CA – A Month of Seasons, Far NorCal Style (April 2022)

The month started with temperatures feeling more like summer, but thankfully Mother Nature decided to shake up the forecasters by sending us on a rollercoaster ride. From freeze and wind gust warnings, to low elevation snow, and finally to measurable rain.

When Whiskeytown National Recreation Area announced an April 1st opening of trails after a nearly 4-year closure, it was easy to wonder if this was an April Fool’s Day joke. But alas, it was true and I was first legal steps on the Papoose Trail. It was worth a dedicated post (link). A few days later my friend Rebecca and I took the main Boulder Creek Trail to Boulder Creek Falls. This view of the creek brings back memories of days before the 2018 Carr Fire.

The Park was a little tardy in removing their closure signs. The snowdrop bushes were loaded. Indian Rhubarb (top right) likes to grow in creeks, and I believe I initially learned about these beauties at Whiskeytown. Star Tulip and Hosackia stipularis var. ottleyi (bottom right).

I was ecstatic to join my friend Cathy for a jaunt in Trinity County where I was introduced to the Fritillaria purdyi lily. It’s a tiny little thing. My friend Bino Bob is about 1.25″ tall for reference.

I was treated to displays of Lemon Fawn Lilies and Lady Slipper Orchids, hidden in the leaf littered oak forests.

When the local forecast called for 90+ degree temperatures, I grabbed Poppy Pack and headed for higher ground. With no goal in mind except to turnaround at snowline. We found plentiful sights, smells and sounds of spring.

When I reached snowline, I was happy to soak in this grand view and dream of further exploration.

Home sweet home. Lulled to sleep by a nearby creek. Temp dropped to 44 my first night and 34 the second. I added this one pound tent to my quiver in 2021 (Zpacks Plexamid) and finally replaced my quilt with one from Enlightened Equipment (10 degree 950 fill). With my aging body I’m motivated to drop pack weight while maintaining safety and comfort.

Finding this display of Western Pasqueflowers was a highlight of this trip. I used this photo as a headline in my recent post about individual responsibility when it comes to caring for public lands (link).

This sunrise view was a reward for sore muscles after climbing 3,800 feet. My mantra was you need to do hard things if you want to do harder things.

One week later the trail was buried again (not my photo). I was giddy to delay spring!

Locally rain finally arrived! We are still far behind normal levels but more rain fell in April than in the previous three months combined.

When the storms cleared, I couldn’t resist a visit to Lassen Volcanic National Park.

I was ecstatic to find the first of the season snow plants.

A ranger pointed out this goose sitting on her nest. She expected a hatch any day.

Since we were cheated out of winter, I need another snowshoe adventure and Mt Shasta offered the perfect opportunity.

I found icicle goodness and moody skies.

Nature’s decorations are better than anything we can mimic.

This storm made for a wonderful reason to delay my spring jaunt departure.

I might be feeling a little prickly after focusing on trip prep rather than enjoying daily adventures. Happily I still got out for daily walks where I could find roadside surprises like these yellow cactus blooms.

I’m super excited to get back into jaunting mode. If all goes according to plan, soon I’ll be frolicking among these beauties.

It’s going to be a challenging season as I work to avoid fires and smoke. My motto will be get out now, enjoy every day and hope for good air tomorrows. There are already big fires in New Mexico and Arizona.

Dino and Bino Bob are ready for adventure and nagging Jan to hurry with her final chores. Where oh where shall we go? Oh how I love the unknown with many opportunities awaiting exploration. Curiosity is a good thing!

CA – Early Winter Jaunting, Far NorCal Style (Dec 2021 – Jan 2022)

The week before the calendar officially declared winter, a big snowstorm arrived in far Northern California. I-5 was closed for about 36 hours delaying distribution of all those holiday goodies. Meanwhile the nearby hills were turning white and I finally had an opportunity to go snowshoeing and test my post-surgery knee. I’m happy to report it was 100%. As for the rest of my body . . . it needs some work.

Lunch with a view at Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park. My favorite snowshoeing lunch is piping hot homemade turkey soup.

On my third snowshoe outing of the season I found myself ascending Diamond Peak at Lassen Volcanic National Park. It was a great cardio challenge and improved my confidence.

Sadly it also gave me my first look of the burned trees from the 2021 Dixie Fire.

I found myself back on Mt Shasta for my fourth outing. By now it had been a couple weeks since our last storms and the wind swept the ridges bare making it obvious more snow is desperately needed.

With hard pack snow conditions I couldn’t resist the temptation to try summiting Brokeoff Mountain at Lassen. I turned around before the top as my legs said not today. I wasn’t disappointed as I was beyond thrilled to be outside climbing mountains again.

On each walk/hike I challenged myself to find something worth photographing and sharing. It’s been a fun game and just when I think I’m going to be skunked I find a gem like the bark of this sycamore tree.

After the frost, comes the dew.

With many of my local trails impacted by wildfire, I’m happy to celebrate the areas that have escaped damage.

