Once a year, on a cool day, Mr. Mouse and I attempt the feat of reaching the top of Black Mountain. It's a fairly steep hike, so we don't always make it. But this year, we decided on an early attempt on December 24 -- with the potential to try again on December 31 should we have to turn around.
Well fortified by a good breakfast, we started the walk at Hidden Villa, a community-supported organic farm and education center. We enjoyed walking past the barns with the sheep and goats, and were soon walking along a shaded little stream with ferns and other shade plants. The fall color of the wild roses was still quite stunning.
I'm always tempted to add a few of these beauties to my garden, but they spread rather aggressively and are better suited for larger spaces, not for my suburban lot. Still...
After ascending a few switchbacks, the view opened onto the chaparral. It was a beautiful sunny day, with temperatures in the 50s and perfect for a hike. But would we make it to the top?
Along the way, I could not help but enjoy the interesting shrubs and trees. Here's coyote brush in full bloom.
And here a different plant, just before opening up. I was quite impressed how green these plants looked. My garden is suffering from lack of water, but in the hills, the situation looks less dire.
But for us, rest was not an option. We pressed on at a pretty good clip, ignoring temptations for more photos, and yes, dear reader, we made it to the top!
After a short rest, and fortified with some chocolate, we turned around to get back home in time for some cooking, and an evening with friends. No better way to spend the holidays!