Recreation and Nature

How’s the weather in general?

Recreation and Nature - Flowers

Delightful! The climate is dry with very low humidity. Summers can get hot, occasionally up to 100 degrees, but always cool off at night. Summer average high is 86 degrees F and average low is 51 degrees. Winter average high is 54F and low is 31F. Rainfall averages 36 inches annually, and our average days of sunshine is a whopping 330! This is great for pilots, gardeners, and people who hate fog and dreary days. From May to October we get one or two thundershowers, but otherwise no rain. It snows an average of three times a year. Some years no snow stays on the ground at all. Other years snow can pile up to 8 inches and linger for a few days.

Is Yosemite weather different from Groveland?

Recreation and Nature - Fall Yard Color

Yes, it is a little higher elevation and usually colder. Here’s what you can expect seasonally.

Summer Sierra summers are warm and dry – less than 5% of Yosemite’s total annual precipitation falls during summer months. Some waterfalls are completely dry by August. Daytime temperatures sometimes reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit, while summer nights are cool. Tuolumne Meadows at 8,600 feet elevation are typically in the 70’s on mid-summer days and in the 30’s at night. Wildflowers appear in Tuolumne Meadows in July. An intense blue summer sky may give way occasionally to sudden thunderstorms which can provide dramatically changing cloud formations, sudden downpours, lightning, hail and gusty winds.

Autumn Nights grow increasingly cool while daytime temperatures continue to be warm through October or later. Days are typically clear and brilliant. The warm, golden tones of the turning leaves of dogwood, cottonwood, maple and willow make a startling contrast to the granite walls of Yosemite Valley, with Autumn color reaching its peak in late October to early November.

Winter is relatively mild, although it is between November and March that 70 to 90% of the year’s total precipitation falls. The first snows of Autumn are usually light and melt within a few hours, but by mid-November the ground is generally cold enough for snow to accumulate. Yosemite Valley receives an average of 29 inches of snow during the winter season, with the last snow generally falling before mid-April.

Spring Waterfalls and cascades are at their fullest during the time of melting snow and runoff. April and May are the best months for viewing the waterfalls of Yosemite Valley. The black oaks leaf-out in the Valley in April; the dogwoods bloom in May, and western azalea bushes bloom in late May. Mule deer follow the retreating snowline up the higher peaks, when snow disappears in July.

What kind of wildlife live around Groveland?

Recreation and Nature - Deer in Yard

Mountain lions, raccoons and bears. Opossums, squirrels and skunks. Blue jays, eagles and deer. Lots of deer, of the “mule” deer species. They love PML. Water to drink at the lake and munchies in the gardens, and no hunters can shoot within 1000 feet of a house. At the end of summer you will see lots of fawns with their mothers. Other animals that we see regularly are jackrabbits, chipmunks, bats, geese, owls, hawks, vultures, woodpeckers, lizards, foxes, coyotes, blue herons and turtles. Don’t worry about mountain lions, bears, tarantulas and rattlesnakes. They are afraid of people and rarely seen. Although see tips below for coping with wildlife.

Many problems with wildlife are caused by attractants left in the yard – for instance, pet food, water, fruit, vegetable gardens and garbage cans. Never feed wildlife.

Raccoons

Raccoons are easily attracted to food sources, like garden produce, garbage and pet food. To help prevent scavenging, use metal trash cans that are fastened to a pole or another solid object. A strap, latch or tight fitting “bungee cord” that secures the lid of the garbage can is also helpful. Campers in the area should take special precautions to store food in a safe container.

Raccoons will also readily inhabit chimneys, attics basements and sheds. Use metal flashing and 1- inch mesh hardware cloth to block entrances. Use caps or coverings on the chimney. Make sure to properly secure all “doggie doors”, window screen doors and vents. Use of ammonia in or around the area of concern should discourage the animal from returning. Often, playing a radio or TV will ward off the raccoon.

Keep everyone, including children and pets, at a distance from raccoons. Raccoons are considered primary carriers of rabies, raccoon round worm and other potentially dangerous infections and diseases. In the event a raccoon enters personal property, leave an escape route between yourself and the raccoon.

Open windows and doors to allow the animal to escape. Do not chase the animal out, as this will cause the animal to behave defensively, possibly resulting in injury to you or to the animal.

