Table Mountain awash in color with spring wildflowers

Table Mountain awash in color with spring wildflowers

Hiking this time of year on Table Mountain means color in all directions. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

A mosaic of flowers carpets the landscape.

Purple, orange, yellow and white are the predominant colors, with a bit of fuchsia here and there. The dark basalt rock and vibrant green grasses provide contrast.

Oak trees break up the terrain. A few cows munch on the grass, paying no attention to the multitudes of people out on this last day of March.

Poppies decorate the hillside near Ravine Falls. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Table Mountain is awash is color with an array of wildflowers every spring. The abundance and peak season all depends on the winter rains.

Much of the land is covered in gold fields, which makes it look like yellow paint has been strategically dispersed. Sky lupine is interspersed at various locations. The frying pan and foothill poppies are robust. Owl’s clover, bird’s eye gilia, bitterroot and so many other flowers can be found throughout the approximately 3,300-acre North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve.

While the Table Mountain meadowfoam only grows in this area, it did not present itself to us on this particular day.

A few oak trees dot the landscape. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Most of the flowers are short, with only a few reaching 6 inches in height. This is in large part because of the volcanic terrain. Soil here is not great. The height, though, does not take away from the splendor.

In addition to the spectacle of color are an array of waterfalls. They, too, are dependent on rain.

“Typically fissures in the basalt soak up winter rains, forming seasonal streams and waterfalls. In a few places, however, the underlying basalt is impermeable to water forming a temporary pool. Soon to dry up after rains end, only specialized plants and animals adapted to this habitat can survive over time,” according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which manages the reserve.

Sutter Buttes is often visible. Sawmill Peak was in the near distance. Snow covered mountains farther away.

In all the six of us put in 3.12 miles, which included treks to Hollow Falls and Ravine Falls.

The uneven rock is going to be difficult for some to navigate. In a one-week period ending April 7, search and rescue crews were called out to Table Mountain four times. One was for a fatality; a woman fell 100 feet at one of the falls.

This is a reminder that Mother Nature, as beautiful as she can be, is also still a wild place that needs to be respected.

Despite the inhospitable growing conditions, wildflowers find a way to populate the rocky area. (Image: Kathryn Reed)



  • California lands pass required for everyone 16 and older. They are $4.89 for the day or $27.26 for the year. They may be purchased online.
  • Table Mountain is about 7 miles north of Oroville.
  • Directions: From Chico, take Highway 99 south to Highway 70 to Oroville. Exit at Grand Avenue. Go right, then drive for 1 mile. Go left on Table Mountain Boulevard for a tenth of a mile. Right on Cherokee Road for 6.3 miles north to the reserve.
  • Elevation gain was 208 feet, with the lowest 1,198 feet and highest 1,334 feet.
An unexpected component to COVID test in Baja Sur

An unexpected component to COVID test in Baja Sur

I nearly gagged. I definitely coughed. And kept coughing even after the unwanted object was removed from my mouth.

This was a new take on being tested for COVID-19. When the medical person said “open wide” I’m sure my eyes got big. There was no doubt what he said; it was in English. This procedure was new to me.

Getting a COVID test at St. Jude’s Medical Center in Todos Santos includes nasal and throat swabs. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Having had four COVID tests in the United States, this was my first in Mexico. Not only was one nostril swabbed in Todos Santos, so was my throat. Neither is a pleasant sensation, but neither is painful either.

Another big difference was having to pay for the one south of the border. It cost 4,800 pesos, or $240.77. This was at St. Jude’s, a private medical center. I’m lucky, I have the means to pay this. Most people in Mexico don’t. Remember, the minimum wage here is about $6 a day; not an hour, a day.

Reportedly tests are free through Mexico’s public health system. Those in Todos Santos must go to La Paz for a test. The gas to get there can be a financial burden; and that’s assuming they have transportation. Medical care might mean going to Los Cabos. Another potential hardship.

All of the COVID tests I had in South Lake Tahoe were free, picked up by the state of California or my health insurance. The first one I got was mostly out of curiosity—about the test, whether I had it, not because of any symptoms or risky behavior. The second was after I had worked as a tennis coach for a week where none of the kids had to wear a mask and not all of the adults were perfect about it. The third was mandated by the medical facility where I got my colonoscopy. The last one was after the election because I had worked it for two days, indoors, seeing a lot of strangers.

The worst of those four was the one by Barton Health because I was sitting down. I think if they had people stand next to their vehicle it would be a better experience. It’s about the angle of getting that swab way into the nasal cavity.

As for Mexico, well, the cases keep going up, just like in the United States and so many other countries.

Oh, all of my tests have been negative. I’m going to keep wearing my masks (I have several), using hand sanitizer (I keep a bottle in the Jeep), staying several feet away from most everybody, and trying to only be around people who are doing the same thing.

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