Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Tuesday Hike: Georgetown Nature Trail

This week’s hike was through a nature preserve in Georgetown.  We were fortunate to have the long-time caretaker of the reserve lead us on our hike; he has been been the caretaker since its founding — and much of the work on the trails was done by his Boy Scout troops over the years.  It was a chilly 38F when we started down the trail, and it was deeply shaded by towering pines and cedar, but we were dressed warmly and it was one of those crystal clear and cold brilliant days so we didn’t mind at all.

The nature trail is on land owned by the school district.  Students involved in fighting bullying at school created this space. 

Himalayan blackberry was introduced to the Sierras by early settlers because it does well in the cold mountain climate.  ...too well, it is taking over and can be found everywhere.  Our ranch is surrounded by it as well.  I thought it was native, but it isn’t.  

The trail leads past an abandoned gold mine dating back to the gold rush.  It goes back about 800 feet into the hillside.  You had to stoop and crawl in the entrance.

But, once inside you could stand all the way up.  We walked on some metal laying in the water that was all through the base of the tunnel.  It was way cool in there.  And dark.  The light in the photo is from the flashlights on our phones.
The area was originally inhabited by Native Americans who moved between Georgetown  and Lake Tahoe, depending on the season.  A Boy Scout troop built this replica of their teepees, made from cedar bark.  The tribe no longer exists.  They suffered the same fate as the Cherokee — they were driven out of the area and sent to Oregon.  Some perished there, and some on the journey and others  trying to journey back home.  California’s own trail of tears.  So sad.  So wrong.

This is Scotch Brush.  It’s an invasive non-native as well.  It started out as an ornamental plant, used to landscape suburban backyards.  And, it escaped.  It is everywhere and just about impossible to kill.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Mandarin Marmalade

Gather a mix of oranges and lemons.  I use a ratio of 3-4 oranges to one lemon.  In this case I had a truckload of mandarins and so I used a two handfuls of mandarins to each lemon.  Most of the mandarins were half the size of the ones in this picture.

Quarter the fruit and put it in a big pot.  Cover it with water by an inch or so.  Bring it to a boil, simmer for five minutes, and then let is sit overnight in the fridge so the skins get nice and soft.

Then slice the fruit into thin strips (this is the tedious part).  Put them back in the pot with all the reserved liquid and boil for an hour.

Add sugar to taste.  Mandarins are very sweet so I didn’t need to add much to this batch.  Continue to boil until thick and syrupy.  Pour into sterilized jars and you’re done.  I love marmalade on English muffins or on a good croissant.