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Cow Camp

The Sierra National Forest is a virtual wonderland open to everyone, including cows.

Historically, cattle were moved from ranches in the “low country” to spend the summer in the much cooler “high country” where food and water was plentiful. John Shaw, a neighbor who passed away a few years ago, often helped with these cattle drives before his health failed. I never fully understood what he meant by “cow camp” until we visited Ryan’s Lower Cow Camp below ShutEye Ridge on the Scenic Byway.

We were joined on this beautiful autumn day by Michael Olwyler and Connie Popelish. The two are warm, cheerful, and inspiring Forest Service Rangers who spent the better part of their careers working in the Sierra National Forest. Connie, a Forest Service archeologist, was instrumental in moving/preserving (as in, she SAVED) the Jesse Ross Cabin—the oldest documented structure in Madera County, which we pass by every time we take the Scenic ByWay. Her knowledge of this area was mesmerizing.

To reach this cow camp, we made a pit stop at the Mile-High Overlook. This was particularly noteworthy because of how different Mammoth Pools looked from the last time we passed by, a month or so ago.

One thing I hadn’t expected to find at a cow camp was permanent structures…well, semi-permanent. At least one of the buildings had been visited by bears—claw marks were noticeable in the insulation. Another building with a great fireplace succumbed to the weight of heavy snows.

JP set up our picnic while the rest of us explored—and chased racer snakes.


After an incredible picnic lunch catered by our amazing son, Jon-Paul, we headed toward the gorgeous, wide open meadow…er, swamp. I didn’t expect the water table to be so high, and given the thick, soupy mud and clumps left behind from hooves, walking across the meadow was a messy, unpleasant challenge. But the aspen grove on the southern edge of the meadow was home to several varieties of tiny woodland frogs, which made my granddaughters very happy.

We headed home with plans to return again soon…to visit the Ends of the Earth as well…ooh! I can’t wait.

Last week’s Q&A, “Which is your fave: Autumn or Spring?” was not unlike the Winter/Summer debate. Both seasons had a strong following, with Autumn edging out Spring by a tiny margin.

Maybe you’re like me, I love each season at the beginning…but by the end, I’m ready for a new one. ;-)

My two randomly selected winners this week are:

Bonnie Raymond – Autumn
Shirley Benat – Spring

(Bonnie and Shirley congrats. Please email me your pick of either a $5 Starbucks or a $5 Amazon gift card.)


This week’s Q&A is probably silly, but I’m curious. Are you a fan of Pumpkin Spice? Yes or No?

TV ads are redolent in “pumpkin spice this, that, and the other thing.” Other than pumpkin pie, which I only eat at Thanksgiving, I’m pretty sure I’ve never ordered a pumpkin spice anything. Am I missing out?

Pumpkin Spice: YES or NO?

(Two winners will be chosen by random drawing to receive either a $5 Starbucks gift card or a $5 Amazon gift card. Please reply the usual ways: email or on my DebraSalonenAuthor Facebook page.)

Happy October, my friends.


Next week… a Concours d’Elegance—what we do for love!

PS: So many of you mentioned your love of holiday stories, I know you won’t want to miss out on Tule Publishing’s annual Christmas Party. Interact with some amazing and super friendly authors. I guarantee there will be oodles of cool prizes up for grabs, too!

If you’re on Facebook, here’s the link to sign up for the group: Tule Book Club



Copyright © 2019 Debra Salonen