Tuesday, July 31, 2012
To watch the cut redwoods delivered to the saw mill every day would be equivalent to watching trucks filled with granite leaving the Sierra. To watch mountaintops leveled every day and the granite used for some desired product somewhere. Maybe it would be like watching trucks filled with wildflowers leave the San Gabriel's, or the sandy soil slowly removed by big rigs over time. Maybe it would be like trucks filled with barrel cactus or Joshua Trees leaving the desert.
As long as the redwoods continue to grow, I suppose they have a fighting chance. In a game where a tree needs time to reach maturity, every time I see a logging truck drive down the road, I feel like the game has been "reset." "We just have to wait another 500 years, we just have to wait another 500 years, we just have to wait another 500 years."
What would a world look like where all living things are allowed to reach not only maturity, but full unadulterated expression? I don't think we humans are capable of that right now. Heck, we can't even do that yet with our own children. I still would like to believe that such a world is possible.
Until then, I have to wonder where these redwood trees are going after the saw mill. The battle for survival is still strong. The forests are continuing to re-grow. Humans, as stewards of the earth, still have time to get it right I hope. By "getting it right," in my mind, is allowing the redwood forest to exist, mature, and express itself fully wherever and whenever it decides to grow.
Saturday, July 28, 2012
"Not really," one of them answered. "It's private property. But...."
She proceeded to tell me her name and said I could make a quick visit. If anyone asked why I was trespassing just to tell them that I was a friend of hers.
Wow, what a gift.
I probably spent no more than fifteen minutes taking pictures and inspecting the trees. They were of good size as the pictures show.
Anyhow, it was an excellent visit. Thank you "Allison!"
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
I woke up Sunday morning at Lake Aloha in my tent. I was glad to be secure inside, while the morning mosquitoes awoke and began buzzing around outside. I was eager to move on, to hike back to my car. The reason was twofold: I wanted to grab breakfast at Denny's in South Lake Tahoe. I also wanted to see the trees along highway 50 that I had missed while driving through the dark Friday night.
Before I reached my car, I met and talked to several PCT thru hikers. I asked one hiker what his favorite part of the trail had been so far.
"The towns!" he answered.
I met another hiker named "Inspector Gadget." He expressed concern for what the fall weather may hold in Washington. Ahhh, I remember those concerns.
Breakfast was calling, so I quickly made miles and reached my car by 10:30. What I was about to see blew me away. As I started driving down highway 50 towards South Lake Tahoe, the trees were breathtaking. There were giant pines everywhere I looked. Huge, fully expressive, ancient trees. The highway was extremely busy but I had to pull off and park my car in a turnout to inspect. As I was bushwhacking through some dense underbrush to reach one particular tree, I noticed a dirt road with a man walking along it. As I came crashing through the bushes, he looked at me and then quickly looked away. I must have looked nuts. As I tripped onto the road, I made eye contact with his wife and just laughed.
"Sorry, I know I look crazy, but I just had to get a closer look at these trees!" I explained.
"Oh....ok....cool!" the man answered.
Monday, July 23, 2012
It was amazing looking at the land, observing mankind's footprint upon it. We have transformed the surface of earth for our needs and wants. It is remarkable. The marshes were transformed, the land has been transformed with acre upon acre of food producing plants and trees. The grain distilleries, the trucks transporting goods, the airplanes flying overhead to the airport, boats floating down the rivers. Amazing. It's as if we are harnessing the power of the earth, the earth is our hive, everything else must adapt or perish. I felt like anything is possible if we can just get past our differences. What is humanity's ultimate goal? Space is the next logical step.
"Where you headed?" I asked.
"Where am I headed? Canada!" was his response.
His trail name is "House," and he's a part of the 2012 migration. He told me that the Sierra was snow free this year.
"Not even an inch of snow along Forester Pass," House said.
After wishing him a happy journey, I continued on my way. My destination was Clyde Lake.
