We got our lazy bones moving this week and finally made it to the nearby Whitewater Nature Preserve. In a string of cool, cloudy, and/or very windy days, we were there on a perfect sunny, summer-like day. The preserve is a large property between two mountain ranges, and cut through by the year-round Whitewater river. It seems to be almost where green, forested mountains meet the dry desert range. It was a perfect place to spend a day, and well worth a visit if you ever find yourself in this part of southern California. With leashed dogs welcome, Juniper came along too!
After visiting with the huge, tasty-looking trout that swim peacefully through the crystal clear ponds next to the ranger station (no fishing allowed!), we set off on the 3.5 mile Canyon Loop trail. The hike started off with some splashing in the cool waters of the river, shockingly clear and fast moving, a nice break from the desert sun. Then we headed up the many switchbacks, each one bringing better views of the canyon and surrounding ridges. We even were (briefly) on the Pacific Crest Trail, the 2600+ mile trail that runs from Mexico to Canada, which was pretty exciting in a geeky hiker kind of way.
Once on top of the ridge, the landscape changed and the rolling hills to the west were scalloped with green canyons and more vegetation than we usually see. Something about the wide open view and the sloping valleys made it seem like a mountain lion was sure to lope by, if we just watched the right places. While it is mountain lion territory, one would certainly hear us coming and make itself scarce long before we would see it. Bear and bighorn sheep are common too, but we didn’t see any critters except birds.
And it was just as well we didn’t see any critters, because halfway down the ridge back to the canyon floor, Juniper had a problem with one of her back paws. She was frantic, and we had to wrestle with our wriggling dog to try to hold her still enough to figure out what was wrong. Whining, panting desperately, she wouldn’t stand up. It was a stressful time for all of us – we spent 20 minutes searching for a thorn or bite or some other issue with her paw or leg. No luck. Her breathing had calmed a bit, so we decided to head the rest of the way down, back to the river, which might help wash out whatever the problem was. Juniper got the royal treatment–a ride down on Kris’s shoulders. Believe it or not, she relaxed immediately up there, and it was uneventful the rest of the way down. The cool river water helped too, and after more searching for the problem but no finding, she surprised us by being ready to walk again. She’s been fine ever since, and we never did find a thorn or anything else. One of the many days when we wish she could talk!
Other recent highlights include a low-key celebration of Kris’s birthday (which included birthday wishes over the grocery store speaker system and a cake smuggled into our tiny fridge), a fabulous care package from my mom which erased any post-holiday blues that might have threatened, and the start of our search for volunteer opportunities in New Mexico, our next destination. Although we’re getting antsy to be out in the wilderness again, we are here for another week, and we have company coming!