This morning I went hiking up the mountain to check on our water tank. It’s been very dry here for the whole summer, and the recent rains haven’t added anything to the creeks. The creeks are almost completely dry. Every few days I check the few watering holes left to make sure the horses have water. And the status of our own water has been weighing on my mind. If our spring slows down or goes dry, we’re really going to have to ration water. Our entire household depends on a gravity-fed spring about 300′ above the house on the mountain.
The way isn’t all straight up. Our mountains here are arranged in ‘benches’, so there’s uphill, then a little or a lot of fairly level. Then another uphill, another level. It’s a fairly steep ascent for each level, sometimes 90 degrees if you’re at a stone bluff. Thankfully, I’m not scaling bluffs on the way to the tank. There are some on our mountain, though.
I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going (too busy looking at other things) and went the wrong way at first when I came to this intersection (below). Can you tell it’s an intersection?? It’s all grown up so much since the last time I went hiking up the mountain.
At the moment, we only have this 1500 gallon tank. I was delighted to see that it is full and overflowing, in spite of fairly heavy use lately. I’ve been washing a lot of clothes since Rob’s surgery and watering the garden regularly. But I’ve recently cut back on washing clothes, filling my bathtub as full as I’d like, and the garden watering. I’ve been worried the tank might not be staying full enough. And that’s why I went up to take a look.
We have a much larger 4500 gallon tank to install whenever we get a chance. Before that, though, Rob has to recover fully from his surgery and do a lot of work on the logging road to even get it up there. Once it’s in place, we’ll have water to spare during the cold months when we need to leave the faucets running to prevent freezing.
When the tank is full there’s an overflow line to carry the excess away from the tank. We intended that to make it easier for the wildlife to find water so they wouldn’t be tempted to chew our lines. It hasn’t worked out so well for that purpose, though they do get some water from the overflow still. They’re just not content to go where we directed it. They’d rather get it somewhere along the way.
Today I found it had been chewed almost all the way through not too far from the end of the line. And chewed a little bit close to the tank. Some little critter had dug a little hole at the chewed spot, so I enlarged it and dammed it a little with some rocks to make a bigger basin. Hopefully that will keep them happy and the bears will leave my rocks alone and not turn them searching for grubs and worms.
Hiking Back Down the Mountain
The way is washed out and full of rocks, and steep in places. So going down is harder than coming up. It takes a lot less time if you slip on a rock and start going in an uncontrolled downhill way, though. However, that’s not the way I like to roll, so I take my time getting back down. Along the way I stop and notice the things I passed by on the way up.
I didn’t see these going up, but I spotted them while hiking down. Here’s a short little video clip of me poking one of them with a stick to make the spores come out. When critters step on them, it disperses the spores and even when raindrops hit them, it’ll disperse. I think it’s probably not a good idea to inhale the spore.
Wild Mint (Cunila origanoides)
There is White-Leaf Mountain Mint on the mountain too, but there’s also these shorter little mint plants that grow in the dry, rocky areas. I haven’t tried to grow any of these in my garden yet, but I’d like to go back out there to collect seeds and give them a try. They’ve got a nice strong minty scent and seem to be able to survive droughts just fine. There’s more of them on the path than I’ve ever seen before. I’ve got lots of barren places in my garden they should like. Common names include American dittany, stone mint, wild oregano.
Back Home, Done Hiking up the Mountain for now
Thanks for coming along for a bit of exercise. Hiking up the mountain would be a great training exercise if I could force myself to do it every morning. Alas, the driveway is the path that calls me and those hills are hard enough for my regular walks. But I do dream of reaching a point where I could go up and down the mountain without needing to stop for a breather along the way. So maybe I’ll ignore the lure of the easy driveway and buckle down enough gumption to start doing the mountain instead.