Saturday, July 16, 2011

Summer Update: Life and Ministry in Pasadena

Howdy, folks,
Spring sprang right past me, so here's my latest doin's now that it's summer.


While I was caring for my mom, she fell again twice and had other medical problems, so it became clear that it was no longer safe for her to be living alone. We found an excellent nursing care home just a few miles from my sister's house and she seems to have adapted well to it.

In the meantime, I went in for my Total Hip Replacement (left hip) on March 15, and from there to a rehab facility. The photo to the right is in the rehab place after I had graduated from the wheelchair to the walker, and again from the walker to the crutches.

The lovely folk at Saint James Anglican in Newport Beach kept me in prayer during surgery and recovery, and made a prayer blanket for me (shown at left) in which every knot that held it together represented a prayer for my effective operation and safe recovery. I was deeply touched.

MOVING STUFF: After a few days at my sister's house, I hit the road to Southern California via the scenic route.

This is a rare sight--the spillway at the Oroville Dam with water actually flowing from it.

For all the time that my sis has lived in nearby Paradise, the level of Lake Oroville has been so low that there was more shoreline than there was lake. The end of the boat ramp at Lime Saddle, for instance, was a hundred yards from the water. So seeing the lake full again was a memorable local sighting.

We've been going to visit Mom in the care facility regularly.

My sister visits more than once a week, and has many details to watch over for her overall care.

My brother drove down from Oregon twice to visit, which was well appreciated.

Even my daughter drove up from Southern California to see Mom. From that visit, here's my sister Lucy, my daughter Amber, and my brother-in-law Garrett.

I've made the trip back to northern California once, and I'll be back again next month to visit Mom and make it to an appointment with my surgeon for the aftercare of my hip replacement.

MINISTRY STUFF: In Pasadena, besides trying to find a place to live, I've been working with Father Charles Myers, who's launching an urban church ministry. "Saint Michael's in the City" has started up weekly services on sort of a shake-down cruise preparing for a grand opening, we trust, in the fall.

I have been preparing to teach the 12-step class, "Common Solution Recovery," which was developed by Church Army at Branson, Missouri, and which I taught for almost a year in Mississippi to homeless Hurricane Katrina survivors who were struggling with addictions. The same scourge afflicts Pasadena, and some in the addicted and recovering communities here are desperately looking for the Way Out. The class will get a big boost from the new book We Have Recovered written by Stephen Baughan, the new director of Church Army USA.

I travelled with Fr. Charles to the Anglican Men's Weekend held in the San Bernardino Mountains. This event was sponsored for years by Saint James Anglican, but this year it became hosted by the Western Diocese of the Anglican Church in North America. Our speaker was Archbishop Greg Venables, who flew up from Argentina to deliver a powerful message to almost 200 men from all across the state and country.

Here's a sampling of the men that attended. Fr. Charles is always easy to spot in a crowd, and this photo is no different: he's the one kneeling in front.


MORE MOVING STUFF: At the men's weekend I had a lovely bed to sleep in, but in Pasadena I had not yet found affordable housing. I learned that Pasadena has the second highest rental rates in Los Angeles County, surpassed only by Santa Monica on the beach.

Here's my interim housing: the campground in Millard Canyon. This is situated right along the rushing creek, about a hundred yards from the parking lot.

I was not ready yet at this stage for prime time backpacking, so it took quite a few trips back and forth to bring in my tent, food, and cooking gear, etc.

After one false start, I found a room to rent. I'm now ensconced in student housing at William Carey International University, which rents about a third of its dorm rooms to non-students.

My room was designed for two students, but they rented it to me as a single. It's roomy enough to divide in half, using my bookshelf as a room divider.

This is my "office" area, which has a nice window I can look out of if I face to the left. I found some flowers to put on the windowsill to spruce it up a bit.

And here's my bookshelf and Biblical Reference Library with my "bedroom" behind it.

This is the payoff for lugging 500 pounds of books across the continent, and for disassembling then reassembling the lovely bookcase that was made for me in Mississippi by one of the men in our recovery program.

