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Living and Writing in the Natural World

Waterfalls and Hanging Valleys

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?  Read More 
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The reign of light begins

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

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.  Read More 
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On the shoulder of Mt. Whitney

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.  Read More 
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