Monday, December 29, 2014

Prairie Creek State Park: Hope Creek Loop/ Steve Swift Bicycling for Cancer

Jefferson and fused redwoods

Hope Creek Trail
Pacific Ocean across from Fresh Water Lagoon 
Steve Swift in Trinidad. He's been biking across America for almost three years and 14,000 miles after being diagnosed with cancer and given 18 months to live. He's on his final leg before heading home to Oregon.
My neighbor Jefferson and I went for a hike along the Hope Creek Trail in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park yesterday. It's a fantastic 3.5 mile loop that includes big redwoods along the bottoms and more of a mixed forest along the ridge tops. Jefferson described having eco-shock since he has just moved here from Chicago a couple weeks ago. It's nice to hike with someone who seems to really appreciate the forest. On a side note, water levels have dropped dramatically since last week. Heading into the park, the prairies that were flooded are back to normal.

Heading home, we met a man named Steve Swift in Trinidad. He's been bicycling across America. He was diagnosed with cancer and given 18 months to live. That was almost three years ago, and 14,000 miles later. He's on the final leg of his bike ride and is heading home to Oregon where he hopes to write a book and open a cancer center. Here's a news article and short interview with Steve Swift.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park/ Appalachian Trail Rain Gear

Van Duzen River: Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park
I took a hike in and around Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park earlier this week after work. The redwoods were awesome as usual. There was a crazy pacific storm that blew in with heavy winds and rain. The forest fluctuated with light, to heavy rain. Lighting seemed to change by the minute. The forest  would grow really dark, then gradually light up with a yellowish/greenish hue, and then dark again.

I decided to bring an old school rain poncho along. It's the same one that I let my neighbor Jefferson borrow on our hike in Prairie Creek last week. It's been sitting in my plastic tub of camping gear unused for quite some time.

Effective rain gear seems to have eluded me on all of my hikes. I can't seem to figure it out for the life of me. The last couple of long trails, I just wore a regular rain jacket. When it would rain, I would wear the jacket and keep on hiking. The jacket always gets soaked, as well as my shirt below it from sweat, as well as from the jacket itself. It's pretty much been useless in my opinion. On rainy days, I usually would just keep hiking as long as possible, until I became too tired, or the signs of early hypothermia would start creeping in. Then it would be time to set up camp and get under my tarp and into my warm sleeping bag. Then have a wet rain jacket to contend with that evening or the next morning.

I was pretty amazed how dry the poncho kept me during my hike in Grizzly Creek this week. Other than my shins and feet, the rest of my body was 100% dry. Of course I wasn't really hiking, just slow walking. Regardless, I think I'm going to go back to using an old school poncho for my rain gear for my AT thru hike this upcoming year. The AT is going to have a lot more rain to deal with than the PCT or CDT. Hopefully it will keep my upper body as dry as it did this week, and act as a pack cover at the same time. Also, I won't have to buy another piece of gear, and it doesn't seem to weigh that much.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Prairie Creek Winter Solstice Hike

Jefferson and a large redwood tree
My neighbor Jefferson just moved to the area this week from Chicago and wanted to see his first redwoods. Jefferson is going to be working with some of the local bee keepers in town, taking care of some hives this year. When I woke up this morning, the rain was pouring. It's been raining for days. I called Jefferson and told him if we went, we'd probably get soaked. He wanted to go anyways. I can definitely respect that, so we packed up some rain gear and headed north.

It was by far the most wet I've ever been during a hike. It rained steady all day. Creeks were overflowing their banks. Prairie Creek was a brown, muddy torrent. Some areas were flooded, water rising all the way just inches from the bridge bottoms. Drury Parkway was closed. Elk Meadow was completely flooded, water almost crossing over the 101 but not quite. The meadow looked like a swift moving river. One house I saw north of Orick had been flooded, the front yard a lake.

Jefferson and I had a great hike, our trail was completely submerged in spots. I have to admit I was a little uncomfortable, as the power of water is not something to mess with. My hands were pretty numb by the end of the day and my clothes pretty much soaked. Jefferson fell into a stream at one point, water up to his waist, but he seemed to be having a good time. Definitely a memorable day. Hopefully the folks living near the park will be OK once all this rain ends...

Saturday, December 20, 2014

50th Anniversary of the 1964 Humboldt Flood

This week marks the 50th Anniversary of the 1964 Humboldt County Flood. Here's a really neat historical documentary about the event...

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Prairie Creek: Clash of the Titans/Jurassic Park

Large redwood way up on hillside
Took a hike this morning in Prairie Creek State Park. It was rather windy today which was a little unnerving at times. The redwoods were swaying pretty good in spots. One neat event occurred during my hike. At one point along the trail I heard a deep "boom" coming from the forest. The sound was just like the terrifying scene in Jurassic Park when the kids hear the T-Rex for the first time, stuck inside their tour cars in the storm. I stopped several times and for the life of me could not figure out where the sound was coming from. Was it Bigfoot? Was it a bull elk? An earthquake? A T-Rex?

As I continued down the trail, I heard a huge gust of wind, and then heard the boom again, really loud, deep. When I looked up, I saw two medium sized redwood titans swaying back and forth in the wind, and then "BOOM!" The large stems of the two trees slammed into one another about 100 feet up or so in an epic clash of the titans...

Friday, December 12, 2014

Pineapple Express 2014: Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Eel River August 6, 2014
Eel River December 11, 2014
The Pineapple Express of 2014 has been dumping water all over California the last couple of days. Driving to work yesterday, I had to stop at my favorite overlook along the Avenue of the Giants to see the Eel River. Rain was blasting into my face when I took the photo and the Eel was the highest I have ever seen it over a three year period, muddy brown, and churning. Wish I could have watched a while longer as there was all kinds of debris washing down the river too. Rain continues to fall today...

