Living and Writing in the Natural World

Waterfalls and Hanging Valleys

March 27, 2013

With my buddy Cal and our sons, home on spring break, I hiked to Feather Falls in the rugged Feather River canyon country southeast of Chico (northern California) this weekend. The nine-mile round trip wound through lower montane habitat with gorgeous Canyon live oaks spreading their twisting limbs over hillsides, and unusual patches of California nutmeg trees and reddish-barked madrones. The 640-foot waterfall, billed as the sixth tallest in the contiguous U.S., did not disappoint, especially viewed from the splendid overlook perched on a rock spur facing the falls head-on across the canyon, barely 100 yards away. If this is number six, I wondered, what are the five taller? (more…)

The reign of light begins

March 20, 2013

Today and tonight mark the Spring Equinox, the most exciting of the four “backbones” of the year in the traditional Chinese solar calendar. With daylight length finally catching up to night (“equi” “nox” in Latin is “equal to night”) the planet is again at equilibrium so far as life-giving daylight is concerned. Starting tomorrow the reign of light begins, to last until the fall equinox in September. This matters--a lot--because on our planet at least, sunlight powers (more…)

Yoghurt, attics, and the joys of broad, flat rocks

March 13, 2013

The American environmental movement is sometimes criticized as being overwhelmingly white, with the ethnicities conspicuously under-represented. That may or may not be true for “card-carrying” environmentalists, but this last week reminded me what I've long known, that appreciation for the wonders of the natural world cuts across ethnic boundaries, to judge by my encounters with the South Korean couple that own the local yoghurt shop, and a pair of Mexican-American laborers who blew insulation into my attic. (more…)

On the shoulder of Mt. Whitney

March 6, 2013

I passed Chico’s new music store yesterday, a neon guitar gleaming in the twilight. It reminded me of Guitar Lake in the Sierra Nevada five years ago, an exuberant band of Boy Scouts, and a resulting interminable night wheezing thin air at 13,400 feet elevation on the shoulder of Mt. Whitney with my teenage daughter Ash and her buddy Maya. Did I mention we only had half a liter of water among us? Let me explain. (more…)
Sierra Buttes of the metamorphic, Mesozoic Sierra Nevada range

Infamous trail marker, New Mexico

"Bon voyage" to the backpacking daughter

emerald waters of Colorado River's Black Canyon

Immature White Ibis, coming into adult color

"Fierce and cruel alligators appear to us, but beautiful in the eyes of God. They, also, are his children." --John Muir

Hometown of 4077th MASH Company Clerk

The view from a sea cave

Man and Best Friend, Bennie

2,425 feet of "songs that bear pureheaven in every note"

Sun rising behind over-optimistic paddler, San Pablo Bay

Tomales Bay: North America plate on the right, Pacific plate on the left--and San Andreas Fault immediately below!

Corner room of Mt. Vernon Inn's restaurant. The Colonial Hoecake is not to be missed.

Georgia O'Keeffe's "Chama River" near Ghost Ranch entrance

Ortega showroom, Chimayo

A typical collection of urchins from Puako in the old days, before their return to the tidepool

Harbor seal on a redwood log, Big River

Darwin Falls, up Darwin Wash in Death Valley's Argus Range

Steinbeck and Ricketts pal Frank Wright (right) at Cannery Row

"What? You never seen an otter use a rock?"

Saint John, from

One of Monet's famous water lilies

The newest Sherlock

Eagerly awaited harbingers of spring

Zhou Minzhen, Barnett, Ye Duzhuang at Peking Man Cave

Julia Morgan's "Hearthstone" at Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Do you think the females will like my chain, guys?

40 feet of falling water at Glen Aulin

AJ, Kyle in monsoon at Emei Mt

Young John Muir

Whitney looms behind Ash, Maya

The young Charles Darwin

lunar new year festivities

Courtenay-Latimer's 1938 sketch

Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer

A son and Half dome in snow

Celebrating the harvest, S.F. style

40.5 lbs of trouble

A helpful label

Father, Son under Hamilton Dome

Camping among the sequoias

Fathers and sons at Bearpaw Meadow


Nothing here yet.

Selected Works

His journals reveal a hidden Muir, whose radical worldview challenges
Taoism reveals simple habits for health and balance in our modern lives
Classics Revisited
Long John Silver and Jim Hawkins stumble upon ancient Chinese treasure
Sherlock Holmes discovers his brother has been murdered by a Nazi spy on the eve of D-Day
Historical Fiction
Murder and passion during the 1948 Communist siege of Peking
Nuclear war looms as China demands the return of Taiwan
A Virginian finds romance in Korea as Chinese and Japanese armies battle, 1895

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