On Saturday, June 30, 2018, we began our second hike for the summer, a slightly larger and no less enthusiastic group than previously. However, in the week just past, summer had descended upon the region in one fell swoop. Temperatures had skyrocketed over night, bringing sudden hot and dry weather meriting a “red flag warning” in Sonoma County. This, however, did not deter our lovers of nature. Merely thirty minutes up the hill revealed hillsides now bare in comparison to previous years. Blackened corpses of trees took the place of a once vibrant forest, and charred remains were still scattered over the trail in places. Despite the lack of shade, the bare hillsides provided stunning views of Sonoma County that inspired an awe of God our Creator. A closer inspection also revealed shocks of intense green shoots springing up from the charred remains of trees, abundant signs of life and hope in what had been a memory of trauma. It was a reminder of God’s capacity to bring good out of all things for those who love Him. The heat too, provided excellent opportunities for charity. Still unused to the sudden, intense heat, hiking up the steep grade proved slow, but water was shared generously among the hikers. In addition, yours truly, was stumbling in the direction of heat stroke. Despite a long history of hikes and summer activities, this was a new and temporarily confusing experience. It was indeed humbling to find two eagle scouts, now a firefighter (Jeff) and soon to be police officer (Sean) towering above me pushing salt and Gatorade. It is thanks to their ministrations and refusal to leave anyone behind that the headache and nausea gradually subsided and the hike successfully completed as a community. It is with even greater gratitude that I think of my friends and budding community. What a good God we have to provide such people to lift one up in time of difficulty! However, as a warning to future hikers, stay well hydrated and include sufficient intake of salt and electrolytes! Our descent found a welcome relief in a small stream beneath the trees. An hour after the hike had concluded, many of us found ourselves meeting one another in line for confession at St. Eugene’s. What a joy to be Catholic!