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Bloviating Zeppelin: A Hike

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Hike

Sometimes, when your world goes upside down for whatever reason, the best thing to do is just go out and walk. Sometimes, when the pressures are such that you feel you'll burst, when you're anxious and unsettled, you need to release some of that adrenaline.

Certainly, you might have your favorite walk or hike; I have mine as well. A major railroad route runs through my small mountain town and over Donner Pass. When I want to escape, I don my boots and walk alongside these historic tracks.

I did so just the other day, taking a camera with me. It was between storms, and the day was cloudy, the wind rough and brisk. I don't walk on the tracks but adjacent them a number of feet away, camera ready. It's tough walking, the rock is loose and the tracks abut ragged cliffs -- sometimes straight down and straight up.

Above, the daily eastbound Amtrak California Zephyr pulls uphill towards me. The engineer hit a friendly "shave and a haircut" on the horn for me a few times as he passed, then waved from his open window (click on each photo for a full expansion with detail).

The photo below was taken at a place railroaders call Rocky Point. Here, a Union Pacific freight labors uphill. I am standing, literally, on Rocky Point whilst taking the photograph. In the 1860s, after the Central Pacific completed this portion of the Transcontinental Railroad, CP trains would stop here so the passengers could exit the cars and look west down the canyon. At night, you can stand here and see the lights of Sacramento, the capital of Fornicalia, using the canyon like a rifle sight.

As I took the photograph below, my back was roughly five feet from the edge of the above canyon. That is the north fork of the American River, approximately 1,500 feet below. Taking photos here was challenging and exhilarating.

I walked on farther. I hiked for another two hours over loose rock, through pools of water, past small falls running down the sides of hills, past railroad signal stands, dragging equipment detectors, flange greasers. I saw the prints of animals with hooves. I saw evidence of small animal scat. I am always watching for scat. Big scat means big animals. I have seen bear prints in the snow and mud. Years ago, an SP engineer hit his horn numerous times and slowed his entire train to a crawl, just to warn me he'd just seen a huge brown bear near the tracks. He said I was walking right towards it. As you might expect, I am customarily quite well armed when I hike the tracks in the mountains, with either extra magazines or speedloaders. Wrong or not, I almost always hike by myself.

I love the walking; I love the hikes along the tracks. I've learned to read the tracks, to understand the signals. I can tell when a train is coming and on which block it's running. I can tell by listening precisely which crossing it's approaching. I know on which portion of the railroad the trains run right, and where the trains run left absent track work.

The sun was beginning to recede just as I was nearing my car. In the background I could hear another approaching Union Pacific freight train. I clambered down some loose rock to reach the tracks below and caught this locomotive laboring up towards Rocky Point. The engineer already had his window open. He leaned his head out, smiled and waved.

It was a great hike. It cleared my lungs and cleansed my soul. For a few hours I was just able to put my face forward into the wind, watch the firs bend, listen to the hawks and the crows. I passed a low point filled with water and could hear frogs.

It refreshed me; it scoured me clean.

It reminded me: Life is a blessing.



Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Question for my readers, which I may expand into a post in and of itself:

I'd like to get another dog. I'd like to exclude really large dogs and really small dogs. I'm soliciting your input for suggestions on these criteria:

I'm primarily looking for a calm dog; not a dog that barks a lot, not an excited type of dog. A dog that can be, alternately, a couch potato and, on the other hand, a dog that can take walks or hikes the likes of which I've illustrated here.

Because I'm "older" -- ahem -- I'm not looking for high energy, manic or obsessive dogs. Nor ankle-biters (pretty much kills all terriers).

With that in mind: any thoughts or suggestions?


Sun Mar 15, 08:04:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Plus: what or where are YOUR favorite hikes?


Sun Mar 15, 08:04:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Alaska Steve said...

What a great post! There are not, of course, any trains out here but I imagine you would be thrilled with all the old bunkers and gun emplacements spotting the terrain. For me, if I have the time and energy I love heading up a hill, if I'm feeling lazy then I walk along the ocean. As far as a dog goes, I wish I had the answer. Chico is probably the best dog I've ever had in the family, and he was a pound rescue on the day his "time was up". I picture you with a dog that has some bearing and dignity . . . .

Mon Mar 16, 12:41:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Thanks Steve! And what a choice you make: either the ocean or a nearby hill! How great is that?!


Mon Mar 16, 03:05:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Ranando said...

Breed? Breed doesn’t matter, IMO.

Just visit your local shelter and fall in love and save a life.

He/She will never forget what you have done.

As for your walk, good for you. We walk everyday no matter where we are. Best thing you can do for yourself.

Mon Mar 16, 05:54:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Ranando: you know what? That's probably the best idea; just hit the shelters.

And, time to get back to my walks and lose the weight I gained back in 2007 after having lost it in 2005. Lost 85 pounds, put 50 of it back. Yecchh.


Mon Mar 16, 07:11:00 AM PDT  
Blogger shoprat said...

Personally I prefer to walk along the river that is only a couple of blocks from my home.

Mon Mar 16, 08:44:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Lovely photos, but I guess that I'll always associate the words "Donner Pass" with a terrible event in our history.

We used to have railroad tracks to walk along here. But now the W&D tracks have been converted to a bike trail -- good biking, good walking -- with an easy grade.

Mon Mar 16, 09:50:00 AM PDT  
Blogger cary said...

Wow. Great scenery, wonderful weather - I'm jealous.

Dog? Ranando's right - go to a shelter and rescue one. I've got four right now - the yappy one is a Dachshund/Cocker mix (don't go for those if you don't like the yapping); the couch potato/hiking buddy is the black lab/Welsh Corgi mix.

Have fun, and keep us posted!

Tue Mar 17, 07:56:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Three Score and Ten or more said...

I came from your walk totally refreshed and wishing that my legs and heart would allow me to do the same. What a fine post.

As far as dogs are concerned my favorite dog of the type you describe was a labrador/pit-bull cross. (MY son's dog, very recently deceased at about eleven or twelve years old). Your post seemed to describe her closely.

Tue Mar 17, 08:36:00 PM PDT  

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