Week at the Lair

No photos of my own this week because my camera is out of commission.

We spent a truly relaxing week at the Lair of the Golden Bear, returning 8/25 after a one night layover in Santa Barbara. We were blissfully far away from the reach of any cell phone or wireless connection. (Actually I was told by other campers that of the major carriers only Verizon worked, and I have AT&T.) Nearby payphones don't allow incoming calls. The wheels of progress turn slowly: There was wireless access at the Lodge this year, but I had no way to use it. In any case, I'm not sure I approve of wireless for the Lair.

We go 11th week, which is often viewed as an undesirable week and only a stepping stone to an earlier, more desirable, week but I've come to like ending the summer on a strong note and we have an investment in the friends we've made that week. There's actually a competitive rush top get your Lair reservation in as early as possible (March) but I won't know my ex-spouse's vacation schedule until May. So next year I'm thinking that I'll have to reserve 11th week and some other week in order to reasonably address vacation time uncertainty.

My son's goal was to play, and he did: creek, pool, and lake were the playground. Here he is relaxing after a lake swim.

My goal this year was to go hiking, and I did.

Monday was a hike to Waterhouse Lake where I shared a swim with a small water snake. Waterhouse Lake is a short hike down from ~8000 feet to 7500 feet. The hike back out is a real aerobic workout for sea level denizens like me with a lot of granite friction climbing up the sides of the valley which was scraped clean so long ago by glaciers.

Tuesday was an ~8 mile hike around Pinecrest Lake and up to Cleo's Bath. The Bath is a swimming hole rushing with water in wetter years. This year we stood under what is normally 10' of running water.

Wednesday was a recovery day that allowed me to do some tie dying. I redyed a canvas grocery bag from last year that I wasn't happy with and did five additional bags. Juli got really envious of how my older Trader Joes bag turned out so she absconded with it upon my return.

Thursday I hiked to the base of Sardine Falls and up a slightly dangerous scree slope to the top. This hike started at about 8500' and went up only at the end. Still, hiking up scree at 8500 was another good aerobic workout.

The hikes were interesting to me because not only because of the destinations, but also because of the wide variety of native plants that I saw. This caused a bit of cognitive dissonance, since I guess I had turned off that part of my brain in preparation for being away from home. Some I recognized and some I did not. The meadows were particularly impressive with iris, columbine, grasses, and the EVER ELUSIVE Wyethia. Great fields of Wyethia! Since I have a poor memory I assumed it was W. ovata, but according to calflora.net, W. Ovata is not found up there, so it's probably W. angustifolia and W. mollis (there were two forms that were easily distinguishable). Some seeds may have stuck to my socks. I guess I'm still looking for W. ovata. One reason to go to the Lair earlier might be to see more natives in bloom.

Snowberry (Symphoricarpos, probably rotundifolious or mollis) was widespread and it was interesting to see that many of the berries on one plant in particular looked like they had been parasitized.

This is my second "Week at the Lair" post. Perhaps I need a "Lair" tag?

Neither the official list of things to bring, nor my earlier augmented list of things to bring was canonical. Next year I also need to bring:

hammer (to pound down floor nails and put in my own nail hooks)
nails (8d will be OK) or screw hooks
beer (It's on my earlier list already, but I brought wine. Beer is really the best adult libation for warm afternoons, bar none. )
No red clothes (particularly important for 10 year olds)
A guide to Sierra flora
A pocket magnifier (for bugs and seeds and stuff)

For comparison, the official list of item to bring to the Lair is located at http://www.alumni.berkeley.edu/Alumni/Lair_of_the_Golden_Bear/What_to_Bring.asp

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