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Who Cares If It’s Hot? (Or: How I Keep Running During Summer)

August 11, 2018

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It’s been a warm coupla months . . . but if you followed the advice of a recent article published in my local newspaper, the Orange County Register, you might never even venture out your door: “Stay in air-conditioned buildings” is one of the writer’s genius bits of wisdom. But what if you don’t have an air-conditioned building (my house) or an air-conditioned running route (my local trails)?

(In defense of the writer, he does offer some helpful tips, but it was hard for me to pay attention after his “stay inside” quote.)

As eight years of  posts on this “Barefoot Wandering and Writing” blog make obsessively clear, I LOVE to run and/or hike barefoot, so I make time-of-day adaptations throughout the year, waiting till the ground warms up on winter afternoons, heading out early in the day in the summer.

A couple of weeks ago, though, I wasn’t able to hit the trails until 6:30 pm, at which time it was still a smokin’ 95 degrees (F) at the trailhead . . . but don’t worry, it cooled off to a lovely 90 (F) by the time I was done at 7:30. (Cue maniacal laughter.)

So that was one adaptation to the heat: running 60 instead of my usual 90 minutes. And keeping the pace mostly un-sprinty.  Another amazingly effective way I was able to feel fahrenheit-fabulous while running? My awkward grandma version of a wet T-shirt (non)contest: see advice #2 & 3, below.

(Also note: to keep my shirt thoroughly sopping, I took advantage of one of the horse watering troughs maintained by OC Parks along the trails of Santiago Oaks Regional Park; it only looked 8 *a little* green, so I stripped off my shirt and hat, dipped both in the slimy water, slid them over/on my head, and galloped on. With nary a selfie to show for it.)

Here’s the origin story of the “safe hiking in the heat” list below: Earlier this summer, I concocted it as a FaceBook post for the wonderful Grand Canyon Hikers FB group, a group that DOESN’T STAY INDOORS JUST BECAUSE IT’S SUMMER. (But also a group that needs to be careful, since folks die every summer at Grand Canyon due to heat-related issues.)

So: here it is, below, still timely, since summer 2018 doesn’t seem to want to end any time soon. (And So Cal’s warmest weather often arrives in September, just in time for back-to-school.) (Did I mention my car registered the outside air at 117 (F) earlier this summer as I was driving around my non-desert town?! That’s a yikes, for sure . . . )

Anyway, adapt the info below to your own situation, using a big dose of advice #5 — but please don’t be scared away from enjoying your local trails by well-meaning (but maybe non-running/non-hiking?) reporters.

HIKE SAFE IN THE HEAT? YOU CAN DO IT!

How can you hike safely in Grand Canyon during the summer? Here’s my contribution to this “hot” topic (pun intended–sorry!), based on ranger talks I’ve attended as well as my own experience with summer hiking at the Canyon–which includes a rim-to-rim during a heat alert two years ago. (Spoiler alert: I began in late afternoon and hiked through the night: https://theagavin.wordpress.com/…/grand-canyon-rim-to-rim-…/)

1) “If you’re hot, you’re stupid.” Strong words meant to save your life–and you can easily follow this ranger advice by NOT hiking in the heat of the day. (For my annual June backpack from the North Rim to Cottonwood Camp, I leave the North Rim about 3:30 pm, which puts me in shade by the time I get to the notorious switchbacks below the Supai Tunnel . . . and gets me into Cottonwood with just enough light to take a refreshing dip in Bright Angel Creek and then set up my minimalist, tent-less camp.)

2) “Water to drink; water to wear.” Plan ahead; you’ve read the weather reports, you know it’s gonna be so hot the condors will be laying hard-boiled eggs, so bring enough water to keep your shirt/head wet. I bring an extra shirt (see #3 for a vital fabric pointer) in a plastic zipper bag, add water, and trade shirts when the one I’m wearing dries . . . which can happen in a matter of minutes. Rinse and repeat.

3) “Cotton COOLS” (rather than “cotton kills”). In desert heat I wear flimsy-thin, flowery, 100% cotton, long-sleeve blouses–cheap treasures from local thrift stores. These breath better than any synthetic, and feel AMAZING when I pull them out of the plastic bag and stick my arms in the wet sleeves. Plus did I mention they are flowery?

4) Swallow your pride and open your umbrella: I have a lightweight, silver-reflective umbrella that provides constant shade while hiking. Nerdy-looking? Sure. Effective at keeping me cool? You betcha! (Caution: umbrellas doesn’t work too well if it’s windy or if the trail is narrow and/or next to a cliff wall.)

