Tag Archives: hikes

Deadfall Meadows

I’m currently staying at my daughter Pippin’s place in far-northern California. Her family lives at about 4,000 ft., but my first day here we took a drive and then a hike that brought us near Mt. Eddy and to an elevation over 7,000 ft., at Deadfall Meadows.

The meadows stretch up the mountain around Deadfall Creek, which fills Upper, Middle and Lower Deadfall Lakes. Thousands of butterflies seemed to be accompanying us through those meadows; we especially were taken with the small pale lavender-blue ones that gave the impression of flower petals fluttering in the breeze.

Actual wildflowers were even more abundant. I am sharing here fewer than half of the ones that we admired and usually tried to identify, or confirm the identity of.

Larkspur
Scarlet Gilia
Blue-eyed Grass
Bigelow’s Sneezeweed

As we hiked I was only using my phone to take pictures or use the Seek app, and I never checked the time. We had left the house before 9:00 and when we got back to the car with our hiking all done, it was after 4:00, which was to me completely shocking.

Jamie in particular felt the length of the day; he always says that he doesn’t mind hiking, it’s his legs that do not like it. He’s seven years old and is amazingly chipper even when droopy, or lying down on the trail.

Our goal was the largest Deadfall Lake, the Middle one. We sat on the shore for an hour eating our snacky lunch and cooling our feet.

A water snake streaked out from the rocks in the direction of my feet, but when he got a few inches away and had a good look, it took him a split second to shift into reverse and swim back into his hiding place. After poking his head out and looking at the more beautiful members of the family, he posed briefly for Pippin and eventually left the area altogether for deeper waters.

White Marsh Marigold

Some people ride horseback on this trail, and muck it up into mudholes in the many places where the path crosses the creek. On our way back down scores of little butterflies were drinking at the mud.

The pale lavender-blue ones are likely blues, coppers or hairstreaks. There are more than six dozen species in those three categories in California, so Pippin read to me when we later tried to narrow down the identity of the particular ones that day. We had to wait until the end of the trail to get a good view, when Ivy was given permission to catch a butterfly while it was focused on its refreshment.

Not long after our encounter with the drinking butteries, we were back at the parking lot and driving home. We had only hiked about three miles, but at our mostly meandering rate necessitated by those with cameras and short legs, and much trekking uphill, it had taken most of the day — a beautifully satisfying day.

Seep Monkeyflower

Savoring the togetherness.

Deer on a coastal rock.

I hope you have people to love, and those who love you. Every conversation with a neighbor or hug from a grandchild feels more precious to me as the days go by; before November winds all the way down I want to share a few scenes and moments that have been to me infusions of grace and joy in the midst of “interesting times” in the world.

It was almost a month ago that my neighbor Kim had a dinner party for several couples and one widow (yours truly) on our block. It was a very restorative and healing time, I think for all of us. Several of these people I had hardly seen for two years, though they live just a few doors down. Half of them had known my late husband.

After we were seated around a long dining table, our host gave a surprising toast to “The first of many more post-covid neighborhood parties!” All cups were raised, and the general tone of the ensuing comments, and the whole evening, was of holding on to our humanity and neighborliness as much as possible, no matter what comes. No one went home early that night; we sat around the gas firepit, or stood in the kitchen, chatting and sipping and savoring the togetherness, acting out the toast for a few blessed hours.

Closer to Thanksgiving, I returned to the beach with a former housemate who accompanied me three years ago just before she moved to New York. Our time there was refreshing and sweet; instead of the scores of seals we’d seen that time, gulls by the hundreds were swooping and gliding back and forth where a river empties into the sea.

We watched them, and the waves, while sitting on a log. When it was time to go, we climbed up a sand dune and tromped back to the parking lot, weaving through clumps of grass in our bare feet.

A few days later, who should arrive but my dear daughter Pippin and her family. They came in stages; when only three of them had got here, we went for a walk in the hills. It was the first time I’d been with Pippin in that particular park since the day Jamie was born, lo these many years ago, the  day after my husband’s funeral. So Jamie had been along, too, and maybe the jostling of that walk in springtime had prompted him to start his journey into the outer world.

This day, he was climbing trees with Ivy. First they climbed a Valley Oak, then a Buckeye (horse chestnut), and finally a Bay (Laurel) tree. Pippin joined them up in the bay.

We noticed many little trees and shrubs that were fenced in by wire cylinders, presumably against nibbling by deer. From a sign, here is a list of species that have been planted in the last ten years:

Later we worked on pies for our feast, and the children had the idea of making gluten-free pie-crust cookies for Uncle Steve, for whose sake Pippin was making such a dough for a pumpkin pie. I assembled the fourth version of my famous Grapefruit Gelatin Salad, which after ten years I am still refining to accommodate the changing ingredients available in the stores, and the loss of my favorite, odd-sized dish I always used for it. I’ll pass the recipe along when I fix it so that it fits in one 9×12 pan.

Our long weekend was very full, starting with Divine Liturgy on Thanksgiving morning, and including two (food) feasts, the little hike; and a busy afternoon, when Pippin and the Professor helped me to sort through old camping equipment, put hardware cloth over my planter boxes where the birds have been pecking, and hang fairy lights in the living room.

This little report covers only a small fraction of the loving friends and family who have made me feel the solace of God and the blessedness of the world. I reconnected with old friends and drank tea with many others. It has been a good month in important ways. May God keep our hearts during the next one and bring us with joy to the Feast of the Nativity of Christ.

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” I John 4