Sunday, March 31, 2013

Humboldt Redwoods State Park 3-30-13

This is the first salamander I have seen climbing on a redwood tree. The tree was a  51 foot, 7 in cbh monster.
Happy Easter! I drove up to Humboldt redwoods State Park yesterday to do a little more redwood exploring. It turned out to be an outstanding day, one of the best days yet. I started the day looking for an albino described in one of the posts below. After successfully locating it, I made my way back to where I left my redwood search last month. The area continued to be juicy for extremely large redwoods.

cbh 51 feet, 7 in. This is the tree where I saw the salamander in a crevice in the bark about five feet off the ground.
 Once again, I probably walked no more than a quarter mile down the creek. There were so many huge trees here that I spent the whole day in this one particular area. That means I have spent three days in an area probably no more than a half mile wide, and a half mile long. I was excited to read on line this morning that my suspicions were confirmed. The area I was in has world record biomass according to forest researcher Bob Van Pelt. He also wrote that this forest grove has more wood per unit of area than anywhere else on the face of the planet!
cbh 57 feet, 10 in!
 I measured 22 trees with a circumference of over 40 feet yesterday. Four of them had a circumference over 50 feet, and two more were fused redwoods with circumferences over 50 feet! Most definitely a single day record for me.

cbh 54 feet, 10 in!
 Shortly after lunch, I was already beginning to feel pretty exhausted. I didn't want to over do it, especially since this could be the last time I spend time here until after the Continental Divide hike. After that who knows, so the possibility of never seeing this place again also occurred to me. The whistle of the varied thrush once again brought me into the present moment. What a great whistle, even though so simple.

 Once again, I didn't cross paths with anyone all day. I saw one family crossing the creek, but that was it. Before heading home, I stopped by the visitors center to look for some huge stumps across the road.  It was a halfhearted search, I decided to call it a day.

cbh  43 feet, 6 in.
By afternoon, the skies were really beginning to darken, and the comforts of home were calling. By the time I hit highway 101, it started to pour down rain. Once again, another memorable day with the giants...

Massive Fused Redwood Trees

Fused redwood trees: cbh 58 feet, 6 in.
This tree was another one of the highlights of yesterday. It is a huge double redwood. It's circumference at breast height is 58 feet, 6 in. Many redwoods seem to fuse together with a smaller tree growing by its side. This tree was no different. The original tree would have been enormous in it's own right. The smaller tree attached to the side just added a little more extra girth. There was a huge cave on the opposite side. An amazing tree...

Bull Creek Giant

Bull Creek Giant
I finally came across the Bull Creek Giant yesterday. It's the 10th Largest Coast Redwood with a height of 337 feet, 22.3 foot diameter, and 31,144 cubic feet wood volume. It's also the largest tree in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. I knew it was out there, but my progress has been so slow do to the amount of enormous trees in the area. It felt great to finally see it in person. I thought there was a chance that somehow I had missed it. You'd be surprised how easy it is to miss a giant tree lurking in a redwood forest. I felt extremely blessed to be able to spend another day exploring this amazing place...

Tall Redwood Albino

I found this beautiful tall redwood albino yesterday in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, thanks to a tip from Zane Moore. Not only has Zane been excelling in the world of tree hunting, but he is currently studying redwood albinos. There will be more exciting discoveries coming from him hopefully in the future. This may be one of the tallest albino redwoods in existence at the moment. From the angle of this photo, it almost looks like a skull and cross bones...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Catrans Bypass: Willits, CA (Trees are Falling)

Construction crews have begun clearing the trees along the route of the Caltrans bypass in Willits, California. A heavy police presence remains in town...

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Caltrans Bypass: Willits CA, March 23, 2013

Heavy police presence occupying former tree sit site
 A lot has happened in the past week in Little Lake Valley, where the proposed Caltrans bypass is scheduled to be built. Essentially, construction equipment has moved in to begin preliminary development. 7 protesters were arrested on Thursday. "Warbler," the young 24 year old female tree sitter, remains in her tree for now, but the area where many protests occurred at the base of her tree and along the highway, has been fenced off and is now occupied by a heavy police presence. There are two more tree sits that went up in another location, but they also have been surrounded by the police and will be without resupply.
"Warbler" remains in her perch for now
Yesterday, a call went out that the CHP was beginning the process to extract Warbler from her tree.  About 50 of us gathered on the opposite side of the highway to bear witness and give support. Turns out, it was a false alarm. We were greeted with a strong police presence on the opposite side of the highway, complete with ATV's, cameras, video recorders, and plenty of twist ties for arrest if we dared trespass.
For me, its a sad realization. However, I still believe the cause is just, the land is important, our environment is worth standing up for all across this country.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

