

I discovered and fell in love with these rock roses.

Since I’m missing my wilderness wildflowers, I really appreciate neighbors who share their blooms.

The Sacramento River runs through town bordered on both sides by about 20 miles in trails. It’s within walking distance of my house and gives me plentiful green space and a place to breathe.

The trail harbored these colorful jewels.

When I finally decided to drive 10 miles to a dirt trail, I found so much joy.

With flowers lining the trail, I didn’t even mind hiking through lands dominated by fire.

I’d never seen such a mass dispersion of pussy ears (aka Calochortus tolmiei). If this was all I’d seen I would have been happy.

But no, my treasure hunt continued. What a delightful way to spend a few hours.

I stopped at Black Bear Pass where I found this wreath, which I though was a lovely tribute to the aftermath of the 2018 Carr Fire. When I got home and was processing my photos I couldn’t believe what I saw at the base of the stump. It took some work to lighten enough to see the surprise. I still can’t believe I didn’t see it when I was taking the photo. My guess it was hauled up on horses.

I finally decided to drive a bit further for my next hike and was thrilled to find these beauties.


I closed out the month hiking among more of nature’s jewels. I hope you all made the most of this forced pause.

What will May bring? Maybe some waterfalls to go along with more wildflowers? The draft policy for opening my home county indicates a ban on non-essential travel out of the county. Will I continuing being just a tiny bit of a rebel? We topped 90F degrees so that’ll be my motivation if nothing else. Air conditioner vs wilderness?

CA – January 2020 Jaunts . . . starring Shasta, Siskiyou and Tehama Counties

The past two years I spent New Years Eve in the wilds, after backpacking to some cool view locations. Many recent years were spent snowshoeing at Lassen Volcanic National Park with meetup groups. This year I joined the Native Plant Society on a local hike on Redding’s Westside Trails to plant oak acorns in hopes of restoring areas devastated by the Carr Fire.

The next week I returned to help water our plantings and got tangled in the web of burned brush. That was fun! Thankfully no injuries, just a little blood and mud.

While we had plenty of rain and snow during the month, there were also a fair number of good days like this one where a friend and I hiked in the Sacramento Bend Recreation Area. That’s Mt Lassen in the background and the Sacramento River in the foreground.

Most of my local trails have been burned making them less than pleasurable. I joined some friends to walk paved Sacramento River Rail Trail where not only did we find a burn-free zone but also discovered this waterfall, thanks to all the recent rain.

After a fall and broken hip, my mom landed in a rehab facility near Mt Shasta so I combined jaunts with visits. One place that had been on my never-visited list was Faery Falls.

Nearby is Ney Springs which I also visited on this snowshoe excursion.

The Lake Siskiyou Trail is a local treasure. With low elevation snow fall I enjoyed a snowshoe around a portion of the lake including Wagon Creek bridge and multiple views of Mt Shasta.

I ended the month with this much needed bluebird day snowshoeing at Bunny Flat on Mt Shasta.

What would winter be without prepping for my next travel jaunt? Yep, I’ve been busy restocking my supplies, organizing, sewing, and dehydrating.

Meanwhile with the photo links still broken on most of my blog posts, and no easy fix on the horizon, I’m trying to move on by enjoying sunrises like this (although I’m still mourning the loss).