Downieville is a magical little town with some pretty dark history, nestled in the pines. I haven’t been there for 2 years, but lately it has been on my mind…
Above the town, up a winding and particularly bumpy dirt road, where you reach an impassible point and have to walk the last bit, sits my favorite lookout. The views are spectacular…so vast that you can hardly comprehend the scale of what you see below you. The day in the photographs was exceptionally beautiful because the billowy clouds were moving quickly and their shadows on the ground below moved parallel in a fascinating dance of earth and sky…dark and light.
This place and the town below are calling to my soul and I must go.
We didn’t see the sign until we had ever so carefully climbed down the two flights, holding onto the rails and gingerly stepping on the rusty metal edges in case more of the wood gave way. Then at the bottom there it was, blown off to the side, saying: Danger! The stairs are closed…with little fluttering broken pieces of caution tape tied to the rails. Would it have made a difference if we had seen the sign beforehand? No, because we had hiked 2 miles of steep switch backs through loose gravel and granite and there was no way we would turn around without swimming in the glorious pool at the bottom.
Our intent had been to make it all they way to Curtain Falls (which you can see back in the following image) but it was a bit more treacherous than we were prepared for. Next time, we will pack twice the water and a waterproof bag to swim and scramble over boulders all the way to the waterfall.
The view of Bald Rock Dome, of the granite sides of the canyon, and the verdant forest are well worth the perilous hike and several days of ache that follow.
With all the rain in Northern California this year, the waterfalls are still going big and the trails are more rugged than before. The morning I hiked to Feather Falls I crossed several smaller falls on the trail and couldn’t avoid walking through the water at one point where it merged with the trail for a ways. It was lovely…verdant and splashy…lots of smiles and thinking how lucky I am to leave so near the forest. The rainbow in the main fall was particularly captivating and although it is a long, hot hike I am tempted to go back to play in the water above the fall.
…and then back at home I felt inspired to use up all the colors of dye powder I could find to breathe new life into some old clothes and linens. I didn’t have gloves (not that I would have remembered to wear them if I did) so my hands are rainbow as well. When I look at them typing away at work it brings me joy to remember all that soul refreshing free time I spent outside in nature and in my backyard letting my creativity run free.
In the last several years I got busy with life and stopped listening to myself, stopped creating almost entirely, and paused dreaming in order to get better at basic survival. I did this consciously…deleted all my blog posts, closed my Etsy shop, and unplugged from Facebook…essentially becoming invisible to the outside world as well. Recently I began to hear my tiny voice calling me to create, calling me to adventure.
I took a mental health day from work soon after my voice returned and went to this amazing secret swimming spot…far enough off the beaten trail that my heart beat ferociously wondering if my car would make it down and then back up the primitive road to the trail head. I was the only person there that day. It was easier to hear my voice and reconnect with my myself on the trail, and while dipping my toes into the icy water and feeling the sun kiss my shoulders.
As I spend more time listening, my voice is getting stronger and I am re-awakening the part of me that is an artist.