I went to my third GGG-West last weekend. As in the past, it was a good time.
The ~3 mile walk to the campsite was a late night affair, mostly done with my headlamp off. The stars were great and the dark outlines of gargantuan oaks made it a neat way to start the weekend. Once at camp it was the usual GGG: catching up old friends, meeting new people, checking in with the “hiking celebrities” in attendance, drinking, avoiding gear talk, being absolutely blown by some people’s gear geekery (in a good way). I spent much of the weekend chatting with Bobcat – a cool dude.
I looped down to China Hole for some exercise.
Ron from Six Moon Designs showed off his new line of packs. It was interesting insight into how a garage gear businesses shifts to a more professionally produced product. Ron and I chatted late into the night. Fascinating stuff.
Early Sunday. There were probably about 100 people at the gathering.
Wild harvested uni.
Post Christmas I tied my board on top and headed north. Charlie and I rendezvoused at Big River. It was rough. We turned south again and put in at Albion.
It was my first try at NorCal condition freediving. I only puked a little bit. I wasn’t hunting, but Charlie confirmed that the visibility was mediocre and the fish were hard to find. He still speared five. I really only hit bottom a few times but it sure was neat for the few seconds I was down there. I loved it and will go again.
Camp at McKerricher was infused with beer and grilled fish. CA State Parks are expensive. $43 for the night.
After a walk to the beach, breakfast in Fort Bragg and a stop at the dive shop, Charlie headed home. I went north.
The running tally of the places I went after:
- stopped at McKerricher and another beach farther north. The fog bank rolling in was beautiful.
- camped and jogged at Westport-Union up on the bluffs. What a stellar place to camp.
- lunched under the redwoods at Richardson Grove.
- stopped at Benbow but there wasn’t enough water to paddle.
- intentionally drove the very long way to the Mattole via Ettersburg. It’s a curvy and rural few hours on a mostly single lane road. I was surprised by the number of people that live so far off the grid. It’s definitely a center of the west’s back to the lander movement. I’m sure most of them have moved from vegetables to pot.
- camped two nights at the Mattole estuary. Sat on the beach, walked south beyond Punta Gorda.
- stopped in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
Just what the doctor ordered: a few days on the beach.
Things of note:
I love solos. Read a book, two New Yorkers and two High Country News’. I was asleep around 9pm and would wake up and read for a couple of hours in the middle of the night. I slept in my car each night.
I saw at least twelve whales one afternoon. I didn’t see anyone else whale watching.
It was around the king tide and the lows were extreme. The tidepools extended up and down the coast. I found a lot of cool things, including a fish head that was about 20 inches wide. The sea lions at Punta Gorda were making farting noises with their mouths.
I’ve paddled twice so far this vacation.
Finally did the long, interesting levy drive north along Garden Highway. Well over an hour later I put in on the Feather at Boyd’s Landing just south of Yuba City. While it was nice, it wasn’t markedly different that paddling closer to home.
Paddling off of Crissy Beach was choppy and I didn’t make it far. There was a nice sunset beyond the Golden Gate though.
It turns out that my small Honda Fit is perfectly capable of carrying a 12’6” SUP.
Uncle Bill is game.
The outdoor highlight of my Thanksgiving break was paddling on the bay. My uncle and I put in at Mission Creek and took out at the Dolphin Club. It’s an impressive paddle along the city’s sky scrapers, under the Bay Bridge and past a long line of piers.
We started by sliding under the low draw bridges at high tide, sitting on our boards to get under them. After passing the ball park, we hit the open bay with a current in our favor.
Conditions were calm. Every once in a while we’d pass people gathered on public access piers. They’d snap photos. We didn’t see any other paddlers out there.
I’m looking forward to doing it again.
The weekend also included a day of surfing in Pacifica, a bike ride, and an afternoon paddle on the American River.
I celebrated my 30th birthday with a trip down to Joshua Tree. It was a perfect desert fix: two hikes, camp time, dirt driving, taking pictures, and walking on rocks.
The closest I got to breaking a sweat was the hike up into the Hexi Mountains. Perfectly flat walking along Fried Liver Wash led to a climb on an old mining road. A few shafts, lots of old cans, lunch relaxing against the stone miner’s cabin, and plenty of cactus. We found two tortoise shells (and one tortoise foot) on the way.
The Wonderland of Rocks hike to Willow Hole is a great easy day hike in Joshua Tree.
The joshua trees are obviously a highlight. Our walk to the Wonderland brought us through a dense stand, but otherwise much of our time was spent above or below the zone that they grow in.
This was my second (third?) trip to the park. I really wanted to get off the main road and we succeeded at that. The days are short. It was dusk before five.
Saw a good number of shooting stars, and learned later that it was part of the Taurid shower. The wildly different night temperatures (chill, to cold, to warm) on the three nights were a surprise. Saturday night was especially marked by the large number of insects landing on our faces.
Other things of note:
- Great food. Especially the spear caught blue rock fish.
- It was a full days drive each way.
- We drove Old Dale to the park boundary where it got rougher. We couldn’t start the truck when the alarm’s key fob died. Luckily, we found a charger and got the Xterra moving again.
- Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban. Thanks guys.
- Once again I’m pining for a trip to the Basin and Range east of Reno.
We stopped at the Cholla Garden twice.
A nice way to stretch our legs.
Brent and I walked around the lower foothills last weekend. We lacked a real map so we’re not sure if we did the “proper” route.