One hiker I passed said he could not believe how many hikers he saw on the trail. Personally, I had to agree with him. I knew Desolation Wilderness was popular, but there were a lot of folks on the trail. There were enough to make me weary to take a piss, knowing that someone was bound to come around the corner any second.
Aloha Lake was beautiful as usual. The sun was really intense as the day wore on, and I was quickly getting dehydrated. Seems its almost impossible to stay hydrated on the first day. Clyde Lake is about a mile or so past Lake Aloha. First I had to climb up and over Mosquito Pass. I was really looking forward to setting up camp and taking a nap.
Eventually, Clyde Lake was in view. Last time I visited this place, there was no one around. Of course this was October, not July. Clyde Lake is small, so it has a more intimate feel to it. Selfishly, I was still hoping to have it to myself. When I arrived at the lake, I thought my wish was granted. I didn't hear or see anybody. As I was making my way around the lake to find a spot to camp all of a sudden I saw a man lying bare assed on a slab of granite.
I woke up just in time to see the final hues of color before the lake went dark for the night. Actually the mosquitoes woke me up just in time. I crawled into my tent just before the stars came out, popped a couple Ibuprofen, and called it a day.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Not one to give into fear, or one that particularly cares what other people think about me, a battle of conscience occurred the rest of the afternoon. "Should I do it?" "Don't do it you freak!" "Do you have permission?" "Has the tree given you permission?"
I texted a buddy of mine and posed the dilemma to him. The response I received was "Mark, you need to get laid." Perhaps he had a point, but as evening came, I overcame my fear and set up camp inside the redwood.
When I stepped inside, all sound from the outside world ceased. It was noticeably cooler inside. The ground inside the tree was probably three feet lower than the ground outside the tree. The sky had not darkened, so I watched the remaining light dissipate through the caves entrance.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
While driving home from the Lost Coast a few weeks ago, I have to admit that I was filled with sadness. The reason being, I was really looking forward to driving Bull Creek and Mattolle road because I thought for sure it was going to be unbelievable redwood habitat. The redwoods along Bull Creek road in Rockefeller Forest are some of the best I have experienced. When I am in there, it feels eternal, endless, indestructible, ancient. I had only driven so far along the road because part of me didn't want to know what was on the other side. The feeling of wildness and eternity was too great to tamper with. Well, my curiosity got the best of me, and I am sad to report that the feeling of wildness, strength, and endless habitat has been replaced with domestication, fragility, disappointment. I was truly shocked to discover that the point I had turned around in the road so many times was actually the edge of the redwood habitat in the area. The rest has been logged, replaced by grassy hills, homesteads, and a thinned forest. I couldn't believe how fragile it all seemed. How could this wall of some of the mightiest trees on the planet, suddenly abruptly stop, only to be replaced by grassy fields and bright sunshine? How could this otherworldly habitat suddenly abruptly stop, only to be replaced by roads, homes, fields, and ordinariness? Why are there trees only growing along this tiny ribbon of a river, only to disappear on the other side of the bridge?
The redwoods have really brought home to me the importance of awareness when it comes to what I buy, and how I live. It's too bad that one of my favorite places to hike has been compromised to build houses all over the country, probably even the house I currently live in, and the cities I visit. The redwood habitat seems so fragile and minuscule at times. I am very grateful to be able to experience what remains of it. More often than not, I feel like the luckiest man alive whenever I get the chance to spend time in the untouched groves. I hope others will continue to be able to as well. Thinking strictly in human terms, I'd imagine as the world continues to get busier and busier in the coming years, the groves will become more and more important. Sanctuaries to recharge the mind, soul, and spirit.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
I went for a walk in Montgomery Woods yesterday afternoon and had a new experience. There is one particular enormous tree that grows right along the trail. Pictures do it zero justice. This tree has a massive cave at it's base, and a hole about 30 feet up. It's the kind of hole all children draw on trees. The kind you would expect a cartoon owl to pop out of. Anyhow, the base of the tree has one of the largest circumferences of any of the trees in the park. The tree looks like it could cave in on itself (no pun intended of course) any day now.