Deer

Deer feed on vegetable and flower gardens, fruit trees, nursery stock, stack hay and ornamental plants and trees. Deer can be discouraged by removing supplemental food sources and by using scare devices and repellants. The only sure way to eliminate deer damage is to fence the deer out. A wire-mesh fence is effective if it is solidly built and at least eight feet high. Electric fencing also helps to reduce damage.

Opossums and Skunks

Opossums and skunks become a problem to homeowners by raiding garbage cans and eating pet food, perhaps while living under porches, low decks, open sheds, and any other area that may provide shelter. Skunks also dig holes in lawns, golf courses and gardens. Both animals sometimes kill poultry and eat eggs. To keep opossums and skunks from making dens under buildings, seal off all foundation openings with wire mesh, sheet metal or concrete. Chicken coops can be protected by sealing all ground-level openings into the buildings and by closing the doors at night. Garbage cans may be secured by providing tight-fitting lids and straps.

Snakes

The best way to keep snakes out of your house and yard is to seal cracks and openings around doors, windows, water pipes, attics and foundations. Removing logs, woodpiles and high grass will help. Controlling insect and rodent populations also helps. Remove nonpoisonous snakes from inside buildings by placing piles of damp burlap bags in areas where snakes have been seen. After the snakes have curled up beneath the bags, remove the bags and snakes from the building.

Coyotes and Foxes

These animals may carry rabies and sometimes prey on domestic pets, rabbits, ducks, geese, chickens, young pigs and lambs

Net-wire and electric fencing will help exclude foxes and coyotes, however, because they are excellent climbers, a roof of net wire on livestock pens may also be necessary.

The protection of livestock and poultry is most important during the spring. Foxes and coyotes will often den close to farm buildings, under haystacks, inside hog lots or in small pastures where lambing occurs. Noise and light-making d evices may keep predators away. Guarding dogs are useful in preventing predation on sheep. Regrettably, dispersal methods are not effective in all situations, so other methods including trapping or snaring, may be more effective.

Squirrels and Other Rodents

To keep these animals from becoming a permanent part of the family home and yard, cover or restrict access to screen louvers, vents and fan openings. Keep doors and windows in good repair. Tighten eaves and replace rotten boards. Cap the chimney. Trim overhanging trees. Remove bird feeders or use squirrel-proof feeders. Remove -acorns and other nuts from the yard. Chipmunks can be deterred from building a den by removing any potential habitat – including logs, rock walls and stones.

Mountain Lions and Bears

As bear and lion habitat continue to decrease, the number of interactions between these animals and humans continues to increase. Bears are noted for destroying vegetable gardens and trees, demolishing the interiors of cabins and campers, scavenging in garbage cans and killing livestock. Good garbage control, including depriving aroma through effective wrapping (and morning in lieu of night before “leave outs”) will reduce the enticement for animals. Lions are serious predators of sheep, goats, domestic pets, large livestock, poultry and deer. These animals have been known to attack humans.

Prevention is the best method of controlling bear and lion damage. Heavy woven and electric fencing can effectively deter bears and lions from attacking livestock and damaging property. Loud music, barking dogs, exploder cannons, fireworks, gunfire, nightlights, scarecrows and changes in the position of objects in the depredation area often provide temporary relief.

The best way to protect pets is to keep them in an enclosed kennel or shelter. At night, consider keeping pets inside. Mountain lions also prefer to hunt where escape cover is close by. Removal of brush or trees within a quarter mile of buildings and livestock may reduce lion predation.

What rivers and lakes can we visit?

Recreation and Nature - River Canyon

Our rivers offer scenic grandeur and thrilling rapids, along with placid pools for fishing and swimming. The Tuolumne and Stanislaus are the two major rivers in Tuolumne County. Guided white-water rafting trips are available, and the Tuolumne is designated part of the National Wild and Scenic River System. Trout are planted in the rivers and their tributaries weekly during fishing season, and some of these grow into record-size trophies before taking an angler’s bait. Many spots on the rivers are easily accessible and campgrounds and resorts have sprung up alongside them. Permits are required for individuals to raft or kayak on the Tuolumne River and may be obtained from the Groveland district office of the Stanislaus National Forest seven miles east of Groveland on Highway 120. Call 962-7825. Campsites are available to non-commercial rafters on a first-come, first-served basis.

Most of the “lakes” at the mid-elevations of the Sierra are man-made reservoirs. Don Pedro is on the lower Tuolumne River, accessible from Highway 120 near Moccasin. The elevation when full is 830 feet above sea level and capacity is 2.1 million acre feet. Camping, water skiing, houseboats.

