Saturday, September 29, 2018

Reading the Pacific Crest Trail

I like to follow themes in my pleasure reading. One theme was climbing Mt. Everest. I could never do that in real life, but I could experience the adventure through published accounts and memoirs.

Lately, I've been reading about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. It's something I could never do, even in my youth, but through reading I can do anything.

Many authors mention John Muir's classic My First Summer in the Sierras. I found mine at the Cozy Corner used bookstore in Ferndale, WA. It's also available for free legal download at the Project Guttenberg website.

John Muir was a Scottish immigrant. In 1849 he came with his parents to settle in Wisconsin. John always had a wanderlust spirit, but an eye injury in 1867 inspired him to take long cross-country "walks" and sailing adventures. In 1868 he sailed into San Francisco and made California his home base.

Not long after his arrival, Muir walked through the San Joaquin Valley and up into the high country of the Sierra Nevada range herding sheep. In 1911, he used his journal of the that trek and summering in the Yosemite valley as the basis for his book, My First Summer in the Sierras. The book is filled with detailed descriptions of his natural surroundings and is illustrated with his own photographs and drawing.

John Muir was instrumental in getting Yosemite set aside as a National Park, and was one of the founding members of the Sierra Club. The John Muir Trail (JMT) through his beloved country was named in his honour. From Mt. Whitney to the Yosemite Valley it runs mostly in conjunction with the Pacific Crest Trail .

I was inspired to read Muir's story after references to it were made in other books about the Pacific Crest Trail. If I had it to do over again, I would start with his classic work.

I came to California 100 years after Muir landed in San Francisco. I came in a different way however, I was born as a second generation Southern California native. I vividly remember camping in Yosemite Valley before there were numbered sites and reservations. I remember ranger talks and watching the Firefall from Glacier Point. When I was older, I remember standing in the meadow to watch President Kennedy ride by in a motorcade. Here's a video taken by another family on that special day.

Other books about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail I've read include:

Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
Click here for my review. Of the three books, this was my first and favourite. The movie version of Wild with Reese Witherspoon that followed wasn't as good as the book in my estimation.

Thru-hiking Will Break Your Heart: An Advrenture on the Pacific Crest Trail by Carrot Quinn.
Click here for my review.  Carrot is an unusual individual that is blunt in her approach to life and writing style. She sought out hiking the Pacific Crest Trail to give her life more purpose.

Girl in the Woods: A Memoir by Aspen Matis. 
I didn't write a separate review for this book.  Like Wild and Thru-hiking, this memoir is about a woman who suffered trauma and used the grueling hike to find her way in life. Aspen's descriptions of her past and trail relationships were even more graphic than Carrot's.

Do you like to read books about similar topics or themes? What are some of your favourites? -- Margy

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Food Security and Becoming a Locavore

The annual Fall Fair celebrates food security.
Food security is more in the news these days, especially in small remote towns like ours. Locavore is a popular word to describe participating in the local food movement.

The Powell River Food Security Project works to ensure that everyone, especially vulnerable people, have access to the foods they need to stay healthy and thrive. To help get the word out about home gardening, they host the annual Edible Garden Tour.

Garden Club members share information at the Fall Fair.
The Powell River Garden Club supports home gardening with monthly meetings to share ideas and listen to guest speakers.

The Powell River Farmer's Market provides local farmers with the means to get products to local consumers. At the end of the growing season they highlight local efforts at their annual Fall Fair. In addition to Saturday and Sunday seasonal markets, there are others in the region, some during winter.

It's difficult for me to get the the farmer's markets. My solution to food security is a kitchen garden at my floating cabin home. Some items produce year round, but my main harvest starts in June and lasts through October.

My floating garden with four raised beds and a solar watering system.

My garden floats on the lake. It has four raised beds that I use for crops like beets, carrots, kale, chard, broccoli, onions, garlic, lettuce, spinach and herbs. It's amazing how much you can produce in 160 square feet.

Container gardening in blue barrels.
To increase my growing space I use containers on the decks. 55-gallon plastic barrels cut in half make great growing spaces for plants like blueberries, red currants, rhubarb, tomatoes and potatoes. Smaller containers work well for peppers, eggplant, zucchini, winter squash, beans, peas and more herbs.

August and September have been a time of plenty. We eat most of our produce fresh, thus reducing our dependency on grocery store items.

To preserve some for winter I've canned jam, pickles and relishes. I've hung onions and garlic, dried herbs, stored potatoes and saved seeds. Beets, carrots, broccoli and kale will stay in the garden for winter harvesting. Later I will pressure can the last of my potatoes and carrots.

Fresh carrots and potatoes.
Each year I have one plant that's the best. This year it's my Scarlet Nantes carrots.

I usually get small ones since my float garden has shallow beds. But this year they are huge! The larger ones must be reaching all the way down to the bottom of the bed where it meets the lake water. Maybe that's why they are so large, they have a steady supply of moisture when days are hot.

Does your town have a food security project? How have you become involved? Do you have a kitchen garden?  I'd love to hear about your experiences. -- Margy

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A Summer Retrospective

I know, summer isn't over until September 22, but with Labor Day come and gone, and kids going back to school it seems that way.

Wayne and I both used to teach. He was a professor at Mt. San Antonio College and I was an administrator (formerly an elementary school teacher) in Mountain View School District. Every year I still get my back-to-school "nightmare."

We both retired early to enjoy float cabin living on Powell Lake in Coastal British Columbia. Now summer is a seasonal word for us rather than vacation time.

That doesn't mean summer isn't busy. Here are some of the highlights from this year.

We've had lots of visitors. We kicked it off by inviting members of the Powell River Garden Club to see my float garden. In July, Kurt arrived from California in his Husky. His wife Leslie joined him for a few days including a stay at the cabin. Then our friends Dave and Marg brought three grandkids (and their dog Crystal) to spend a few days with us.

Sometimes we like to get away. The nearby chuck (ocean) is a good spot. Our shake-down trip was to nearby Texada Island. Other adventures included Heriot Bay, meeting Kurt and Leslie in Campbell River, a four day upcoast cruise, and another four day cruise to Johnstone Strait. We tried salmon fish but haven't caught one yet.

Life isn't all play. Wayne pressure washed our cabin decks. A major project was to remove our stairs and shed to comply with the water lease. John was a big help so we repaid him by towing his new shed. Dave installed a pole for our Xplornet satellite dish. We are also cutting and storing firewood. That's a job that will continue for some time to come.

When we are home on Powell Lake, we use it for some amazing recreation. To name a few, riding our quads on the many logging roads and trails, fishing for trout, sailing in Wayne's 19' O'Day Mariner daysailer and camping with our barge after the quads have been offloaded. There's also hiking, swimming and just relaxing with a good book.

Gardening is a big part of my summer. Garden Club members came up in three groups of seven to visit. It was so much fun for everyone. Both of my Dracaena spike plants bloomed. It has been a very good year for my flowers, fruits and vegetables, but watering has been a challenge with all the hot days.

We eat most of the garden produce fresh, but I enjoy preserving some things for winter. This year I made jam, dill pickles, relish, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. My home grown red currants made a tasty jam. I found a food mill at the thrift store that has made canning much easier. I also dry and store onions, garlic and potatoes.

It's been a very good summer for us up the lake. How was yours? -- Margy