Monday, August 1, 2011

Not Farm Related (mostly)

Thanks to the help of our current and past interns (and friends) Courtney McDonald, Paul Lambertson, and Callie Murphy - along with our friend Roger Ingram - we were able to take a brief vacation to the mountains last weekend.  We joined family and friends for three nights on the Stanislaus River on Sonora Pass.  I realized that I've been camping on the Stanislaus River for more than 40 years!  Rather than making me feel old, it makes me realize that it's important to know a place!

In my 40 years of camping on the Stanislaus, I don't think I've ever seen the river higher that it was this year (at least at this point of the summer).  The river was a good 2 feet higher than last year, as was Eagle Creek.  We drove over Sonora Pass (and back over - more on this to follow), and I was amazed by the amount of snow left at higher elevations.  We saw incredible waterfalls on the pass - so much water!

The wildflowers were also amazing.  We camped at Dardenelles, and even in the campground the wildflowers  were plentiful.  Driving over the pass, we saw several varieties of Indian Paintbrush, firecracker flowers, mules ears, and other flowers I couldn't identify.

We had planned to return home via the eastern Sierra - we'd hoped to drive up 395 to Gardenerville, Nevada, and then cross back over on Carson Pass.  We had brief showers over Sonora Pass, and we saw evidence of heavier rain - debris flows over the road.  About 5 miles north of Sonora Junction (in the West Walker River canyon), we were turned around because a mudslide had closed 395.  I guess we'll have to wait to have Walker Burgers for lunch until our next trip!

The break from our summer work was wonderful.  I realized, too, that I love the Sonora Pass country - familiarity (at least in terms of landscapes) is a good thing.  I also realized that some people are ocean people, while others are mountain people.  I feel more at home - and more relaxed - in the mountains.  I'd love to run sheep in the High Sierra someday!

Which brings me to my last thought - Courtney shared this quote from Ivan Doig, one of my favorite authors:

"To be successful with sheep, even when you aren't thinking about them, you had better be thinking about them a little."  I must admit, even on vacation, I was thinking a little about our sheep!

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