I began the hike walking very slowly, keeping my eyes peeled for wildflowers and fungi.
The last time I was on this trail a couple of weeks ago, I talked to a couple in regards to all the gunfire. The man I talked to said there was a rifle range nearby, and that it should be safe to continue hiking towards the gunshots. "No one that I know of has been hit by a stray bullet up here," was his reply.
With that conversation in mind, I decided to hike as far as I could today. The closer I got to the rifle range, it became clear that the range is not the only place folks like to take target practice. There was an assortment of targets hanging from tree branches, TV's blown to smithereens, propane canisters, plywood, bottles, etc. Shell casings littered the ground in various places.
I continued hiking the trail which turned into a dirt road heading up the mountain. The gunfire became a mental stress, continuous for the next couple of hours. I had no idea where the bullets were going, the sound seemed to change intensity and direction regularly. Eventually, I reached a place called Mendocino Rock, which had an overlook over a large lake (above). Again, there were shotgun casings, beer bottles and cans, shattered clay pigeons, and smashed TV's everywhere.
As I began my decent, a few more pickups came up the road, shortly followed by additional gunfire to accompany the already steady chorus of bullets ripping through the cool crisp skies.
By this point, I did not feel that it was particularly safe to hike up in this area. Visions of a stray bullet ripping through my guts, and my dead limp body lying on the road entered my mind.