Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Goal: SawMill Peak Lookout

A sure sign of summer: making mud plaster. I made a few batches today. Dig the clay; sift the clay; mix the clay with 1/2 part sand; cut up 1 part of straw; add one shovel full of cement; mix with water in a wheelbarrow using my favorite hoe; apply to the house.

Joni always asks me why I wait until the hot part of the day to begin work. It's simple: I like to work then. Working in hot weather might be dangerous, but I like to use that as part of my training. After all, if I'm going to be taking a 140 mile solo hike in August in the Sierra---I better be ready for hot weather.

But the hot weather training today began with my run. I tried to coax the dogs to come with me: they wouldn't budge. A doggy mutiny. They looked at me (as did Joni) like I was nuts to be venturing out into the hot afternoon sun.

Not only that, but I decided to start my assault on SawMill Peak.

SawMill Peak is about six, seven, eight miles away--straight up hill--2,400 feet above the elevation of our Homestead. At the top of SawMill Peak, there is a fire lookout. Still staffed by humans. If you continue on past the lookout, you can take Jordan Hill road down the canyon, across an idyllic bridge on the Feather River, up the other canyon, eventually leading you to the town of Magalia. There is some talk by the county to turn Jordan Hill Road into a paved evacuation route for the 30,000 people who live on the other side of the canyon from us. May that never happen! You build roads and the next thing you know, that uncivil world of civilization (7/11, McDonald's, Subway) will be opening up where once there was just a pot farmer and some mountain lion scat. Not my idea of progress.

I ran down to Jordan Hill Road and then began the ascent. Past the end of the "county maintained" road. On to the four wheel drive Jeep road. Past the first set of dilapidated trailers. My plan is to turn around at the first pot farm.

No dogs running with me, sans walking stick---a fella feels kind of exposed in this wilderness. You never know when a pot farmer's guard dog (usually a wolf mix breed or a pit bull) will greet you with barred teeth. Then there are the mountain lion: lots of them around here. And bear. One of our neighbors this morning told Joni that he's been watching a mother and cubs behind his trailer just a mile down the road from us. Momma bear with cubs makes me nervous.

I mentioned to Joni before leaving that I like to bring the dogs along as protection from mountain lion. She just rolled her eyes and sardonically said that "you are much too big for a mountain lion to kill; he wouldn't be able to drag you off the road".

Joni is so reassuring sometimes.

Not a cloud in the sky. I trundle along at a painfully slow pace up the hill. The sweat evaporates before I can see it glisten on my skin. My pores are huge---but no sweat is present. Single handedly, I am trying to increase the humidity of the Foothills. Hell, I might even trigger a thunderstorm.

After getting to the pot farm without a whole lot of mishap (and no guard dogs), I turn around. Run down the hill. And then back up the very steep hill that is our Ridge. Two neighbors drive by as I'm panting up the hill. Windows down on their cars, they want to talk. I don't. "It's steeper than it looks", I tell them. They drive off quickly, probably hoping that they won't have to stop and do CPR on me.

It took me 44 minutes and 43 seconds to complete this run.

Someday. Somehow. I'm going to run all the way to the top of SawMill Peak. A person needs to have a goal in life (or multiple goals). That's one of mine. Forget all that rot about having one and a half million dollars saved for retirement. Or forget about moving into a 5,000 square foot McMansion in a gated community---where you can socialize with lots of other anti-social rich folks. Those goals are for swine. I just want to run to the top of SawMill Peak. Say "Hi" to the Lookout Watcher. And then run home.

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