Weather conditions report: Many lizards, few newts. At last. (Nothing against newts)

After a pastoral evening on the deck and in the cliff perched hot tub of Pidgeon Point Lighthouse celebrating Piets 47th I introduced a few of his friends to the wonders of Whitehouse Ridge Trail and Chalk Mountain. We checked on the Checkerspots I met at Easter, and they were already dried. Barb found a decimated fox carcass, tail fur strewn about, which I collected some of, so soft, and a bit left still under the chin inviting a considered caress. (I thought to leave a bush poppy in blessing on the way back but passed the spot in my fatigue not noticing). We parted ways at the repeater, whose pit toilet boasts the most amazing view I?ve yet seen one of its kind have. Then, deliciously alone all afternoon, only passed by one mountain biker, I headed up and down along the watershed ridge peering over Whitehouse to the West and various drainages to the East, the big basin in the distance. Skirted under Sandy Point and dropped down to Sunset Trail camp (sites 1, 6 and 10 being the preferred ones ? weekly trash and pit toilet pumping service but no water). Once I hit Sunset/Berry Creek Falls trail I was surprised to find an almost highway with folks in their street clothes, and I?d felt all tough tackling a 17 miler with my bag full of gear, layers, emergency supplies. Here they were doing it palming one water bottle, sporting cotton and in regular old tennies?.

Stopped a bit above the falls in a sunny clovered spot for a quiet lunch, then down – the falls ? Golden, Silver Cascade, Berry Creek ? pushing big in a lovely way with all the water. I saw novice outdoor love makers going at it behind a log, their knees obvious from my trail direction but obviously not from the one they’d come in on as they thought they?d found a private nook. I saw a few newts on the creekbank and some just pre-emergent with still their fins. I saw the season’s first white iris smile big. I saw a crow up above and below, shadow that they are. I finally saw sun instead of days of raindrops dance on the redwood forest floor.

I had come up through mixed evergreen, out into the chalks scrub, down into redwood riparian, and back up out through the dry heat, out onto the blue sky ridges to where the sun would keep me company until it set, up to where the coastal cool pushed over the ridge. Back to where the only thing coming at me were the bootprints of an earlier me.? And tracks of cats.? And of one other, taller than I, who had not yet returned.

over 17 miles and somewheres around 2.5-3.5K elevation gain