Thank President Trump and his Deplorable supporters for a future without Chocolate and Coffee

My January blues didn’t kick in until I read these stories.  All chocolate lovers and/or addicts take a long, deep calming breath before reading further … especially if you are young enough to be still around in thirty-two years.

The Mirror reports, “World could RUN OUT of chocolate by 2050 as cacao plants struggle to cope with effects of climate change.”

Sigh, and Business Insider says, “Most of the world’s best places for coffee will be gone by 2050” because of the climate change that isn’t happening according to U.S. President and Liar-in-Chief Donald Trump (who made 1,950 false or misleading claims over 347 days).

After all, Trump is the deplorable idiot that is convinced global warming and climate change is a hoax. Do you think he will be around in 2050?

Imagine a world without chocolate and coffee.

That’s just 32 years from now.

Wait, I don’t think I will be around in 2050. I’d have to be 104 to reach 2050. Maybe I won’t have to live without chocolate and coffee during my lifetime. but I think I should start stockpiling a supply now so it lasts to my last breath even after the shortages begin and the prices skyrocket until only billionaires — that are getting most of the tax cuts from Trump and the Republican Party — will be able afford the luxury of chocolate and coffee.


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam combat veteran with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

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Columns of Ants Invaded Right on Schedule

The season for invading ants arrived, and the best defense I’ve been using for decades is an environment friendly attack with help from Trader Joes.

For decades, I’ve suspected it was the weather and years ago I stumbled on the best method, for me, to control the ant invasions.  I spray the ants with Trader Joes Fruit and Vegetable Wash.  It kills the ants the instant the spray hits them and ants that enter later tend to avoid the area that was sprayed because it appears that just walking across TJ’s F&V Wash while it is still wet is enough to not only disrupt the trail but kill those ants too.  If you can find the entry point and spray that, it forces the ants to find another way in or they don’t return.

I don’t use pesticides inside my house. Can’t stand the stuff. Instead, I use TJ’s Fruit and Vegetable Wash and it is non-toxic.  I learned about this product designed to safely clean what we eat by accident. I grabbed the only spray in sight and haven’t stopped using it since. The neat thing is: it is formulated to remove waxes, pesticides, and chemicals.

After decades of winning these invasions and driving the ants out of my houses, curious, I finally Googled the topic to find out if my suspicions were correct, and discovered from a study out of Stanford that they were.

The Stanford News Service reports, “Household ant invasions are determined by weather, not pesticide use, new study finds … “Ants are most likely to enter homes in cold, wet conditions, typically in the winter in Northern California,” they write, noting that a smaller peak in the level of infestation occurs during hot, dry conditions — typically in August and September.”


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam combat veteran with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.


Donald Trump is a Real Threat to the Survival of the Human Species

Alan Singer at the Huffington Post writes about the Trump Team Revives McCarthyism in War on the Environment.  Singer writes, “Climate change deniers argue that the Earth’s climate sensitivity is so low that humans can use the atmosphere as a garbage dump pumping out carbon dioxide without worrying about global warming. Donald Trump has called climate change a ‘hoax’ and tweeted that ‘global warming’ is a plot by the Chinese ‘to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.’”

Here’s what I have a problem with. I can’t understand why almost everyone from both sides of the climate change issue only focuses on climate change and/or global warming, and ignores all of the other damage caused by the products of the fossil fuel industry: coal, oil, gasoline, diesel, etc.

Let’s take a break from flogging the ignorant, deplorable climate change deniers like Donald Trump, and his deplorable supporters and focus on the other dangers caused by the fossil fuel industry that can’t be denied.

Carbon emissions are also toxic to human health and lifespans.  Without efforts to clean the air, this threat to our health will only increase.

A study from Stanford linked carbon dioxide emissions to increased deaths.

Acid rain, caused by fossil fuel emissions, kills life in lakes, rivers, the oceans, damages top soil, and cuts crop yields, etc.

The Policy Almanac reports, “Acid rain causes acidification of lakes and streams and contributes to damage of trees at high elevations (for example, red spruce trees above 2,000 feet) and many sensitive forest soils. In addition, acid rain accelerates the decay of building materials and paints, including irreplaceable buildings, statues, and sculptures that are part of our nation’s cultural heritage. Prior to falling to the earth, SO2 and NOx gases and their particulate matter derivatives, sulfates and nitrates, contribute to visibility degradation and harm public health.”

