The Clouded Hilltops Beckon

Mt. Charleston obscured, Red Rock Canyon below. It’s a warm, comfortable hotel room, but somehow I’d much rather be in a tent up there somewhere.

My wife thinks I am crazy. No doubt she is spot on.

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Donner Summit Chill-out

It’s cooler up here than it was down in the meadows, and I suspect I will have the air conditioning well before the final foothills of the Sierras give way to the valley somewhere around Citrus Heights. Summer is releasing her hold on the mountains without haste, but the weather is glorious.

The Pacific Crest Trail crosses the highway about 100 meters from where I sit, and the trees behind me mask the trail’s meander upwards from this saddle towards Castle Peak. The moment reminds me that I want to spend some time on the PCT with my son, maybe just a few of the “easier” segments, and that I have a lot of training ahead before I can enjoy the pleasure of the trail as much as I enjoy that of the road or the iron rail.

 

The Great Dune from Above

We hiked up the Outlook Trail to find ourselves perched on a rise between the canyon and the sea, looking down upon the big sand dune that hugs the hillside above Pacific Coast Highway at Thornhill Broome Beach.

I have climbed the dune often and have passed it more than a hundred times, but I have never seen it from this vantage. From here the dune is no longer dominant: you see it in context, a beach blown uphill at a point in the coast that is exposed to the prevailing northwesterly onshore wind. From here south Point Conception no longer blocks those winds, but only here does the rock face cup just enough to capture the sand and spray.

The view reminds me of my desire to study both geography and geology when I return to the classroom a few years hence. My travels and a lifetime studying politics and commerce have left me more curious than ever about the planet upon which we play out our temporal dramas.