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5) Gertrude Stein gets the last words: “Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” Use your common sense, and enjoy your time in Grand Canyon!

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Sunset/North Rim/June 2018

Happy (HOT) Summer Trails . . . “thinking outside the shoe!”

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The Story of One Grandmother’s First Time Getting Kicked Out of a Store (for the crime of being barefoot)

July 30, 2018

While on vacation last week, hanging out near the ice cream freezer as my son bought my three granddaughters frozen treats at a little grocery store/restaurant/bait shop in the Eastern Sierra, I got a grumpy look and comment from the cashier about my apparently wretched state of barefooted-ness, which I took as an invitation to mosey on out the door.

Was I upset at being humiliated in front of my three innocent grandkids?

Nah. Once they joined me outside, we had fun theorizing why my bare feet would have any more filth on the bottom of them–or how they would lessen the swankiness of that establishment–any more than their wide-footed grandpa’s astonishingly decrepit hiking/biking/been-around-the-block-too-many-times Converse All-Stars:

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Inspired by my first run-in with The Man, I set up my little pocket camera along the trail this morning (where it was already sweltering at 7:30 am), and captured an image to go along with my newly created sign for more open-minded retail establishments:

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Happy BAREFOOT Summer Trails, y’all!

What I Love About Summer

July 16, 2018

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Even though I never got a “real” classroom party due to the late-June-ness of my birthday, summer still means I get to celebrate another lap around the sun, these days with my mostly braided, mostly summer birthday-ed granddaughters:

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Other reasons to celebrate include the powerful urge to new growth exhibited by so many local plants right now; on a recent run, I was overwhelmed by all the crown sprouting–new growth from the root crown–growing on:

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Elderberry not only sprouting, but blooming!

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Cottonwoods recovering from last year’s “Canyon 2” fire

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Sycamore’s lovely fuzzy new leaves

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Higher up on the ridge: lemonade berry trying to survive

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I think this is a chamise shrub; most of them were scorched clean off the hillside.

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Laurel sumac sports the loveliest of fluffy skirts.

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This looks like a very old nolina (beargrass)–such an artfully gnarled stump!

 

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Prickly pear “ears to the ground*”

* This phrase sprouted into my consciousness as a result of a long-ago rendezvous with Carolyn Forche’s “The Colonel” . . . as vivid a poem as I’ve ever come across.

 

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So many chaparral shrubs were torched into skeletons. No sprouting here.

I usually carry a scrap of paper and a pencil stub in case ideas bubble up during a run. Here’s my notes about “charred trunks,” “silhouettes of elbows” and “peeling crumbling” along with “mustard and cheat grass,” “gopher mounds” . . . just jumbled jotting for working on later, because I’ve discovered if I don’t pause and make notes while I’m out on the trail, all those good ideas last about as long as the poofs of dust my bare feet stir up.

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Every couple of months, our Orange County chapter of the California Native Plant Society publishes a newsletter; often I will get an email from the editor, Sarah Jayne, requesting a poem. HOW COOL IS THAT?! (Very cool, for those who aren’t familiar with the underwhelming life of a local nature poet.)

Sometimes I have one ready to send, but when I don’t, I take Sarah’s request as a helpful prompt to get my poetic rear in gear and write. Here’s the OC-CNPS published result of the trailside scribbles above (which scribbles I included in this blog post as a hat-tip to Austin Kleon’s helpful book Show Your Work):

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What else do I love about summer?

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Datura in the morning . . .

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. . . and Santiago Creek at the end of the day. (The weird white rope currently lines the post-wildfire trails that are one-by-one re-opening, in hopes folks will stay out of the burned hillsides so they can–if/when it rains–attempt to recover. The Canyon 2 Fire comes far too close on the heels of the 2007 Windy Ridge Fire, which also torched all of these hills in a fire regime that does not mimic the more natural 50+ years between fires, which the chaparral is well-adapted for. Devastation every 10 years? Not so much . . .)

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Wildfire reminiscing–NOT a favorite part of summer, so let’s get back on track: here I am last week, going back to age 10 again and having a blast in the ocean. Heading to the beach was a free way for my mom to get all us wild kids out of the house, so I remember lots of fun time on the sand and in the water, shiny with cocoa butter, listening to “Boss Radio: 93KHJ” on my pocket-sized transistor radio. Ah the sounds of 1969 . . .

Happy (summer-nostalgia-sprouting) trails!

