Weekend Coffee Share -Valley of Fire State Park

c (1)

Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)! Grab a cup of coffee and share with us! What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans? Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about? All are welcome!

It’s been a great week, and I am settling in to some kind of routine with everything. I really enjoy my new nanny job, the children are wonderful, and the parents are great people that I like a lot. How was your week? How would you like your coffee today?

I realize that I have not been posting as much as I usually do on my blog. It’s definitely not because of lack of content. On the contrary. I work more hours now. Even though I feel that I’m starting to come into a new routine with most things, I have been working less on my blog. I’m going to do something about that, because it’s important to me, and I’m going to try to stick to the writing schedule I have. Do you experience that sticking to your writing schedule is more challenging when there’s lot of changes going on in your life? For me writing helps to keep me grounded, and stay in the zen. Writing, and photography goes hand in hand. When I write something on my blog, I often re-live a wonderful event. Both while sharing some of the details in writing, and posting the photos to go with the story. 

vf (1)

Atlatl Rock, at Valley of Fire State Park

I spent yesterday exploring Valley of Fire State Park. It’s 42 000 acres of incredible sandstone formations. Located 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas (NV.) Basically in my (new) backyard! It was pure magic! It was close to a Grand Canyon experience, if you’ve been there, you know what that means! It was an emotional experience, to the degree of bringing me to tears at times.

vf4 (1)

Petroglyphs at Atlatl Rock. The light conditions were very harsh. I will try to get some better photos of the petroglyphs during my next visit.

I went on several shorter (around 1 mile) hikes, to different points of interests in the park. I’ve only edited a few of the photos so far, and I’ll share the first ones with you today. I’ll post more during the coming week, as I have a chance to look at them. The light in the park, the colors, and the desert landscape was simply breath taking. It felt like something from another planet. The geology is most interesting. I saw hundreds of caves, and I’m sure there was thousands more hidden in the park. The rock formations are incredible, with the way the light plays on them, they sometimes look very harsh, and sometimes as they were soft to the touch.

vf5 (1)

Valley of Fire derives its name from red sandstone formations, formed from great shifting sand dunes during the age of dinosaurs, 150 million years ago. Complex uplifting and faulting of the region, followed by extensive erosion, have created the present landscape. 

– Valley of Fire State Park visitor brochure

grvf (1)

My dog Gretchen resting in the shade. 

Yesterday morning it was around 85 degrees when I arrived, and when I left it was 100+. There was extreme heat warning signs on some places (some of the longer hikes,) stating that hikes are not recommended at this time. I honored these signs, and only went for the shorter hikes. There will be plenty of times to go back, and explore to my hearts desire.

vf

On some places the sand was deep, and it was quiet exhausting to hike. Still it was definitely worth it.

vf3

There’s natural caves everywhere.

The park has a couple campgrounds, and I am planning on trying them out. That’s the only way to experience the early morning, and late evening light, as the rest of the park is only open sunrise-sunset. Today, the day after, I still feel high on life after this incredible experience. If you get the chance, I can highly recommend a visit. If you have been there, I would love to hear about your experience 🙂

vf6 (1)

I hope you’re having a wonderful, amazing weekend! ❤

 

Love,

Ms Zen

SUNDAY STILLS: #SUMMER = Hiking!

p

There’s no joking around, summer’s are made for hiking! You knew that, right? One of my favorite places to go hiking in the summer is in Lassen Volcanic National Park. If you’ve been here before, you knew that as well, since I go there all the time. How can I not? It’s close by, and SO amazing.

w

Yesterday we hiked to Mill Creek Falls. At a majestic 70ft, it’s the biggest waterfall in the park. Somehow I have missed this hike. I’ve been thinking of going to this fall more than once, but been persuaded to go on other hikes. Yesterday I finally got to see it. It was amazing. The fall was extraordinary, and so was the hike there. The wild flowers along the trail are exquisite.

w2 (1)

w4

w5 (1)

mulesear

The yellow flower above, is a mule’s ear. The vegetation covering the ground next to the trail below, is all thousands of mule’s ear, growing together. I’m estimating that along 1,5 mile of the trail, the sides were covered with massive amounts of mule’s ear (like in the photo.)

mcft5 (1)

me2 (1)

Mill Creek Falls Trail is another out -and back trail, totaling 3.8 miles. It’s not difficult, I believe it’s rated moderate. It was in the 80’s yesterday, and because of the coming 4th of July holiday, there was lots of tourists visiting, many having some problems with “the heat”. (I live in the valley, one hour away, and it was 107 there..) The trail actually offers plenty of shade, but warm summer temperatures should be considered when you’re planning this hike of course. We did not see any bears, but there are bears in this area. I talked to a girl that had seen one there the day before.

mcft7

mcft4 (1)

Mill Creek Falls (1)

The fall was even more magnificent than I could of imagined. One of my friends claims that we have 80 waterfall, within 1,5 hour drive. I’m not sure if that’s correct, I could only think about 20, or so. In the end we agreed that we are blessed with many amazing waterfalls. Mill Creek Falls is definitely in my top ten now.

b (1)

If you continued a little further on the trail, after the fall, you would see a bridge on the left side of the fall. We walked over, and had a picnic lunch above the fall.

mcf3 (1)

I cooled my feet in the creek, while eating my salad. It was really nice to sit down in the shade.

mcf2 (1)

The view from the top of the fall.

