Might Have Beens

The Girl and I have really enjoyed our Carson Trail hikes. With the recent rains and cessation of irrigation, there is more water in the Carson River.
The Girl and I have really enjoyed our Carson Trail hikes. With the recent rains and cessation of irrigation, there is more water in the Carson River.

The Girl and I have been walking the Carson River Trail quite a lot the last few weeks. There’s less traffic than at Riverview Park and I like the walk along the river a bit better.

Friday we walked the trail again. The colors are staggering for the moment. Soon enough, it will all be gone and the cottonwoods will be in their winter dress. But for now, I’m really enjoying the color.

We paused at Mexican Dam for a few minutes. The flow is up quite a lot with the recent rains and the ending of irrigation season. But, there is not a lot of flow.

I stood there, looking over the water and taking in the sights, sounds, and smells. I heard a splash nearby and turned to see the Girl in the water. How she fell off the headgate wall I’ll never know. She’s not the brightest bulb in the box, sometimes.

She reinforced my observation by trying to climb up the concrete headwall. Unsuccessful, she looked at and I called her toward me. She could walk out on the weir.

She dogpaddled toward me and tried to climb the wall again. She slipped back into the water and went under. That didn’t look good. She didn’t look panicked, but was clearly distressed.

I called her to me again. She swam my way and tried to climb out again.

For a moment, I thought I was going to have to jump into the river and rescue my dog. That would have meant wetting my iPhone and my watch, which would have been expensive (but I didn’t think of that at the time).

But, she swam a little closer and I reached down to her. I snagged her collar and hoisted while she scrambled up the rough concrete.

Wet but happy, she shook and gave me a shower. I laughed, retrieved my pack, and we headed back to the rig, where I had a towel.

On the way back, she had two or three mini-zoomies and we played. She was a happy dog and I was a happy man.

At the rig, I retrieved the towel and wiped her mostly-dry fur down. She likes the towel. I like the Girl.

All’s well that ends well…

Fall is Here

I think I'll never tire of walking out to Mexican Dam, especially now that the Carson River flows are increasing.
I think I’ll never tire of walking out to Mexican Dam, especially now that the Carson River flows are increasing.

The night before last was a blustery fall night. It rained off and on as the westerly winds blew moisture over the Carson Range and into the valleys east of the Sierra Nevada. The fan in my room’s HVAC unit mitigated the normal affect wind might have on my sleep — restless — which was good. So I slept fairly well even with the wind and rain.

When we left the room, there was a bit of sun for a cool fall morning. So we walked over to the old orphanage, interacted with some friends and acquaintances, and played with the ball a bit. We then returned to the room so I could feed us and take care of my Saturday-morning chores.

But I soon became restless. I wanted some outside time, even if the wind was up. So the Girl and I headed out to Silver Saddle Ranch for a walk and a look at the Carson River. We took a slightly different route than recently to add a little variety. But ultimately if one wants to walk to the Mexican Dam, there is the Mexican Ditch maintenance road to walk. The slope west from the ditch to a little rough to walk.

It can be done and we’ve done it, but the footing is treacherous in places and it’s not worth the risk of a serious spill. So I walk the road.

The wind did not yet take the leaves. Some of the old cottonwoods still cling to their green as well. They will be the holdouts, waiting until the last moment to shed for the winter. For me, that means a few more days of fall color opportunity before the winter colors arrive. I’m carrying my compact camera in-hand more and need to download those images for processing.

I could hear the Carson River flow over Mexican Dam before we reached the site. Even with the white noise of wind in the trees I could hear the water’s pitch. Glimpses of white air entrainment were visible through gaps in the trees as we approached.

Sure enough, more flow is crossing Mexican Dam. It isn’t a lot more, but it’s noticeable and I suspect measurable. There was enough rain in the watershed to boost the discharge slightly.

The Girl and I walked out onto the weir. She tried to drink and managed a few sips before a whitecap smacked her nose, causing her to jump back. Nonplussed, she tried a couple more times as we puttered along the west bank of the river. There’s plenty of dry driftwood for me to make a fire if I need to. I realize that I should carry my folding saw in my pack as well as the tiny saw on my multitool. “Two is one and one is none…” If I needed to make a small fire, I’d better have some additional tools in the kit.

