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Published: August 30th 2013
HIKE DATE: 8/28/13, SDC Well I’m off to see the wizard and find out if there is any more fruit left at the top of the hill. I’m guessing it’s around 90 degrees and fairly humid. I start to sweat right away and it just keeps coming. Even though I’m me, and I know me, I marvel at the copious amounts of water pouring out of me with every step up the hill. I’m carrying almost 3 liters of water so I drink, drink, drink to replenish and stay hydrated. There’s a ruckus around me. Birds flying back and forth. Swooping overhead. Hopping from brush to brush. Diving fast from above. What’s that? I look and I see. . . hmm. . . I guess it was nothing, or the sun playing tricks on my eyes. Perhaps it’s just going to be one of those extra magical days on the trail. I have a sensational feeling I’m going to encounter a snake today, which is great, because I love reptiles. Steadily up I go as is the way. Opting for the shortest route, I pass by the lowest plum trees and
A Dose of Outside
A Dose of Outside is intended to share a bit of nature with you as experienced on my local hikes and other adventures. Take a moment to look out the window or step outside and see what it is you see. What you smell. Notice what’s growing around you. Use all your senses and really get A Dose of Outside!
see they are bare. I figured it would be too late for more fruit, but I had to try. I stop so stretch and see the red ants making a bee-line for my boots. I’m not on a nest, but they seem very interested in me so I move on. A little red frog jumps right in front of me. I’m not sure I’ve seen a red frog before. He’s tiny and matches the fall colors strewn across the ground. Once he crosses the path, I can see him no more. I keep looking for the snake. I reach the top and first I pass by the large blackberry patch. The patch is loaded, but the first round has been picked and all that remain won’t ripen for another 2-3 weeks. The upper plum orchard doesn’t bring any surprises. No more fruit. There aren’t plums left on any of the trees, but occasionally I see one or two, nearing the raisin phase. Over just one last hill and I’ll be near the pear orchard. I marvel at the weeds that grow along the side of the trail. These ones in particular staked their claim
on this very spot, months ago, and have held court as statues all summer. Their spiky contrast against the soft grass is appealing. Nearing the first tree and I see nothing hanging and nothing on the ground. The second tree reveals some very old, rotten pears underneath and no more. I turn and head into the tall grass towards the trees in the middle of the field. Wow. There are hundreds of pears covering the ground. Many are quite soft to the touch. I pick one up, it looks perfect! I take a bite. Yuck! Gross. Way far gone, like wine so I spit it out. I try another. This one is “fine” just not really flavorful anymore. I’m thinking I may just be too late. But surely there must be some . . . I hunt around and try another. This one is great! So – I make the decision to gather, knowing the chances of them being good are not that high. I hope to make a summit bid this fall with my Snow Sis, so I need to start training anyway. And training starts now! Picking through the mostly rotten pears for the
occasional good one isn’t nearly as fun as plucking perfect pear after pear like last time. The bugs are out in force and the air stinks. The spiders have moved in as well. Often as I turn over a pear, a spider will charge out at me “Mine!”. Okay, okay. I’ll try another. I keep thinking about the snake I’m sure I’m going to see as I carefully step through the tall grass. Moving further and further into the orchard I look south and see “that tree!” You know, the one? The beautiful pear tree I tried to reach before, but was derailed by walls of poison oak. I can see fruit still dangling from the lower branches, taunting me. I’m determined to get over there and start to make my way through the brush. I reach a couple dead ends and have to go around. Getting scratched and nicked along the way. Finally, I make it! The tree is loaded and there are plenty low hanging fruit still available! Ah ha. . . I see now. There is a giant bramble pile of blackberries and poison oak surrounding the base of
Fallen off the tree into the brush and high grass
this beautiful tree, making it completely inaccessible. I knew there had to be a reason. I look around, trying to strategize. There’s nothing. And I can see others have been here before me trying various things to try and reach the fruit. I did get a couple pieces of fruit for my labors in the brush. Now I need to get back to my pack and gear. I’m coming away with two small bags of pears. No great bounty, but hopefully at least some will be tasty. There. Is that a snake in the trail? I think so! Wait, there’s two! And they look big. I knew it! I approach slowly and cautiously. Careful not to disturb these two beautiful . . . sticks. They are just sticks. Geez my eyes are getting bad! The apple tree still has plenty of apples on it so I knock one down with my trekking pole and have a taste. Yummy! Since I last tried one of these, I notice they haven’t grown in size much, but have indeed grown a great deal in flavor! The insects like to eat the apples right off the tree so
a good many of them are already bored through with tiny holes. Creating the ultimate living space and feeding ground for hungry bugs. So here is my new game! Get an apple to fall off the tree with my pole, then try to catch it with my other hand or keep a sharp eye on where it lands. Easier said than done. There is tons of fruit on the ground already, nestled in the high, dead grass, so if I lose sight of it, I’ll be hunting and pecking through the muck. Many of the ones I knock down are already inhabited, but I do get about 20 small apples. Not bad! Seems like the sun is very low in the sky now. Hmm. . . Have I been dawdling that long? What’s on that tree? It’s all the way on the other side of the orchard, but I need to go see now. It’s green apples! The ones I just picked seem like mini Fuji’s. This tree is also surrounded by stickers and thorns making the fruit unavailable. Okay. Time to go home. I pass a man walking his dog near Fern Lake.
My first people sighting of the day. He is looking weird and acting weird. Staring off to the side and being shifty. He also seems to be slightly choking his little dog on it’s leash as they shuffle along. This is what I watch out for most on the trail and in the wilderness – People. Men, in particular. The animals may cause harm, but don’t intend it. I guess unless they’re really hungry. But people. . . I see no one else and that suits me fine. I feel like someone/something is following me so I stop repeatedly and so does the crackling of the leaves just behind me. I’ve seen mountain lions out here before and it is that time of year. It’s possible I’m being stalked. They come down low as the season winds down, looking for food. Whoa! Sorry little buddy! I almost stepped directly on a small rattlesnake, soaking up the last heat of the day from the trail. He’s beautiful! I take a couple pictures and admire his form, knowing the young ones are more venomous and mean than the adults. I ask permission to pass, then carefully make
my way around him so as not to disturb his relaxation. I finally got to see my snake! Gracias A Dios! The evening reveals I have many bites from trenching in the weeds, but also that the majority of the fruit I collected looks good! All in all, it was really wonderful to be on the trail, getting my Dose of Outside!
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