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.


  1. I use to go over to SkyDance near Davis to watch my friend Ed skydive. Right across the road was a gun club/target range. It was so disconcerting to be watching the beauty of sky divers floating down while explosions kept making me flinch.

    I hate it.

    Anyway, nice photos and especially the shooting star!

  2. I just read through your blog. Didn't realize you were new to the area.

    Jackson State Forest has lots of trails. Well, maybe not PCT type. That's a hard act to follow.

    I guess most of the "trails" around here are just former logging roads. Not, "trail" trails.

    Cache Creek Ridge trail, Redbud Trail. East of Clearlake on Highway 20 comes to mind. I blogged about it on

  3. Hi Ron, thanks for the info. I'm glad to know that folks hike up those logging roads. I've done it a couple times but wasn't sure if I was tresspassing. I'm looking forward to following your blog and your bike trip across the country.