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is within Yosemite and is accessible from Camp Mather Road via Cherry Oil Road or Evergreen Road. Elevation is 3806 feet and capacity 362,736 acre feet. No swimming or boating allowed in this drinking water supply. Camping nearby.

Cherry Lake borders Yosemite Park and can be reached from Cherry Oil Road off Highway 120 of Cottonwood Road from Tuolumne. Elevation when full is 4702 feet and capacity is 273,000 acre feet. All water recreational activities are allowed.

Inside the Park boundary next to Cherry Lake is Lake Eleanor, where only boats with no motors are allowed. No vehicles within half mile. No improvements. All three of these reservoirs are owned by the City and County of San Francisco Water and Power Dept.

Pine Mountain Lake is a private lake of 210 surface acres for the use of property owners and their guests. See the About Pine Mountain Lake page. Other reservoirs nearby include Pinecrest, Beardsley, Tulloch, Donnels, Relief, New Melones, Lyons.

How is the fishing and what can we catch?

Recreation and Nature - Tom with a Fish

A good fisherman can catch fish just about any day of the year if you know where to go and when: trout, native and planted, salmon, bass, bluegill, catfish, etc. My husband caught a 10 pound brown trout from the shore of Cherry Lake on January 2.

You will need a valid California fishing license from the California Dept of Fish and Game, available at many bait stores and marinas. You can fish lakes and reservoirs year-round. Streams and rivers, including all tributaries of the Tuolumne and Stanislaus Rivers, may be fished from the first Saturday in April to mid-November. Do not wade in swift spring streams when the snow-melt is at its peak of volume.

Main Fork Tuolumne: Accessible from Lumsden Road, off Highway 120, with a campground nearby. Fish planted are Rainbows, German and Scottish Browns, and salmon. No dispersed camping is allowed in this area.

South Fork Tuolumne: Access via Highway 120 or Carlon Day Use Area; no overnight camping permitted.

Middle Fork Tuolumne: Good access via Evergreen Road. Rainbows and German Browns planted. Dimond O campground or dispersed camping okay.

Cherry Lake : Easily accessible via Cottonwood Road (Forest Rd 1N04, also known as Cherry Lake Rd). Rainbow trout and salmon plus seasonal plantings. Camping at cherry Valley campground.

Rainbow Pool: Easily accessible from Highway 120. Day-use area-no camping.

High Mountain Lakes and Streams of the Sierra Nevada

There are more than 4,000 lakes and 11,000 miles of streams in the high Sierra, most located on federal lands managed by the National Park Service and the U. S. Forest Service. There are 3.5 million acres of designated wilderness within the Sierra Nevada, including much of the higher elevations along the Sierra Crest (between 6,000 and 13,000 feet). The Wilderness Act permitted livestock grazing to continue where it was established at the time of “wilderness” designation (starting in 1964). Nearly all the lakes above 6,000 feet elevation in this region were originally fishless. Many have been stocked with trout for more than 100 years. Fish stocking is one of the State’s responsibilities.

The Sierra Nevada stretches 360 miles along the Eastern side of California between northern Plumas National Forest and southern Sequoia NF. Geology and climate shaped the high mountain lakes of the Sierra Nevada. During the Pleistocene Age, from 2 million to 10,000 years ago, glaciers periodically covered the high country. They carved out cirque valleys and shallow basins that would later fill with snow-melt to become the lakes you see today. These relatively recent periods of glaciation scoured soils and removed plants and animals that existed in the high country before the glaciers occurred. Glacial scouring also created steep stream gradients and hanging valleys with waterfalls – conditions that prevented fish from colonizing most lakes and streams after the glaciers receded..

Due to glacial scouring and a harsh climate most soils in the high Sierra are thin and nutrient-poor. As a result, most of the lakes are also nutrient-poor At the highest elevations, low winter temperatures cause the smaller, shallower lakes to freeze solid. Large lakes freeze on the surface and are covered by a thick blanket of snow until early summer.

The species native to the lakes and streams were amphibians, insects and other aquatic invertebrates. Amphibians found in the high Sierra include the Pacific tree frog-which does not appear to be declining in most areas-and the Yosemite toad, the Western toad and the southern long-toed salamander.