Then there is Carbon Monoxide poising. If you are the fossil fuel industry, Kremlin candidate like Donald Trump is, and you deny this danger, then I want you to sleep in your car with the engine running in a closed garage. Plan your funeral before you try that out.

The gains we learn about from this video is in danger from Donald Trump, and his deplorable followers

The CDC teaches us all about the symptoms of CO poisoning.

The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. CO symptoms are often described as “flu-like.” If you breathe in a lot of CO it can make you pass out or kill you. People who are sleeping or drunk can die from CO poisoning before they have symptoms.

Who is at risk from CO poisoning?

Everyone is at risk for CO poisoning. Infants, the elderly, people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or breathing problems are more likely to get sick from CO. Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning not linked to fires, more than 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized.

Then there is acidification of Earth’s oceans that are crucial to our health and survival as a species.

National Geographic teaches us that “For tens of millions of years, Earth’s oceans have maintained a relatively stable acidity level. It’s within this steady environment that the rich and varied web of life in today’s seas has arisen and flourished. But research shows that this ancient balance is being undone by a recent and rapid drop in surface pH that could have devastating global consequences.”

There is also another balancing act taking place inside of our bodies that’s even more sensitive and explains why the average lifespan in the United States has reversed.

Humans also have a pH balance just like the environment, and if the pH balances of the environment we live in changes, the pH balance inside our body is at risk. The results are rampant disease and significantly reduced lifespan.

If you don’t believe that our pH balance is important, explain why Living Near Freeways Hurts Kids’ lungs.

The Washington Post reports, “Children growing up alongside freeways risk having their lung development impaired, which can increase the likelihood of serious respiratory diseases later in life, researchers report.”

“Exposure from tailpipe emissions from motor vehicles potentially carries chronic health risks to children’s lung development,” said lead researcher W. James Gauderman, an assistant professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. “We found that kids who live closer to freeways had significantly less lung capacity, compared with kids who lived further from freeways.”

And Donald Trump’s administration wants to get rid of the Environmental Protection Agency that protects all of us, not just the balance of the Earth’s environment that we all need to survive. Climate change/global warming is one thing but what about the survival of the human species and life as we know it that’s being ignored?  I have no doubts that if only the earth was warming up, some humans would survive somewhere on the planet but no humans will survive if the delicate balance that supports our existence is destroyed.

I don’t think most if any rich people live near freeways and since so many of the wealthy are narcissists and psychopaths, they have no empathy for the suffering of children and families that live near freeways.

Why did the fossil fuel industry focus only on climate change and ignore all the other dangers that their products pose to life on Earth?

The evidence is overwhelming that climate change denial was a tactic to get our minds off of all the other dangers the fossil fuel industry’s products cause to our health, the quality of life, and our very existence.

U.S. life expectancy declines for the first time since 1993.

Who stops Donald Trump will go down in the history books as a global hero or heroes?


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Crazy is Normal promotional image with blurbs

Where to Buy

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy followed by his award winning memoir Crazy is Normal.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

I agree with Hillary Clinton when it comes to closing down the dirty, dangerous coal-mining industry

I watched this disturbing interview on Yahoo News this morning that made Hillary Clinton look horrible and insensitive, because she said, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”

I agree with Hillary Clinton, because coal is a dangerous, polluting industry, and it’s time for that industry to fade into history. Just watch the videos in this post to learn why the United States would be better off without coal.

How many jobs are we talking about?

There are approximately 174,000 blue-collar, full-time, permeant jobs related to coal in the U.S.: mining (83,000), transportation (31,000), and power plant employment (60,000).”  –

Let’s compare the loss of those 174,000 jobs to another factor that is getting rid of human jobs. I’m not talking about China. I’m talking about automation, because VOA reports “The United States lost 3.2 million jobs to China between 2001 and 2013, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Three-fourths of those jobs were in manufacturing. About 60 percent of the reshored jobs (jobs returning to the U.S. because of rising labor costs in other countries) between 2000 and 2015 came from China.”

Forbes reported that millions of jobs have been lost to automation and millions more will be lost.

CNN Money reports, “Technology could kill 5 million jobs by 2020.”

MIT Technology Review explains How Technology Is Destroying Jobs.  “Improved industrial robotics to automated translation services—are largely behind the sluggish employment growth of the last 10 to 15 years. … Job growth suddenly slowed in 2000, while productivity remained robust.”

Learn about Deadly Black Lung Disease

According to, in September 2016, there were 124.75 million Americans working at full time jobs. Jobs in the dangerous, unhealthy, environmentally polluting coal industry in the U.S. represents about 0.14 percent of the total number of jobs in America.