When I walked past the tree, it was making all kinds of noise. I stopped for a minute to listen. It sounded like a woodpecker was banging on it from the inside. Then it sounded like mice squeaking from up above. Then I heard cracking noises. It was actually terrifying. I was wondering if the tree was about to give up it's life. I had to keep listening. I decided to walk into the tree, into the cave to get a better listen.
Once I walked into the tree, I heard the most amazing sound. It sounded like water flowing through the tree. It was the same low pitch gurgling that I've heard walking across small creeks that are covered by huge boulders. The squeaking and cracking continued. I had to get out of there. It's been really warm here the last couple of weeks and I have heard stories of trees exploding when it gets too hot. It was probably an irrational fear, but I had to wonder if the water sound was a result of the warm temperature today.
Also, completely non-related, I've developed a theory about a mystery that's been bothering me lately in the redwood forest. Every grove I've been to, I find trees with random sticks attached to the bark, almost as if they had been placed there somehow. I thought perhaps climbers were marking the trees in a way that most visitors would not notice. Once I noticed these sticks, I started seeing them everywhere. They obviously weren't growing out of the tree, just lodged between the bark. They never seem to be branches either. Just sticks. Well, I don't think they are placed there by climbers. When I came across the two fallen giants in Humboldt Redwoods State Park three weeks ago, one of the nearby trees that had been scuffed by one of the fallen trees had a fresh slash on it's trunk with one small sized branch stuck on the bark. I think what happens is that when a tree falls, as it is crashing to the ground and the branches strike the surrounding trees, every now and then a single branch breaks off the falling tree and gets lodged into the bark of it's neighbor. The one thing that has been throwing this hypothesis off for me, is sometimes I don't see any evidence of a downed tree nearby, such as the picture above in Montgomery Woods. Maybe branches falling from the tree above can also do the same thing. In the case of Montgomery Woods, the branches were probably moved into the brush to keep the main grove looking clean. I still don't know why there never seem to be needles on the branches. Again, just sticks.
Friday, July 13, 2012
I am currently reading a book called "The Man Who Quit Money" by Mark Sundeen. My PCT hiking pal Indie brought the book to my attention. The book is about a man named Daniel Suelo who has chosen to live his life without money, and has been successfully living in a cave outside of Moab Utah since the year 2000. He also keeps a blog which can be found here. So far its a fascinating read. In the book, "The Man Who Quit Money," Daniel is often forced to confront the idea of having faith that the universe will somehow conspire to provide him with what he needs at certain times. The book describes several stories when Daniel received just what he needed at just the right time. The book triggered a memory when Indie and I were in need of some divine intervention near the finish of the PCT in 2010.
While hiking the trail, Indie and I met a fellow hiker who went by the name"Stumbling Norwegian." Tall, with a beard halfway down his chest, the Stumbling Norwegian would often say "The trail will provide..." So often this was exactly the case. One such moment occurred at Rainy Pass in Washington, October 2010:
Rainy Pass is the last main road to civilization before the PCT enters the final 40 miles of wilderness to the trails northern terminus in Manning Park, Canada. Indie and I were two days from finishing the PCT when we encountered a huge dilemma. It was already the second week of October, temperatures were plummeting, winter was on the doorstep. All around us were nature's signs of change. Snow was seen in the upper elevations, water was freezing at night, leaves were falling and changing colors. We had just enjoyed two weeks of Indian summer in Washington, and knew that the weather could change any day now. In fact, we should not have been on the trail this late in the season. For all intents and purposes, were among just a handful of 2010 thru hikers bringing up the rear.
We had just endured two full days of rain where we did not even break down camp. It had been pouring buckets, and the temperature was dangerously low. We were stuck. We were soaked. We were exhausted. Two days away from finishing. Finally, we experienced a break in the rain. Indie and I broke down camp and started hiking, but we couldn't agree what to do next. Indie wanted to hitch into the town of Mazama and spend the day drying out, resting. He wanted to get a weather report. I was in complete agreement with him in that regard, but felt like taking another day to rest was too risky. If we were going to finish the trail, we had to do it now. (At least that was my line of thinking.) If we got a good weather report, we had to go for it.
