Sunday, February 27, 2011


Driving back from the coast today, I had to stop and take a hike in Jackson State Forest. I planned on taking a quick look around, but of course, ended up spending a couple of hours scanning the forest floor for mushrooms.
I remember watching an excerpt from Ken Burn's National Parks documentary last year, and Shelton Johnson, the Yosemite Park Ranger, made a comment about some mountains having charisma. (He was referring to Half Dome.) I think the same is true of trees. Some trees have charisma, and one can't help but be drawn to them. The above tree is one such specimen. A quiet giant. I walked up to it and said, "Wow!"

To my disappointment, the other side of the trunk had the word "CUT" spray painted on it. Logging is common in this forest, so I imagine this magnificent tree will see the end of it's long life fairly soon. It's really hard to believe in some ways.
Despite wandering around for a while, mushrooms were few and far between. I thought that due to the recent rain, there would be more to see.
About two hours into my hike, I met a man on one of the logging roads who seemed as surprised to see me as I was to see him. (He was the first person I've seen walking back here after a couple of trips.) He was an older man, with an accent that sounded Irish. He had a backpack and a bucket.
"Are you looking for mushrooms?" I asked.
"Yes, I've been coming back here for twenty two years picking mushrooms."
He proceeded to show me some of the mushrooms he had picked.
"Here you can have these," he said.
I recognized the mushrooms he put in my hand.
"Can I eat them raw?" I asked.
"No, no, not unless you want to risk a slow, painful death," he grinned.
I gave them back to him and explained to him that I probably was not going to cook them up. He then showed me his backpack that was filled with pounds of mushrooms.
"I've got a few choice places back here where I like to forage," he said without going into detail.
Just like great trails and camping spots, I had to smile and appreciate the man's desire to protect his favorite spots, and could not help but feel more drawn to discovering the secrets of the mushrooms!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Highway 253

Here are a few pictures from highway 253. It's a narrow, windy mountainous road that eventually leads to the coast. Having experienced some horrendous commutes in my life, (Washington DC, LA) yesterday was a nice reminder that for the time being, traffic is nowhere to be found.

Friday, February 25, 2011


Snowstorm approaching...
Point Arena Lighthouse

I woke up to snow this morning in Ukiah, and there's snowshowers in Ft. Bragg this afternoon and evening. Here are some pictures from today's commute to Pt. Arena. An absolutely beautiful drive today...

PCT Trail Scenes #121

Cars were few and far between on Highway 20, the last main road to civilization before the final 70 miles or so to Canada.
Rainy Pass: Cold, wet, and uncomfortable.
Driving through the North Cascades on highway 20.
Joel's house, our sanctuary for the night.
Indie, Joel, and I before heading out the next morning.
Highway 20 at Rainy Pass was a climatic moment on the PCT. It was a place where the stress, frustration, discomfort, joy, elation, relief, all seemed to take place at once. It's one of my favorite "trail angel" experiences. I could go on and on, but their is no point. Indie wrote about this day perfectly on his PCT blog. If so inclined, you can read it here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

PCT Trail Scenes #120

Sure enough, the rains came just before Indie and I reached Rainy Pass. We hiked out of Stehekin that evening, found a campsite and slept in for the first time in weeks as we waited for the rain to stop. It felt real good to give the legs a rest for once, but we were still uncertain about what to do from here, since we still had about 90 miles or so to go, and an uncertain weather forecast.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

PCT Trail Scenes #119: Welcome to Stehekin!

Indie and I arrived at the shuttle area just in time to take the bus into Stehekin so we could pick up our resupply, get a weather report, and refuel before everything closed for the weekend and the season.
Stehekin is such a cool little town, it was like going back in time. Most of the houses are actually rustic log cabins. It felt like we were at the edge of civilization.
Stehekin has an amazing bakery, where Indie and I bought some pastries before heading to the post office. It was unsettling to see the bakery selling the very last of its goods before shutting down for winter. There wasn't much left when we passed through.
I thought I was in Alaska when we arrived at Lake Chelan. According to Wikipedia, there is no road access to Stehekin, though several miles of road exist there. It is reachable by passenger ferry, by foot over the Cascade Pass, the Lady of the Lake, or private boat from Chelan, or by floatplane. The vehicles in Stehekin have been barged there on Lake Chelan.
I told Indie that I thought Stehekin would be the perfect place to end the PCT. The town is so unique, a booze cruise would be the ultimate celebration to the town of Chelan, where one could eventually find their way home. However, looking at a map of Washington, it is only fitting to continue on to the border, despite the arrangements and extra paperwork to get home from Canada.

If I was ever to hike the trail again, I would set aside a little extra cash to spend more time in this one of a kind place. When we arrived, Indie and I quickly sought out the weather report for the next three days. We needed a good weather window in order to finish the last 90 miles. The report was ominous. It showed a huge storm moving in, leaving Indie and I unsure of the best course of action.
We discussed our options with ranger Mark, whose soft spoken nature attracted this butterfly above. He informed us of a rest area 20 miles to the north along the road at Rainy Pass, one of the last roads before entering the final stretch of wilderness into Canada. If the storm became too unbearable, we could hike to the rest area, and hopefully get a ride with someone into one of the final towns to wait out the storm. We were so close, but felt so far from the finish!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Today's Post Work Walk

I really, really like walking here...

PCT Trail Scenes #118

Bear up in the tree
U shaped, glacially carved valley.

I thought we left these rattlers behind 1000 miles ago!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

PCT Trail Scenes #117

Fire Creek Pass (looking north): This is where I incorrectly exclaimed to Indie, "Here is the end of the PCT!! That has to be Canada!!" This also was one of the most beautiful areas of the trail in my opinion.
Fire Creek Pass (looking south, southwest)
A beautiful glacial lake.
Hiking north and eventually a steep descent into the valley.
This particular stretch of trail was literally destroyed by a huge storm and floods in 2003. What I remember most about this day is that Indie and I were rushing to get to Stehekin so that we could make the post office in time. We could not shake the feeling that the beautiful Indian summer we were experiencing was going to end any day and winter would be upon us. To our relief, major trail work had been done, probably days or weeks before we entered this section. As a result, what was rumored to take 8 hours to hike, actually was done in an hour or so. We were going to make the Stehekin post office before it closed for the weekend.
The infamous crossing at the Suiattle River. This crossing has been feared and loathed by many a thru hiker since 2003. For some, it's a major concern well before the thru hike is even attempted. Indie dubbed it "The crossing of a lifetime." What I find hilarious is that this is actually the wrong log! Indie and I crossed the wrong one, an arguably more difficult crossing point. Obviously, we made it across, but not without a moment of extreme fear on my part. I froze halfway across as the log wobbled beneath me. After complaining it was not difficult enough before I crossed, I now found myself (for a brief moment) actually contemplating jumping off into the river, which probably would have resulted in a serious injury. Indie on the other hand, marched confidently across, an epic crossing.