Seamless Blue Sky

It’s really not hard to remember the joys of going to Wilbur for the weekend. On Friday as I traveled up, I was not in a rush, and the traffic was no worse than usual. When I turned off the 80 onto the 505, I could feel the real adventure beginning. Highway 16 was a realm of beauty all of its own in the low autumn sun. 

Since the forecast was good, we decided to go ahead with a mindful hike on the Saturday, and after I had unpacked, I took one of the resident bikes up to the beginning of the Smelter Trail, which I sometimes hesitated at as I tried to remember which side of which gully to take, and found that there were new signs pointing the way. I took the first stretch of the trail, and reveled in the absolute stillness of the afternoon.

In the evening – and on  Saturday evening as well – I could barely keep my eyes open as I tried to read. I had realised that I had barely had a complete day off in many weeks, even though I do have plenty of space in my schedule. I have resolved to get away this upcoming weekend as a way of doing that; as relaxing as Wilbur is, I still had my teaching commitments. Thankfully, I slept deeply, with many strong dreams, as I typically did when I was there.

I was awake early, and with the temperature being close to freezing, I wrapped up well and took myself off to the nature preserve valley to catch the sunrise. The moon was still up. As I arrived, the Fountain of Life geyser was having one of its regular outpourings, so I took plenty of pictures of that. By the time I had wandered around getting the pictures I wanted it had spouted again, just as the sun was coming up over the hill, so I was shooting with wild abandon and great glee.

There was a good turn-out for the sit, and many of the people also came on the hike. Conditions were ideal, though it did cloud over right when we got up to the medicine wheel, so we didn’t sit and enjoy the view as much as we might have. 

Sunday however, was completely clear, from the canopy of stars when I woke up, to the daytime blue. I went up the first section of the Manzanita trail to catch the sunrise, and then waited for it to reach the bottom of the valley, which took longer than expected; I did not get the backlit steam pictures I had hoped for, but I did catch some of the mineral colours around the hot springs. More sitting, and more relaxing meant I felt like I had had a full good time of it.

Glad as I was to be completely away from the news cycle for a couple of days, it felt like I had a lot to catch up on once I was back online, and I have tried to make the most of all my gaps in schedule both to relax and get everything done. It helps that this is a football-free as we head towards the World Cup. I know all the reasons why it can be boycotted, and know of the deaths, and the tremendous corruption of FIFA (and UEFA), and there are many other ways in which the West engages with the Middle East that are also fairly repulsive, so I will be watching, and hopefully enjoying, the football.

I know I say this every year, but I always remember that the middle of November was my first experience of San Francisco. This week’s weather is reminiscent of what I had then, cold around the edges, but bright and warmer during the days. I’ll take that for as long as it lasts.

The Fountain of Light, backlit.
Coming down from the medicine wheel on Saturday.
First sun over Wilbur on Sunday.
Golden hour.

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