It’s impossible to feel anything other than immense gratitude when hiking in this park. The views make you grateful to just be alive, and able to hike these amazing trails.

mcft (1)

The shade in the forested parts of the trail was appreciated.

mcft3 (1)

I hope you enjoyed my take on Sunday Still; Summer

mcft6

Until next time –

Love,

Ms Zen

Weekend Coffee Share; Hiking Chaos Crags Trail, Garden & Horse Update

gm

Another busy week, turns into weekend. Earlier this week I was looking at some of my favorite Instagram accounts, thoroughly enjoying my friends vacation photos, and at the same time realizing that I don’t need, or want a vacation! I love my life. It’s not perfect, but there is balance; fun work projects, play, adventure, gardening (- healthy food, and great overall health,) horses, and time with my most precious daughter. On top of that, there is peace, and absence of drama (the last being a high priority.) I understand this statement may sound obnoxious in some peoples eyes. That’s not my point. I am just happy. And you know what? It’s almost scary.

hg2

How would you like you coffee today? Ice coffee? Or some strong, fresh brew from the pot? How was your week?

The garden is growing like crazy. The green foliage is like a jungle in some places. There’s hundreds of green tomatoes on my tomato plants, that paused their ripening due to the hot weather. Maybe not completely paused, I did plant heat resistant varieties, but things are definitely going slower on the ripening front, now when we consistently have three digit temperatures. I’ve harvested hundreds of squash by now. Even bartered some for fresh eggs. My fig propagation project is making awesome progress. (I admit, I’ve kept adding new cuttings. I can’t help myself..)

We escaped the heat, or almost escaped the heat on a fantastic hike last weekend. The temperatures were in the three digits at home, and only 85 on the trail.

1cc (1)

We hiked Chaos Crags Trails, in Lassen Volcanic National Park. This is my daughter as we’re starting out. It scared me a little when I realized that it was 85 degrees, and not so much shade. I almost decided to skip this trail, and pick something cooler. I’m happy that I didn’t. There was a breeze, and my daughter really liked this trail.

cc2 (1)

It’s a 3.7 mile, moderate, out and back trail. Uphill on the way to this crater, that is the destination, and downhill on the way back. When we hiked down, we met a hiker not carrying any water, that seem very dangerous, as it was hot hiking uphill. I would of given him a bottle, or two, but he hiked on before I realized that he wasn’t carrying anything.

DSC_0030 (1)

View from the bottom of the crater.

DSC_0034 (2)

We enjoyed a picnic lunch before heading back. On all our previous hikes, I’ve carried the food, drinks, and extra water. My daughter have her 6th birthday coming up in July. The summer when I turned 6 years old, my mom gave me a back pack, so that I could carry my own food/clothing on our adventures (hikes/cross country skiing.) The back pack she gave me was a Fjällräven Kånken. I used it for about 15 years, before accidentally losing it on one adventure. It did not break, or tear. They still make the same model! I ordered one for my daughter, to keep the tradition going. (I also ordered a new one for myself.) I gave my daughter her backpack in a gift wrap, the morning before this hike. (She’s going to spend her birthday with her dad.) For the first time she carried her own things. No complains! I think she was rather proud.

Ghost is not bothered at all by the heat. Not unexpected, since he’s an Arabian/Mustang Cross. He can run, and play like crazy in the pasture for a couple hours, and barely break a sweat behind his ears. Training wise we’re taking it slow, and he appreciate it. Things are going in the right direction. We work a few minutes, several times a day.

Fancy’s health is improving, and I am riding her lightly. Yesterday I decided to long rein her for the first time. It’s a common method to start schooling young horses, or restarting  troubled horses. Maybe not so common here in cowboy country, but it’s a widespread tradition in Europe, and other places around the world. Long reining can be a soft exercise, almost like yoga, for horses. They can use their muscles, and even create muscles where they are missing, and become softer, without a lot of pressure on their body. When long reining a horse, you walk behind the horse, having long reins attached to some kind of halter/headstall (most people use a regular headstall with a bit,) and usually looped through a special long reining girth, or saddle (to avoid them hanging to far down on the sides, and being stepped on.) It’s similar to driving a horse in a carriage, except you don’t have a carriage attached behind the horse.

At the moment Fancy’s hooves could not take any harder riding, and who knows what kind of memories she really has from riding? Considering that she had her tongue almost cut of in some accident, before I got her. Since I found out about that, I’ve been contemplating if a bitless headstall would be more comfortable for her. I’ve only ridden her at our place, and mostly in a rope halter. I have tried a regular headstall, with a mild snaffle bit as well. She took the bit without hesitating. Her tongue is completely healed now, but is thinner where the bit lays (telling me that a sharp bit likely was the cause of the injury,) and there is deformation there as well. I’m sure we’ll figure it out together. She’s definitely getting the time she needs to heal both her body and mind. Fancy’s first long reining session went well. She seemed a little confused to have me behind her, but did wonderfully well.

Do you need a refill on that coffee? Any fun plans for the weekend? I’d love to hear about them!

Love,

Ms Zen