Robert drove us up Carmel Valley Road in the greenlyness of it all spring and dripping with spanish moss up to Pine Ridge Trailhead at China Camp where we parked and started walking the ridge trail in the wind and mist whipping snow-cold up the south flank of the hill.

We were headed to South Ventana Cone but the weather changed our minds as we stood on the Church Creek Divide watershed a sweet saddle where the rain chooses its route to the sea either winding Pine Valley Way northwest toward the Carmel River or easterly into Church Creek which joins Tassajara Creek to Arroyo Seco and the wide (for California) Salinas River.

Taking the trail less traveled we wandered south dropping into the soft green bouquet of Church Creek drainage,

with its uplifted rock formations reminding us that faults can be beautiful,

through fire damaged forest and its resurgent undergrowth, wildflowers – banks of them – everywhere.

lunched on a log after hopping over Church Creek,

and sat surrounded by lupin on top of the world watching the clouds come our way