Bark Beetle: The Saga Continues

Here’s the latest:

Our trees died. All the ponderosa pines, at least.

Three weeks after discovering bark beetles had struck our biggest pines, on the 4th of July, we came back to our cabin in Arnold to discover…

They were all dead. Already.

It happened FAST. Here we were, fancy sprinkler equipment in hand, Scot the rediscovered-childhood-friend-turned-arborist lined up to arrive at 7:00 AM on Saturday morning and start injecting the biggest and strongest of the trees with insecticide, precise watering instructions from him typed up to keep us busy for two days in preparation, alarms set, beer bought, and…

Nope. They were gone. Yellow to the tip of every needle, 120 feet high. Four of them in the front, along the road, and another seven in the back, standing so tall that we couldn’t even see they had died unless we stood out in the road and looked over our roof, and beyond the tops of our tallest cedars.


(The 100-degree apocalyptic heat wave probably didn’t help, either…)

PG&E had already been to our house, even, and had tagged the trees to be cut and removed, lest they fall on a power line (I will never complain about PG&E again; they are actually doing a pretty amazing job in Calaveras County).

I felt depressed about it at first. For a good 24 hours; I’m not gonna lie. We have plenty of beautiful trees, and a beautiful green forest behind us still, but the fact that any of it had to die because of the terrible drought just… just…

It just fed my fears that we’re living in the end days, frankly. Especially when I started researching things like “the future of California’s forests” and started seeing pictures of the devastation around Yosemite and Sequoia National Forest and Places farther south… Things like this:

Dead pines around Bass Lake. They filmed The Great Outdoors there, and I LOVED THAT MOVIE! *SOBSOBSOB*

Dead pines around Bass Lake, southwest of Yosemite. They filmed The Great Outdoors there, and I LOVED THAT MOVIE! *SOBSOBSOB*


(Climate change is real, you guys. We. Are. Screwed.)

At that point, it was clearly time for someone like Lisa to back away from the computer – to put down the scholarly articles about the evolving forest ecosystems and the historical documents about the evolution of forest industries and shut my insane, information-hungry, overly empathetic brain with its hyper-worrywort drive OFF…

…and get outside and enjoy the fact that only a couple of our trees died, and their deaths would give us the opportunity to improve our land and plan a “forest of the future” ourselves.

(I already have someone working with me on that, FYI; I am nuts.)

And to recognize that the mountains are beautiful in Calaveras County, and the river is beautiful, and I am lucky enough to be able to enjoy the Sierra Nevada while they are still the mountains I’ve known and loved (at least, they don’t look like Bass Lake where we live – yet…).

So, with our weekend chore list suddenly completely empty, Team Temple + Marlene decided to christen the new Subaru and go on an adventure!

We went to the ranger station just down Highway 4 from our house and finally got good directions to the infamous Candy Rock – the god of all mountain swimming holes and the so-called greatest cliff-jumping spot in California (you know it’s gotta be good when a cliff records multiple deaths every year – oy).

And we found it! It was definitely a good idea we never attempted to find it before getting the Subaru, because we probably would have died without even doing any jumping, but the ‘bu got us there. And it was well worth the harrowing drive, and the really freakin’ HOT hike down to the river:

Finally, we came to the end of the ridiculous dirt road. There were other cars, so we knew we had to be in the area. Yes, it's as hot as it looks...

Finally, we came to the end of the ridiculous dirt road. Other cars had made it before us, so we knew we had to be in the area. And yes, it’s as hot as it looks; 100 on the nose, to be exact…

For the record we did NOT do any jumping; this might be the apocalypse, but none of us has a death wish, thank you. We stayed in the pool and on the rock slides well above the cliff. I couldn’t even bear to go watch people jump, it was that insane. And there really is no need for any of that extreme stuff here anyway because THIS IS THE MOST AMAZING STRETCH OF BIG STAN WE’VE DISCOVERED YET:

Just one small stretch of awesome around Candy Rock.

Just one small patch of awesome around Candy Rock.

Now, we won’t be telling you how to get there; you’ll have to come with us. In the meantime, I am feeling much less sad about the pine trees and the future of our planet. See?

Happy outdoor family, courtesy of Marlene.

Happy outdoor family, courtesy of Marlene.



Chillaxation, under a huge rock.

Chillaxing, under a huge rock.

Complete and utter chillaxation.

Complete and utter chillaxation.

Now watch Marlene go down the rock slide!


Oh – was I upset about something? I don’t remember…

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6 thoughts on “Bark Beetle: The Saga Continues

  1. Margaret Wisniewski says:

    The “Saga of the Bark Beetle” has a happy ending! Yes, nature has a way of righting things that go off course, and we need to step back and let it happen. I am sad to see beautiful living things die, too, but there is always growth and learning that comes from it. You reconnected with an old friend, you are planning a forest for the future, PG&E doesn’t suck, and you had a wonderful revelation floating in that cool pond of river water nestled in the rocks. Stop. Turn off your brain, and just bask in the moment and the beauty of the icy clear water and the steaming hot rocks. Enjoy the contrast. Enjoy the peace, Enjoy the companionship. Enjoy the fact that we are all still here and there is more to come.

    P.S. Tell Marlene I love her style.
    P.S.S. I love the description of your brain. Chuckle.

    Love you!

  2. Ellen says:

    What a beautiful, fun spot!! I’m glad it washed away your woes. I’ll be putting candy rock on my must-go list!

  3. […] Rockin’ out at Candy Rock. […]

  4. […] Climate change is motherf#@%in’ REAL motherf#@%ers. It’s all around us here in California. The sea is rising, the rain has stopped falling (El Niño didn’t end the drought, you non-reading people), the ground is sinking, the wells are dry, the fires are raging, and the forests are dying. […]

  5. […] beetle-struck trees are all dead – just over a dozen of […]

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