For Memorial Day we played north of Mt. Shasta. It was really nice to car camp and dive into the region. The trip was skewed towards visiting lots of locations as opposed to breaking a sweat. Especially for me, as I sprained my ankle on Sunday in a cave. I’m nicely bruised and will limp for the next few weeks.
We: looked for shooting stars, ate well, went in caves, walked the battlefield of the Modoc War, sat at a fire lookout, hiked to a butte and lava field, drank, saw petroglyphs and the pacific flyway, napped in hammocks, visited small towns and drove the back roads onto a shield volcano to walk a pumice and obsidian flow and sit at a lake.
Tips: bring armor for the caves (pads, durable clothes, helmets); there is a seasonal canoe trail on Tule Lake; LBNM’s ~35 campsites didn’t fill on the busiest weekend of the year (and there are plenty of great dispersed camping outside the park); it’s hard to find out information about ~680 of the park’s 700 caves.
I had the opportunity to fly down to Kick Off this year and I took advantage of it. It freed me up to spend the night at Scout and Frodo’s, day-hike the southern 20 miles of the PCT and add on Sunday night in the campground after the event.
Of course, it was a wonderful time.
– My favorite thing about KO is the opportunity for us play community. I really like getting to chat the regulars year after year. Meeting the new hikers, if only briefly, is nice too. I met a whole lot of great people.
– I was witness of a helicopter doing a body recovery 😦
– KO is always really hectic and busy for me. This year was a little less so because the weather was bad, and I’d made a concerted effort to downsize the expectations on my time at the event.
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.
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 attended another wonderful hiker gathering last weekend. The size, format, venue and schedule of this ALDHA-W Gathering seemed just right. Not too big, not too small. Just a perfect weekend of slideshows and hanging out with really great people. You are some impressively strong, skilled and experienced hikers. Hot damn that’s a lot of walking. Thanks for being my friends.
After the Gathering, I spent the rest of the long weekend higher up in the hills. We lunched in Downieville, snacked in Sierra City, camped at Packer Lake (in a fall drizzle), and road tripped through the “lost Sierra”. Ambling around Truckee, Tahoe City, the lake, shopping for a SUP and exploring the Donner party’s history happened too.
After sunset, we bumped our way slowly down the Cottonwood Canyon Road to Mono Lake. My little economy car probably isn’t the best for dirt roads, but it works. Sometimes.
We found a dispersed campsite, popped a beer and cooked some noodles. The Sierra crest over the lake was beautiful in the moonlight.
In the morning we headed down to the lake shore to say hello to the flies and shrimp. Surprisingly, the fly population was small and I didn’t see a single shrimp. Totally different than past visits to the lake. Perhaps populations are down because it’s the fall?
The leisurely morning extended to breakfast at “the usual” in Lee Vinning.
I spent the weekend camping on Sunset Beach near Santa Cruz. The sea was full of life. There was an explosion of sand crabs, lots of baby dungeness, living sand dollars, large numbers of birds, a few pods of harbor porposes, jumping sea lions and a very cute and very hungry sea otter. I don’t think I’d ever seen live sand dollars.
On the way home we stopped at the MAH, Santa Cruz’s outdoor shops and a park in San Jose.