NIPINNAWASEE – For two years now, with ninety stories and counting, outdoor enthusiast Candace Gregory has been deftly guiding SNO readers through the Sierra and beyond, writing about her escapades as she hikes, fishes and meanders with trusty canine companion, Sally.
The author likes to think of her work as “an exploration in progress.”
First published in October, 2012, “Adventures with Candace: Living, Thriving and Surviving in the Foothills,” sometimes includes Candace’s mom, who, with dad, took Candace camping as a kid. Her friends are often in the mix, as well.
After retiring from Cal Fire three years ago, Candace found she had more time beneath her feet than before, and was doing lots of hiking with companions who were constantly taking pictures. The photo-habit rubbed off on Candace, who began to document her travels, taking photographs on the way. She decided to write a blog for Sierra News Online, running about once a week, and it’s been a joy to read since its inception.
When Candace writes up a story, the reader goes along for the ride, exploring the nooks, crannies and notable history of each place she visits, while she lets us in on all the pertinent details, including maps, elevation, secret charms, and often the whereabouts of the nearest, cleanest porta-potty.
As readers have chimed in, the blog has evolved to include maps, ease and length of hike, and more. One of the great things about Candace’s perspective is that her hikes take on a life of their own, whether the day offers clouds, rain, mining history, or the ever-changing flora and fauna of the area.
Candace hikes more than she blogs, and says she tries to take an adventure per week, noting that her mom is her biggest critic, never failing to let her know if there are too many pictures of Sally. Many think there’s no such thing as “too many pictures of Sally,” as Candace has fans whose best friends are the four-legged kind. It’s been suggested that Sally has her own fan club.
Sally may be popular, but it’s Candace who keeps her in kibble and is well-suited to the chronicler’s task, especially when it comes to the natural world: Candace studied both journalism and forestry, graduating from Humboldt State University in 1980 with a degree in Forest Science.
Following graduation, Candace went to work with Cal Fire full time, eventually writing newsworthy columns in her position as Battalion Chief for the mountain areas including Big Bear, Crestline, and Lake Arrowhead.
At the apex of her career with Cal Fire, Candace was chief of a region that runs from Sacramento to the Mexican border. Throughout that time, she traveled frequently for work, having offices in both Fresno and Riverside.
Part of what she loved about that job, in addition to the opportunity to work with cooperators in emergency services, was the challenge of matching the right equipment to the specific need of the situation at hand. It’s like a puzzle, she says, and Candace likes puzzles.
That’s why she’s drawn to the real history of the areas she frequents, and especially to the characters — the people — who populate the past. Candace has an enduring interest in genealogy, starting with her own and radiating out from there.
“I love the hikes that have history, where you can poke into it, then poke into it a little more,” she confesses.
SNO publisher Gina Clugston says she always looks forward to Candace’s next adventure. “It’s so helpful to know what to expect when someone wants to set out on a hike they’ve never taken before – what the terrain is like, how steep is the trail, how good is the fishing,” Clugston adds. “She also introduces her readers to new places they may not have been aware of.”
Candace says she is inspired by the landscape. “We’re so lucky to live where we live, three hours to the ocean or Mono Lake. The most special thing is we have all four seasons.” Her photographs of all four seasons are beautiful to behold, and she does it all with a point-and-shoot camera.
“The best thing is the incredible photos Candace shares,” says publisher Clugston. “Even if you can’t make the trip, it’s still an amazing travel log. She often visits the same location during different seasons, showing the wildflowers and various denizens of the forest throughout the year. Being a lover of local history, I always appreciate learning something new about the areas she visits, complete with links to interesting websites, so one can learn more.”
Candace simply hopes her musings will encourage others to take their dogs out for a walk and see what they find. Among the best parts of having the blog is that people are looking at it, she says, and may have realized, “there is great beauty out there to enjoy. They say, ‘thanks for the info, going to get there,’ and if it inspires people to take a drive through the park, or up through the neighborhood, that’s great.”
Sierra News Online was originally created to be a platform for people like Candace, who live in the area and have a desire to express themselves in words and pictures, or maps and links.
“Her blogs are exactly what we were looking for when we launched this website with the tagline, ‘Tell Us Your Story,’” Clugston recalls.
Candace will continue to tell us her stories for the foreseeable future, and says right now, she is striving to get some mud on her boots.
“I’m hoping we get a nice wet winter and fall. I want to put on my snowshoes and take pictures in wet places with Sally!”
Stay tuned for more.
Read some of Candace’s recent blogs:
Check out all Candace’s blogs on her page, Adventures With Candace: Living, Thriving and Surviving in the Foothills