Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Happy Dogs

Debi and I took a hike on Sunday that we haven’t made for over two years — up the “fire road” to Cuyamaca Peak from Paso Picacho campground in Cuyamaca State Park. We’ve avoided this area, for the most part, ever since the terrible Cedar Fire in October 2003 that burned the beautiful old forests that we loved so much. Just driving through the park, as we have on numerous occasions since the fire, is enough to make me heartsick and depressed.

The hike turned out to more interesting and less depressing than I expected. Yes, the walk takes you through nearly three miles of nearly completely devastated forest. But unexpectedly, near the peak, there is a substantial area of surviving old-growth forest with a lot of different species represented. Perhaps these individuals will be the parent stock for the native species return. We saw conifer seedlings — something we’ve missed at lower altitudes in previous hikes. We also saw manzanitas seedlings (abundantly) and mind-boggling quantities of ceanothus (assuming I’ve identified it correctly), currently two to three feet high. That mountainside is going to be something spectacular when the ceanothus is old enough to bloom!

To our dogs (Mo’i on the left, Lea on the right), however, this was just one giant super-walkie. They were so happy to be out with us for several hours of sustained walking — it just doesn’t get any better than that if you’re of the canine persuasion…

We stopped on the way home for a late lunch at the Descanso Junction restaurant. This little place is quickly becoming a favorite of ours — inexpensive, and unpretentious, but just plain delicious home-style cooking. I highly recommend their Philly steak sandwich — especially if you add mushrooms to their standard offering (and they’re happy to do that). Debi had a steak salad that featured a perfectly cooked-to-order piece of beef that was a significant chunk of the bovine donor. And Debi’s facial expressions, grunts, and moans of delight, plus the fact that she left nary a molecule on her plate, told me that she was very happy with her meal, too…

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