MY EVEREST: THIRTY YEARS OF SAN DIEGO HIKING (WITH DOGS!) – MARTHA KENNEDY

My Everest: Thirty Years of San Diego
Hiking (With Dogs!)

Kindle and Paperback
August 29, 2017
Author: Martha Kennedy

I don’t like reviewing books written by friends.

What if I don’t like it? Will they hate me if I can’t give them a great review? Authors take book reviews personally. We aren’t supposed to, but our books are personal. I can’t think of anything in my world more personal to me than the (one) book I wrote. Apparently, no matter how many books you write, you will continue to feel that way about all of them. They are your babies, your little love children.

My everest martha kennedyI wasn’t too worried about this one, though. I’ve read other books by Martha and I liked them. I’ve always liked Martha’s writing (if you don’t read her blog, you should), especially when she is writing about her dogs. When this when came out, I dashed over to Amazon and immediately bought a copy. Then I got bogged down with other stuff and didn’t start to read it until a few days ago.

This is a wonderful book. It’s so very good, I hardly know where to begin raving about it.

back cover my everest martha kennedyThis isn’t just a book. It isn’t about hiking (despite its title) in the San Diego hills with your dogs. This is a book about finding what is real and what matters. It’s about discovering the world is God and you are part of it. It’s about recognizing all living things having an equal right to be on this planet. It’s about learning how tiny we are while expanding to be part of the hugeness of life.

“My Everest” is a beautiful book. It is profound and thoughtful. I found myself putting it down to leave myself time to think about it and what it meant to me. I don’t do that. Really. I don’t. I just read. This was different.

Truffle and Molly in the Medicine Wheel

“My Everest” is not one of those silly books about searching for yourself, either. Martha has found what I also found — that we are where we should be and we are in the right place. Our job is to enjoy it. Fully. See it, feel it, absorb it, love it. Be part of the all-in-all. Fly with the buzzards and the hawks. Get warmth from the earth with the rattlesnakes. Watch eternity roll by with the rocks.

This is not self-revelatory narcissism. It reaches out and says “I love you” to everyone and everything. It’s not offering you rules to follow so you can walk the same path. There is no path. “My Everest” is about joy and sanctuary , the world that Martha Kennedy and her many dogs found in the Chaparral in San Diego.

Taking the world hiking.

Those hills and mountains were her place. The suggestion is implicit that any place can be your place. You don’t have to go to those specific hills or mountains. The important thing is that there is a place — your place — that brings you that full measure of contentment.

I don’t think I can explain it any better except to say I loved the dogs and the mountains. I love the people she met on the way. The young people she brought with her to hike the hills. In good weather and bad.

I loved how she loved her dogs, yet understood that when they passed, that was how it had to be. Because we live, we pass — humans , dogs and all that lives.

The Models – Two magnificent huskies

This is not the kind of book I would have normally sought to read, but I’m incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to read it. In many way, for me, “My Everest” is a prayer and a hope for a world gone wrong. I don’t find a lot of hope — or any kind of prayers — in 2018’s world.

I most fervently recommend you read this book.


It’s available on Kindle for the extravagant price of $3.00 and in paperback for the break-the-bank price of $7.00. I have it on Kindle and when my next Social Security check arrives, I will get the paperback, too.


I want to be sure it is in the bookcase with other books I love too much to leave in the cloud.

CLOSE TO HOME TOO

Matthiessen State Park day trip, by Rich Paschall


When you are heading out on your Day Trip, you may wish to take a long a few provisions.  On our recent trip, my friend and I took a small flexible cooler with some water and flavored water.   Then we dropped into the pockets some granola bars, chewy bars of something and some small pieces of chocolate or something.  They were just quick snacks.  If you plan to visit some picnic grounds, it is a bigger production and you should plan in advance and start earlier.  We are not so organized so our lunch was at the concession stand and our dinner was at Culver’s on the way home.

Our main goal of the day trip was Starved Rock State Park.  This spot is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Illinois and rival’s Chicago’s Navy Pier in surveys of the best places to visit.  This may seem a bit odd to those outside the state who know of Chicago only.  We must do a lot of state park advertising in neighboring states.

After our view from the top of the famous rock, my travel companion was interested in heading down into the canyon and seeing at least one of the waterfalls. I confess that I was totally unaware of the next stop of the day.  It is not as well-known.

Just a few miles south of Starved Rock State Park is Matthiessen State Park.  I did not want to disappoint my friend on his quest to find an Illinois waterfall, so we took the short drive down Illinois State Route 178 and found the entrance to this wonderland of flora and fauna.

French fort

Frederick William Matthiessen had acquired 176 acres of land here in the late 1800s where he built the private Deer Park.  In it he constructed trails, stairs, bridges, and dams.  The private buildings of his estate are gone now, perhaps a sad decision, but the park does contain a reconstruction of a fort like the ones the French built in the 1600s.  After Matthiessen’s death the land was donated to the state.  Additional land was acquired and the park is now a sprawling 1700 acres.

Going down
A peek at our destination.

The fort marks the beginning of the hiking trails that will lead you down into the canyons.  The trails are well-marked and you will not get lost, even though there are many choices along the way.  There are two waterfalls you may wish to see in the upper and lower dells.  I guess we chose the closer one in deference to my considerably slower pace.   You can head up the trail to Matthiessen Lake and Lake Falls or down into the canyon and the “wishing well” and Cascade Falls.

Above the falls

We had already gone down a long way when we got the view of Cascade Falls from above.  We could see some hardy souls had made the descent, and we decided to head down the trail until we found the stair way that would take us the rest of the way down.

Sandstone walls

A stream runs from Lake Matthiessen down to Vermilion River.  Over the centuries a waterway carved out the canyon revealing the sandstone walls.  The minerals in the water have added to the coloring of the sandstone. The mineral springs on the land are also an attraction for the large deer population.

We followed the stream through the canyon until we decided the only safe route was not through slippery paths and mud, but along the stream.  We took off our shoes and socks and wondered  on our way.  We saw others trying not to get mud on their shoes, without much success.  You would have to cross water to get to the falls.  After the long trip down, we were going to make it all the way.

Cascade Falls

OK, it is no Niagara Falls, but it is hidden in a canyon and unique to our state.  It was a wonderful exploration of what nature can offer us here.  We were pleased with the pleasant nature trails and the variety of plants and trees to be seen.

The state park also has horse back riding trails, biking trails, an archery range and large picnic grounds.  It is a great place for family and friends to enjoy nature.

Late Afternoon sun on the canyon walls

Because of its proximity to Plum Island sanctuary, you may be lucky enough to spot a bald eagle here in late fall and winter.  I was lucky enough to share this adventure with a good friend, and that is all that really matters to me.  Get out on a day trip with friends and enjoy the world around you.

Related: CLOSE TO HOME, Day Trip

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Lines to Patterns – White Mountain Bridge

75-WhiteMountainBridge-01

Just outside of Lincoln, New Hampshire, high in the White Mountains, a footbridge leads you into the woods onto a hiking trail. If you follow the trail, you will eventually find yourself at the top of one of the highest mountains in the region, a place where altitude equals weather and whatever you know in the lowlands is no longer true.