We set out around 5pm with the proclaimed goal of "going to George Bush's house." Yet even at that late afternoon hour, it was still swelteringly hot and humid out, so we only wore bikini tops... a choice we would partially regret!
We traveled along a hiking path we've trod many a time in the past, and were delighted to see that even though we've had no rain, the scorched earth was already regenerating!
And the unharmed forest looked as beautiful as ever. We call this section Lothlórien.
It was then time to step off of the beaten path and follow a deer trail, that immediately had three dark signs. The first was a large fallen tree that blocked the path (and would be a perfect spot for a rattler).
The second was a skull.
The third was... Snape's potion bottle, which meant he was out there somewhere...
We passed through some very pretty groves.
...From then on it was rather torturous, bending and contorting to avoid poison oak, getting our backs torn open from branches, until, just when we were about to give up, I noticed a cable.
A few steps further, and I could see a eucalyptus tree. Native to Australia, these trees are obviously planted by humans when seen in California, so I knew we were close.
Still, seeing the looming structure through the brush was just as horrifying as if it were unexpected.
As we approached we noticed that... unfortunately as we'd suspected... it wasn't a vault at all, but rather a series of tanks. To make all of our cuts stinging with sweat burn even more was the discovery that there was a nice cleared road leading up to it on the other side.
The very old tanks:
George Bush, we weren't impressed.
I knocked on a few and they sounded empty... maybe propane?
The trek home was even more harrowing as we climbed over the ridge to return along a different path... a path that not only sliced up our backs once more, but also cut our legs in so many criss-crossing patterns that it looks like scrape latticework. Along the top of the ridge I found a mountain lion track on the sandstone.
And discvered that the fire retardant that they dropped to put out the blaze killed all the leaves it dropped on, creating more fire fuel. Um... right. My only guess is that it suffocated the manzanita leaves, killing them, but doesn't have that affect on other plants, or else why would they be using it if it creates future fire hazards?
Much of the way back was on the slippery crest of the mountain with steep drops on either side. Spooky! We finally made it back to familiar territory -- the burnt mountainside.
All in all, the trip was about three hours. And there were no WMDs! Actually, come to think of it, we should've expected as much from George Bush...
Here's something neat. We call this tree the Ghost Eye Tree and due to some sort of optical illusion, as you walk along the flat path the tree will suddenly go from being straight up and down to being crooked!