I have a tarp (cover) and cordage for my pack as well. I think I’ll spend a little time this week to assemble those items and get them into my pack. They should be part of my EDC system anyway.

We turned away to walk back to the rig and return home. Clouds darkened the western sky as the continued winds blew more energy and moisture over the Carson Range. I knew we’d see more rain that afternoon. Even if it was only a couple of miles back to the rig, those could be pretty miserable miles in the wet without cover.

I’m so thankful that I can get out like this. I love being outside, walking, listening to the world about me. The Girl adds a unique element to the experience with her completely different perception of the world. Sharing that with her is good and I’ve grown because of it.

Back at our room, tired and ready for food, I cleaned up while the Girl napped. Her breathing and soft energy was too tempting and so I rolled up in my blanket next to her for a nap and a snuggle. There is something about having another living being in my life that expands my perception. That we share much experience from our totally different perspectives fascinates and astounds me.

Sure enough, I woke to a blustery light rain. That’s typical fall weather in western Nevada. There will be snow in the mountains and that’s a good thing for it is water for next year. Soon we’ll have colder days and harder light. With another layer of clothing and perhaps a jacket for the Girl, we’ll be good to go and be out and about on cold winter mornings, enjoying life outdoors.

I’m thankful. Life is good…

Flow Over the Mexican Dam

Over the last few days, I noticed the flow in Carson River increased. Irrigation season is ended and flows are being restored to the Carson River.
Over the last few days, I noticed the flow in Carson River increased. Irrigation season is ended and flows are being restored to the Carson River.

This was a difficult shot, technically. The dynamic range from the darkest shadow to the brightest highlight was too much for the sensor in my iPhone 6S. I made the shot anyway, knowing the technical problem. I used an application that captures data directly from the sensor in TIF encoding. I then post-processed the image on my MacBook Pro, but not using anything too fancy… just the Preview application and the simple tools it provides. The end result is not stellar, but it conveys the mood of the time of the shot.

The Girl and I are enjoying our daily outings along the Carson River. The trail from the staging area (River Park) to the Mexican Dam is almost flat and is about a mile and a half one way. There are wonderful views of the riparian area and the sagelands adjacent to them. Silver Saddle Ranch is west from the river/trail and it is still a working ranch. So it changes with the season too.

With the end of irrigation season (about the first of October), pressure on Carson River flows eases and the river begins its winter recovery. Reduced demand for water permits flows from the uplands to propagate downstream and recharge of the alluvial aquifer (bank storage) begins. As the alluvial aquifer moves toward equilibrium, more flow stays in the river and reaches Mexican Dam (and other parts downstream).

In the couple of weeks since irrigation ceased, I observed an increase in flow at Mexican Dam. In September I noticed where irrigators placed a few sandbags to direct the meager flow to the headgate of Mexican Ditch. Flow in Carson River was through Mexican Dam and its abutments or through Mexican Ditch to be returned downstream.

Now there is flow over Mexican Dam. It isn’t much, but it is there and it is measurably greater than two weeks ago. If the rain we are promised occurs this weekend, then I’m betting next week there will be more flow in the river. If so, I’ll notice it.

One might ask, “So what?”

There is something in me that observes. I am driven to just look at the world around me as I pass through it. I notice things, particularly when I pass by them multiple times. Change, in particular, captures my attention. Because I remain fascinated by water and its motion, I am particularly sensitive to changes in water dynamics when I see them.

Sometimes, those observations are interesting enough to capture with a camera. This fall I wish I was skilled with videography and had a drone. I think that an interesting short film could be produced of the Carson River corridor where I walk almost every day. But, I am neither skilled with videography nor do I have a drone. So, that is not happening.

Instead, I find myself capturing still images of the beauty of the Carson River corridor and posting them here along with my ruminations of what I observed. This is interesting, to me at least.

As the seasons change, my observations of the river will continue. I expect they will also change. In part that will be attributable to the changing season, but also I will change. I also expect that my range will increase as I find new trails to work with the Girl.