To make matters more complicated, when we reached the highway, Indie and I talked to two different groups of folks who were parked in a lot near the trail. They gave us conflicting weather reports. One group said the weather was supposed to be good the next few days, the other group said it was supposed to snow that night and they did not advise hiking into the higher elevations.
Indie and I could not decide what to do, and the frustration grew.
"I just have a bad feeling in my gut about this," Indie said.
"Ok, let's hitch into Mazama." I said. Gut feelings are usually good to go by in my book. Besides, we had to get a weather report. Indie and I were in complete agreement that we would not attempt the final 40 miles if we did not have the confidence that the weather would work in our favor. To get caught in a snowstorm in this final stretch meant certain death. (At least in our minds.)
Indie and I stood by the highway for about an hour, thumbs extended. No body would give us a ride. It was getting really cold standing along the road. It felt like hypothermia was settling in. Indie and I were in bad shape. The trail straddles the highway for about three miles or so, so Indie and I decided to hike the three miles up to Rainy Pass and hitch there. The hike would warm us up. Rainy Pass would be our last chance. We also heard of a rest area near there. Perhaps we could inquire for a ride if we became desperate. Indie and I knew deep down that "The trail would provide," but this philosophy was being put to the test. If we couldn't get a ride, there was nothing else we could do.
Our situation became more confusing when we reached Rainy Pass. A hiker by the name of Pig Pen arrived on the scene in a car. He had just finished the trail and was leaving a cache of food and supplies for a small group of hikers a day behind us. He had not heard a weather report, but offered to give us a ride 40 miles the opposite direction. While Indie and I contemplated this option, Pig Pen disappeared into the woods to prepare the cache for his friends. The frustration increased. Maybe it was exhaustion, fear of the unknown, who knows? For some reason, Indie and I could not make a decision. Indie began taking his frustration out on the cars that sped by on the highway, waving his hand in disgust.
"You are in no shape to hitch Indie, let me take a turn," I said. Within five minutes, I was in the same emotional state as Indie, cursing at the cars as they sped by one by one. This was no way to get a ride. We did not deserve to get a ride at this point. Humbleness was gone, replaced by an anger at the universe.
"Move over," Indie said. "We can do this. The trail will provide."
While I was cursing our indecisiveness, all of a sudden a white Prius pulled over with what appeared to be two angels, a woman who offered a kind smile and a man with white hair and a cheery disposition.
"Where you guys headed?" asked the man.
"Mazama!" Indie said excitedly.
"Jump in, I'll give you guys a ride if you give me a story! My name is Joel, and this is Pam."
"Seems kind of expensive, don't you think?" Joel asked.
Pam looked at Joel and whispered, "Why don't you ask them to stay with us for the night?"
Joel heartily agreed. "Why don't you stay with us for tonight? We'll cook you dinner, you can get a shower, and I'll drop you off at the trail first thing in the morning?"
"Yes!!" Indie responded without a moments hesitation.
It was too good to be true. Joel revealed that he was a "foodie" (Indie was as well,) and offered to cook us anything we wanted. Indie and I were in a sort of awed silence at the question when Joel offered,
"How's a stir fry sound to you? Chicken or beef?"
We stopped at the grocery store in the town of Twisp and picked up the necessary ingredients. Indie and I were also able to pick up a few more trail supplies, the main supplement being butter.
Not long afterwards we arrived at Joel's homestead in Carlton, Washington. It was a beautiful home located in the middle of a long grass filled valley. Joel had built the house himself. He told us to make ourselves at home, showing us the location of the shower, washer and dryer, and a sauna that was also built by hand.
"You have to try the sauna before the night is over..." Joel instructed us.
