Have you ever learned that you had a secret nickname, the name people attached to your name when you weren’t there to hear it?

Mike came home today and told me that he had run in to an old mountain bike friend whom we hadn’t seen in years. A couple of decades ago, when the Rut Riders were an active, even somewhat notorious bike club, this guy had ridden with the group off and on and had raced on the same circuits that we had. When Mike said that Topoleski had said to tell me hello, I immediately asked, “Wrong-way Topo?” The unfortunate John Topoleski had taken a wrong turn during a mountain bike race (costing him precious seconds) when he was in his twenties. Some thirty years later, he is still known as Wrong-way Topo in circles he has long since forgotten. He is probably unaware that the moniker is still attached to his name.

When I was a young, nubile thing, I used to ride my horse around the neighborhood in shorts and a bikini top. I was a bit nonplussed to learn that my riding companion’s husband referred to me as Judy Jugs. I’d never considered that my pert, little bosom would be worthy of such a nickname.


Much later, in my sixties, my neighbor, having had a wee bit too much to drink, blabbed that her husband and his brother called me Butterface. I couldn’t help but feel just a bit smug at the idea that the preamble to that nickname is, “She has a great body”. I guess a less vain woman would have taken umbrage at the idea that they were disparaging her face, but I chose to dwell on theĀ  idea that those beer-bellied, old farts noticed the other well-preserved assets (ie. the still pert jugs).


I imagine that many nicknames are coined in a spirit of just slightly malicious teasing, and one could have hurt feelings about the deliberately mean ones. But I prefer to think that nicknames are usually given to people who are a little admired, a little envied, and overall, well-liked. Okay, maybe I DO have a vainglorious self-image but you have to admit, there’s something endearing in a nickname.

Oops, I forgot that Wrong-way Topo was later murdered. (This alternative truth is added in response to a suggestion from one of my favorite bloggers who commented that my circulation would be improved by more murders in my blog. Thank you, dimebone.)

Farewell to 2017 Hike

What a way to end the year! We (my dogs, aka “the girls”) explored a new-to-us trail that had been recommended by someone we met on the San Bernardino Peak Trail. This trail didn’t climb much but followed the undulations of the mountain as it circled more or less at the same elevation. The difference between the trail head and the destination, John’s Meadow, was about 300 feet, not much unless you consider that to reach said “meadow” one had traversed up and down, up and down a hundred short dips in the trail.

Despite the flawless weather, there was only one other vehicle parked at the trailhead which served two separate trails, so I wasn’t surprised to have the trail to myself. We passed through stands of venerable sugar pines and cedar, bearing scars of wildfires long forgotten.


This was not one of the survivors but yet it stands.


Gradually the trail gained altitude, though the hum of highway traffic below followed us for a couple of miles. The girls were delighted when the trail crossed a trickle that might pass for a stream in wetter years, where they greedily lapped and lounged in the clear water.


We left the sounds of civilization behind as the trail worked its way into the recesses of hidden canyons where stunted buckthorn and manzanita made feeble attempts to encroach on the trail. The south facing slopes were bathed in lovely winter sunlight.


Molly blazes the trail ahead.

Pausing at the top of a ridge, I heard an unfamiliar, distant noise. It sounded almost like a wind stirring in the treetops, but there was no breeze. As we approached a deep canyon, I realized with some amazement, that what I was hearing was rushing water. We had arrived at Forsee Creek, still flowing after almost a year without rain!


Ice coats the stepping stones across the creek.

We crossed the creek following the trail up the far side of the steep canyon to find that after cresting the hill, it dropped into another canyon with yet another, smaller stream. While stopped to retrieve a jacket from my hydration pack, Sadie uttered a low growl. Ears pricked towards the brush lining the stream, I followed her intense gaze. I could see nothing but I heard a rustling of something larger than a bird but smaller than an elephant. Having no interest in facing a bear, I gathered up my pack and scurried back up the trail. There’s nothing like the thought of danger to lend wings to tired feet.

The adrenaline rush soon subsided and I became increasingly aware of my weariness and sore feet, but the trail remained as lovely and quiet as before. Only the distant growl of a passing jet, hidden by the canopy of trees, reminded me of the miles to go before I sleep.


Twin, dead pines overlook Slide Peak in the distance.