What about jobs that are replacing those lost in the coal industry?

Did you know that “According to The Solar Foundation, as of November 2014, the solar energy industry provided 173,807 direct jobs. This is a 21.8 percent increase in solar jobs from November 2013. Overall, solar jobs growth accounted for 1.3 percent of all new U.S. jobs in 2014. Factoring in indirect and induced job impacts, which amount to 531,200 additional jobs, total employment in the solar energy sector exceeds 705,000 jobs.” – Environmental and Energy Study Institute

And that’s just in the solar industry. “The Ecotech Institute used the Bureau of Labor Statistics definition of a green job to calculate the number of clean job openings in 2014. The organization found a 13 percent increase in clean job openings from 2013 to 2014, from 3.6 million clean job openings in 2013 to 3.8 million openings in 2014. The institute estimates that there were 1.2 million clean job openings in the first three months of 2015.”

Instead of attacking Hillary Clinton for wanting to get rid of the dangerous, dirty coal industry, and replace that industry with jobs in green renewable energy, why aren’t we protesting jobs lost to robots and automation?

I know its scary to lose a job and start over, but how many industries and jobs vanished in the last century to be replaced with something new?

To give you an idea, here are a few from copy boy, log driver, lamplighter, pinsetter, switchboard operator, telegraph operator, ice cutter, ice delivery, Dictaphone operator, typing pool, newspaper typesetter, elevator operator, mimeograph operator, and street sweeper. I’m sure this list is much longer if we dig deeper.

Did you know that in 1910, farmers made up 15 percent of the workforce and farm labor made up more than 15 percent (for more than a third of the jobs in the U.S.), but today that number is down to about 2 percent for both farmers and farm labor? –

It’s time for the coal mining industry to go out of business for good. Welcome to the world of lost jobs, for humans.


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).


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Seeing “The Martian” Two Times in Three Days

The title of this post could have been “Self-published author hits it big thanks to Mars.”

I have seen this film twice and plan to see it again soon a third time, and when the DVD comes out, I’ll buy the film and also watch it at home. The first time I saw the film was on Friday, October 2, and the second time was Sunday, October 4, and I enjoyed it even more the second time around.

Next, I plan to buy the book and read it. Hopefully, I’ll find it on CDs and listen to the audio version instead.

This is the first time in my 70 years of life that I’ve seen the same film twice at a theater. I have seen “The Lord of the Rings” three times but only once in a theater. The other two times, I watched it at home. I’ve also watched “Avatar” once in a theater and then again at home after I bought the DVD.

I’m an avid reader, who has read “The Lord of the Rings” three times and the entire Horatio Hornblower Series by C. S. Forester two times, and I am also a film addict who is easily entertained, but this is the first film that I want to watch repeatedly.

“The Martian” started out as a 2011 science fiction novel and the first published novel by American author Andy Weir. It was originally self-published in 2011. In March 2013, Twentieth Century Fox optioned the film rights.

Then in 2014, Crown Publishing purchased the rights to the novel and re-released it the same year. The story follows an American astronaut, Mark Watney, as he becomes stranded alone on Mars and must improvise in order to survive.  The Martian, a film adaptation, was directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain.

Since I’ve seen the film and haven’t read the book—YET—I’m going to copy a few pull quotes from reviews that I agree with.

“A great movie! It’s exciting, emotional, it has great storytelling and most of all, it’s surprising!” –Edgardo Resendiz, Reforma

“This is science fiction for sophisticated audiences and, as such, a fulfilling and satisfying experience.” – James Berardinelli, Reel Views

“What’s so stirring about the film is that, before and after everything else, it truly is about being human” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

“The Martian is fueled by charm, curiosity and the scientific method.” – Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News

The Martian should do far more than just make Fox a ton of money; it could conceivably rekindle interest in the space program and inspire a new generation of future astronauts.” – Peter Debruge, Variety

“Superior to both Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and (by a smaller margin) Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity,” – Matt Brunson, Creative Loafing

“Easily one of the most engrossing, enthralling and entertaining films of the year … In essence, The Martian is the antithesis of a superhero movie; instead of one man trying to save the world, it’s about the world trying to save one man.” – Jim Schembri, 3AW

I’d share my favorite scenes but there were too many and that would more than double the word count of this post. It is often rare for media critics and the audience to agree on anything, but on Rotten Tomatoes, “The Martian” has an approval rating of 93% for all of the critics and 94% for the audience. Heck, even a New York Times critic liked the film, and that’s a rare event for any film or book.

