Evening hike to take in the sunset and moon rise

Evening hike to take in the sunset and moon rise

Watching the sunset from Upper Bidwell Park in Chico on May 13. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

As the nearly full moon was rising before us for most of the first part of the hike, the sun was setting behind us.

It was one of those perfect Chico nights to hike; not too hot, not any wind to speak of.

We started from the Horseshoe Lake parking lot in Upper Bidwell Park. It was a steady climb via Middle, Red Bud and North Rim trails. The uneven basalt rock made having poles a good thing. It’s easy to get a little off balance.

The nearly full moon between rock formations at Bidwell Park. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Going up it was a definite climb, but probably would have seemed a little easier if we weren’t going at such a good pace.

A few wildflowers grew alongside the path, with taller dry grass and oak trees the predominant flora.

While we were warned of snakes, ticks and mosquitoes, they didn’t make their presence known. Though, I had put on bug spray before leaving home.

The eight of us with the Chico Oroville Outdoor Adventures climbed 949 feet in elevation. The low point was 333 feet, while the high point was 1,183 feet. In all we hiked 5.82 miles.

We didn’t make it to Sentinel Point in time to see the actual sunset, but we did sit there a spell to enjoy the changing colors as the sky went from dusk to night. In the distance we could see the lights of downtown Chico and its growing sprawl decorate the land.

Hiking with COOA members to enjoy the sun setting and moon rising. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

I’m glad I was with people because I never would have known to make a hard right and essentially a 180-degree turn to get to the scenic lookout. No signs pointed the way. It would have been tricky finding my way back to the Jeep on my own, too.

It was going down when I was happiest to have hiking poles. Some of the loose dirt was easy to slip on, and tiny rocks were like ball bearings that wanted my boots to slide instead of take a firm hold of the ground.

We made a bit of a circle at the end because we returned via the North and Maidu trails.

All the while the moon was getting brighter and bigger. Unfortunately, it wasn’t casting off enough light for us to make the second half of the trek without the assistance of headlamps—at least for most of us. This was two days before the actual full moon/eclipse in May.

Celebrating statewide writing award

Celebrating statewide writing award

Awards always feed the ego. They also make the long hours of hard, sometimes tedious, work worthwhile. When the award comes from your peers it’s even more special.

Such is the case with having just been awarded first place for Enterprise News Story in the California Journalism Awards which is sponsored by the California News Publishers Association. This particular category was judged by journalists outside of the state.

A few things made it even more special. One, I didn’t know any of my stories had been entered in the contest. Two, it’s a story I wrote as a freelancer, so for the publication to include it with staff submissions made me feel really good. Three, doing a little research about this year’s awards made me realize CNPA has evolved—and that’s a good thing. The N used to stand for newspaper; while now it is news, which is more inclusive. CNPA also used to not allow digital publications in its membership nor did it have an awards category for online news sites. It was also an impediment to allowing online only news organizations to publish legal ads, which is a cash cow for print publications. I don’t know where its policy is on legals is today, but once upon a time it mattered a great deal in my life.

Back to the award.

The story was published in the North Bay Business Journal in September. (The awards are for stories written in calendar year 2021.) The article talks about the growing demand for vegetarian and vegan food in grocery stores and how the dairy industry in particular is not thrilled.

CNPA’s criteria for an enterprise news story is it must be: a proactive story or series that is not directly based on a news event and that covers a topic or issue in a new and creative way. Coverage should be comprehensive and enlightening, while demonstrating effort and difficulty; quality of writing; selection of material, balanced reporting; local appeal; photography, graphics and headlines. Awards are handed out based on whether the publication is a weekly or daily and then its circulation size.

This is what the judges said about my story: “Beautiful, explanatory journalism that reveals to readers facts they may have not known. This should make people look at grocery store food aisles in a whole new way.”

There is no money associated with the award. No one ever writes for monetary gain.

Even after all these years, I’m still idealistic about the purpose of quality news sites such at the North Bay Business Journal. I’m proud to be associated with such a publication and humbled to have my work submitted for an award.

Bridges tell a story at Lake Oroville

Bridges tell a story at Lake Oroville

This Bidwell Bar Bridge from the 1800s is now only for pedestrians. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Two bridges, the same name, and a whole lot of history.

Both Bidwell Bar Bridges involve Lake Oroville.