I also cheer on the new trees working hard to replace their burned ancestors.

I found the first bloom on January 4th, Wild Radish. I was interested to learn “the entire wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum) plant is edible, from the veined purple, white, or yellow flowers to the leaves and roots. Wild radish pods are crisp and peppery, much like the root of a true radish, and can be eaten raw or cooked.”

We have a lot of pretty rock in the area.

The nearby creeks make for nice lunchtime lounging.

Manzanita dominates the landscape, but often when you look closer you find nature’s gifts.

I found a variety of tree lichen or fungus.

And other fungus as well.

This bark caught my eye.

We had crazy warm temperatures for a couple of weeks in the middle of the month and soon enough the landscape began to look like spring. Oh how I love green!

And then it happened, WILDFLOWERS in January! I checked my photo library and blooms are about three weeks earlier than I’ve previously documented. Buttercups appeared first, followed by Shooting Stars, Warrior’s Plume and Pacific Hounds Tongue. Interesting factoid shared by a friend, “The genus name Cynoglossum comes from greek Kynos- meaning dog and -glossum meaning tongue, while the specific epithet creticum is a reference to the island of Crete, where this plant can indeed be found.” 

Glue-Seed, Night Shade, Saxifraga and Redmaids.

Butter ‘n’ eggs, Lupine, Padre’s Shooting Stars, and Blue Dips

When a friend was looking for a backpacking opportunity, I volunteered to join him. We went to the Sacramento River Bend Recreation Area in Tehama County near Red Bluff where the elevation is around 500′. While daytime highs were in the 60’s, we experienced an overnight low of 27F. We camped with this sunset view of Lassen peak. What a great way to end the month!

While the lack of precipitation for the last three weeks of January is bad for the earth, it’s been really good for my spirit. Spending most days under sunshine filled blue skies encouraged daily hikes and sent my typical SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder) symptoms into hibernation. This is my best January since 2015 when it comes to mental, emotional and physical wellbeing, and that’s saying a lot when so many are suffering from pandemic issues.

Photos are from hikes and walks in the following areas.

  • Redding Area
    • Clear Creek/Cloverdale Area
      • Horsetown/Piety/Cloverdale Loops
    • Keswick/299W Area
      • French Fry Trail
      • Hornbeck/Waterfall/Lower Ditch Trails
      • Lower Salt Creek Trail
      • Shasta Dam/Upper Ditch Trail
    • Mule Mountain Area
      • Princess Ditch Trail
    • Sacramento River Trails
    • Swasey Recreation Area
      • Wintu/Mule Mountain Trails
      • Meiners Loop Trail
    • Westside Trails
    • Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
      • Mt Shasta Mine Loop Trail
      • Oak Bottom Ditch Trail
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park
    • Manzanita Creek
    • Manzanita Lake
    • Brokeoff Mountain
    • Diamond Peak
  • Mt Shasta Area
    • Bunny Flat/Horse Camp Cabin
  • Sacramento River Bend Recreation Area
    • Yana Trail/Massacre Flat

On this 27F degree morning, nothing is quite as welcome as the sun hitting my tent.

CA – Autumn Jaunting, Shasta/Trinity County Style (Oct-Dec 2021)

After spending a month in Washington followed by a couple of weeks in Oregon, including an epic conclusion in snow at Crater Lake (post link), I returned home to summer temperatures. There was only one thing to do, grab the paddleboard and head for Whiskeytown Lake.

Although we received record rain fall over about a month (14″) the leaves stuck around providing weeks of entertainment.

The dogwoods were showing off their pastel colors along the PCT in Castle Crags State Park.

I asked the leaf whether it was frightened because it was autumn and the other leaves were falling. The leaf told me, “No. During the whole spring and summer I was completely alive. I worked hard to help nourish the tree, and now much of me is in the tree. I am not limited by this form. I am also the whole tree, and when I go back to the soil, I will continue to nourish the tree. So I don’t worry at all. As I leave this branch and float to the ground, I will wave to the tree and tell her, ‘I will see you again very soon’. “That day there was a wind blowing and, after a while, I saw the leaf leave the branch and float down to the soil, dancing joyfully, because as it floated it saw itself already there in the tree. It was so happy. I bowed my head, knowing that I have a lot to learn from the leaf.

Thich Nhat Hanh

I found new growth in an area burned by the 2018 Carr Fire.

This is my favorite Madrone tree in the Trinity Alps Wilderness, she’s a buxom beauty.

After all the rain, I couldn’t resist visiting Crystal Creek Falls at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area.

Whiskeytown Falls

Fungi seemed to be happy with all the rain.

Earth stars, a type of fungi. I thought it was the bottom of a pinecone.

When you look closely you might even find a stowaway.

