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...