Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Montgomery Woods 4-29-13

This tree looked like it had been struck by lightning
 I took a quick walk in Montgomery Woods yesterday after work. It was very warm in the grove yesterday, and windy. Had to watch my head a few times as I heard branches falling from 300 feet above. I only saw three other people, hiking in a group with their dog.
 I heard what sounded like two barred owls communicating, although I couldn't pin point their location. Their hoots took me off trail, and I found myself walking in a now dry stream bed, which gave me a fresh perspective on some of the trees I know pretty well now. The grove is drying out and mosquitoes are hatching. I did not see any newts walking around yesterday, although I spent most of my time looking up into the canopy.
Came across this red frog in one of the shallow stream beds. Hard to believe the rainy season may already be over and summer like temperatures have arrived. Another season has passed.
Water levels are receding once again as summer approaches
Can't believe tomorrow is the first of May. I will have to start hiking more often to get my legs ready for the CDT...

Sunday, April 28, 2013

CDT Planning: April 28, 2013

About a month and a half to go, before stepping foot on the Continental Divide Trail. I love the feeling of transition. Of course it is bittersweet. There is the anticipation of taking 5 to 6 months off from work, the excitement of freedom. The anxiety and uncertainty of the challenges that will have to be confronted in the coming months. There is the sadness of putting closure on relationships that are just beginning to bud. That is the downside of moving around so much every couple of years. It seems it takes about two years to finally start developing some community, and then I uproot myself again. Today I decided to look back on my blog, and see where I was at this point in the planning stage before hiking the PCT in 2010. I feel real good right now. Looks like I learned some lessons from the planning process back then and I am ahead of schedule. A few more things have been checked off the list as far as being ready to leave. I bought a brand new down jacket to carry along this trip. Looks like there are plenty of opportunities to experience cold weather, so I think the jacket will be a nice accessory to have. It will help with staying warm while sleeping too I hope. I bought a plane ticket for my sisters wedding in Ohio next month. I can't wait to see my family again, it's been a long time. I renewed my car's registration and the stickers arrived in the mail. This weekend I've been reviewing resupply options. This hike will be much different from my PCT hike. I think I am going to organize no more than five resupply packages this time, and resupply the rest of the time as I go. One of my PCT friends named Spillz and I are planning a weekend trip in May where I will be able to test my new backpack.Of course, I need to start walking a whole lot more in the coming days. I am not in shape at all, and want to have a little strength when this journey begins. My PCT buddy "Indie" reminded me a few days ago that I have the liberty to pig out as much as I want right now, since all of the body fat will be burned off on the trail. I bought a huge lasagna for dinner tonight, and I intend to do just that. There are many northbound hikers on the trail at the moment. Here is a website that has collected all of the blogs and trail journals of the 2013 CDT hikers. It's called The Trail Unites Us. I have put the link in my sidebar. There are some great stories being told already. Check it out...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

CDT Prep: 4-21-13 GPS Done!

My GPS is loaded up and ready to go! Man, what a chore! After three consecutive weekends being stuck in front of the computer for a majority of my Saturdays and Sundays, I am relieved to say that it's all done. In theory, it should not be too difficult to program the thing, but it seemed like I was running into issue after issue, trying to problem solve my way out of it, checking, double checking, triple checking, quadruple checking, on and on, and on. Felt like I was going to lose my mind yesterday. But it's all done now. Here's the set up I settled on for my Garmin Etrex 30:

-Northwest Topos for the state of Montana.
-GPS File Depot for topos of Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico.
-I decided to load Bear Creek Waypoints into 5 separate 8 GB micro SD cards. I had to use 2 SD cards for the state of Montana because the Garmin Etrex only holds 2000 waypoints at a time. Many folks opt to use "Points of Interest" (POI's) instead of Waypoints because the GPS can hold the entire trails worth without having to swap out SD cards. I didn't want to cut any corners since this is my first time using a GPS. Only time on the trail will tell whether or not using separate SD cards with waypoints was a wiser decision than POI's.
-I loaded Star Man's Tracks onto the individual SD cards to use for alternate routes.
-I loaded Jonathan Ley's compass rose waypoints onto the individual cards as well. For the state of Colorado, I had to delete 18 waypoints to make room for Ley compass rose waypoints because I exceeded the 2000 waypoint limit by 18 and the compass rose seemed like something I didn't want to go without.
-At the moment, I feel good about the setup.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Montgomery Woods 4-20-13

I needed some "redwood therapy" (as Michael Taylor once described it) this morning. I start feeling agitated if I don't get some nature time, and it's been too long since I last visited Montgomery Woods. Too much craziness in this world sometimes. Peace definitely flows into the soul when immersed in nature's goodness. Anyhow, looking forward to the CDT. A 6 month news fast will be great.

Today in the redwoods, there were a lot of newts crawling across the trail. More than I have ever seen. Maybe it's the right time of the year to see them crawling about. There also is bright, springtime sunlight entering the grove right now. Lots of flowers blooming. The trillium look like they are just about peaking or slightly past peak at the moment. Also, lots of bird song in the grove. I'm not sure what kind of bird it is, but they are small and very vocal right now.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

CDT Prep: April 17, 2013

My GPS is just about programmed and ready. It's been an exhausting couple of weekends working on it. I still have a little left to do and hope to finish that project this weekend. I followed the advice from fellow CDT hiker Erin "Wired" who has an excellent GPS tutorial on her blog "Walking with Wired." I followed her hike of the PCT in 2011. If anyone is interested in the CDT, I'd recommend following her blog this year. I was amazed how up to date she kept her PCT website, despite hiking all day. Great photos, stories and videos. I expect she will do the same as she attempts a Northbound hike of the CDT this year.