CDT Planning: March 20, 2013

Wyoming Delorme Gazetteer with Ley routes highlighted
I have transcribed the Jonathan Ley routes into both my Montana and Wyoming Delorme Gazetteers. This morning I worked on Colorado for about an hour and a half before work. I am feeling more comfortable with the 8 1/2 x 11 in maps.  Circling the prominent features is really helping my mental state. Also, I've been circling some really hard to read names of trails, creeks, and roads. Sometimes, just the shape or one or two letters of the word can be deciphered. Circling them and confirming them in the Gazetteer will decrease my stress once out on the trail I hope. I have to remind myself to take advantage of the comfort of sitting at a desk and studying the individual maps now, rather than trying to figure them out while outside in a thunderstorm while on the trail later. Of course, I can always just print out the larger maps before beginning this hike if I really don't feel comfortable. It seems an hour and a half is about the amount of time I have the most focus with this transcribing process. After an hour and a half or so, the temptation to cut corners seems to enter my mind. When this happens, I know it's time to stop, take a break, or do something else.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

CDT Planning: March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day! CDT planning is in full swing, thank God. Finally, I feel like I've jumped into the river and have caught the current. I've been planning this hike off and on for almost two years now, doing a little bit here, reading a little bit there, but always seemed to get distracted by other things. I think the focus I was hoping for finally has come. Of course, that's procrastination for you.

Today was supposed to be GPS Sunday. I've been dreading getting my GPS ready because the information looks so confusing. Every time in the past when I'd do a little research, I'd give up after a while because my head hurt. After a good breakfast and a mug of hot tea, I was ready to take on the challenge. Unfortunately, I hit a wall right in the beginning. My laptop is old  (2006) and has not been working well lately, and is probably on the out. A friend of mine had to jerry rig the thing a few months ago because I couldn't get online anymore, something about DSL codes malfunctioning or something. Anyhow, he fixed it somehow, but I have to use a CD that he burned to use the Internet. Needless to say, I haven't really downloaded any new programs since then. Today, when I tried to download the Garmin map software, I couldn't do it, and couldn't figure out a way around it. Not sure what I'm going to do at the moment, but it was disappointing since I finally had the motivation to confront my GPS prep demons.

Not wanting to waste a good morning, I did a little more Jonthan Ley map/Delorme transcribing. Maps for me, have always been a lot like books: For some reason, I have this ingrained fear of writing on them. I guess it's from my days in grade school, when we'd get scolded for writing in our textbooks. Well, I've started writing on my Jonathan Ley maps, and it feels great. Nothing too extreme, just circling the names of the prominent features on each map. I mentioned in my last post, that many of the names are extremely hard to read on the 8x11 maps. Circling the names of some of the more prominent features has really lowered my stress level. Now I can easily pinpoint the places on the Ley and Delorme maps without having to squint too much, or try to make out what the words say or figure out where they are in relation to one another. Once again, I am really enjoying this transcribing process. It's a great way to become familiar with the maps and different places before heading out. I finished Montana yesterday, and have been working on Wyoming. Hope to do a little more this evening.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Caltrans Bypass: Willits, CA: March 15, 2013

Caltrans continues to attempt to begin construction of the proposed bypass in Willits but has been deterred for the time being by brave protesters, and an entourage of folks working behind the scenes to save Little Lake Valley. As I watched this video, I couldn't help but feel moved when I looked at the beauty and mystique of this unique area. Why would we not do everything in our power to limit ecological destruction in our backyard, and find a less intrusive alternative? Even if it takes 100 years to find one it would be worth it my opinion. It's too bad that our ecosystems have been reduced to something second rate, nothing more than scenery to look out upon as we drive past in our cars. The same thought occurred to me yesterday while driving along the Eel River between work. It is so much more than scenery, so much more than a mild curiosity to look upon while moving 60 miles an hour. In fact, everything is happening out there, and for most of us, we don't even realize it...

