Walking and building the new Pacific Crest Trail near the Sierra Buttes

Partly for fun, but of course for work too, we closed up the office and went up to the trail. The goal was check out one of our major projects: the re-alignment of the Pacific Crest Trail north of the Sierra Buttes.

On Thursday, we day hiked and a few of us jumped in a lake. In the afternoon, we joined the ACE corps crew at their base camp. They cooked up dinner of pork, potatoes and carrots. We played ring toss, set up tents, chatted, and enjoyed the evening.

Yesterday, we picked up tools and joined the crew for a day of trail building. It’s a many-year project. I worked on clearing brush along the flag line. It’s the step before cutting new trail tread (which another team was doing).

It’s really neat to build new Pacific Crest Trail. It’s done with so much intention, planning and very high standards. Laying out the trail and constructing it in a way that will make it long-lasting with little maintenance is the basic goal. When it’s open in a few years, the PCT will be further away from roads, pass by more water, mountain views and a nice campground.

Building a new section of the Pacific Crest Trail in the Sierra Buttes area.

Building a new section of the Pacific Crest Trail in the Sierra Buttes area.

PCT Days 2015 in Cascade Locks, Oregon

It should come as no surprise that PCT Days would be something that I’d like. It’s a PCT festival after all. This is my third or fourth PCT Days but the first one where I didn’t camp. I’ve been traveling a whole lot, and have been generally a bit stressed out with so much going on. When I saw that heavy rain was forecast, the first time in at least six months, I decided to book a last minute hotel room. It also helped keep the electronics that I needed for work charged and me showered and a bit more presentable.

PCT Days 2015

Again, since this was a work event, I’ll write about it at my work’s website later. Probably this week.

On the personal front:

  • I won a pair of Danner boots in the raffle. I’d been lusting after a pair of their shoes for a year or two, but they were far out of my price range. Winning a pair was a real coup. I ended up squeezing in a stop at their store before my flight home and now I’m the owner of a fancy new pair of shoes.
  • Bridge Walk, when we close the Bridge of the Gods to cars and invite the community to¬†enjoy it, was also a huge success. We’re building support to build a non-motorized path on the bridge. It felt like we nearly filled the bridge to capacity with a wide cross section of people.
  • It’s oh-so-great to talk to people that are passionate about the PCT. I work for the PCT day-in, day-out and it’s incredibly necessary to spend some time with people that are inspired by the trail. I spent time with friends and met a whole bunch of new people too. This trail brings together some really wonderful people. It was busy and fun.
  • The rain was really enjoyable. It came mostly at night, and in short, heavy waves.
  • We hosted Dan Ogden and Jean Mathews at our booth. They were key people behind the National Trails System, Wilderness Act, Wild and Scenic Rivers, Land and Water Conservation Fund and so many other things of incredible importance. Dan’s love of the PCT, at 93, and his genuine interest in how “his” project is going, was very moving. I’m glad that I got to spend time with them.
  • I got a tour of Thunder Island Brewing and got to spend some time there with good friends. I was especially excited to hang out with Thyra, the volunteer that manages our Instagram.

All in all, PCT Days was a fantastic success in my mind. Turnout was much higher than in years past. More vendors showed up (and gave away incredible amounts of quality gear to everyone). And, the vibe is one of a small community of friendly, passionate people.

Bridge Walk on the Bridge of the Gods

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Carson Pass to Meiss Meadow

This hike was pretty unique. With my coworkers and partners from the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service, we hiked the PCT today from Carson Pass to Meiss Meadow and the Truckee River. It was a field day during a week of training about the science behind hiker’s impacts on trails. We brought out one of the world’s only Recreation Ecologists to do some extra professional development in light of the increasing popularity of the PCT.

I won’t go into what we talked about during the workshop (we’ll do a post at pcta.org about it), and instead just say that it was a beautiful day on the trail. I do love talking trail management and relish the few days I got to spend diving into it with other professionals.

Measuring soil loss on a trail transect.

Measuring soil loss on a trail transect.

Backpacking the Palisades Creek Trail to the North Fork of the American River

We were supposed to hike in the Ritter Range but smoke from a large wildfire in Kings Canyon sent us elsewhere. Stressed out from travel and work, I had sent an email Friday afternoon that I was bailing completely. But when I walked out of work at 6 p.m., I figured that since I was already packed, I might as well head to the mountains. The smoke wasn’t as bad near Tahoe and after discussing a few choices, Sim suggested a fairly obscure backpacking trip down the Palisades Creek Trail to the North Fork of the American River.

Palisade Falls on the North Fork of the American River.

I really loved swimming above and below Palisade Falls.

It was a short trip. We started late in the afternoon, hiked the seven miles to the North Fork and swam in the outstanding pool at the base of Palisade Falls. After dinner, I read a paper about managing people’s impacts on backcountry trails and hit the sack. This morning we swam a good bit more in the fantastic swimming holes then did a quick hike up and out.

While we’d all been looking forward to our hike outside of Mammoth, this was a nice alternative in the smoky conditions that we had on Saturday. I really enjoyed how much we swam, spending the weekend with friends, and how quick a drive it was.

Everyone has gone back to Sacramento, and I’m typing this up in Truckee. I’m working in South Lake Tahoe this week so I’m going to spend tonight alone, camping along Lake Tahoe and reading a few more papers. It’s time to log off and leave this Truckee coffee shop.

Beach camping in Westport, Calif.

A trip that’s anticipated year-round, this weekend we went beach camping in Westport. It’s an annual tradition for Lindsey and her friends. Our crew totalled 19 people and most of us took Friday off work. It was stellar.

We did beach stuff. Tacos and nachos. Hot dogs, corn, and potatoes on the fire. Banana boats and smores. Bacon and eggs. Whiskey and beer.

IMG_20150815_174615

Our tents were right on the beach. Guys in Side by Sides pulled our gear from cars to our spot in the sand.

I brought my bike and took off for a quick climb up Branscombe road and some nearby dirt. I played in the surf and caught a few waves on a boogie board.

Reading. Napping. Games. Time at the fire.