Archive for October, 2015
While I was on the east side, I went for a hike on one of the trails where I led a crew about five years ago, Duck Pass Trail. I recognized some of our work but I had a hard time remembering exactly which things we had built, which is actually a good thing; it’s often said that good trail work blends into the environment, that it’s not meant to be showy or eye-catching, a good trail is one that let’s hikers ignore the walking surface and focus on the landscape.
I didn’t linger on the trail as much as I might have and I didn’t take any photos of the scenery, which is gorgeous on a clear day. The weather deteriorated soon after I left the parking lot, alternating rain, hail, graupel, sleet, and eventually snow. It was disappointing that I didn’t have better weather, but educational. I’d never hiked one of my trails in such foul conditions, and I was shocked at how much water flowed on the trail, in some places frothing like a creek with little cascades surging over the steps.
Above is a little wall we built to reroute the section of trail you see in the first photo. The trail used to pass to the right of the tree, but erosion was exposing the roots and forcing hikers to make a high step, so we brought the trail around to the downhill side of the tree. Not bad work for a crew that had never stacked a rock before that day.
This is a step that I remember my crew building. It was nice to see it looking almost exactly as it did five years ago, despite all of the runners, hikers, horses, and mules that have stepped over it in the last five years. Trail work never really looks like all that much, a clean stretch of dirt instead of a gullied one, but I’ve had a chance to revisit some of the trails I worked on, and it’s always immensely satisfying.
I haven’t blogged all that much about the drought. It hasn’t really affected me as much as I might have expected. Certainly I see a lot of dried out lawns around the Bay Area and I’ve stopped watering my garden for the most part. I’ve done more lawn conversions this year and for the most part lately I’ve been holding off on new plantings until (hopefully) the rains come back. But many impacts of the drought have been off-camera so to speak. So I felt a little shocked when we went up to Saddlebag Lake on the east side to see it had turned into Saddlebag Ditch. There aren’t many things uglier than a reservoir with no water.
Last week we went out to Bishop for a wedding and then afterwards spent the rest of the week camping in the area. We went a few different places, including three days at Rock Creek, where I made several watercolors along the creek heading up from our campground to the lake, my first watercolors of the year.
Though it’s called Rock Creek, the prominent feature in that section is a beautiful riparian grass. I’m not sure the species.
Up top, Rock Creek Lake is a beautiful alpine lake surrounded by pines and aspens. It seemed like peak time for the coloring of the aspens, a great time to be there.
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