I’m actually looking forward to winter. I love walking in the cold, crisp air (with warm clothing). The hardness of winter light fascinates me. The bit of snow we’ll have here in the valleys of Nevada will add a touch of interest to the landscape. There will be fewer people out walking the trails as well. The heat and taste of coffee or tea after the walk is such a pleasant experience.

Yes, the seasons change and I welcome the change. The river flows on, caught in the changes humans enforce upon it, but also hinting that it is also the same, following its cycle through the seasons. I’m ready for the winter season. Life is good…

Hope Valley

On the way home from South Lake Tahoe yesterday, the Girl and I stopped for a walk along the West Carson River.
On the way home from South Lake Tahoe yesterday, the Girl and I stopped for a walk along the West Carson River.

My meeting in South Lake Tahoe went well yesterday. On the way home, I elected to drive over Luther Pass (California SH 89) and into Hope Valley. My hope (pun intended) was that I might see the aspens before the winds take their leaves. My hope (again pun intended) was that the light would be good enough to make a few captures of the fall color.

Alas, the sky was too hazy for the light to be good. But the leaves are still there (perhaps until the winds this weekend) and the view was breathtaking. That was good.

We stopped at the little roadside park just west from the SH88/89 intersection. The lot was crowded with passersby (as always), but there was a place to park the rig. So, I retrieved my X-T1 from the back, got the Girl off her perch, and locked the rig. We walked the few dozen yards to West Fork Carson River. We encountered only a couple other walkers.

The river burbled along the channel, pushing against the rocks in its path. The Girl hunted squirrels and lizards (but found none). I enjoyed the cool air, the sound of the breeze in the pines, the sound of the river moving along, and the sounds the Girl makes as she snuffles about.

Some yards away I heard an older couple playing with their retriever in the water. The calls of the man and the splashing of the dog added a pleasant counterpoint to the susurrations of wind and water.

The Girl, of course, noticed none of these things… or at least did not acknowledge them as important to her world. Her world comprises the world of sight and scent, which is a completely alien worldview to my own. Yet, these seem complementary as we enjoy many of the same things and enjoy them together. The worlds of man and dog intersect along our boundary of life and energy and we share much.

What would my life be without this Girl in it? I am not completely sure, but I am sure that it would be poorer without her. As I said long ago (and will likely repeat), I think we rescued each other — we are both rescue animals, each from a different place, a different species, a different tribe, but rescues nonetheless.

We wrapped up our respective reveries as we headed back to the rig to travel down the hill and to our (temporary) home. She curled up in the seatpan (bun warmer on) and I drove us down the valley back into Nevada.

I am thankful for these things. Life is good…

Mexican Dam Sunset

A couple of evenings ago, the Girl and I saw this beautiful sunset at Mexican Dam on the Carson River.
A couple of evenings ago, the Girl and I saw this beautiful sunset at Mexican Dam on the Carson River.

Every now and again western Nevada offers an absolutely stunning sunset. The conditions have to be right, with a few clouds and little haze. There are many sunsets here that are beautiful, but simple, with the sun setting behind the Carson Range, leaving the day in a blaze of beautiful red but with no clouds to share in that color.

Then again, we have those evenings when we are blessed with a few clouds to share in the parting of the day. When those special evenings occur, they can be stunning.

So, when the Girl and I were on evening walkies along the Carson River Trail a few evenings ago, we were in for a double treat. With the end of irrigation season, there is a little more water in the Carson River. Flows are just enough that water is flowing over Mexican Dam again… just a little. But, it’s enough that there is a small pond behind the weir. Ducks, geese, and a blue heron are often seen here.

I laugh when we jump ducks from the Mexican Ditch on the way to the Mexican Dam. They burst from the ditch and cover, beating the water and brush with the wings, quacking their duck-curses upon us. The Girl gives chase for a few steps, then realizes she will not catch the swift flyers. This particular evening was no different.

At the dam, the light was turning special. There was enough water to provide a reflection of the sunset. So we stayed a few minutes to take it in. I made a few captures with my iPhone and my compact camera and drank a little water while the Girl snuffled about.

