Sunday, January 30, 2011

Valley View Trail, RIP?

I took a long hike up the Valley View Trail today. I'm thinking I may need to find more of a balance in my life right now, as I am spending most of my free time hiking or looking for trails. I guess there are worse things I could be doing, it's just tough looking for things to do in a new area. Nevertheless, the trail revealed some treasures, among them a small patch of shooting stars (above). As I mentioned last year, these flowers instantly propel my mind to the Sierra Nevada, the first time I saw them on the JMT. It's funny, the flowers are like songs, one glimpse, and a memory fills my brain, usually the first time I saw them. I was very happy to receive a Sierra memory on this trail I am trying so hard to like.
I began the hike walking very slowly, keeping my eyes peeled for wildflowers and fungi.
The last time I was on this trail a couple of weeks ago, I talked to a couple in regards to all the gunfire. The man I talked to said there was a rifle range nearby, and that it should be safe to continue hiking towards the gunshots. "No one that I know of has been hit by a stray bullet up here," was his reply.
With that conversation in mind, I decided to hike as far as I could today. The closer I got to the rifle range, it became clear that the range is not the only place folks like to take target practice. There was an assortment of targets hanging from tree branches, TV's blown to smithereens, propane canisters, plywood, bottles, etc. Shell casings littered the ground in various places.
I continued hiking the trail which turned into a dirt road heading up the mountain. The gunfire became a mental stress, continuous for the next couple of hours. I had no idea where the bullets were going, the sound seemed to change intensity and direction regularly. Eventually, I reached a place called Mendocino Rock, which had an overlook over a large lake (above). Again, there were shotgun casings, beer bottles and cans, shattered clay pigeons, and smashed TV's everywhere.
As I began my decent, a few more pickups came up the road, shortly followed by additional gunfire to accompany the already steady chorus of bullets ripping through the cool crisp skies.
By this point, I did not feel that it was particularly safe to hike up in this area. Visions of a stray bullet ripping through my guts, and my dead limp body lying on the road entered my mind.
At least I felt assured that Ukiah will be safe if invaded by a foreign army. If I return to this particular area again, I'll be sure to bring a pistol and a six pack.

More Newts

Salamander tug of war!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Fungi/Montgomery Woods

It was a very good day today. In fact a very good week. Today, I visited Montgomery Woods, a local treasure, only 15 miles from Ukiah. Returning from the coast this morning, I decided to see if I could find this place, the first area one of the locals referred me to when I first arrived here last month. It's a grove of enormous Redwood trees, with a trail that meanders through them. For some reason, it reminded me of the Yosemite Valley floor, for no reason other than the trail runs on a small valley floor with a small river running through. It looks nothing like Yosemite, it just gave me Yosemite flashbacks.
The area seems popular, there were several other folks enjoying the trees as well. I enjoyed how most of the people I crossed paths with were whispering. There was something about it, like a church, that instilled quiet. It appeared the floor of the grove suffered quite a bit of flood damage, I'm assuming due to all the rain last month. Nonetheless, I feel very satisfied knowing such an awesome place is so close to town. I think I found a new hobby as well, mushroom hunting!

California newt


Montgomery Woods State Park, CA


Redwoods in Montgomery Woods State Park, CA.

Saturday morning along the coast

I camped out near Ft. Bragg last night so I could explore the coast a bit more today. I went for several short hikes, my favorite was along a wild stretch of coast near the 10 mile river. I was shocked to see dunes for a mile or two in each direction. That kind of scene just doesn't seem to exist on the east coast. It is really beautiful up here.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday's Sunset

Sunset in Ft. Bragg, CA.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I found what I was looking for...

Yes, I hug trees, and proud of it!

These two trees were some of the finest I have ever seen. It's very hard to take pictures of trees, the size and scope are essentially lost in most of these photos.

This fantastic specimen (above) was found just before my walk was over. I'm not sure what it is, but it's glorious!
A ghostly fungi (above)
Alas, I have found what I was looking for! A small trail that will take me amongst the giant trees. I probably posted way too many pictures but I could not resist. I probably sounded like a mad man along the trail. Laughing, talking to myself, exclaiming "Amazing!" over and over again. How could I not, this place was awesome. Huge trees, hundreds (and may I dare say) a thousand years old. How we choose to chop down such magnificent living things for our own purposes truly indicates a sort of "sickness" to this modern way of life.
The trail revealed treasures from the moment I entered, to the moment I left. Mushrooms of all sizes and colors were growing in the underbrush. It was like I was on a psychedelic trip or something. It was hard to know where to look. I was captivated by the enormous trees, and then I would try to look at the ground and see what I could find.
The rain has simply stopped falling around here. Of course, I am thrilled with the blue skies and warmer temperatures. Not knowing what the weather usually does around here, it does seem a bit odd to have day after day of rain in December, and very little precipitation in January.