When the first Bidwell Bar Bridge was installed across the Feather River in 1856 it was California’s first suspension bridge. The 372-foot-long steel span was built in New York for $34,922. It got shipped around the Cape Horn—the southern tip of South America—to San Francisco. From there it made its way north via the Sacramento and Feather rivers to Marysville. Then an oxen team took it to the location to be installed.

“Four heavy wire cables were used on the suspension bridge. Two main cables were strung on each side of the bridge, each containing 205 lengths of number 10 gauge wire,” a sign at the bridge states. “The total weight capacity the bridge could carry at one time was approximately 40 tons.”

Bidwell Bar Bridge spans Lake Oroville. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

In 1856, this weight would be equal to nearly 62 empty covered wagons. This compares to a typical 18-wheeler loaded truck that weighs 40 tons. In other words, it wouldn’t hold up to today’s traffic.

Modern travel, though, isn’t what doomed this bridge or the adjacent tollhouse. Both operated until 1954. The tollhouse was also a post office, store and residence for the bridge tender.

What rendered them no longer usable was the construction of Oroville Dam, which started in 1961. It dammed the Feather River and created Lake Oroville. The initial location is under water.

The original bridge and tollhouse were relocated in 1977 to State Parks land to what is now called Bidwell Canyon, a sector of the greater Lake Oroville State Recreation Area. Today the bridge is open to foot traffic. The bridge is a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and a California Historical Landmark.

Today’s Bidwell Bar Bridge can be seen in the distance from the area of the old bridge. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

A short walking trail brings one to an area where the second Bidwell Bar Bridge can be seen.

It is 1½ miles upstream from where the original one was built. It was built 600 feet higher up on the hillside to accommodate the reservoir. It is now part of Highway 162, also known as Oroville-Quincy Highway.

This new suspension bridge was built in 1965. At 627 feet above the original stream bed it was one of the highest such bridges at the time. When the lake is full it’s like you can touch the water from the bridge.

Book Review: Inspirational Story About First All-Black Crew Team

Book Review: Inspirational Story About First All-Black Crew Team

I’m a sucker for a good story about athletes overcoming adversity.

A Most Beautiful Thing: A True Story of America’s First All-Black High School Rowing Team (Flatiron Books, 2020) did not disappoint. It was first published in 2015 under the title Suga Water by Wise Ink Creative Publishing. And it has been made into a movie, which I have not seen.

Author Arshay Cooper takes readers on a journey through what it was like growing up on the west side of Chicago in the late 1990s and the discovery of crew. While I learned a lot about the sport, what was more intriguing and gratifying was the transformation of these adolescents. It proves that a little help, faith, support, and opportunity can change lives.

Crew is traditionally a sport reserved for white people with money. As such, snide remarks were made about this all-black team by classmates, other teams, and adults. Even parents were skeptical and didn’t allow some of their off-spring to participate.

I didn’t look up the author until after I had read the book. I didn’t want to know his whole story beyond having written a book about such a pivotal point in his life. After all, many in Cooper’s neighborhood were in gangs, selling drugs, with a future that didn’t involve higher education or well-paying jobs. I felt connected to Cooper and his teammates; feeling like I was rooting from them with each turn of the page.

The book was incredibly inspirational.

Marchers protest threat of abortion becoming a crime

Marchers protest threat of abortion becoming a crime

Hundreds of people took to the streets of Chico on May 14 to show their support for women’s reproductive rights.

Marchers gather at Chico City Plaza on May 14. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Women and men of all ages walked with homemade signs stating their position. Some signs were wrapped around coat hangers, a visual reminder of tools used by women when abortions were illegal.

People show their beliefs with signs. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

This was one of more than 450 marches that were planned throughout the U.S. in the wake of the leaked U.S. Supreme Court brief that indicated the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision would be overturned, thus making abortion illegal.

On May 11, the Senate failed to advance legislation ensuring abortion rights in every state.

Hundreds of people in Chico march for women’s reproductive rights on May 14. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

At the Chico march various slogans where chanted, including:

  • Bans off our bodies/pro choice.
  • Our bodies, our choice.
  • What do we want?/Reproductive freedom. When do we want it?/Now.
  • Two, four, six, eight abortion rights in every state.
  • Women’s rights are human rights.
  • Not the church, not the state, women must decide our fate.
  • Free abortion on demand. Can we do it? Yes, we can.
  • Hey, hey, ho, ho your backward views have got to go.
  • Screw the state and the legislators, women are not incubators.
Castle Crags — a breathtaking ascent into North State wilderness

Castle Crags — a breathtaking ascent into North State wilderness

Castle Crags granite formations are more than 170 million years old. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

One does not have to hike or climb Castle Crags to be impressed by this rock formation that towers above Interstate 5 north of Redding at more than 6,500 feet.

