Glorious Glen Alpine Trail

I think it’s safe to say that the best weekends involve some hiking, a chance for a little get away to the mountains or the shore, exhilarating fresh air and the incredibly beautiful vistas mother nature has to offer us.

We recently hiked the Glen Alpine Trail in South Lake Tahoe. To get there you must drive the long one lane road along the south shore of gorgeous Fallen Leaf Lake. I’m certainly not complaining; look at this incredible view from the car!img_1044We parked in the parking lot near the general store and walked a little over a mile to get to the trail head. There is limited parking closer to the trailhead, but we’ve always enjoyed the walk. Along the way we passed the lower falls which were just trickling, and the cozy Saint Francis of the Mountains chapel where a wedding was underway. I refrained from taking a photo, wanting to give them their privacy, but it was truly a lovely sight.img_1053img_1059img_1052img_1063img_1049img_1100Once we got to the trailhead we were gifted with meadows, springs, historical sites, rushing waterfalls, and stunning view of Mount Tallac all along this secluded mountain trail.img_1230img_1098John Muir was just one of the many hikers who found the trail unforgettable, writing that it “seems to me one of the most delightful places in all the famous Tahoe region. From no other valley, as far as I know, may excursions be made in a single day to see so many peaks, wild gardens, glacier lakes, glacier meadows, and alpine groves, cascades, etc.”img_1069img_1074img_1084img_1083img_1082img_1107img_1095img_1109img_1110His words are perfect. We found all of that and a whole lot of love!

 

Where Fairies Dwell

Clearly there is a bit of magic happening along the American River parkway in Sacramento, as my dad and I observed during a recent morning walk.

The trails have everything necessary for fairies, elves, and leprechauns to set up housekeeping:

Cool, clear water from the river,IMG_9890branches of a tree that have grown together, creating whimsy,IMG_9899magnificent oaks to live in,IMG_9896IMG_9894heart shaped grape vine leaves, plenty of grapes, and wild blackberries,IMG_9889a heart shaped rock,IMG_9888and pretty wildflowers. IMG_9887Who could resist making their home right here surrounded by all of nature’s treasures?IMG_9875Open the door…
IMG_9876Wow! Special feathers, pebbles, and clear lids to use as stools.

A pretty painted rock,IMG_9883A peacock feather, sparkling jewels, stones for a path to the door, flower petals and a tiny little doorbell!IMG_9880Here’s a closer look. Open the door! Look how sweet!IMG_9881Here’s another little home.
IMG_9874And another!IMG_9884Someone’s having so much fun! I’d love to come across them as I’m out walking.

I’m going to be on the lookout for more fairy homes on my walks. Hope you’re lucky enough to find them too! And wouldn’t it be fun to make your own? Who knew that last week was International Build a Fairy House & Den Week? Earlier today I came across a free booklet, Build a Fairy House and Den to download. The author includes lots of great ideas. Have a look!

“Hand in hand, with fairy grace, we will sing and bless this place. ~William Shakespeare

Breathtaking Burney Falls

“Come away oh human child! To the waters and the wild.”

~Yeats

A few weeks ago my husband and I had the pleasure of  spending the day with my in laws and taking the short one hour drive from Redding, where they live, to Burney Falls.  Located in beautiful McArthur-Burney Falls State Park, the park offers ample camp sites and plenty of trails to hike, but the 129 foot waterfall is the crowned jewel. I’m just going to let the photos do the talking! Just take a look at this stunning display of nature’s splendor.
IMG_9867IMG_9346IMG_9865IMG_9866IMG_9362It’s easy to see why President Roosevelt called this the 8th wonder of the world! Mother Nature at her finest.

Glorious Hills of Poppies

“Let us dance in the sun, wearing wildflowers in our hair. ~Susan Polis Shutz
IMG_8607IMG_8620IMG_8622IMG_8649IMG_8610IMG_8612IMG_8643IMG_8635A week and a half ago we had the pleasure of going on a poppy hike facilitated by the American River Conservancy. The hike was on private property in Coloma which had spectacular views of the American River below us and hills of happy poppies everywhere we looked. Bill and Robin Center were so generous, leading groups of us on their trails, sharing their wisdom, and providing a delicious spread of appetizers and desserts afterwards under the shady oaks. Being surrounded by nature’s beauty in Coloma is something we won’t forget. We are so grateful for the experience!

Let’s Take a Walk

The sun is rising; birds are singing their finest songs. C’mon, let’s take a walk. We’re on one of the nearby trails that I use regularly. IMG_8208This is my sweet girl, Gemma, who accompanies me on my walks. Isn’t she beautiful? Beautiful and gentle with children, a wonderful protector, and the best ball retriever you’ll ever meet!IMG_8206Everywhere I look there are things to marvel about. Notice the shape of this graceful oak’s branches.IMG_8214And the vibrant greens of the moss and ferns growing on this large rock.IMG_8209This touched my heart and put a smile on my face. Here’s a memory bench that I’ve walked by every week, but today, dozens of pastel colored tulips planted behind it on the hillside are blooming and brightening everyone’s day! IMG_8204I didn’t know this woman, but I know she was so loved.IMG_8212So lovely! Such a special tribute.IMG_8202This area of the trail is in a lot of shade and is still wet from rains we had three days ago.IMG_8210IMG_8128Did you see the nest cradled in the tree branches in the photo above? And just look at all the newly unfurled spring leaves. I hope the nest is full of eggs. I’ll have to check in regularly as I walk by.IMG_8124A few miles in the freshness of the early morning… I can’t think of a better way to start my day. Thanks for coming along.