The most unique amphibian is the mountain yellow-legged frog-a highly aquatic frog that is seldom found more than a few jumps from water. It is found only in the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada and a few locations in Southern California. In most frog species, the tadpole stage typically lasts only a few weeks or months. But tadpoles of this frog need 2 to 3 years to develop. The mountain yellow-legged depends on a diversity of aquatic habitats, including lakes, ponds and streams that don’t freeze solid in winter or dry up in summer.

Only about 20 lakes above 6,000 feet elevation naturally contained trout. These lakes were all connected to streams that did not have impassable barriers and also had populations of native fish. Rainbow trout are native to the west slope Sierra stream systems at lower elevations. The high elevations of the Kern River Plateau escaped Pleistocene glaciation and native trout evolved along the main stem and tributaries of the upper Kern drainage up to elevations of 9,800 feet. These were the Little Kern golden, Kern River rainbow, and California golden trout. On the east side of the range, there were also a few high elevation streams that were passable to fish due to gentler topography than is usual of the steep east side. Lahontan cutthroat trout inhabited streams up to 8,000 feet in the Carson, Walker, and Truckee Rivers, and Paiute cutthroat trout reached 8,200 feet up the Carson River. Other native fish species found in high east side streams include Paiute sculpin, Tahoe and mountain sucker, speckled dace, mountain whitefish and Lahontan redside.

The zooplankton in high Sierra lakes are semi-transparent microcrustaceans that range in size from microsopic to 2 millimeters. They forage on algae, the base of the lake food web, and thus help maintain water clarity. Zooplankton are a food source for aquatic insects and fish. Trout feed selectively on large-bodied zooplankton, which have become rare in most lakes with fish. The aquatic insects include caddisflies, damselflies, mayflies, stoneflies and midges. These insects have winged adults, but lay their eggs in water and have aquatic larvae. The fairy shrimp, another macroinvertebrate, is an ancient freshwater crustacean that is typically found in shallow ponds and rarely comes into contact with fish.

Native Americans crossed the high Sierra to trade goods and hunt large game animals. Although there were no permanent settlements at high elevations, summer campsites were prevalent throughout the range. Native Americans caught trout, but there is no evidence that they transferred fish from their native waters.

Sheepherders, miners, and other Euro-American settlers in the mid-1800s moved native trout into fishless drainages and areas upstream of waterfalls to develop a food source. Beginning in the 1860s, sportsmen’s groups, the Sierra Club, the US Army, the California Fish Commission, and individual outdoorsmen introduced trout into fishless streams and lakes to increase recreational fishing opportunities. Golden trout fingerlings were carried in coffee pots by men walking upstream.

Among the non-native introductions were brook trout from the eastern United States and brown trout from Scotland and continental Europe. The noted Sierra mountaineer Norman Clyde is said to have introduced brook trout into hundreds of lakes.

In 1909, the California Fish and Game Commission assumed responsibility for fish stocking, mostly using pack animals to move trout. Beginning in the 1950s, aerial stocking by CDFG provided a lower cost alternative to packing in fish. The National Park Service began phasing out stocking in 1969. Fish stocking is still permitted in national forests. As a result of past introductions, 85% of lakes within the national forests and 50% of the national park lakes that are large and deep enough to support fish now contain trout.

Brook, golden, and rainbow trout are the most common species in high Sierra lakes, while brown, cutthroat and lake trout are less common. In these lakes, trout are the top predators. Non-native trout have caused certain native amphibian and fish populations to decline. The biological price of more fish is less mountain yellow legged frogs. The fish eat the tadpoles during their long metamorphosis period. Lahontan cutthroat, Paiute cutthroat and Little Kern golden trout are all federally listed threatened species as a result of competition from introduced brooks and browns. Introduced rainbow trout have hybridized with cutthroat and golden trout to the extent that only a few genetically pure populations remain.

Predation by trout on zooplankton and macroinvertebrates can alter the aquatic food chain and affect terrestrial species such as birds and bats that feed on water-hatched insects. The decline of yellow legged frogs may also affect their natural predators, the western garter snake.

Research indicates that 25 to 40% of wilderness users do some fishing on their backcountry trips. Recreational use of the high Sierra escalated with the creation of national parks, the designation of wilderness areas in the 1960s, and increased interest in backpacking and natural environment in the 1970s. Camping and hiking cause loss of vegetation and compacted soils along lake shorelines. Livestock grazing was heavy in the Sierra from the1850s to 1900, and has declined ever since, but the impacts of historic overgrazing still persist today. Both human and packstock waste have caused the spread of giardia and other pathogens in high Sierra waters. Practicing “Leave No Trace” techniques in the backcountry helps reduce these impacts.