But for those who don’t just drive by, you will be even more awed by the views.

While sometimes natural formations are best viewed from a distance, that is not so with Castle Crags—though it is dazzling from afar. These granite spires are captivating from so many points along the trail.

The last Saturday of April was my second time to hike the trail. The first was in November 2009, so it had been a while.

Views are scenic from nearly every step of the trail. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

This time we started at the vista point parking lot, thus avoiding unnecessary mileage from the ranger station. We started on the Root Creek Trail and then got onto the Crags Trail. The group of six hikers were part of the Chico Oroville Outdoor Adventures group.

Looking at the pictures from my first excursion there were some differences in the terrain, which has me scratching my head. Was I on the exact same trail? Has the trail been improved in the last nearly 13 years?

In a 2009 photo there is a distinct metal railing. No railings existed this spring. While there is a narrow section, it would not have made things better with a railing—and this from a person who has some height issues.

What I’m wondering is if on the first hike the four of us ignored the “trail ends” sign and kept going. Or maybe the sign is new and we didn’t know better.

Castle Dome is nearly 5,000 feet tall. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Kristin, who was leading the recent hike, said we could have gone farther, to ascend a bit of Castle Dome (4,996 feet) like her group had done a few days earlier. None of us wanted to. Now I wish I had to see if that might have been where I was the first time.

We took our time getting to the base of Castle Dome; stopping to enjoy the handful of wildflowers along the trail and trying to appreciate the bird calls that a fellow hiker was attuned to. At this pace it made the elevation gain not seem that difficult.

When it’s not cloudy, the 14,179-foot Mount Shasta makes her presence known. While this majestic mountain is 30 miles north, it doesn’t seem that far away from the trail. Shasta was never completely visible on either of my hikes at the Crags. Still, you knew she was there and you could sense her grandeur.

Then there are the monoliths that climbers were aspiring to tame. According to thecrag.com there are 116 routes for rock climbers. Some were being scaled when we were there.

By definition a crag is “a steep or rugged cliff or rock face.” The castle part of this particular formation is derived from how many granite spires there are; some would say they are castle-like.

This was the backdrop to our lunch spot, which was near the “trail end” marker. (Image: Kathryn Reed)



  • We put in 6.15 miles, with an elevation gain of 2,123 feet. The high point was 4,716 feet and the low mark was 2,586 feet. The park has 28 miles of hiking trails.
  • There is a fee to park at Castle Crags State Park.
  • Dogs not allowed on trails.
  • Part of the Pacific Crest Trail runs through the state park and the wilderness area.
Drinking beer to help the people of Ukraine

Drinking beer to help the people of Ukraine

Alcohol is often the drug of choice to numb oneself to the realities of life and war. But what if buying a beer or two could do something more, something good for others?

Breweries throughout the world are being asked to brew RESIST—a Ukrainian anti-imperial stout. So far only two breweries in California are doing so, with one being Secret Trail Brewing in Chico.

Cans at Secret Trail’s RESIST are being sold for $15 each. Remember, this is a fundraiser. The beer is good, really good. The money is going toward the Red Cross humanitarian relief effort.

The recipe is online as are other ways to help people in Ukraine who are trying to survive while their country is being shelled and destroyed by the Russian military for reasons only dictator Putin knows. The recipe was created by brewers in Ukraine.

The Drinkers for Ukraine website says, “We’re not being prescriptive when it comes to the beer’s packaging and label design, all we’re asking is that brewers use the name, and Ukraine’s national colours. For the rest, use your creativity.”

Secret Trail’s can has a map of Ukraine in blue and yellow, with RESIST in yellow.

The Chico label says, “We brewed this Imperial Stout for the people and the brewers in Ukraine. Brewers in Ukraine have seen their livelihoods wiped out, and in some instances their businesses destroyed by Russian strikes. It is a collaborative effort amongst breweries worldwide to show our support for the brewers, and all the people of Ukraine, and large portion of the proceeds will go to the Red Cross Humanitarian Relief Fund. As you enjoy this rich wonderful beer, know that you are doing good for those in need.”

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