End of August

A quick trip up with Peggy and Carly this last weekend to spend a few days with some old high school friends of Peggy’s, the Dumais family, visiting California from Brooklyn.

It’s cooled down at the cabin in the last couple weeks, with high temperatures in the nineties and fine evenings, perfect for comfortable tent sleeping.

As it has been for the last several (very dry) summers, the air is hazy with the smoke of the several different fires currently raging in the state. Depending on the wind, some days are better than others.

It’s been great that so many folks have visited the cabin on a hill this year, that’s what the place is for. The Dumais family deserves special praise on a couple of points:

  1.  They showed up with a bottle of Hendricks gin, ready to make and drink proper martinis* (alas! we have no cocktail shaker, a situation to be corrected upon my next visit!)
  2. They are physically fit and in prime shape. After a long plane flight followed by a long car ride, they were ready to hike, and to hike seriously.

tuolumneSo we took them up to Tuolumne Meadows.

Heh. Funny thing about the weather up in the high country. Even though the cabin’s at an elevation of 3200ish feet and about 20 miles from Yosemite, inside Yosemite at an elevation of 8000 feet the weather can be very different.

And so it was that we found ourselves arriving in the middle of a summer thunder storm rolling on through.

Again, the shining parts of the Dumais family were on full display. As big fat sloppy rain drops fell from the sky, and thunder rumbled ominously in the distance, we all hiked up the road towards Parson’s lodge and the Glenn Aulen Trail to show them Mount Annika, a hike of about 2.5 miles in and then 2.5 miles back out.

Was that enough? No. Were they satisfied? No. And so, further on down the trail, Mount Eliza (named after the eldest daughter) was discovered and scaled, to great acclaim.

It was a tired but happy group which reconvened much later that night at the cabin for dinner and happy hour.

We had to sadly come down off the hill, back to our sad work-a-day lives, but the Dumais are hanging out at the cabin for the rest of the week and doing different day trips into Yosemite. It was Hetch Hetchy yesterday, the Valley today and then the Glacier Point Trail up the rim.

We look forward to the after action reports from our intrepid friends. (And martinis!)

* It has already been pointed out to me by many people that EVERYONE shows up at the cabin on a hill with a bottle of booze and why am I overly praising the Dumais family for merely doing the civil, which has led to several conversations about Hendricks and the first sip of an icy martini on a hot summer evening and so on. Please. Stop. We love all visitors equally. But if the bar is raised a little by this visit, we can all only profit from the experience from here on out. At least know there will be a cocktail shaker waiting.



It’s a lot cooler this week, which is good, because I’m up here  with my brother Nick clearing brush and cutting down trees.

Among my acquaintance, I am known for taking pleasure in work usually relegated by the more inhumane states to prison chain gangs as punishment. Nick makes me look like an idle worthless fop by comparison. He is a machine. He just goes at it hour after hour cutting down little manzanita bushes with the lopers or with the demo saw.

This is passed down to us by our father, whose ashes now rest on the cabin window sill, looking east to Yosemite and the rising sun. If anyone is responsible for our work ethic, it’s Dad.

I remember one time when I was young, like 8 years old, and he told me to go weed this short embankment from our lawn to the sidewalk. So I go out there and putter for a bit then go back in and ask if it was done.

He looked at me and asked “I don’t know, what do you think?”

Okay, busted. So I go back out and languidly pull up some weeds and then go back in and ask if it was done.

“What do you think?”

And so on until the embankment was denuded of all green stuff, and I went back in for the last time and announced, “It’s done.”

To which he shrugged and said “If you say so.”

Crazy making. On the other hand, the work ethic has done us well over the years. We have many failings, but laziness and malingering are not among them.

Another lingering effect of the influence of the old man is the proximity of this place to Yosemite and the Mother Lode gold country. After the folks divorced, when we were “batching it” with my dad for a few years before our mom kidnapped us down to LA, we used to frequent Yosemite and the central High Sierra.

If we were coming along highway 49, we’d head off the road and down some promising dirt wagon track and explore old gold mines and crawl over what I now know to be incredibly toxic tailing piles or, with weak flashlight, a couple hundred feet into crumbling and dripping old mine shafts.

If we were going to Yosemite along the Merced river route, we’d pull over where the road was wide enough, in the canyon outside El Portal, and pan and sluice for gold using the sluice box we made in dad’s wood shop. We’d find a few flakes of gold, and carry them around in tiny glass vials purchased from the Edmund’s Scientific store in Menlo Park (a whole different and glorious story), filled with mineral oil.

By the time I was old enough with money in my pockets, married, with a family, when the 75 acres came up for sale, well, it was already sort of stamped in deep and a done deal before it was even out of the gate.

Some things, some places, some times, are just in the blood, and like the Great Magnet, cannot be denied when they come up in the card pile.

You do what you gotta do where you gotta do it.