 

 

Guest essay “Lessons and Barefoot Adventures” gets published at TrailSisters.net + more barefoot wandering & writing fun!

June 23, 2018
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Sunset splashing at Lake Powell (photo by Tina Davidson)

Wow–what a fun couple of weeks on the road at Grand Canyon’s North Rim and beyond (including camping at Lake Powell). The trip started out in fabulous fashion: while I was heading up I-15 through Nevada, Arizona, and Utah, the encouraging folks at Trail Sisters had just published my latest essay “Lessons and Barefoot Adventures, for which I am grateful.

https://www.trailsisters.net/2018/06/07/lessons-and-barefoot-adventures/

Then I arrived at the North Rim, and spent a rewarding three days in the company of creative people who traipsed around the rim trails with me (and even ventured below the rim down the North Kaibab Trail on the last day), responding to all the wild writing prompts I had planned for our time together. Their marvelous, vivid, heartfelt responses reaffirmed once more (as if I needed reminding!) how much I love being in the company of writers. (Many thanks to the Grand Canyon Association Field Institute for giving me this annual opportunity! All are welcome to join the fun next year–my fifth workshop at the North Rim–from June 7-9, 2019).

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Cliff Spring inspiration  (Grand Canyon/North Rim)

One of the highlights of the week came while we were at the North Kaibab trailhead (after writing along the trail below): who should emerge from the canyon but John from Tuscon who had just CROSSED GRAND CANYON BAREFOOT!

What?! My club of one had suddenly doubled . . .

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. . . and then tripled later that afternoon when John’s friend Mark made it across as well.

Those two gentlemen had no idea how excited I was to meet them (well, maybe they got a hint of it when I ran into them at the end of their dinner at the North Rim Lodge and interrupted their salmon with way-too-many questions/stories/hugs).

Oh yeah–I’ve got plenty more road trip/hiking/barefoot photos/stories to come–after all, this was my first time sharing Grand Canyon with two of my grandkids!

In the meantime, I couldn’t resist pheeto-bombing (wink/nudge/get it? . . . my version of photo-bombing?) the back of the North Kaibab trailhead sign:

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Happy Summer (barefoot) Trails!

Seeing Red in the Chaparral: A Poem and Photos

May 25, 2018

During yesterday’s lovely barefoot lope up and down 90 minutes of ridge between Santiago Oaks and Irvine Regional Parks, I came across a(nother) balloon. Grrrr. Besides the questionable environmental value of free-floating metallic-plastic, the very stuff that makes balloons soar–helium–is a nonrenewable resource that is unmakeable by humans. 

So when I see balloon-trash along the trail, I see always see red metaphorically–and sometimes I see red literally:

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This reminded me of a poem which I wrote years ago that recently resurfaced for editing as I put together a(nother) manuscript of poems to electronically schlepp to publishers who this time will be so fascinated by my work that they will immediately drop all other projects to print 10,000 copies of my new collection (Desert In My Bones) which will then garner big reviews in (name as many prestigious book-reviewing publications here as you can; that didn’t take long, did it?) and even bigger sales. 

[Cue maniacal laughter.] 

While I’m waiting, and since my balloon-poem-prophecy had so amazingly come true yesterday, I decided to rummage through old photo files in hopes of dredging up all the other red things mentioned in the poem; yes, this is what the daily non-grind of retirement facilitates.

First the poem, then the images:

Seeing Red in the Chaparral

You feel California fuchsia’s
flaming trumpets sing:
summer has ripened

into sticky lemonade
berries, razzle-dazzle
to your tongue.

You laugh at the crazy flash
of Nuttall’s woodpecker
as he bristles his crimson toupee.

You flinch at danger
wings—lipstick-bright
tarantula hawk—

and danger fuzz: a scarlet
velvet ant (wasp
with unimaginable sting).

She zigs; you zag
past a sentinel
laurel sumac that reeks
of bitterness and home,

that carries in her crown
of splendid red-veined leaves:
a sparkly mylar heart balloon.

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Fuchsia trumpets: check

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Razzle-licious lemonade berries: check

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Toupeed woodpecker: check

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Fierce lady wasp: double-check (see my poem and video about this disturbing relationship here)

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Half check? This was the only velvet ant photo I could find in my files, but these fuzzy non-ant wasps come in shades of red as well. The females have stingers/no wings; males have wings/no stingers. Nickname? “Cow killer” ants, because when you get stung you just want to holler “Moo” and die.

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Colorful sprouts of laurel sumac: check-ity check check check. Although the balloon in the poem got lodged in a full-grown one of these pungent shrubs, the photo at the beginning of this post shows it in a Mexican elderberry.  Poetic license . . .