The hospitality was overwhelming. Indie and I began drying out our gear on the lawn and threw in a couple loads of laundry. After getting showers, Joel, Pam, Indie, and I all helped prepare the evening's feast. It was a fantastic evening of story telling, laughing, delicious food, and fantastic company. Not only that, Joel offered us his computer to check the weather. The forecast showed three full days of sunshine. Indie and I were going to finish the trail. Before the night was over, Joel fired up the sauna. After a good sweat, there was nothing left to do but rest. Indie continued to blog until midnight. I was fast asleep. Joel woke us up first thing in the morning and drove us the hour and a half back up to the trail. The kindness was too much. Joel and Pam were the final string of a long line of incredible folks, strangers who quickly became friends, that Indie and I would meet on the PCT. Who are these folks who open their hearts and homes to strangers? Will I ever be so caring and generous to others I meet in my life? The trail provided after all that cold, rainy day in October. Thank you Joel and Pam!
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
CDTS website located here. Just click on "Marketplace" and you can access the store. The books cannot be purchased with an online credit card number at this time, so you need to send a check or pay using a paypal account. The books and supplements cost me $162.28.
Monday, July 9, 2012
Sunday, July 8, 2012
1.) I would not advise taking Usal Road unless you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle and don't mind giving it some damage. Take the Briceland Thorn Road out of Garberville instead. It is much easier, despite the extra mileage. If you insist on taking Usal Road, remember the road is not marked. Look for "Usal" painted on the pavement of highway 1. Also bring spare tires.
2.) I'm not sure what I advice I would give concerning the tide charts. Perhaps, the little yellow booklet I bought would suffice as far as knowing the approximate time of the high tides. Perhaps a little more research can give you an exact time for the specific area of the Lost Coast where the trail is impassable. Trust your instincts.
3.) There are escape routes along the impassable high tide portions of trail. I will not advocate hiking these sections during high tide. Just be aware that if trouble arises, there are options. Again, use your best judgement, and trust your instincts. Don't be afraid to turn around and wait out the tide.
4.) The BLM Lost Coast map is excellent. Spillz, Kyle and I would use it when we needed a more detailed visual of where we were at times. The map is big, so it was annoying using it in the wind. We also used the printable Lost Coast Map on the BLM website. This often came in handy because we could put it in our pocket and access it quickly when we needed a broad overview of where we were at times.
5.) There is plenty of fresh water to be found on the trail. I never used more than 2 quarts at a time. The driest section was during the southern half. Nick's camp has water if you are low around the Chemise Mountain area. Otherwise, there is plenty of water after descending off the ridge line next to the ocean.
6.) Bring the bear canister. There was plenty of evidence of bear activity. We also crossed paths with the ranger who checked on us.
7.) Have cash on hand to pay the daily parking fee of $6.00 per day if you choose to park at Needle Rock. Mattole parking area was free.
8.) Don't forget your car keys if you are doing a two car placement.
9.) Check out the deli/store in Shelter Cove if you have finished your hike. Fish and chips, burger and fries, cold drinks, and ice cream are heavenly even after two days in the wild!
10.) Fill your car with gas before heading towards the lost coast. I believe there are places to fill up in in Shelter Cove, Petrolia, and Honeydew but it may be more expensive.
11.) Ticks were a real problem. Take whatever precautions you find necessary. Despite being as cautious as I've ever been before, I still was bitten by a tiny nymph deer tick.
12.) I probably would bring a tent next time, not my tarp for more tick security while sleeping. I think the deer tick got me when I was sleeping on the first night.
13.) Bring sun tan lotion. I would prefer to wear a white long sleeved shirt next time as well. The sun became quite hot during the day.
14.) Kyle wore a sun hat while hiking. I commented how fresh he looked while we were in Shelter Cove during day three. Spillz and I looked way more weather beaten as a result of not wearing a hat that kept our faces, ears, and neck completely covered. I keep telling myself to buy one of these hats, but still have yet to follow through with that idea.
15.) I hiked in trail runners and had no problems at all with my feet. Would do it again.