Government agencies are identifying critical watersheds for the protection of native species. Recent scientific studies have shown that fishless lakes have more yellow legged frogs. Stocking may be discontinued at some lakes to restore a fishless condition and enable yellow legged frogs to re-establish. In locations where trout are slow-growing, rarely exceeding 10 inches in length, stocking will be reduced to produce fewer, but larger trout. Most of the lakes in the John Muir Wilderness have self-sustaining fish populations and no longer need to be stocked. Their goal is to protect native species and still provide quality recreational fishing.

Other research projects concern pesticide drift from the San Joaquin Valley, introduced and native diseases, and increased nitrification due to fertilizers and pollutants from automobile emissions. To date, no clear evidence links amphibian declines to these other factors.

Collecting and moving live species from one aquatic environment to another is an illegal activity in the state of California. It can disturb or eliminate native populations. The penalties can be up to $50,000 and a year in jail. If you report a violator, you may earn a reward of up $50,000. Call 1-888-DFG-CALTIP (334-

Wildflower Bloom Times in Tuolumne County

Recreation and Nature - Flower

March — Table Mountain (Bureau of Land Management parcel and area east and northeast of Yosemite Junction along Highway 108): gold fields, phacelia, buttercups.

April-May — Red Hills area ( Red Hill Road off J59 to Chinese Camp and areas off Old Don Pedro Road): gold fields, monkey flowers, brodiaea, poppies. Sonora-Jamestown area (along back roads): buttercups, fiddleneck, shooting stars, five spot, baby blue eyes, phacelia, gold fields. Wards Ferry Road (leading to North Fork of Tuolumne River): mule ears, brush lupines, popcorn plant, buttercups, brodiaea, owl’s clover, Mariposa lilies. Parrotts Ferry Road (from Columbia to Melones): lupine, Indian paint brush, Chinese houses, fairy lanterns (red bud trees in bloom).

May-June — Pine Mountain Lake-Groveland (along Ferretti Road): brodiaea, lupines, owl’s clover, buttercups. Moccasin-Big Oak Flat (along Highway 49 to Mariposa border): Similar to Parrotts Ferry wildflowers (red buds also in bloom).

June — Herring Creek-Pinecrest (off Highway 108): mountain pride, Indian paintbrush, yampah, Sierra iris, pennyroyal, showy phlox, scarlet bugler, Bigelow’s sneezeweed, monkey flowers, orchids, violets, pussy paws. Sonora-Twain Harte: snow plant, wild sweet peas, trillium, blue and purple penstemon, Washington lily, pussy paws (dogwood also in bloom).

July-August — Sonora Pass (along Highway 108 and in Iceberg Meadow at end of Clark Fork Road): Sierra asters, nightshade, forget-me-not, Columbines, penstemon, Missouri iris, Mariposa lilies, phlox, scarlet gilia, wild onions.

Ice Skating in Yosemite Valley

For generations, wintertime visitors to Yosemite National Park have ice skated under the shadow of two of the park’s most famous rock formations — Half Dome and Glacier Point. The scenery, and a fun mix of songs playing on the stereo, make skating at Yosemite Valley’s open-air rink a unique experience.

“It’s probably one of the most beautiful rinks in the United States. Definitely in the Top 10,” said ice rink attendant Robert Loofbourow. The Curry Village ice rink, usually bustling with skaters, was nearly vacant Saturday morning as single-digit temperatures hit Yosemite Valley. The rink’s Zamboni machine, which smoothes out the ice, was frozen and unable to surface the rink.

Joseph Ferreira and Gina Smith, both 19, were among the couples braving the chilly temps to skate. They took a spontaneous trip to Yosemite from the Bay Area early Saturday. “You can’t beat the view, the mountains, turning around and seeing Half Dome right there,” Ferreira said. “We’re not super, super nature people, but we like to see nature when we can.” Aside from the park’s beauty, skaters can also enjoy — or amuse — themselves in other ways, Ferreira said. “I know it sounds really bad, but you can just stand there and see all of these people who don’t know what they’re doing falling down and it’s kind of funny,” he said laughing.