And since I was on a red roll, looking through ten+ years of photos, I had fun stumbling upon so much other lovely red stuff. Just don’t google “red things in nature” ‘cuz those images really make mine look blurry and bush-league. So be it:

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Red diamondback rattler in Weir Canyon.

Red tuna-fruits of the prickly pear–a delicacy for humans and coyotes, it seems.

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Red berry-like pomes (fruits) of the toyon.

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Red bracts of paintbrush–a polite root parasite that does not kill its host.

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Rusty-red buckwheat flowers–the Eriogonums are some of my favorite garden plants as the flowers change color and hang around for a long time. Plus: they are fabulous habitat providers–food and shelter in abundance for all kinds of small to tiny critters.

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Fascinating, hard-working deer plant, whose flowers change from yellow to reddish-orange upon pollination, steering pollinators in another direction. One of the best local plants for taking nitrogen out of the air and “fixing” it into the soil where plants can use it, this fire-follower helps prep the soil of burned areas for the rest of the plant community. Thanks, Deer Plant! You are too valuable to call Deer Weed!

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Two reds for the price of one: the stunning Red Rocks formation near Black Star Canyon and one of the ubiquitous anti-invitations to enjoy it.

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Sweet Southern Pink–I love these Silene laciniata, whose ephithet derives from the Latin word lacinia: “a thing torn” (the petals’ edges, get it? Like they’ve been trimmed with pinking shears? Who even knows what pinking shears are these days!).

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Here’s two reds I don’t like to see: flames below, Foscheck above being dumped in hopes of keeping yet another fire from re-burning areas that have been scorched by human-caused conflagrations far too often for them to remain healthy.

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Here’s a happier note to end on: the dependable end-of-May appearance of the delightful (and rare!) Intermediate Mariposa Lilies at the top of Barham Ridge.

Happy Spring Flower Trails! May all the red you see be a blessing and not a stressing . . .

 

Big (barefoot) Disappointment or Big (barefoot) Opportunity?

May 8, 2018
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Ha ha ha ha . . .

Before I retired–back when money was more plentiful than time–I had hopes/dreams/bucket-list-schemes of some day joining a trip down the Colorado River through Grand Canyon.

Life happened; the river trip didn’t.

Then I retired–rich in time, but the $3000+ river trip price tag now made the idea laughably ludicrous.

THEN, last February, I got invited to be an assistant on an April 2018 river trip and get paid to help out in various ways, including leading nature journaling activities along the way. 

Yes, please.

THEN I read the extensive printout the commercial outfitter sent to participants, and discovered that everyone was required to have something on their feet AT ALL TIMES . . . on the boat, in camp, on side canyon hikes . . . confronting me with a choice: prioritize my foot freedom (and stay home), or swallow my shoeless pride and go on the river trip.

Yep. By being all mature and weighing the cost-benefit ratio, I eventually became . . . not thrilled, but at least OK with making the 10-day concession to wear my ratty sandals 24/7 (gosh, would be OK to sleep barefoot? I could only hope [apply sarcastic tone of voice to previous sentiment] ).

Thus I planned (bought paddle jacket/pants) and prepped (narrowed down and printed out some nature journaling exercises) and dreamed (how I dreamed!) away the days counting down to when I would hop in my truck at 4 am, head quite a few hundred miles east to Williams, AZ, where I would pick up my cheerful friend A.S. (Grand Canyon interpretive ranger and back country guide extraordinaire, also hired to assist on this trip), and then we would take a nice afternoon stroll 9.5 miles down the Bright Angel Trail to Phantom Ranch where a lovely bed would await us due to A.S.’s extensive network of canyon friends; the next morning we would take our time meandering the river-hugging mile from Phantom Ranch to Pipe Creek beach where we would join the commercial trip for a glorious ten days through the [insert hyperbolic adjectives here] GRAND CANYON! WOO HOO!

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A view from upper Bright Angel Trail.

Now, cue the (dramatic, sad, violin-y) music. Go ahead, feel a little knot in your tummy. Better yet, feel your throat on fire and gallons of snot gushing forth from your nose, add an abdominal-straining cough, multiply by two weeks, and you will have had a genuine empathy-experience regarding what actually transpired. 

