The Real Patriarchy

By

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With rain in the forecast and a fitful night of sleep I probably should have stayed in bed.

I reach over and touch my phone to see the time, just as the train whistle is sounding down in the Auburn valley. 3:31 am. That’s a full half hour before my already early alarm, but I’m too awake to fall back asleep and I’ve already heard Gus’s paws on the bedroom door. Game over. He wants some lap time before I go. He senses that I am leaving. He’s sweet … and persistant. I can’t fault him for knowing what he wants and staying laser-focused until he gets it.

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Forecast is for rain. Steady rain. There is zero chance of a sunrise on this morning so I’m content to linger with my coffee. Each time I woke up last night I was trying to map my day ahead. Should I do Pinnacle Peak, even though there will be no view ? Or should I walk the rainy meadows at Paradise ? Maybe I should do the short and sweet Grove of the Patriarchs and have the cover of trees. At the end of the very short mountain summer the flowers have been slowly dying and the leaves are slowly beginning to change. I imagine in a couple weeks I will get my first clear, colorful day and maybe the first dusting of snow.

This morning I will seek only to bear witness to the changes. I change out my summer hiking boots for the waterproof version of the same ones. I grab rain pants and my good rain jacket for the day ahead, with dry clothes for the car.

Poles, check

GPS, check.

Coffee, snacks and smoothie, check.

Patience, check.

This cold, damp weather is not the best for my body. I suppose most folks would stay inside on a day like today. But I’m not most folks. 32 working days until I can choose my outings based on more reliable and ideal conditions. For now, I continue to do what I can, when I can. Today I can.

As it happens, I choose Grove of the Patriarchs. I also choose the long way, passing by my usual turn at Sunrise and taking Stevens Canyon Rd to the trailhead. I love Stevens Canyon. Even buried in fog and clouds it is a lofty road surrounded by slab rock and the beginnings of brilliant fall color. Leaves and other vegetation spring from the slabs and there are trickles of icy water falling as if with purpose. The tunnels are my favorite. Built into the side of mountains, like a boulder cocoon.

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The Grove was gorgeous even in the pouring rain. Western Hemlock and Red Cedar were towering but nothing was more impressive that the Douglas Firs. They are giants among giants. The suspension bridge is solid but swings with every step. The firmer the step, the wilder the swagger. I feel almost weightless as I cross.

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Even with gray skies the color of the water is striking. With the leaves just beginning to change it’s like a postcard painting itself before my eyes. I wander the 1.5 miles of this spectacular loop. I poked my head into a few nooks and crannies to see the micro world too.

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I meandered down to Narada Falls to see the gushing waterfall. Last two times I was there it was full of snow. Every trail I stepped on today was slick and wet.

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Soaked to the bone and happy.

I ended the day back at Mineral School. I finally got to meet a resident alum that I’ve been corresponding with through letters, email and social media. A real, live charming storyteller with a ready smile and a similiar love of Mineral.

I had the pleasure of meeting this month’s residents too and listening to some lively conversation around the lunch table. Great day in the shadow of my favorite mountain. Can you believe I didn’t get a single photo ?

Came home with Pearl only to be saying goodbye to my Civic. Blue was a great car, and it’s time to say goodbye. Thank you for a great 12 years ♡

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