Sunday, December 30, 2012
Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve (SNR) is named for nineteenth century pioneers Andrew and Elizabeth Montgomery, who homesteaded 160 acres here. In 1919, plans were made to harvest the trees in the Montgomery Grove. Ynes Mexia brought the grove to the attention of Save the Redwoods League. Within a year, the League managed to halt the harvest. It took another 25 years before the trees were permanently protected. Land owner Robert Orr donated 9 acres in 1945. Over the next 65 years, the park grew to over 2,700 acres. Today, California State Parks works with partners to restore the land and water that flow through the groves and protect the trees from ongoing threats.
Saturday, December 22, 2012
2012 was an excellent first year of tree hunting. What a memorable year it has been! Below are photos of my top 10 largest redwoods for 2012! Measurements were taken by tape measure. CBH means "circumference at breast height." Breast height is 4.5 feet from the base of the tree. All trees on this list are single stem trees.
cbh: 54 feet, 5 in.
cbh: 51 feet, 8 in.
cbh: 54 feet, 5 in.
cbh: 51 feet, 8 in.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
December 20, 2012. Here we are, a day before the "END OF THE WORLD!" The fourth and final Delorme Atlas and Gazetteer arrived on my rainy doorstep yesterday. A shudder went through my spine as I contemplated the possibility of walking through these four states (Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico) on the Continental Divide. The Delorme Maps have been recommended by past hikers to be used as an overview, or for planning alternate routes. The yellow books are the "Wolf Guides" I ordered a few months ago. They give very detailed instructions about where the trail is supposed to go. They are written from a southbound direction. It's a lot of information. There are more detailed maps to come. I have placed an order for Jonathan Ley's Continental Divide Trail Maps which will be the most trusted and detailed guide. A CD should arrive in the mail in February, and then I will need to print out those maps.
I am under the impression that preparation for hiking long distance trails is changing rapidly these days, as technology continues to advance and information is becoming more readily available. What I hope works for me this year may be completely obsolete in a couple of years. In fact, I am still finding it challenging how to sort through the confusing amounts of information out there at the moment. Some information seems recent and relevant while other information seems like it may be outdated at this point. I still feel like I am slightly behind the curve at my current planning stage as I fight with my two nemesis; sloth and procrastination. Those will be challenges to overcome in the next few months...
Monday, December 17, 2012
Took a nice hike in Montgomery Woods yesterday to do some mushroom hunting. It was very cold and rainy this weekend, which kept the visitors away. I had the grove to myself. They have put up signs in the grove for the first time. Seven total. The water seems to have subsided a bit as well. The trail was walkable on the south side, where it was completely under water last week. Other than that, no major observations other than there seemed to be more mushrooms popping out of the earth this week than last for some reason. Very dark in the grove all afternoon as well.
Monday, December 10, 2012
Sunday, December 2, 2012
Saturday, December 1, 2012
Holy crap, it's December 1. Roughly 6 months to go before a possible push of the Continental Divide Trail in 2013. Am I nervous? Fuck yeah. I am trying my best to keep the worrying to a minimum. I think that's why I've been feeling so stressed lately. A couple friends told me to let it go a couple days ago. Let go of the hike. I was able to let it go for about five minutes, before thinking about it again. I know it's probably not healthy to put all your eggs in one basket. I am trying to detach myself from the trip the best I can. I am well aware that there are no guarantees of even attempting a long distance trail until you actually have both feet standing on the path. A lot can still happen between now and then. Financially, it looks like things are going to be tight, much tighter than I hoped. I got sick back in August and had to take almost a month off from work. I also had no health insurance. My working hours have been less this fall. I hardly saved anything since the summer. I had a bit of a health scare last week. Again no insurance, just a big doctor's bill waiting for me in the mail. Next week, my work hours pick up again. I am still hopeful, there is a lot left to do planning wise.