I made it (barefoot, of course!) as far as Indian Garden–five miles down the Bright Angel Trail–where we had a lovely spicy chicken dinner prepared by one of the workers there (it seems A.S. has friends all over Grand Canyon); as were finishing dinner, I could hear the wind increasing in howling intensity in the 30 F. canyon darkness outside the cozy employee housing; I’d been up since 3 am, and driven almost 500 miles (through that same screaming demon wind), and now my throat and sinuses were telling me something I didn’t want to hear, so I whimpered to A.S., “Maybe we could spend the night here instead of Phantom?” 

Did I mention that A.S. is one of the most cheerful and helpful people I know? Of course she agreed. Of course the kind folks at Indian Garden found us a place to sleep. Of course my throat-pain-and-snot kept me awake most of the windy night. Of course I had to make a very. Tough. Decision. (that first world privilege is showin’, yeah)

As soon as it was light–with a hope that there would be some kind of sun to warm my coughing carcass–I started trudging back up the Bright Angel Trail (barefoot, of course!).

A few miles up the trail, though (past Cardiac Curve; past Jacob’s ladder) a funny thing happened–I started to lose sensation in my toes. What?! Some kind of neuropathy associated with my horrific viral sinus condition? 

At the Three-Mile Resthouse (a composting toilet plus drinking water during the warmer months when there’s no danger of the pipes freezing which was not today), I paused long enough to snack and sip from the water I had brought with me, and happened to look up at the big round thermometer hanging over the rock shelter: 38 F. 

Well, duh. That’s why my toes were numb: it was freakin’ cold! 

There’s a few “barefoot mottos” I try to follow: one is “Numb is dumb” (as in, you’ll do serious damage to your toe tissue if you let them get/stay numb, dummy).

So I slipped on some wool socks and Sockwa X-8’s (a good WFR is always prepared), and continued the trudge up and up and up the 13-15% grade, under increasing cloud cover and chill (30 F. by the time I reached the 1.5-Mile Resthouse) and, eventually, a day of snow flurries.

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“Snowflakes keep fallin’ on my head braid, but that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turning red”  (oh, wait, yes it does, ’cause in three more days you’ll come down with pink-eye as well)

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So . . .  the day after I drove 500 miles to the South Rim, it was time to drive home again, only this time I felt WAAAYYYY worse than I had 24 hours previous.

But wait–A.S. had extracted a promise from me to make a slight detour to her home in Flagstaff, where her two (adorbs!) guinea pigs needed me to feed them.  One cannot refuse a request from (extremely cheerful) A.S., so east I headed to Flag (what the locals call it, and which I never feel comfortable saying, since I’m not a local, but hey I’m just writing it, so it feels way less awkward, especially with this disclaimer. Flag Flag Flag.). 

East to Flag. Buy cilantro and celery. Feed guinea pigs. Spend the night in Flag  with the guinea pigs who didn’t seem to mind me blowing my nose and coughing (a lot).

Drive home.

Be sad you are missing the trip of a lifetime.

Be happy you managed to snag a last-minute cancellation at the peaceful and inspiring Dorland Mountain Arts Colony where you will spend Monday-Friday the next week blowing your nose and coughing (a lot) as well as wandering through spring wildflowers in the lovely Temecula sunshine and, especially: writing!

All barefoot!

Thus ends this overly detailed blog post about a time in my life that I would never blame on my fabulous 1-and-3-year-old grandkids who I nanny for eight days a month–the two cutest, most intelligent, loving, snot-filled/cough-infested/pink-eyed little darlings I know. I would never . . . 

(If you’re still with me: some photos of the amazing Dorland!)

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Where writing magic happens!

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The Markham “cabin” (above) . . . a place for peace and inspiration, and where I wrote two new poems that would never have come into being otherwise; I also had a good time selecting and ordering poems for a new manuscript (now at over 100 pages, so still in process).

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Morning fog over the Temecula Valley (view from my porch).

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The Bee Canyon trail/portal to another world . . . 

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All the Dorland monkeyflowers seemed to share this un-nameable (OK, someone has probably named it, but still) hue.

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The aptly named chaparral beardtongue.

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Sugarbush in bloom.

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Encelia in the sunshine.

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Spoorrific ferns in the shadows.

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A phacelia that I could not identify. And that was OK.

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A new “life list” plant along the Bee Canyon trail: Collinsia parryi: Blue-eyed Mary. 

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And a life-list bird along the same trail: Golden-crowned sparrow.

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After all the Grand Canyon hiking I’ve done, the sketchy, roped-up route up Dorland Mountain didn’t even faze me (mostly didn’t).

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The view from the Dorland Mountain trail.