Skaters of all skill levels can typically be found in the rink. Some, such as 14-year-old Quinn Harris, have been improving over the years. “Every year we get better and better,” Quinn said. “We used to be wall-huggers, but now we get off the wall.” “Some of us do,” her mother, Leslie, chimed in. The Harrises, of Carmel, have visited Yosemite for the past decade. One of their favorite traditions is ice skating in Curry Village. “We’ve had many family Christmas card pictures taken in the rink with Half Dome in the back,” Leslie said.

The original ice rink was formed in 1928 when the Yosemite Winter Club flooded Curry Village’s main parking lot. The self-refrigerated rink that is now used was built in the western part of Curry Village — a popular lodging area comprised largely of canvas tent cabins — during the late 1960s. It is operated by Delaware North Companies, the park’s concessionaire. The rink usually opens the weekend before Thanksgiving and stays open until mid-March, weather permitting.

Snowmobiles

Richard Clontz, who moved to Groveland from Maryland in 2004, is part of a group that meets twice a week for ice hockey games at the rink. The Yosemite Winter Club hosts hour-long hockey games between ice skating sessions on Wednesdays and Fridays. Clontz, 57, said he found out about the hockey games last year and started playing this season. “The purpose isn’t competition. The purpose is to have fun and get some cardiovascular exercise,” he said. “One hour of hockey equals about five hours of skating around in circles.” Clontz said not only are his twice-weekly drives into the park filled with spectacular views, but he gets to skate on one of the most unique ice rinks around. “You’re skating at the base of Glacier Point and you can look at Half Dome,” he said. “It’s just beautiful.”

For those who just want to soak up the scenery and watch those on the ice, a fire pit with benches is next to the rink. On Saturday morning, Loofbourow tore paper grocery bags and made a pyramid of firewood before lighting a much-anticipated fire.

A small group, some with runny noses and others gripping cups of hot chocolate, quickly gathered around. In the background, a collection of music put together by ice rink employees played. The songs range from classic tunes by Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones to more recent music by mellow singer-songwriter Jack Johnson and jam band Rusted Root. “We try to keep it pretty varied,” said ice rink manager Mike Poisson.

Whether skating in the crisp morning air, the late afternoon alpine glow or under the stars, the experience is always memorable for park visitors, Poisson said. “This (ice skating) and Badger Pass are the big things to do in the park during the winter,” he said.

The Union Democrat Online

Are there local wineries to visit?

Recreation and Nature - Wine Barrells

In TUOLUMNE COUNTY:

Muir Hanna Vineyards Tasting Room, 36 S. Washington Street, Sonora, CA 95370
Hours: 11am to 5pm Dailly, (209) 532-WINE Sonora website

Mt. Brow Winery, 10850 Mt. Brow Rd., Sonora, CA. open for tasting every Friday, Saturday and Sunday 12:00 to 5:00 PM, mtbrowwinery.com

In CALAVERAS COUNTY: CalaverasWines.org

Ironstone Vineyards, IronstoneVineyards.com 728-1251 or 728-1275

The Gold Country’s premier winery and entertainment complex, its 7-story multi-purpose facility on 1150 acres features daily tours and tastings, aging cavern, gourmet delicatessen, fine jewelry shop and Heritage Museum featuring a 44-pound gold crystalline leaf specimen.

Irish Vineyards on Highway 4 in Vallecito, (209) 736-1299 IrishVineyard.com

Black Sheep Winery, (209) 728-2157, tasting weekends 12 to 5 pm, weekdays by appointment. BlackSheepWinery.com

Chatom Vineyards, Open daily 11:00 – 5:00pm, 1969 Highway 4, Douglas Flat CA 209-736-6500, ChatomVineyards.com

Indian Rock Vineyards, Open Friday, Saturday & Sunday, 12:00- 5:00pm, 1154 Pennsylvania Gulch Road , Murphys, 209-728-851 IndianRockVineyards.com

Millaire, 728-1658, 276 Main Street, Murphys. Open for tasting Friday through Monday 11 to 5 pm. MilliaireWinery.com

Twisted Oak Winery Tasting Room, 4280 Red Hill Road (At Highway 4) Vallecito, Open daily 10:30am – 5:30pm, Phone: 209-736-9080, TwistedOak.com

Chinese Houses on Indian Creek Trail

Sleeping in the Forest

I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better. by Mary Oliver