CDT Planning: March 15, 2013

As I continue tracing the Jonathan Ley routes to my Delorme Maps, I can already begin to imagine how those who hike this trail must learn to be OK with becoming lost, or "misplaced" as others like to call it. One regret I already have is that I should have forked out the extra money to get the 11x17 maps. I really like to look at and study a good map, and the 8x11's are really hard to read. In many places, the words on the map like creek, street, or mountain names are unreadable. This is not a complaint, more of a warning to future hikers. I have found myself already looking at the Delorme's more often to read the names of the surrounding features, and I think it would be ideal if it were the other way around. It seems that a little more time will be required to pinpoint exactly where you are using the 8x11's because of many of the unreadable names. Many hikers in the past have used the 8x11's and survived, so I'm hoping to do the same. Anyhow, this process of tracing the maps continues to be fun. This weekend, I hope to spend a lot of time working on this.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Frank and Bess Smithe Grove: Leggett, CA

 Today was a real gift. I have to drive up to Laytonville once a week for work and it's always a bit tortuous. Redwood country is so close, but so far. Today the gift I received came in the form of a cancellation. I had three hours to kill in Laytonville. I decided to head north instead.

 About half an hour later, I arrived at the Frank Bess Smithe Grove. It's a small redwood grove located right along highway 101 next to the mighty Eel River. The area is magical in my opinion. You can feel it in the air. Richardson Grove is just to the north, a bit further is the Avenue of the Giants.

 This particular grove can easily be overlooked. It's the first grove of big redwoods a person will encounter when heading north on the 101. It's proximity to highway 101 and its small size makes it less desirable perhaps. It's true, the highway does take away from it's mystique. Car and truck noise is constant. All of the things that one would expect from a highway park can be found here: Soiled underwear tossed in the bushes, used toilet paper behind giant redwoods, graffiti, beer bottles, trash, and the occasional poacher digging up redwood saplings with a shovel.

 Even so, the grove was perfect today. An unexpected walk in the redwood forest makes for a great day. There are some decent sized trees growing here as well.

I find it difficult to walk out to the Eel River and not wonder what this place must have been like a few hundred years ago. A paradise is all I can imagine. The urge to give up driving forever entered my mind once again.

I had about 50 minutes to spend walking around before I had to head back to Laytonville to work the rest of the afternoon. The grove felt fragile. I wish it a continued long life...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

CDT planning: March 12, 2013

For the next couple of weeks, I will be highlighting the Jonathan Ley CDT routes and alternates onto my Delorme pages, suggested by Yogi in her planning guide. I started with Montana this morning and really enjoy this process. It really allows you to visualize the terrain and slowly follow the route of the CDT. I'm intrigued with the idea of taking alternate routes. I think this "choose your own adventure" availability is going to be pretty sweet.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Continental Divide Trail 2013: Planning

I will be the first to admit that I am not a good planner when it comes to anything. I really don't enjoy it at all. I've mentioned before that sloth and procrastination are my two nemesis. I find the planning process to be a bit like long distance hiking in some ways. I like to gradually work my way into it, definitely don't want to burn out too early or too late. I find the process somewhat amusing. I can go days, and even weeks without even reading about the trail. I'm enjoying town life right now, and there are plenty of things keeping me busy. Well, this morning I woke up troubled. Ahhh, there's the feeling that says "better get your ass in gear." I've been waiting for that sensation. I expect to feel this more often as June 15th (departure date) draws nearer. Then again, the planning process has been getting easier and easier with each trip, so maybe I am right on track. I know what I need to do, now I just need to do it. It will all work itself out. I haven't done much today as of yet, but will do some more planning tonight, most likely go through some maps and get them a bit more organized.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Montgomery Woods 3-10-2013

 I finally made it back to Montgomery Woods this morning for a hike. The water has receded for now, and the trail is now hike-able on the south side of the grove.
 Trillium's are just beginning to grow and a few of them were starting to blossom. Also, there was more bright light in the grove today, as the sun is climbing higher in the sky as the official beginning of spring approaches.
There were still a few mushrooms here and there, but I would assume their season is coming to a close. Always a good day to walk in the redwoods...

Monday, March 4, 2013

Pacific Madrone

A few months ago, a friend of mine introduced me to the game of Petanque a game that I have quickly become addicted to. Anyhow, I was invited to join a few folks for a game near the town of Willits, and while I was driving to the house, I saw the biggest Pacific Madrone Tree I have ever seen.