One of the best things about living in the mountains is snow. When Julian, California gets hit, the town rocks. Everyone comes out to play. Snowball wars are launched from one end of the historic mountain village to the other.
The 4220 ft. elevation offers the potential for snow. As soon as the San Diego news forecasts it, media trucks show up and newspeople check into the local lodge to open the morning report with scenes of fresh snow. And then, the tourists come…
“Snow Pie Flies” is the term for tourists who rush up the mountain to experience the white stuff. Then, everyone taste tests the pies that Julian is known for and flies back home. It is famous for apple pies but peach, cherry and mountain berry are all popular.
Do not miss the artwork. Native Americans sew leather pieces which are incredible. Medicine bags are worn by many and are inspired by members of the Kumeyaay tribe who live on nearby reservations.
Spears and walking sticks are hand carved and ornately decorated. When puma prints were found on my property, one of the Santa Ysabel Indians left a lion-killing spear leaning on my door. It was beautiful but had four eagle feathers on it which only a native American is allowed to have. For me, it was a crime to possess the piece and each feather called forth a $10,000. fine by the Fish and Game Department so I gave it back.
My first winter on the mountain, I almost starved. I got caught in my cabin with no food when a snowstorm hit that kept me trapped at home for 5 days. I even ran out of cat food and me and my critters lived on rice until I could walk in knee-deep snow to town.
The local natives tried to teach me to hunt but when I found out that we would be crouching up in trees all night waiting for wild pigs to come by, I backed out. They wanted to strap a knife to my leg so I could drop down on Porky Pig and slit its throat. I declined the offer but am still impressed they thought I would be able to participate.
Nothing goes to waste here. The pagans even eat the road kill. Don’t ask about “deer Monday.” That happens when the tourists hit the deer by the lake and the pagans skin and eat it. I went to dinner with a pagan who spotted a deer on the side of the road. He pulled over, covered it with brush and took me home so he could go back and get it.
The town of Julian has many layers. Week-enders and ‘snow pie flies’ may not absorb the rituals and ways of mountain people. It takes time and patience to allow this historic place to unfold. Even Sage doesn’t work right away to clear energy. Spending time in the nearby missions is a great way to start a journey through these magic mountains.