Then it was off for the rig to beat the dusk. I knew I pushed it a little, not really wanting to hike back to the rig in the dark. I carry a small light (enough) and think I’ll put a headlight in my pack for those evenings when we just don’t get back to the rig before dark.

On the way back to the rig, the Great Horned Owls began their evening calls. I heard three of them, announcing their presence to each other, preparing the the evening hunts. I called back as I hiked, looking for their telltale shapes on the darkening branches of the cottonwoods. None revealed themselves that evening, and I was left with the sounds of their calls, the crunching of the sand under my boots, the burbling of the Carson River over its riffles, and the snuffling of the Girl as we humped it back to the rig.

We flushed no ducks on the way back. We did encounter one other pair of hikers working their way toward Mexican Dam. I think they were too late for the sunset, but perhaps that was not their objective.

Back at the rig in the gathering dusk, the Girl hopped in and waited for me to close the door. I shucked my pack, stowed it, and closed her door. Then it was off to our room for supper and to relax from the hike.

As my favorite gun-vlogger says, “Life is good…”

Carson River Sunset

On walkies with the Girl, we were treated with a gorgeous Carson River sunset.
On walkies with the Girl, we were treated with a gorgeous Carson River sunset.

Yesterday evening the Girl and I got away from the hotel a bit later than I intended. Yet, I wanted to get to the staging area when the light was good. The Carson River cottonwoods are beginning to look really pretty. It’s likely that the color will last only a few days. The weather is supposed to change later this week and the wind might very well take the leaves and leave us (pun intended) with the cottonwood’s winter color.

We’ve been blessed with beautiful fall weather the last few days. Walking late in the afternoon is warm but not hot. The beauty of the afternoon light compensates for the sweaty back I get from carrying a pack along with me. I took my compact camera along with me yesterday afternoon and will download the frames later today. In the meantime, I’ll share this one from the trip back from Mexican Dam.

As we walked along we met a few other hikers, mostly folks quite a bit younger than me. That’s OK so long as their fur-friends are well-mannered. We met one other dominant bitch, but the Girl and the other bitch knocked off their kerfuffle before it was serious and no harm was done. No harm; no foul…

The sun quickly dropped behind Prison Hill, so named for the rock mined for the prison and other government buildings in Carson City. In the shadow of the hills, the owls began their evening calls. I heard at least three of them, but never spotted one. Nonetheless, I smiled and thanked God for sharing that experience with me.

The view at Mexican Dam was stunning. The Carson River waters are rising with the end of irrigation season. Water now flows over the weir whereas a few days ago it did not. The sound provided a counterpoint to the reflected light on the surface of the small impoundment as I paused to make a few images before we headed back to the rig.

On the way back to the rig, we were treated to the illumination of this wave cloud as the sun drifted lower behind the Carson Range. The sight gave me pause to pray a bit, thanking God (again) for this beautiful evening as I listened to the crunch of the coarse sand beneath my boots, the huffing and snuffling of the Girl, and the hooting of owls in the distance.

It was a happy closing to a good day — a day I gave myself off from the project before me. I’ll pick up the thread again today and get the work done because it’s time to get it done. But I have the memory of that gorgeous walk last night and the captures in my camera to reflect on.

There will be more walks and more photographs, I think. This is good.

Color Along the Carson River

Over the last few days, the Girl and I have been making walkies later in the day. Part of the reason is that it's warmer in the afternoon.
Over the last few days, the Girl and I have been making walkies later in the day. Part of the reason is that it’s warmer in the afternoon.

Mornings are much cooler these days. Fall arrived in Carson City, Nevada a week or so ago. Even with the cool weather, some mornings the Girl and I get out early anyway. With a light base layer, I’m plenty warm. (She only gets cold if she’s still. But I’ll get her a jacket soon anyway.) But my preference on cooler days is to walk in the afternoon when the light is pretty.

The cottonwoods along the Carson River are showing their fall colors. That makes a beautiful hike even better. So we’re taking advantage of the warm afternoons and beautiful fall colors to make the ending of the day special.