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A dependable sunset show happens almost every day at Dorland—this is a view of the “other side” of the Santa Ana Mountains (which are to my east where I live in Orange County, CA).

Happy (disappointment to opportunity) trails!

Be It Ever So Local, There’s No Trails Like These . . .

April 3, 2018

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While I occasionally get a chance to escape crowded-traficky-loud Orange County (where the roar of the freeways will never be mistaken for ocean waves, although I try, and where the night is filled not with the siren call of coyotes but actual sirens, given the fact that we live by a Level III trauma hospital next to the Orange Crush, one of the craziest freeway interchanges in the US), since I’ve been wandering the trails of our local foothills for over 20 years, there’s something comforting about meandering up and down ridges where I know who blooms where and when. (And when I say “meander,” I mean it–see previous sentence for an example of my meanderthol expertise.)

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Our amazing local plants and animals are OK with a lot of variables, including the idea of “rainy season.” We all hold our breath during the (perfectly normal) rainless months of April, May, June, July, August, September and October, but come November, when local shrubs have exhausted most of their many dry-climate adaptations, and us humans are beginning to question our memories regarding this thing called “rain,” sometimes it happens. Or not. This year, not so much until a few inches between January and March.

I love this quote from a page about local climate:  “Rainfall, on average, is frequently below average.”

This little bit of late rain was just enough to coax a few wildflowers into bloom . . . far fewer than a wet winter would conjure up, but . . . enough to bring a sense of hope to the recently scorched hills east of Orange (Santiago Oaks Regional Park/Barham Ridge). Here’s just a few photos from earlier this week:

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Calochortus catalinae: Catalina Mariposa Lily,  a state-listed rare plant with the “threatened species” rank of 4.2.

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Purple-headed dichelostemma capitatum is having a BIG YEAR in the burned areas of Santiago Oaks Regional Park; here it is enjoying life in the company of California poppies, our much-beloved California state flower (which is considered an “invasive weed” in parts of Australia).

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Last month’s Orange County Chapter/California Native Plant Society presentation by local native plant expert Ron Vanderhoff made me really appreciate the fact that we have many tiny & wonderful California native plants; here’s an itty bitty beauty I would never have noticed if I had not heard Ron’s talk and been on the lookout: Southern Gilia (Saltugilia australis).  It’s got BLUE POLLEN! What?!

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While huge swaths of prickly pear habitat were decimated by the recent Canyon Fire 2 (which was allowed to grow into monster size due to multiple human errors, not-one-but-two recent reports have shown, much to the dismay of 9,200 acres of destroyed habitat) some of the less-charred carcasses are managing to sprout new pads. Here’s hoping our local cactus wrens will be able to make do . . .

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Here’s another view of a sprouting cactus patch in the midst of what was once a thriving coastal sage scrub community; now all you see is a sea of green evil: mostly non-native invasive grasses and habitat-destroying plants such as black mustard and tecolote.

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Poppies and dichelostemma amid the burnt skeletons of laurel sumac and/or lemonade berry. Sigh.

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Poppies up here, smog and noise and traffic down there.

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Stinging lupine (Lupinus hirsutissimus): stunning in its beauty and ouch-ful-ness.

 

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And another local path lined with lupine: my back yard, where I can wander a few feet in each direction, surrounded by California native plants and the rush of traffic on nearby freeways. (Yep. Multiple freeways come together near here: the 5 and the 22 and the 57, just like the Californians told you.)

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It may seem odd to treat these lovely lupine like weeds, but they are way too prolific in captivity–the rabbits of the native plant world–and need to be edited out occasionally to keep the air moving around the Dudleya (three species of this favorite native succulent appear here if you know what to look for).

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The subject of a presentation I enjoy giving (complete with slideshow; book now and receive half off the normal price of free!): plant native habitat in your urban yard and the critters–including super-cool birds like this common yellowthroat–will have a home (or, in the case of this bird, an important stop on their migration path). (PS Despite the “common” in its name, it is not at all common to come across this species in such an urban yard setting.)

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Another rare, recent visitor: a Townsend’s warbler, who seems to be having way too much fun in the fountain just outside our dining room window, where we have way too much fun bird watching throughout the day. Season. Year(s).

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Thus ends another hike–and another blog post.  There’s so much beauty & wonder “out there”–and not only far away “out there,” but sometimes right in your back yard . . . or only a short drive away.

Happy wandering your own LOCAL trails!

PS Oops . . . I almost forgot the other half of this blog title . . . not just “wandering” . . . BAREFOOT wandering! Happy barefoot trails!

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