Like most local homes, ours only cools down during the night when we have these serious hot spells. Otherwise, we start melting inside about noon. I keep considering a swamp cooler for our house because it can become unbearable at times.

Saturday, after my son and I cooked breakfast for the family and cleaned up the kitchen, we contemplated something fun to do as a group. We considered going to the Idyllwild Arts pool, Lake Hemet to either swim or fish, or Thousand Trails to swim.

Instead, for some crazy reason and after too much time in discussion, we decided to take a hike on Sawmill Flat Road across from our house. We popped into our shoes, grabbed some water bottles and sunscreen, then headed across the highway. By then, it was after 1 p.m. Stone Creek flowed gently, producing cool air and overhead trees shaded the walk the first quarter of a mile or so.

After crossing the creek, the shaded areas became sparser. The sun beat down monstrously. Jack, Zac and grandson Carter were able to keep a good pace but granddaughter Evey and I fell behind — more and more. The trail is moderate to difficult at times, and other times, it is easy. Some hills are treacherous from their long, steep grades and years of erosion.

One in particular evokes thoughts of mules or horses and wagons ascending those steep inclines to collect timber in the early 1900s and the perilous descent back down.

Luckily for me and Evey, Zac and Carter found many reasons to stop along the way so we could rest in shade and sip water. Dad and son love to boulder and discovered a large boulder field along the trail to try another time. Snow plants boldly spotted the hillsides and a rusty old can, possibly left over from logging days, gave rise to the kids’ curiosities.

We continued climbing as the afternoon continued heating up. Our goal was Sawmill Flats as I had not seen it since my own kids were young. But then, we made a smart decision. Considering how overheated we looked to each other and how little water was left, unanimously, we all turned around and headed back home, deciding to return another day with better planning, such as bringing our Camelback packs full of water and energy food, and launching out in the morning vs. the afternoon.

All-in-all, we managed 4 miles round-trip, coming within 1/3 of a mile from the flat. My legs are still sore.

The following day, after breakfast, no one questioned that while Jack watched the U.S. Open, Zac, I and the kids threw on our swimsuits, grabbed towels and sunscreen and headed to the Idyllwild Arts pool after stopping at the Transfer Station to unload trash.

The car’s outside temperature read 90˚. We arrived at the pool expecting most of Idyllwild and campus campers to be cooling off inside. But, very few folk were there in the afternoon. Two lifeguards for four people. Carter practiced his swimming and Evey practiced learning to swim. We soaked our achy legs in the cool water until we became prunes, then left, bought food and came home to barbecue outside while that hot sun set.

Becky Clark, Editor