It is a new year, this 2022 and I have edited the name of my blog page from “Fox Mountain Muse” to “Fox Mountain Chronicles”. I really write about my life here in the outback of northeastern California, not so much on my ability to be a “muse” about much of anything.
I have lived here for 30 years now, in a wood ranch house built in the late 1860’s. I am not sure about the precise date of construction primarily due to the fact that any records of the place were destroyed in a fire when the town was part of Siskiyou county. We have “guess-stimated” the age of the house based on early photographs taken by Kodak at the turn of the century. I know for sure that it was here at the edge of town in the 1890’s long before indoor plumbing or electricity was brought to this part of the country.
There is a ridge that rises up directly behind our place…Barber Ridge. The name of our small town is painted on its stones right above the house. Fox Mountain is located a few miles to the northwest at the apex of this ridge and is neither great in elevation or easily recognized. It sits at an elevation of 6394 feet just southeast of Fox Flat. I have traveled only a couple of times to the top of the mountain in a truck and I must say that the view from there is stunning and breathtaking.
Fox Mountain rises above Big Valley which was called “Big Swamp” before the white settlers came to tame and drain its wetlands. I wish I could go back in time about 200 years just to hear the resounding sounds of birdsong off of the creek, river and wetland systems that existed here for thousands of years. The valley was a place resplendent with wildlife, fish, birds, reptiles, beaver, bobcat, fox and coyote. Land use practices have altered almost every acre of ground in the valley since that time and most of the land is under agricultural use or pasture.
Fox Mountain and its surrounding ridges are relatively both old and young on a geologic scale. They are derived from volcanic material that is variable in composition and is anywhere from Miocene to Holocene in age (23 million to several hundred years ago). The composition is primarily basalt and basaltic andesite with pyroclastic ash inclusions. Some places on its flanks are rugged basalt reefs, the rest is simply rugged with a capital “R”. It is very difficult to wander or hike through even with the best intention. One solid hombre …
Fox Mountain has been here as a Witness to changing times and topography for ages. It existed when the Medicine Lake Caldera, the second largest shield volcano in North America, oozed glass flows of obsidian. It overlooks the remnant weltands that provide food and shelter for thousands of birds that travel the Pacific flyway each year. It is under its tutelage that I have lived my life for the past 30 years, and I will most likely lay down my bones within view of its peak. It functions as a guardian teaching me patience with Time and its Seasons and offers me friendship as I wander among the remaining swamplands at its feet. It has become a Friend to me, always over my shoulder … and I choose to remain in the shadow of this mountain where I find Peace in these varied times.