Love Messages

I’d been up last night quite a bit with some troubles tumbling around in my head, and upon waking in the morning, the worries were still there at the forefront of my mind. I dressed and then leashed up my furry walking companion for our morning walk, hoping I could find some answers or clear my head a bit. The morning was beautiful and I started to feel a bit better as we walked briskly on one of our usual routes.

Lo and behold, right in front of me, throughout the walk I began to see messages. Love messages, I’ll call them. Just when I needed them.IMG_7961IMG_8108IMG_8109IMG_8110IMG_8118Surely this doesn’t solve my problems, but I assure you, it helped immensely and put a smile on my face. Things will be alright. We’ll get through this. Messages received (all of them!) with a grateful heart!

Valentine’s Day Hiking

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park in Sonoma county was an ideal place to go for a hike on Valentine’s Day. The temperatures were in the 70s and the scenery was spectacular.

There are 25 miles of hiking trails within the park, and so many trails to choose from.
IMG_7799IMG_7802We chose a trail that was mostly shady and was right along a creek, one that would only take a couple of hours.
IMG_7814Look at all the beautiful Spanish moss draping from this tree!
IMG_7811IMG_7809IMG_7805IMG_7808IMG_7806IMG_7801The hike was just what we had been clamoring for, a bit of exploring in a gorgeous location. And then we were off to a late lunch in St. Helena. You know how hard it is to get reservations for dining on Valentine’s Day! IMG_7831We had to pull over and take some pictures of the exquisite views on our drive! Wow! Can you believe this is mid February?

Effie Yeaw Nature Center

We recently shared a delightful morning exploring nature trails with our grandchildren at the wonderful Effie Yeaw Nature Center, located along the American River Parkway. Inside the nature shop were many hands-on activities that the children were engrossed in. Push a button and hear the call of a red shouldered hawk. See a display of natural habitats. That sort of thing. Also, living in the nature shop are a number of non-releasable (due to injuries, becoming orphaned, or having grown too accustomed to people) animals.

Resident birds include :

  • a Northern Saw-whet Owl, Sophia (this was a highlight for the children!)
  • a Great Horned Owl, Echo
  • a Red-tailed Hawk, Tanner
  • a Red-shouldered Hawk, Skye, and
  • an American Kestrel, Rocky

In addition to the birds, there are reptiles, and amphibians on display.

Outdoors, well-marked trails meander through 100 acres of this nature preserve.

IMG_7630IMG_7645We had just gotten started walking on a trail when we came upon the deer. They’re obviously used to being photographed and gawked at!IMG_7633I must share that I have a love/hate relationship with these guys. To see them here was such a joy, but that’s not the case when I see them in my gardens at home, or the aftermath of all the damage they have done. I know they’re hungry and need to eat too; I just don’t want to encourage the chomping on my favorite flowers and foliage! Late last summer while shopping at the feed store, I noticed blocks of deer food. Standing there in front of the display, I contemplated buying a few blocks and placing them on some undeveloped acreage in our neighborhood. I didn’t, but I may in the future. I do use some deer deterrent products in our yard, that work well most of the year, but come late summer those pesky deer are eating everything.IMG_7646We followed a trail that led right down to the American River.
IMG_7658IMG_7710This crew must have been the official welcoming committee!IMG_7662IMG_7661IMG_7666There was so much to discover and admire as we walked along the trails, turned over rocks, climbed on some old tree stumps, and listened to birdsong. A great place to explore, learn and appreciate Mother Nature, for people of all ages.
IMG_7676“If you truly love nature you will find beauty everywhere.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh

Buck’s Creek Trail

Along Silva Valley Parkway in the El Dorado Hill’s Serrano neighborhood is a lovely, scenic trail within a nature preserve. It’s a surprising breath of fresh air in the midst of busy Silva Valley Road and Serrano Parkway. I found the trail to be well maintained with clear paths, markers, and foot bridges. Parking spots were plentiful at the El Dorado Hills library right across the street. My dog, Gemma, and I had the trails mostly to ourselves on this gray January afternoon as we walked along, discovering ponds, small waterfalls, wild life and many birds.IMG_7381IMG_7385IMG_7388IMG_7390IMG_7396The photo below shows the reflection of the tree’s branches in the pond water.
IMG_7398I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the stately, magnificent oaks. I would have loved to climb this one and sit reading a book all afternoon. See all the low swooping branches? Some of them nearly touch the ground. 
IMG_7391IMG_7404IMG_7414Here’s another gorgeous old oak that I admired.IMG_7405As I approached the tree I noticed something special in the bark!IMG_7393Someone’s been making a tree fort in this one.IMG_7412IMG_7420 And yep, here it is…even a heart rock along the trail! What fun!IMG_7411“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” ~ Aristotle

River Walking

With family members still in town the day after Christmas, we took advantage of a chilly but beautiful day to go birding along the American River trails. Well, we called it birding, but really it was a nature walk and we noticed not only birds, but majestic trees, brilliant blue skies, interesting bark, rocks and so much more. Come along with us.IMG_7082Can you make out the silhouettes of about ten vultures in this tree?
IMG_7079Oh yes, we had a few heart rock finds!IMG_7073IMG_7070IMG_7074Hard to see, but in the photo below, a white heron is hiding at the base of the tree on the left. You have to take my word for it!IMG_7081A tangle of branches.IMG_7080A nest, safely cradled!IMG_7076Along with many varieties of woodpeckers and water birds, we noticed lots of chickadees, and a deer couple bounding gracefully through the scenery (too quickly for me to capture with my camera).

Another fun find was a natural heart shape in the bark of this treeIMG_7098And speaking of hearts, mine was full with the blessing of a lovely morning out in nature with my dad, my brothers, Jim and Tom, and my dad’s dog, Keeley.IMG_7092“Keep close to nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

~John Muir