April, Before She Goes

“April is the cruelest month,” T.S. Eliot

“April, come she will,” Simon and Garfunkel

April did indeed come, and with certain cruelties this year: acts of violent hatred around the globe, from Sri Lanka to a synagogue near San Diego; another devastating cyclone in Mozambique, and the climate catastrophe it portends; the daily anxieties of a harrowing news cycle in a fracturing nation and world. And for us personally, a dear friend died unexpectedly.

April may be the cruelest month, but it is also the month of spring wildflowers. This year’s ample rains in California have yielded a magnificent display, and we’ve been taking full advantage. They’ve provided respite for us, and here are some highlights should you, too, be in need of respite.

Big Sur Coast to Cambria Area:

Sunol Regional Park/Ohlone Wilderness. This is one of our favorite Bay Area parks. It holds special meaning since it was where our friend spent a wonderful day doing what she loves before dying from a stroke.

Jenner Headlands Preserve–except for the ridge line, it was totally socked in, so we’ll have to return. My husband got a pretty good shot of the ghost cows, though!

Oat Hill Mine Road in Calistoga. This is one of our favorite hikes–we return every couple of years. This year’s wildflowers were spectacular. Oat Hill Mine Road and most of Calistoga escaped the fires of 2017, although we could see a lot of fire damage in other nearby parts.

Skyline Park in Napa:

And, because there’s no place like home:

Spring in My Step

Calistoga St. Helena Fawn Lily April 2016I’d rather hike than blog, so I’ve been MIA from Shrinkrapped for a bit. But it’s been a fantastic diversion, as decent rainfall in Northern California after four years of drought has left our hills emerald and strewn with wildflowers such that we haven’t seen for awhile. Still, my keyboard fingers are a bit itchy and I’ve been feeling a bit guilty, so here’s a sample of where I’ve been lately to make up for blogging negligence.

While we were in Palm Springs, Joshua Tree, and The Pinnacles,

it was cool and rainy back home. So when we returned, we feasted on the intense green hills in our own backyard during a great hike with friends on the Big Rock Trail in Lucas Valley:

Lucas Valley 3.19.16


The day before Easter, we hiked at Point Reyes National Seashore and saw Harlequin flowers and lilies on the Muddy Hollow and Estero trails:

Then on Easter Sunday, we hiked up the Morning Sun Trail into the Marin Headlands above Gerbode Valley, where developers were stopped from putting in housing for 30,000 in the late 1960s. At the same time, our daughter was riding her bicycle across the Golden Gate Bridge–it’s so nice to have her nearby instead of in Barcelona!

Just this past weekend, we drove north to hike above Calistoga–the morning fogOat Hill Mine Road, Calistoga morning fog April 2, 2016 was still in the valley as we started up the trail. The old Oat Hill Mine Road connects Calistoga with Aetna Springs Road in Pope Valley, and was used by mercury miners in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. You can still see ruts carved into the rock by heavy wagons in place along the trail. It was hard enough walking on the rocky trail–I would never survive the jostling of those who came west in wagons (not to mention the jostling the mountain bikers who whizzed past us survive in their modern-day spandex–some people are just gluttons for punishment!).

There are wonderful volcanic Calistoga Palisades April 2016rock formations known as the Palisades along the way, and the minerals in the soil, helped by the rain, put on a wonderful display of lupine,  poppies, mimulus, and other wildflowers. (A man we met on the trail directed us to a cache of rare St. Helena Fawn Lilies, pictured at the top of this post.)

Then it was home again. Not too shabby walking around town each morning either!


What are your favorite springtime outings?