Manohla Dargis, the NY Times critic, starts out with, “A space western and a blissed-out cosmic high, ‘The Martian’ stars Matt Damon as an American astronaut who, like a latter-day Robinson Crusoe, learns to survive on his own island of despair. At once epic and intimate, it involves a dual journey into outer and inner space, a trip that takes you into that immensity called the universe and deep into the equally vast landscape of a single consciousness.”


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Promotion Graphic OCT 2015

Where to Buy

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy followed by his award winning memoir Crazy is Normal.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

The 1.6 Ton Concrete Stairway Procrastination Project

One challenge living in a house built on a steep hillside offers is erosion. From the street to the top of the property, I’ve estimated it’s about seven stories or seventy feet of elevation gain.

The erosion I’m talking about had washed enough dirt away from the southwest foundation of the house over the decades to expose the bottom of the concrete and allow the ivy to grow under the house in addition to letting rats move in too.

The erosion, ivy and rats led to this concrete stairway project on the southwest side of the house that I started on April 10, when I cleared away the thick ivy and ended almost four months later on August 1, 2015, with a 2nd coat of stucco in those areas where there were no steps or sidewalk. To show what I’m talking about, I’ve included nine photographs after the text of this post.

There is a double explanation for adding the word procrastination to the title. One reason is that I’ve known for several years that this job had to be done, and the second was that it was a great excuse to escape Twitter—my experience is that when you spend too much time on Twitter, it squeezes all the energy out of your brain until it refuses to function—and working on the rough draft of my next novel, The Last Sorcerer.  The next image is a working cover for the first book in a planned five-part series.

Book One on July 20 - 2015

In total, I worked on the concrete stairway project for nineteen days and 63 hours for an average of about 3.3 hours on each working day. When I started, I thought I’d be able to work the long 12 to 16 hours days of hard labor I worked when I was age 30 – 40, but I quickly learned that wasn’t going to be the case. At almost 70, when you work this hard, you quickly feel the damage age contributes.

The first damage was to my elbows from swinging a pick and sledge hammer to break up the hard packed clay—clay soil is difficult to work in dry or wet. I solved this later by using a heavy duty hammer drill and a wide chisel bit.

After that first and last 6-hour work day on April 14, I took a two-week break to let both elbows recover. The damage to the right elbow was worse than the left one. On April 15, I couldn’t move that arm or hold a pen to write, and it took the next fourteen days before I felt it was safe to continue working on the project.

Eventually, on May 22, I visited Big-5 and bought two, one-piece neoprene Pro Elbow Support sleeves that dramatically helped speed up the healing process and alleviated the pain so I could get back to work more often. I still don’t know why the elbow supports worked but they did.

By the time I finished the project, I had poured 19 bags of gravel that weighed a total of 950 pounds and mixed 41-bags of concrete (2,260 pounds based on dry weight). I have no idea how much that concrete weighed once it was wet, but I carried it up the hill in buckets from the mixing pan.

The receipts for the project reveal that I made thirteen supply runs, and I did not add in the hours spent driving to Home Depot to buy the material necessary to finish the work. If each supply run took 2.5 hours (a guestimate), then that added another 32.5 hours bringing the total to almost 96 hours.

Here are the nine photographs that show several stages of the project from near the beginning to the end, and writing this post gave me another excuse to avoid working on the last chapter in the first novel of The Last Sorcerer series.

Stairway Project One

Stairway Project Two

Stairway Project Three

Stairway Project Five

Stairway Project Six

Stairway Project Seven

Stairway Project Eight

Stairway Project Nine Stairway Project Ten


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy followed by his award winning memoir Crazy is Normal . His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Two former Marines take a hike on Old Baldy that was almost as Lethal as Leukemia

We were about to discover that you don’t have to climb Mount Everest to face danger in the mountains.

Near the end of the 20th century, two former U.S. Marines, Lloyd (me) and Marshall, decided to climb a mountain they’d conquered many times, but this climb was different, because they had no idea when they started up Mount San Antonio in Los Angeles County’s San Gabriel Mountains that they’d almost freeze, and the harsh wind would work hard to rip them from the mountainside, and Marshal would lose his footing on black ice and slide down a steep slope toward a two-thousand foot vertical drop and almost certain death.

