Winter Solstice on Peony Peak

sunrise on winter solstice from Peony Peak

This morning I hiked up Peony Peak, which is my unofficial name for a small peak/large hill northwest of my home in Carson City. The sun was behind a band of clouds at the official sunrise time of 7:15AM, but it popped out about 15 minutes later.

This is my favorite short hike, about two hours from my door out and back, depending on which way I go. From the top I can see Carson Valley south to California and Washoe Valley north to Reno. On the east there is the Pine Nut Range with Rawe Peak and others, and on clear days the area around Dayton. To the west is the much higher Carson Range, and southwest Freel Peak, the highest.

I named the hill Peony Peak because there are a lot of Brown’s peony (Paeonia brownii) on the north and east slope.┬áPeony Peak is 5636 feet, and my apartment 4720 feet or so, so the walk up is less than a thousand foot climb, but half of that is a straight-up section of trail on the south facing slope of the peak. The south slope is nearly free of snow, two weeks after a snowfall of about 18 inches, but the top and other slopes are still deep in snow. I sometimes walk from my door to go backpacking, up over Peony Peak, over to Lakeview Gate, and up into the Carson Range.

Some of my Peony Peak photos, from a number of walks and hikes, are on PicasaWeb.

Fall Equinox

FallToday is fall (autumnal) equinox, the day on which night and day are of equal lengths, one of the quarter-days of the year. Of course the seasons trail the official days as the earth heats up and cools down more slowly, and so the beginning of fall is often celebrated by the cross-quarter day Samhain in the celtic/gaelic calendar, which evolved into Halloween in our current calendar, October 31. I notice that days are still summer-like, but mornings are fall-like. Though my tomatoes are still producing, the vines are looking a little wilted. Last Wednesday when I headed up to Incline Village, some of the aspen trees were turning and there was a yellowish cast to all the vegetation. It is a good day to stop and reflect on the year, as are all the seasonal dates of the year.