Wednesday, May 24, 2023


During Younger Daughter's visit with us, we've been trying to show her some of the beauties of the area, since this is the first time she's seen our new (to us) home. We decided to take a family hike to the same spot Don and I went to a couple years ago.

Unfortunately the only day all four of us had free for this hike followed a night of dramatic thunderstorms and heavy rain. In driving to the trail head, we had to dodge a few spots where rocks had been loosened by the rain and tumbled onto the highway (one boulder was about three feet across, smack in the lane; later we saw a highway crew truck on its way to clear it away). Still, everything was lush and green.

The river was quite high and very lively.

The lichens hanging off the trees had been revived by the rain.

Mr. Darcy, needless to say, was in his element.

We all did a lot of huffing and puffing to get up that first extremely steep and muddy half-mile until we emerged onto a saddle at the crest.

Way, way below us was a tributary creek, roaring from the rain of the night before.

After catching our breath, we set off on a trail that followed the contour of a very steep slope.

It was while on this very precarious slope that we met – I kid you not – a mule train consisting of a man riding the lead animal with three mules following behind. I was in front holding Darcy's leash, so I stopped him and asked for a few moments to find a place to get off the trail. He asked us to get off-trail on the downhill side; that way if one or more of the mules spooked, they would spook uphill and not tumble down the slope.

Well, let me tell you, it took us a while to find a spot we could cling to without tumbling to the bottom of the ravine. I would have taken a photo, but I was too busy hanging onto Darcy's leash lest he lunge for the mules, while Younger Daughter actually clamped her hands over his muzzle for extra security.

The rider was a cheerful fellow in his 40s who said he was packing out from a distant cabin, and thanked us profusely for accommodating him. He also mentioned he would be returning within about an hour and a half.

Here are some of the mule prints in the mud.

Darcy found the Ultimate Mud Puddle and managed to saturate his entire lower body. Well, why not.

We saw some gigantic trees. This towering giant was far enough away that its sheer size was hard to appreciate, but it was huge.

We hiked a couple miles in, then turned around. We wanted to give ourselves enough time to get down the mountain before the mule train came back up.

Younger Daughter took the lead with Darcy on the return trip, so I was able to take a few photos.

The arrow-leaf balsam root was especially beautiful. These are big showy flowers that thrive on thin soil on south-facing slopes. They always bloom in May and early June around here.

Let me tell you, Darcy thoroughly enjoyed himself.

It's impossible to underscore how steep the slopes were down to the tributary creek. I understand the mule train driver's concerns about his animals spooking on the downhill side.

I don't know if you can make it out, but just about dead-center of the photograph you can see a patch of the road we drove in on. (Bad grammar there, sorry.)

We reached the saddle and started on the muddy and treacherous descent to where we'd parked the car. Don followed in the rear, keeping Darcy on a tight lead so no one got pushed over on the slippery mud.

It was a fun – if muddy – morning's hike, and we all had a good time. But it does make me wonder: Just where is that cabin from which the mule train driver was coming? Asking for a friend.....


  1. We sure don't have beautiful terrain like that here in the 'Sip. I could hike all day up in Idaho and never get bored.

  2. Now those are mountains! Beautiful country. Our 'mountains' are more factually a hilly plateau, but we love them nonetheless. As well as the more moderate climate we enjoy - I love fall and winter, but kudos to you and your mental and physical fortitude in such a demanding environment.

  3. Gorgeous Patrice! Thank you for sharing.

    When hiking last year to Mt. Whitney in Sequoia and King National Parks, we shadowed a mule train for an all-inclusive hike where the mules where packing equipment and meals. It certainly made me jealous as I carried my pack up and down the trails.

  4. Mules used to be very valuable animals. They may be once again.

    Someone rode over on a mule a long time ago. It was half thoroughbred and one of the most beautiful, intelligent, and affectionate creatures I've ever met. Some creatures are an honor to meet, and he was one.

  5. Just an aside. Looks like Younger Daughter decided to re up. Right? thanks, Julia

    1. Yes. See this post:

      - Patrice

  6. After searching the internet, I saw where you had posted about Enola over at the Paratus Familia blog some years back. There haven't been any posts on her blog for a couple of years now. Do you happen to know if she's still blogging? Thank you and I enjoyed your beautiful photography on today's post.

    1. She's no longer blogging, but the whole family is doing great. We stay in touch with them.

      - Patrice