This is a story of good, evil and humanity. The 2018 Carr fire burned this tree. I visited in spring 2020 when I took a photo of this wreath on the remains. When I processed the photo I found a surprise inside. This heavy chainsaw carved bear was a welcome gift representing hope at appropriately named Black Bear Pass. Sadly it was kidnapped in winter 2020. When I returned this fall I was thrilled to find a new bear hiding in the stump. Yes there is goodness in this world!

Lichen and moss seemed to enjoy the extra moisture as well.

And what would a jaunt be without a few blooms?

Although many were ready to spread their seeds.

Soon enough it’ll be time to welcome back the orchid blooms.

But until then I’ll welcome winter. The time for renewal.

I love being able to see Mt Shasta, from 100 miles distant.

One thing nice about having a home base at low elevation (500′) is nearby winter hiking options.

Nature offers up a holiday bouquet.

I wish my friends and followers a wonderful 2022, at least one filled with more peace, unity, kindness, caring, forgiveness, collaboration and love.

Photos are from hikes and walks in the following areas.

Shasta County:

  • Castle Crags State Park
    • PCT/Crags Trail
  • Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
    • Davis Gulch Trail
    • Whiskeytown Falls Trail
    • Crystal Creek Falls Trail
  • Redding area trails
    • Blue Gravel Trail
    • Cloverdale/Piety Hill Trails
    • FB Trail
    • Flanagan/Chamise/Upper Ditch Trails
    • French Fry Trail
    • Hornbeck/Lower Ditch Trails
    • Princess Ditch Trail
    • Mary Lake Trail
    • McConnell Ranch Trails
    • Mule Mountain Trail
    • Sacramento River Trails
    • Salt Creek Trails
    • Trail 58
    • Westside Trails

Trinity County:

  • Trinity Alps Wilderness
    • Stuart Fork Trail
    • Canyon Creek Trail

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 – 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.

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?

2020- Life in Jan’s Jail . . . taking on the 14-Day travel quarantine challenge #pandemic #covid19

Arriving home from SE Arizona, my first priority was to follow the CDC guidelines of self-quarantine, designed to minimize the risk of potentially spreading COVID-19. At that time there were 3 confirmed cases and 0 deaths in Shasta County, my home base. The next day marked our first death.

My sanity would be saved by spending as much time outside as possible.

My neighborhood was celebrating spring.

Weather with about as perfect as you could ask for with some days filled with blue skies, sun and temperatures 60-70F.

After experiencing drought years I’ll never again complain about rain.

Although I consider myself sugar and spice and everything nice, I donned my umbrella for walks.

I also found some stairs for interval training.

While it was awesome to see so many outside, there seemed to be serious disrespect for this guideline. Many were walking 2-3 people astride refusing to yield to others coming in the opposite direction.

I thought about bringing along a pool noodle before it became a thing. However, I decided the aggravation would reduce the benefit of my walk, so I gave up on the trails and stuck to the streets.

Before my days of hiking, I was a cyclist. I enjoyed long rides but once I found the quiet of wilderness my bike became a neglected friend. Since I don’t enjoy walking on the flat pavement near my house, riding became a good option and much better for working on fitness.

It’s been at least five years since I’ve been home for spring and while I can’t access my hiking trails, I’ve enjoyed discovering blooms like these Baby Blue Eyes.

I found a field of iris in a yard neighboring our local river trail.

I was excited to find a blooming dogwood tree. I usually find these on a few of my favorite canyon trails but this one was in my local park.

One day I found the Pipevine Swallowtail party.

Pulling weeds is good cross training. Stretch, reach, twist, pull, repeat. Best of all is hanging out with Goldie, my 20+ year old fish that started as a ten cent guppy from Petco.

I was grateful for my smart grocery shopping, although I craved salty snacks and sweet treats, my body was preparing for battle. For some reason the scale didn’t agree as movement continued in the wrong direction.

When my greens started to wilt it was time to make them into muffins I could freeze. The ingredients are a dozen eggs, a package of Morning Star veggie link sausage, 2 cups of cooked quinoa and a large amount of wilted greens. It made 17 large muffins cooked for 30 minutes at 350F. They freeze and microwave well.

In the meantime, I unpacked my car and reorganized my gear room so I could use the remaining space for indoor fitness. I’ve been working on my core, strength, flexibility and balance with BOSU balls and free weights.

I joined the mask-making party so I could supply a few friends, family and myself.

I also upcycled some shirts into yoga waistbands for my skirts.

I survived my 14-days of what I’m calling Jan’s Jail. Now I’m settling in and adjusting to this new reality. A friend recently posted a survey on his facebook page. “Where do you fall on the spectrum of “social distancing”? With 1 being abundantly cautious – some might say paranoid – and 10 being “let’s party but keep six feet distant.”” I’m not taking any risks and have chosen caution. With a fragile respiratory system and asthma, and the option to avoid germs that’s what I’m doing, I’ve joined the new world of ordering groceries for delivery and cleaning the packaging before it enters my house. How are you doing?

Meanwhile I’m trying to stay optimistic, enjoying blooms even if they are in the form of weeds.

 

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