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Appalachian Trail 2015

Barring any sort of financial/personal disaster, I'm planning on hiking the Appalachian Trail this upcoming 2015 hiking season. I'm most likely going to hike Southbound. For some reason, it just feels right, and will hopefully hit the trail in Maine in July. I am really, really excited about it. This trail doesn't seem to require the planning that PCT and CDT required. I'll post whatever I can before the hike, but I mostly just need to be patient until departure time arrives...

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Prairie Creek and Black Friday

Evan and a big tree

Evan and a wall of wood
Evan spotted this "widow maker" in the forest. Basically a large branch that fell off the tree a long time ago and embedded itself into the earth. Notice the huckleberry bush and other plants growing out of the top of the log!

Evan and I did a little bushwhacking and found this giant hiding in the forest.
My friend Evan and I did a hike in Prairie Creek yesterday. Seemed like the forest was a more ideal choice to spend Black Friday than rolling around on the floors of Wal-Mart wrestling for TV's and Barbie dolls. Good conversation, hiking on and off trail, firing up the tree measuring laser, a variety of weather conditions, all made for another memorable day in this grand redwood forest of ours...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Williams Grove Trail: Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Lots of rain last few days. Here, Bull Creek enters the muddy, swift south fork of the Eel River. Across the Eel you can see redwood trunks with high water stains on them, probably from the 64' flood?
A neat array of coral fungi
Williams Grove Trail

I drove down to Humboldt Redwood State Park yesterday and hiked along the Williams Grove Trail from Williams Grove to Hidden Springs campground and then walked back to my car via the Avenue of the Giants. It was probably 5 miles round trip with a couple of cool surprises. It's a quiet little trail through some old growth, as well as second growth forest and travels onto some drier hillsides.

Before that, I tried one more time to spot salmon spawning activity but came up empty handed. Perhaps it's not to be this year. The Eel was running swift and muddy due to a couple days of significant rain this weekend. Bull creek was also running high and fast. Lots of mushrooms are still on display right now...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ossagon Trail: Prairie Creek State Park

It would be so cool to be able to go back in time and talk to someone in the Yurok tribe about their experience living among the redwoods.

I did a hike this afternoon on the Ossagon Trail in Prairie Creek this afternoon. Before that, I went on a bushwhack up a random hillside for a couple of hours. There are always random, awesome ancient giants hidden back in the forest, but you've really got to earn their presence.

The Ossagon Trail is a hike where the reward once again is the ocean. Also once again, there was nobody out there.  I was just happy to be on the trail, the one place I feel "normal" and at ease. The forest was quite chilly today and the warm sun on the beach felt amazing, especially since my clothes were pretty wet from the earlier bushwhack. Had a lot of trail flashbacks today...

Friday, November 14, 2014

Salmon/Keystone xl Pipeline

I wasn't going to bother with this post, but the timing is uncanny so here it is:

Yesterday before work I stopped by the South Fork of the Eel River in HRSP to look for any visible signs of salmon heading upstream, or spawning activity. The river was quiet and I did not see any fish. While staring into the river, I noticed a nice brand new Mercedes coming down the path and then eventually out onto the riverbank. I got a kick out of that. I nice dressed man stepped out, and also spent some time looking into the river and taking a few photos. It was just about time to head to work so I quietly began walking back to my car. The man saw me and called out "Hey, I didn't see you down here!" I walked over to him and we introduced ourselves. I mentioned to the man that I was looking for salmon but still couldn't see any. It seemed a couple years ago, there was a lot of salmon activity in the Eel around this time of year. The man sighed and said, "Maybe it's time Republicans start to listen, and I'm one of them!"

The man did not indicate who Republicans should listen to, but the thought did occur to me how beneficial it would be for anyone, regardless of their political suasion, to take some time to at least listen to what the forests, rivers, and the land seem to be saying. I had admiration for this man who seemed to be taking time to connect with his forest. Anyhow, it appears the Republican House has wasted no time approving the Keystone Pipeline today. I wonder what the land is saying?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Berry Glen Trail: Redwood National Park

Sunset over Prairie Creek
Morning fog and mist: Prairie Creek
Moon setting over Prairie Creek
Roosevelt Elk eating breakfast

I spent Saturday night in the Prairie Creek campground for the first time in 2 or three years. Last time I camped here was the first time I had ever visited the park, and I remember being completely overwhelmed. It's funny, now the groves are beginning to resemble familiar rooms of a giant house. My plan was to wake up early as possible to experience a Prairie Creek morning. It turned out to be a perfect experience, one that can only be described as "enchanting."

The weather remained that way the whole time I was in the park. After wandering around a bit in the morning, I decided to hike the Berry Glen Trail, one I have not done before. It basically begins in the Elk Meadow Parking lot and heads all the way up to Lady Bird Johnson Grove. It was uphill the entire way, but not overly strenuous. I love seeing the higher elevation redwoods. Most of the hike was shrouded in fog which enhanced the experience. Again, just like every other trail in the park, there are some awesome trees to see...

Friday, November 7, 2014

Mushrooms in the Redwoods

Mushrooms are on full display in the forest right now. It still amazes me how they can be virtually invisible until you make a conscious effort to look for them. Then, it's as if they magically appear, and can be seen growing all over the forest floor. No sign of salmon in Bull Creek, although I only had a few minutes to look as I keep getting sucked into the forest. The water levels may still be too shallow for all I know. I'm hopeful, next week, or the week after will reveal my first salmon sighting of the year, as this is the time I saw them a couple years ago. Rain continues to fall off and on around these parts...