Soon the leaves will all be gone and the shorter, colder days will arrive. The seasons turn, a reminder of the cycle of life. Life is good…

Mexican Dam

The Girl and I enjoy the Carson River Trail. That walk takes us from either Silver Saddle Ranch or the Carson River Park to the Mexican Dam (and farther if we'd like). This is a beautiful walk regardless of the time of day.
The Girl and I enjoy the Carson River Trail. That walk takes us from either Silver Saddle Ranch or the Carson River Park to the Mexican Dam (and farther if we’d like). This is a beautiful walk regardless of the time of day.

Over the last week or two, the Girl and I sometimes choose a different walk than our normal routes. The Carson River Corridor is pretty this time of year, as the cottonwoods and other woody vegetation take on fall colors. Plus, with the reduction of irrigation at the first of October, there is more (not a lot, but more) water in the river. The sound of the water passing through the riffles is pleasant and I love it.

So, several times the last week or two the Girl and I chose to walk along the Carson River Trail. The trail is not as challenging as those that take us up in the Prison Hill area, but the walk offers a different kind of outdoor beauty. We both like that.

Mexican Dam is an interesting structure. It was clearly not engineered. However, given the intent of providing enough energy to operate the Mexican Ditch, mass is sufficient in this case and I doubt the dam is going anywhere.

I have to laugh, though, because it is porous and water flows through the concrete at several locations. In addition, the operators placed a few sandbags in the upstream area to boost the head just a bit so that water will enter the headgate at the upstream terminus of the Mexican Ditch.

All that said, the Girl doesn’t really care. She can chase birds and critters. The water is good to drink and feels good on her dusty feet. The dam is too tall to jump from or climb, though, so she has to go around the abutment (or whatever that thing is that Dad says). It is good to be out of the house and in the sun and air. It’s fun when Dad plays, too.

We love being outdoors together. It’s good for both of us.

Fall Comes

The trees are beginning to turn…
The trees are beginning to turn…

There are so many images I want to share. My Resistance is making time to upload a few images at a time, write something that relates to the images, and then scheduling the post. I’m uncertain just why I find this so intimidating.

One afternoon a few days ago, the Girl and I left the hotel room to walk a bit. I needed time away from the computer and the project (paying, yay!) I’m working on. She just wants to be outside and have the opportunity to chase squirrels. So we headed off to the old orphanage at Stewart and Fifth Streets. It’s a couple of blocks from the hotel, although I feel like I’m taking my life in my hands every time I cross Stewart Street at the unregulated crossing near the fire station.

With Stewart crossed, safely, we walked a few more steps and then I released her from the leash. Although Carson City has a leash law, there are places where it is unenforced (so long as the dogs aren’t aggressive). We often meet other four-legged friends at this park and the Girl has an opportunity for a romp. It is good for both of us.

This particular afternoon, though, we were alone. We walked a circuit around the area, me enjoying the early fall weather and the Girl checking every… known… squirrel… hole… I suppose hope springs eternal and she sees (and chases) one of the California ground squirrels often enough to keep her drive up. I really don’t care if she chases them, so long as she returns on command.

I love how she returns, trotting, head and tail up, with that open-mouth doggie grin, satisfied that she chased yet another bushytail to the den. She makes me laugh.

As we walked back west toward yet another opportunity to be hit by an inattentive motorist, I noticed the light shining through this tree. The colors are just beginning to show. I need to get up to Hope Valley to see if the aspens are shining. Perhaps I’ll take an afternoon off next week and drive up that way.

I have a meeting in South Lake Tahoe Wednesday. I think I’ll drive through Meyers and then through Hope Valley. There’s a little park there where the Girl can get out for a run. I could even pack a bite of supper and enjoy the evening air before we return to Carson. I just might do that before the snow flies…

Pinkcast 1.10

A few years ago I came across Daniel Pink. He’s an author and independent thinker who brings things to those of us who either work for ourselves or are entrepreneurial within another firm. He wrote some important books and continues to bring thoughtful content to his tribe. These short videos are well worth watching and his books should be required reading.

Watch the video.