Our goal that Saturday had been to climb to the top of the highest mountain in the San Gabriel Mountains that soared above Los Angeles to a dizzy height of 10,069’. As we climbed, the sky above the mountain was capped with dark gray clouds, and we were bundled in cold weather gear, but the wind cut through our clothing with icy razors.  The trail we were on climbed past the Sierra Club’s ski hut, and the higher we climbed the more snow was stuck to the ground, until, above the ski hut and beyond a field of giant boulders, the thick white crusty powder obscured the trail that led to the top.

From where we had parked the car in Baldy Village, the elevation gain to the top was almost 6,000 feet covering a distance of 4.5 miles to the summit. The return trip was just as daunting.

There are three trails that I know of to the top of that peak, and I’ve used two of them several times. The other one I’ve climbed covers an 11.3 mile loop and crosses the Devil’s Backbone—a narrow ridge with sheer drops on both sides that fall several thousand feet. I’ve been told that on days like this one when the wind blows brutal, hikers have been known to crawl on all fours to cross that stretch.

On an average Saturday when there wasn’t a storm threatening, hundreds of hikers using all three trails would have been climbing to the top of Baldy, Mount San Antonio’s alias, but today, we saw no one.

Mount San Antonio – Skiing the North Face

To understand how treacherous and dangerous this mountain could be, I’m going to take you back to 1967 when I was still in the Marines and stationed at Camp Pendleton. Several Marines in my unit were from New York State, and they often criticized California for being too flat, hot and snowless. “You have no idea what the four seasons are like,” one of them kept telling me. “You live in a desert.”

Tired of their ribbing, I challenged the three New Yorkers with:  “You want mountains and snow, pack up your gear and come home with me one weekend this winter and I’ll drop you off on a mountain where you’ll find plenty of both.” It’s worth mentioning that in New York State the highest summit is Mount Marcy at 5,343 feet, and the winters New York State experiences almost everywhere, California gets in its higher elevations.

I dropped the winter hardened New Yorkers off at Mount Baldy Village (elevation 4,193 feet) late Friday evening. Sunday morning at 3:00 AM, the phone in my parent’s house rang.  It turned out that my fellow Marines had climbed halfway up the mountain beyond the village and pitched their shelters among the old growth trees and crawled inside their sleeping bags. Saturday morning they opened their eyes to a white out and a blizzard. To survive the freezing temperatures, they started a fire and sparks set their shelters on fire burning up their sleeping bags and backpacks with all their military issued gear. With no visibility because of the blizzard, they stumbled down the mountain bouncing off trees and tripping on boulders and were fortunate to reach the Mount Baldy Lodge without suffering any serious injuries or frostbite. After that weekend, they never complained to me about California again.

More than twenty years later, Marshall and I were climbing the same snow covered mountain with a threatening storm closing in, and the trail, a series of switchbacks that climbed the mountain through the old growth trees clinging to its steep slopes, was buried under thick, crusty, hard snow.  “If we go this way,” I said, “we might get lost,” and thought that we could also end up on black ice and that could be the end of us. As steep as the slopes were on much of Baldy face, a fall might be lethal.

Marshall pointed up the steepest slope that we would have never considered climbing during the summer when there was no snow. “What about following whoever made that stairway in the snow to the top?” he asked.

He was right. Someone wearing ski boots had trekked straight up the steepest side of the mountain, where there were no trees—probably due to the annual avalanches—and had used their boots to stamp foot sized steps in the deep, crusty snow.  Following those footsteps, we went straight up. Halfway to the top and hopefully the trail, if we could find it, I stopped and looked back.  It was a dizzying drop to the bottom where the house sized boulders at the base now looked like peas. After that glance, I leaned a bit more into the mountain and carefully placed my booted feet in each imprint the skiers had left behind.

Skiers often climbed this mountain with their skis strapped to their backs and then ski that wide bowl shaped side of the mountain down to the Sierra Ski hut. If they started early, they might get in several runs before dark. There was no ski lift. To ski this mountain, you had to carry all your gear on foot to the top each time.

At the top of that slope, the wind was brutal and we still had about a half mile to go to reach the peak. The wind was so harsh that even the snow didn’t stick, and that allowed us to find the well-traveled trail that would take us to our destination—a barren wasteland that could be so brutal in harsh weather at almost two miles above sea level that over the decades hikers had scraped out what looked like foxholes and surrounded the shallow pits with walls of granite rock where it was possible to hunker down out of the wind and rest before the trek back. Even in the summer when the temperature in the valleys was blistering hot, the cold wind at this elevation could numb exposed skin.

