A lot of my hikes end up being all-encompassing affairs. I have to wake up early, pack a few things, drive for awhile to some trailhead, meet up with a larger group, head off on some half-marathon-length hike including plenty of leisurely stops for food and carousing, and then often hang out after the hike at a bar for some post-hike drinks to savor the experience. And then there’s the drive home. The result is that it’s not unusual for a hike to turn into a 12-hour outing, if not more. Some days, I just don’t have the time for that.

Last weekend was one of those times when I had things to do, places to see, games to watch, etc., etc., etc. What to do? I like exploring in my proverbial backyard so I headed to Windsor, a few miles north of Santa Rosa and home of an excellent candy shop as well as a few other things. A ranch high up in the hills overlooking Windsor is where I obtain all my firewood so it’s an area I’m starting to know.

What I didn’t know was much about Shiloh Ranch Regional Park. It’s a county park that
has about three miles of trails over some small, rolling hills. Well, not really hills, but nice little climbs.

It’s an easy spot to get to, and there are a few different choices of what paths to take. On our hike, we were trodding on a rare, non-rainy day of the past couple of weeks, so the ground was very muddy and the footing was unsteady. It meant that we had to move a little slower, and had to watch our footing even more closely. (I’ve already been pretty much of a steady-walker ever since the whole she-broke-her-ankle-in-two-places episode…)

The result was that instead of flying around the trails, it took a couple of hours. Starting out, the views of the adjacent vineyards are terrific, and then going around the property, there are some nice vistas heading in different directions. A few other people were out walking around, as were some horseback riders.

Having lived in the Deep (deep, deep, deep) South for 12 years before moving here, I know all about the Civil War, and even know about the Battle of Shiloh, which of course took place in Tennessee in 1862. According to the county parks sign at Shiloh Ranch, the area is named thusly because so many of the original settlers came from the South. I haven’t noticed any Southern twang-ish accents so I suppose the assimilation is pretty complete. That battle actually turned into a pivotal moment in U.S. history as the Confederates were unable to block those Northerners from advancing into Mississippi, and while it took three more years of fighting, that was the beginning of the end of the war. Depending on your point of view at the time (and I guess even in the present day), that was either bad news or good news.

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