“Let’s take our hearts for a walk in the woods and listen to the magic whispers of old trees.” ~Author UnknownIf these old trees could talk they’d have many a tale to whisper about. They’d tell stories of life in the mid 1800s, and mining in the Sierra Nevada mountains of Grass Valley during the gold rush and the years following.
Empire Mine is one of the oldest, largest and most prosperous gold mines in North American history. Mining started here in 1850 and continued until 1956. On the grounds are the various mines, machine shop, refinery room, warehouses, offices and blacksmith shop. A distance away from all the mining structures sits the stately English manor cottage that the Bourne family lived in during the summer months (their main residence was a mansion in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights) and the formal gardens. A clubhouse for entertaining and for housing visiting guests is also nearby, as is the gardener’s house and greenhouse. All of this sits on 856 acres of beautifully forested foothills. Woodland hiking trails wind through much of the property.Last Friday, on a beautiful autumn day we visited the park for their Christmas event. We enjoyed the old fashioned decorations, live music, and festive atmosphere as we toured the cottage and wandered the lovely grounds and trails. Costumed docents greeted us and shared park history, and Santa and Mrs. Claus were on hand for the little ones.Special arrangements were made to have the cottage (which is currently closed while roof repairs are being made) open for tours on this weekend. Yes indeed, they call this a cottage!Inside the cottage is quite dark, but have a look at the lovely old fashioned holiday decorations and the gorgeous windows in each room! Just charming!It was in 1975 that the state of California purchased the property and it became the Empire Mine State Historic Park. Check the website for tours, hours, and a wealth of information about the history of this impressive park.
“To the free mountaineer all the woods are accessible alike from the firs that girdle Shasta to the giant forests of the Tule; but the…timebound must follow ways and means, and I know of none better than those of Calaveras… a flowery glade in the very heart of the woods, forming a fine center for the student, and a delicious resting place for the weary.”
Three miles north of Arnold off Highway 4 stands the grandeur of Calaveras Big Trees State Park. This is the place where in the early 1850s the world first came to know about the Giant Sequoias, the largest trees on earth and native only to the western slope of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains.There are many trails to hike within the park, but on this beautiful but chilly day in mid November, we took the North Grove Trail, only about 1.5 miles long. We found the trail was covered with a blanket of snow and was even iced over in some locations.The largest trees here could be anywhere from 800 to 3,000 years old and can reach a height of 325 feet and a diameter of 33 feet. It truly is amazing to think of all that these trees have experienced in their years! In addition to the Giant Sequoias in the park, Sugar Pine, White Fir, Incense Cedar and Ponderosa Pines exist alongside each other in the splendor of this mixed conifer forest.
Inspired by REI’s decision to close on Black Friday, Save the Redwoods League is sponsoring free admission to 49 participating California redwood state parks on November 27th. They invite everyone to experience the joy, renewal and inspiration found among the natural wonders of the ancient giant redwoods. To find out which state parks are participating and to download a free pass, check out the website above.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all and happy hiking on Friday.
“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”
~Lauren De Stefano
“The heart of autumn must have broken here, and poured its treasures out upon the leaves.”
~Charlotte Flake Bates
“Winter is an watching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn, a mosaic of them all.”
“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.”
“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket then all the other seasons.”
“Come forth into the light of things. Let nature be your teacher.”
“But in this season, it is well to reassert that the hope of mankind rests in faith. As man thinketh, so he is. Nothing much happens unless you believe in it, and believing there is hope for the world is a way to move toward it.”
“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”
The leaves on our trees and shrubs have not yet begun to change, but take a look at the Virginia Creeper rambling over our fence. There’s so much beauty to look forward to!
This is Gemma. This pretty girl just had her 6th birthday. She’s been with us since she was 8 weeks old when I could hold her little piglet body in my two cupped hands. She was an anniversary gift. She has brought so much joy and amusement to our lives. She is our morning walking partner. Our hiking and snow shoeing companion. Ball catcher extraordinaire. Excitable home coming greeter. Protector of her people and her property. Foot warmer. Day brightener. A loyal and cherished member of our family. She’s gentle with the babies, and patiently puts up with them chasing her, or sitting and lying on her when they visit at our home.And even endures cuddling with Riley, our cat.
Happy birthday Sweet Gemma. You’re such a good girl.
“Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift.”
“Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.”
~Mary OliverPhoto taken on a busy street in Sacramento.
“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.”
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares drop away like autumn leaves.”