On this day, the wind was swirling the gray clouds over our heads, and it was like looking up into a blender spinning at high speed. I worried that maybe a twister was going to touch down and expected a funnel to appear that might suck us up into that vortex. But if we looked out over the mountains toward the San Gabriel Valley and Los Angeles, we saw blue skies, and we knew that it was easily forty degrees warmer down there.

“We have to get out of this cold,” Marshal said, “and take a break where we can eat.”

I agreed. My gloves were lined with Thinsulate, but that high-tech insulation wasn’t helping. I’d lost all sensation in my hands and feet and my nose was numb.

Marshall pointed out some granite boulders beside the trail that were the size of two story buildings and we found shelter there from the frigid cutting wind, and ate the food we had carried in our backpacks.

Hiking Mount San Antonio without snow on the ground

Determined to reach the summit, we were back on the trail a half hour later. About a hundred yards from the top with visibility dropping drastically as the swirling clouds and brutal wind battered our bodies, we ran into a lone woman scurrying back from the peak.

“Don’t go up there,” she said. “The wind picked me up and threw me about a hundred feet before I landed. It tore off my cap and gloves too. I lost them. To escape, I had to crawl on all fours off the summit.”

Heeding her warning, we turned back but the stairway made in the snow by those skiers down the steepest part of the slope had vanished. Snow was falling and had filled in the footprints.  The only way back was the traditional route even if we couldn’t see the trail. By then it was about three pm and we should’ve still had several hours of daylight left, but the storm was closing in on the mountain’s top and visibility was shrinking fast.

Away from the summit, the clouds were breaking up and some filtered sun light was reaching the snow sticking to the slope we were descending. “I think we should stay in the sun where the snow isn’t as crusty,” I said. “In the shade, we could run into black ice.”

“But it will take us longer to get off this mountain and back to the Sierra ski hut,” Marshall replied.

I glanced behind us. The top of the mountain was obscured by the swirling clouds and howling wind. Up here near the top the trees had been bent, twisted and sculpted by harsh weather. Marshall decided to take the shortest route down the slope that led mostly through shadows cast by the old growth trees, but I didn’t follow him. Instead, I took off at an angle and stayed in what sunlight there was and took care to make sure I had solid footing before taking each step and that meant slamming the heels of my boots into the snow to break the crusty surface and carve out a place to stand before taking the next step. It was slow going, and I started to lose sight of Marshall.

Every few steps, I’d stop, stabilize both feet in the snow and turn to search for him. The last time I spotted him, he was several hundred yards further down the slope from me moving at a fast clip in a straight line in heavily shaded terrain, and I saw when he fell on his back and become a toboggan headed for a cliff with a vertical drop of at least 2,000 feet to a field of granite boulders that littered the base.

My first thought was what I was going to tell his wife and two teenage children. My second thought was how I would reach his broken body at the base of that cliff. There was no trail to that area and the Sierra Ski hut was a long way from that location with some pretty rugged terrain in between.

“Use your hiking stick like a rudder.” I cupped my mouth with both hands and hollered as loud as I could. “Try to steer toward that brush to your left. Maybe it will stop you.” I don’t know if he heard me from that distance with that howling wind, but I saw him use his hiking stick to change course into that brush, and it saved his life.

The first thing he said when we met up at the Sierra Ski Hut was to never tell his wife and children what happened, because they would never let him hike in the local mountains again. Marshall died in 2007 from complications caused by the medication he was taking to combat leukemia, and that hike was not the toughest one we made together in those mountains, but that climb was probably the one that offered the most danger.


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His fourth book is The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova, and Don wants to discover what it’s like to be loved by only one woman. His problem is that he was raised by his grandparents to become a Lothario, who loves and then leaves women for the next conquest, and as he approaches 40, he is facing a crisis.

His grandfather and then younger brother have been viciously murdered, and Don is the prime suspect. As he struggles to stay out of jail and end his life of serial seductions and find one woman to love, he’s discovering it isn’t easy to kick an old habit, and his mother isn’t helping by quoting scripture every chance she gets in an attempt to change her son’s lifestyle of sin for one of piety.

Complete Kindle e-book Cover on February 18 Flattened

Lloyd Lofthouse also worked as a maître d’ in a nightclub called the Red Onion for a few years. A romantic at heart, in his award winning novels, he tests true love in difficult situations and the challenges of keeping that love alive. My Splendid Concubine, his first novel, is an epic love story that teaches acceptance and respect for other people and their cultures. Running with the Enemy, his second novel is a love story that will either cost the characters their lives or will complete each other’s hearts. Lloyd Lofthouse lives with his family in California’s San Francisco Bay area.

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