Included in my library is the complete Inter-Varsity Press commentary on the Bible, which I put on the bookshelf over my office desk. On the bookshelf Above my bed you can just barely see my grandfather's violin, which I someday hope to learn to play.

HIKING STUFF: But I'm still on the road to recovery from my surgery. (I'm told that full recovery will take a whole year)

My first backpacking excursion was to Sierra Saddle, a picnic spot on the trail above Millard Campground.

This photo shows some of the trees burned in the devastating Station Fire of 2009, in which 525 square miles of forest were destroyed. Millard Canyon is in the background.

But the vegetation is bouncing back.

Here are the robust plants along the side of the fire road leading up the mountain.

They are shown here at the height of the blooming season.

This was also the peak blooming season for many of the annual flowers,

I called this place "The Best Spot On The Trail."




On this first backpack outing, I camped here beside Sierra Saddle a few hundred feet above Pasadena.
I pitched my tent between the two pines on this ridge at center photo, with Millard Canyon on the right and Pasadena on the left.
I didn't fully deploy the rainfly on my tent because no rain was predicted and I wanted to be able to see the views from inside.
But at 4am I was awakened by heavy raindrops on the tent, and scurried to pull the rainfly into place. It continued to rain on my tent the rest of the morning. However, when I got up in the morning, all of the ground was dry except for immediately around my tent! I thought, "What is this, Gideon's fleece?"
What had happened was that the coastal fog had been rolling across the ridge all morning. The needles on the pine trees sucked the moisture out of the fog, and each needle then dripped its collected water down onto my tent as raindrops.

Below is a view of Pasadena as the evening fades into night and the city lights begin to appear.


A couple weeks later I did make it farther up the trail, all the way, in fact to Mount Lowe Trail Camp (alas, no photos). It's a 3,000 foot climb and a 6-mile hike, and it took me SIX HOURS in my not-yet-recovered condition. I'm going to have to do that again and better my time.

On a later day trip I hiked up the trail that hugs the hillsides near the bottom of Millard Canyon and leads to Dawn Mine.

This is Millard Falls, a popular site which is closed because the creekside trail was destroyed by the heavy floods after the Station Fire.

It's a 40-foot waterfall, and when you can reach the bottom of it, you can stand in the pool directly under the falling water.


Another sight along the way to Dawn Mine is this double waterfall, high up a side canyon above the trail.

This is also visible from the upper trail which leads to Mount Lowe campground.

I have seen this spot many times, but this is the first time I've seen water in it.


My most recent hike (last week) was up the Arroyo Seco along the Gabrielino Trail.

This is Gould Mesa Trail Camp, just an hour-and-a-half (at my pace) up the trail.

This week I'm hoping to base camp here and try to get farther up the Gabrielino trail, perhaps all the way to Switzer Falls.

There are a number of bridges on the trail for autos, but many of them, along with the roads around them, have been destroyed by the recurring floods.

This is a more recently-constructed bridge, built to accomodate the equestrian traffic on the Gabrielino Trail.


"Arroyo Seco" is Spanish for "Dry Gulch," an appropriate name only for the lower reaches of the canyon after the City of Pasadena has sucked all the water out of it for its thirsty citizens.

The lower portion of the arroyo is the pathway for the nation's first freeway, now numbered Interstate 110. With its tight curves and abrupt on- and off-ramps, it is a challenging drive during rush hour.

Once above the intake point for Pasadena's water plant, the creek crossing shown at right is more typical of what will confront a hiker on the Gabrielino trail.

Some of the crossings are quite a bit more challenging than this one, especially for me as I work with strength and balance limitations on my surgery recuperation trail.

At the Gould Mesa camp, there is a road that leads off the side, climbing to meet the Angeles Crest Highway (California 2) just above the city limits of La CaƱada Flintridge.

There I found this sign with a map to the local trails. (However, there was no place to park for anyone who wanted to read the sign, much less hike the trails.) Yet the sign reminded me of driving and coming across the place where the Gabrielino Trail reaches the crest of the Angeles Forest and wishing I had time to hike the trail.

So I think that's exactly what I'll do. Little by little, I'm going to see if I can reach each section of this 28.5 mile trail. Watch this space(click here) for the photos!

God bless you all,