I also finished tracing the Jonathan Ley routes onto the Delorme pages a couple weeks ago. Feels good to check things off the list. Taxes are done, sent them in Monday. Sunday night, I was having dreams about programming the GPS. I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about what still needs to be done. Since I could not sleep, I made two more "to do" lists. After working on that for about 15 minutes, I fell right back to sleep. Many Northbounders are hitting the trail this week, and several are out there as I write this. There are close to 100 Northbounders attempting a thru hike of the CDT this year. That may be a record. As far as I know, there are about 20 of us attempting a southbound hike. I will admit, I envy the possibility of a trail community developing for the Northbounders. Maybe those of us heading South will get together from time to time, but a complete solo experience needs to be prepared for as well. That scares the hell out of me to be honest...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Warbler Arrested/ Liberty Ponderosa Felled/ 2 Other Tree Sitters Extracted: Caltrans Bypass, Willits, CA (April 2, 2013)

Warbler was extracted from her tree sit this morning, arrested, and the Liberty Ponderosa felled.
 This morning's account is written from the point of view of an unapologetic lover of nature. God our Creator has blessed us with an abundance of love and life. That being said, it has been a dramatic morning. I woke up feeling sick this morning and canceled my work appointments. A few minutes later, I received a call that Warbler was most likely being extracted from her tree. Since I was there on the first day, I felt the need to see it to the last despite feeling sick and having a bad feeling about the day. By the time I arrived in Willits, Warbler had already been arrested, and the Liberty Ponderosa felled.
Protester and CHP. Liberty Ponderosa on the ground.
 As I walked along the highway towards the tree sit, a Caltrans construction worker said to me, "Good morning and please be safe." There were only a handful of protesters gathered when I arrived. One protester said to me "There is nothing left to do here, the other tree sitters are next to be extracted, meet there." Bypass aside, it was difficult to look upon the ravaged hillside, with the Liberty Ponderosa gone. The CHP looked upon us, many with arms folded. No problem, they had a law to enforce sadly enough. I stayed a while and took some photos, and then decided to head to the other tree sit.
Police in riot gear
 A few of us arrived at the same time, and walked over to the area together. It was sad to look upon several large Valley Oaks that had been felled in previous days. They were fine trees, I remember seeing them and taking their pictures when I hiked the boot print a couple months ago. Once we arrived closer to the tree sit, we could hear yelling coming from the tree tops. There was a medium sized gathering of protesters looking on. A cherry picker was on scene, as well as probably 40 to 50 police officers, many in riot gear.
Two tree sitters in a stand of Ponderosa pines
 Pretty soon, an officer announced over a bull horn that if anyone attempted to enter the construction site, they would be arrested. We gathered behind the fence and looked on. The mood was somber.
Officers in the cherry picker soon raised their weapons on the tree sitters.
 Next, two cherry pickers with police officers rose into the canopy. The tree sitters started to scurry from their platforms into other areas of their trees. The mood quickly turned tense and unstable when the officers raised their weapons at the tree sitters. Many in the crowd began screaming. I was disgusted. This is America, look at what we have become, or perhaps always were.
Cherry picker rising into canopy
 For the next hour or so, it was a cat and mouse game. When the officers would get close to the tree sitters, they would move to other areas. The sitters had a series of  lines set up between trees which allowed them to move to other trees. I was afraid someone was going to fall. The officers cut the lines and escape routes eventually.
Weapons remained positioned on tree sitters for entire hour
Everyone in the crowd continued to look upon the tense scene. Media were absent. Once the two tree sitters escape lines were cut, they both ended up in the same tree. The cherry pickers converged on them, and police climbers entered the tree. Many in the crowd continued to shout words of encouragement.
Weapons pointed at tree sitters
 The scene escalated quickly. The tree sitters were doing everything they could to stay in the tree, and the officers were doing everything they could to get them out of the tree. Once the police climbers reached the first tree sitter they grabbed a hold of him. The tree sitter was clinging to branches. A loud "Bang" was heard from one of the weapons. The crowd started screaming and going ballistic. Then another loud "Bang!" Everyone thought that the tree sitter was getting shot. Screams and obscenities were flying, some started running, many in the crowd were crying. Then another "Bang!" Everyone looked upon the scene in horror. It was very chaotic.
CHP Helicopter arrives on the scene
 We soon realized that the CHP used rubber bullets to fire upon the tree sitter. The other sitter surrendered and came out of the tree. Both were placed in handcuffs when they reached the ground. It was all over rather quickly from that point. The sitters did a heroic job trying to save their patch of earth. The crowd shouted encouraging words to the tree sitters who were placed in police cars. The crowd dispersed shortly afterward.
One of the two heroic tree sitters placed in hand cuffs
Thank God everyone was OK at the end of the day. Construction of the Caltrans bypass in Willits continues to move forward...