Sunday, November 25, 2012
There seems to be some sort of change occurring within my psyche that I'm a little worried about. I have always felt very comfortable in the wilderness, perhaps more so than any city or urban area. I've always felt a sense of comfort and confidence with this realization. For some reason, anxiety and fear seems to be getting the best of me lately. I'm not sure if it's because of problems occurring to many folks around me at the moment, work stress, Continental Divide prep stress. For whatever reason, it seems to be growing exponentially. It was with a sense of anxiety, dread, fear, and excitement that I drove up to Humboldt Redwoods State Park on Friday night.
While walking through the dark forest, my headlamp illuminated many psychedelic mushrooms. "What a forest!" I couldn't help thinking over and over again as I made my way to camp. I arrived at my usual spot about 10 minutes later. What a difference a couple months make! The ground was completely saturated, the creek was rushing at a quick pace now, noisy, and full. I marveled at a misty rainbow circling the moon, just above the black, towering redwoods. Waves of anxiety flooded over me every few minutes. It was breathtakingly beautiful and majestic, I thanked God for allowing me to behold part of His creation. I felt humbled.
After I set up camp, I walked down to the creek. I still couldn't shake the feeling of dread. Of course, thoughts of redwoods falling onto my camp entered my mind again. I tried my best to fight off those negative thoughts. The fog was becoming more dense now. Everything was glowing and sparkling, reflecting the moonbeams. While I continued to marvel at the moon and the redwood canopies, I heard a deafening splash a few feet in front of me. I nearly shit myself. I pointed my headlamp into the creek and saw two ENORMOUS salmon fighting the current. "WOW!!!" was all I could muster. One of the fish must have been at least 2 to three feet long. I couldn't believe such massive sea creatures where swimming up a creek so shallow.
It appeared the fish could not see me standing on the riverbank in the dark. They seemed curious about the light from my headlamp shining into the water. They swam right up to the bank, showcasing their incredible size and colorful scales. I could imagine the angst it must require for these fish to battle the currents the way they were, in the dead of the night. The salmon turning red as it becomes crazed with the notion of reproduction. The face of the fish becoming hooked, gnarled, and gruesome. Thrashing wildly about in the currents just before giving up its life. Again, I felt humbled. It was almost too much. I couldn't help feeling like an intruder, that I was invading the privacy off this ancient forest. These were powerful natural forces that deserved the utmost respect. I walked back to my shelter and attempted to calm my nerves yet again.
Thankfully, I brought a book. This seemed to help tremendously. It was still too early to go to sleep, and I was not hungry for dinner. I chose to sit under my tarp and read. Quickly, my mind and my senses began to calm down, and not long after, I became drowsy. As I bedded down for the night, I noticed that it was quite cold out. My sleeping bag was not enough to keep me warm, so I threw all my extra clothes into it for extra insulation. Again, it took a while to fall asleep. I was grateful for the noise of the creek and the light of the moon. I anxiously awaited the oncoming dreams. Every now and then, I was jolted awake by the sound of the salmon. At times, the thrashing from the fish was like a Sasquatch stomping through the creek. Eventually, I fell asleep and before I knew it, morning had arrived.
I took my time packing up in the morning. I was looking forward to continue my search for big trees, but there also seemed to be so much to observe and enjoy otherwise. I was in no rush. By the time I finally reached my destination, it was well past 10:00. I had to retrain my eyes to look for the giants of the forest.
I am looking forward to my next trip to this particular section. Sometimes, some spots feel like "hot zones," with many giants living in one area. It felt like I was in the middle of one when I decided to turn around and head back to my car. It felt like it was getting late. I was already pretty exhausted, and didn't want to have to drive all the way home in the dark.
When I arrived at my car, it was only 2:45! I thought for sure it was probably like 5:00 or something. It gave me plenty of time to eat an early dinner, and take a nap before hitting the road.
Before heading home, I had to give thanks in my mind to all of those who have worked and donated time and resources to save these forests. It's true, there is very little old growth redwood remaining. It's also true, that there is just enough to allow for an incredible, unforgettable experience. Is there enough for an overall, healthy ecosystem? I don't really know. Yesterday's experience was enough for me to feel completely lost in space and time however. I will also say that this time of year is the absolute best for an authentic redwood experience.