It's finally warming up here and on Sunday we had the most glorious day of blue skies, perfect temps in the 60s and lots of new greenery and flowers bursting from the foliage. I highly suggest this eight-mile hike on the Elizabeth's Furnace trail in the George Washington National Forest. The forest is free (unlike the national park), and has surprisingly open, rocky and interesting terrain with good views from the top. It also appears to have some climbing routes, which I'll have to spend more time exploring on my next visit.
So yeah, it's still winter and we decided to go hiking and pretend it was warm, wonderful spring. To be completely honest it did reach about 60 degrees, which was big, and I did close my eyes and stare into the blue sunny sky until it hurt my eyes. And there was a waterfall, which never hurts.
The Yuba River is this secret little spot about an hour from Tahoe, down in the foothills where the sun shines brightly, the water is turquoise and the huge boulders glow blindingly white. In other words, it's a little piece of heaven when you've just about had it with winter. Despite having a great time going snowboarding and cross country skiing in Tahoe, this day of warmth and water was just what my awesome friend Sam, her dog Ziggy, and I needed. Now we just need some spring here on the East Coast.
I found a place that's wooded and mostly empty of people, full of fallen leaves, logs and mushrooms like these guys, and it's actually in town. No drive to the mountains needed. Bon and I go there sometimes to get a few miles in. There aren't really any views, but then I guess sometimes you don't really need those. Sometimes you just need a space that's quiet, where you can hear the sound of leaves crunching underfoot, and where your dog wants to sniff every other tree... On the plus side, when she does that it forces me to take a closer look at little areas I would have otherwise not seen, like this fungi-fringed log.
I was blown away by the diversity of wildflowers on the Brighton Lakes Trail, which winds past Lake Mary, Lake Catherine, Dog Lake and Lake Martha. This pretty easy and absolutely lovely trail, in Brighton Ski Resort, is less than four miles long. And apparently July is the perfect time to visit. The snow had mostly melted from the trails, there were different flowers everywhere you looked and the weather was perfect. Despite the fact that this was a work trip, hiking in the Wasatch mountains, watching sunsets on the Great Salt Lake and exploring Salt Lake City and Park City made it feel like a mini-vacation. Does anyone know what the flower on the top left is? It had a cone-shaped stalk, with lots of these insanely intricate flowers surrounding it.
It’s the first day of summer, and the heat is here, so I’m a bit jealous of that California coastal weather. Here are a couple more photos from Garrapata State Park.
So, we were walking along the White Oak Canyon trail when it opened up onto a flat bed of rocks below the waterfalls. There in the middle of the main walking area was a group of at least seven people who decided that it would be a great place to sleep. So they covered themselves with their clothes, tossed their backpacks and belongings aside, and dozed off. No one seemed to mind that we were stepping over them, that our dogs were sniffing them, or that we were talking about them. Of course they didn’t, because it’s totally normal to sleep right in the middle of a trail. Right??? I mean, comfy rocks, white noise of people’s conversations. Just perfect.
You know when the only noise you hear is the breeze rustling the leaves? I heard that today. Oh I love it. Only a few branches have begun turning colors for fall, but the ground is collecting the evidence. I hiked the White Oak Canyon trail today near Old Rag Mountain, which was beautiful, albeit crowded for the first half with too many people for my liking. But the eight miles tired Bon, worked my legs and hopefully mentally prepared me for another week of travel, long hours and loud race cars. I’m buying earphones this time. This race is in lovely Monterey, California, so I’m hoping to get enough free time to explore. If so, photos of dramatic coastline will come soon, along with more race car shots, too.
This winter I’ve noticed that the lift-served snowboarding just isn’t cutting it. Maybe it’s because Tahoe ski resorts are more crowded and have less trees than Telluride, or maybe it’s that I lack ski buddies so when I go, I seek more of a solitary time with nature than a party on the mountain. But the snowboarding these days just isn’t filling my need for nature. So I’ve taken to going hiking at Boca Reservoir, which sometimes is more like postholing (especially for the dog), but it’s a great spot for hiking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing – and there are bald eagles there! Supposedly. At least, I saw one flying over I-80 the other day and heard that they nest near the reservoir, but I’ve yet to see one there thus far.
Here lies the world’s most perfect snowball – that is, until it’s tossed in the air for the teeth-bearing dogs to attack and kill. While my friend Rachel was visiting from the California coast this week, we decided to go for a walk with the dogs in Truckee so they could play in the snow. This turned more into a snowball fest with the dogs tearing through the air, flipping and twisting and clobbering the oh-so-perfect snowballs. The warm weather the Sierras have been experiencing makes for nice hikes but rare snowfall, so we decided to enjoy the white stuff while there was still some on the ground. Considering that I just bit the bullet and bought a mid-week pass to Sugarbowl, we’d better get another storm soon or I’m gonna send out the attack dogs.