"Did you hear that?" our hike leader asked, and one of our fellow hikers up front with us said, "Yeah."
I heard nothing, and so I said nothing. A bird chippered. I kept walking.
Later, at the top of Potato Mountain, the ranger asked, "Did you feel the earthquake?"
"No! Was there one?!" I exclaimed.
"Well, it's just a rumor," he laughed, "But these two over here said they felt this thing move" - referring to the concrete tank at the peak's summit - "and this thing doesn't move."
I quickly checked my phone and it turns out there had been an earthquake, whose epicenter was just a few miles from our trail. And I didn't feel - or hear - a thing.
But truthfully, I was a bit out of it. I'd had every intention on going to bed early to get up at 6 a.m. for the hike that was at least an hour's drive away from home, but despite being home, I'd stayed up, relying on the extra hour of sleep thanks to the end of Daylight Savings Time.
And then when I arrived to Evey Canyon, where the first, shaded stretch of trail leads up a fire road into Claremont Wilderness...
...it was hard to believe that fall had arrived...
...with the day's heat already searing before 9 a.m...
...the sun, casting long, early shadows, not even directly overhead yet.
But we eventually happened upon some telltale signs of the season...
...in an area usually so populated by evergreen trees.
It was nice to see some autumn color, and feel some alpine air in the shade.
At the turnoff to Potato Mountain, we reentered a summer climate:
...dry, dusty, and sweaty.
We struggled up the steep stretches while watching mountainbikers creep their way up to the top.
We had a clear day, with lots of visibility...
...which we appreciated at the top when the views really opened up.
The concrete tank marks the top of the tater, where hikers decorate and carve messages into potatoes which they leave behind...
...as an equivalent to signing a register...
...or installing a survey marker.
There was only one potato there when we arrived, and our hike leader insisted there are usually more.
Where do they go? Are they taken? Trashed? Eaten?
Potato Mountain isn't really known as a destination hike, but for me, it was worth two hours of driving (which I don't mind) - especially to discover it with a small group. It has its charm. I kind of want to go back with a potato, which I neglected to bring in the early hour this morning.
And although I didn't feel it, I was glad to be near the earthquake. I'm always drawn to the epicenter.
One of Many Firsts: Earthquake
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