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I'm in the seventh year of an intense, torrid love affair with the state of California. Not with the government - I've got a few nasty things to say about that, in fact (repeal prop 13!). Nope, I'm in love with the land itself, and the plants and animals that live on it. I'm in love with the Indians, who learned how to live in harmony with this great land, not living lightly on it without making a mark, but shaping the land by burning, pruning, harvesting, etc, and co-evolving with our native species.

Getting Photos of the View

Unfortunately, I am most likely going to leave my love in less than a year. I've been accepted to grad school. I don't know where I'm going yet, but I've been accepted to UW-Madison for a PhD in sociology and I'm waiting to hear from a few other schools.

Therefore I've developed a bit of a "California bucket list" - things I want to do before leaving the state. Visit Yosemite. See a bear. See a fire poppy. Stuff my face with figs from the tree in my yard. Hike as much of the Pacific Crest Trail as I possibly can. And to facilitate these goals, I've joined a few meetup groups, including one that combines my two hobbies - photography and hiking. Here are some shots from our recent hike near Idyllwild.

Projections for California's climate are not pretty if nothing changes. This year's massive drought will become the new normal. That scares me a lot.

Photos are from the Deer Springs Trail to Suicide Rock, Idyllwild, CA. February 15, 2014. The hike goes from 5000 feet to 7000 feet above sea level. California is incredibly biodiverse and it's home to many, many different ecosystems. This is just one of them. Cahuilla Indians here would have lived on pine nuts, acorns, manzanita, and wild game.

Strawberries
Wild strawberries

If you're a gardener, you know that strawberries love to grow in acidic soil. Well, pine trees compete by dropping pine needles, which decompose and make the soil more acidic - too acidic for other would-be competing species. In the photo, you can see that these berries are growing in a mulch of pine needles. They are probably in heaven. (By the way, Eddie C taught me that about the pine needles, and he also helped me choose a camera and taught me how to use it. So hat tip to him.)

Mistletoe Berries
Mistletoe, with berries. Growing on an oak.

I'll never understand why a toxic parasite is considered a Christmas decoration that we should kiss under.

Oak
Oak. Host to the mistletoe.

Hug a Tree!
That's right. I AM a treehugger. (And I wear a silly hat and a 15 year old ugly shirt when I hike... better than getting a sunburn and wrecking nice clothes.)

Manzanita Flowers
An entire mountain of manzanita, and only one of them is in bloom.

Yarrow
Yarrow. I love this plant. It's medicinal and helps with bleeding.

Deer Springs Trail

View at the Top

The View

Tree with Lichen
Tree with Brown Eyed Wolf Lichen

View of Tahquitz Rock (Lily Rock)
View of Tahquitz Rock (Lily Rock)

Incense Cedar
Incense Cedar.

Manzanita and Brown Eyed Wolf Lichen
Manzanita with Brown Eyed Wolf Lichen

Manzanita and Brown Eyed Wolf Lichen
Manzanita with Brown Eyed Wolf Lichen

The View

Deer Springs Trail

Deer Springs Trail

Manzanita
Manzanita

The View

The View

The View

Snow!!
Snow!

Naptime on Suicide Rock
Phew, that was a long hike. Time for a nap.

Originally posted to Jill Richardson on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 06:11 PM PST.

Also republished by Shutterbugs.

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