Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Over the summer Nicole and I have explored a lot of Northern California on our weekend adventures. Seems like every weekend has been filled with new locations, new experiences and a deeper understanding of our lives. Each trip alone will stand out in our memories as one of a kind but together they have created the most memorable summer of my life, and we are only half way through the summer. This last weekend we took a big trip out to Mt Lassen National Park. We ccovered a lot of ground in those two days off but we never once felt rushed or crammed for time. Like all our trips we kind of take it as it comes and don't really plan to much. The only thing we knew was we wanted to hike up Mt Lassen. So our journey began just outside Willow Creek here in Humboldt where we stayed our first night in a really nice National Forest campground. From there it was a long 4 hour drive over 299 and into the park where it was getting to late to do the actual hike so we hiked down to Kings Creek Falls. If you are ever in Lassen these falls are certainly not to be missed especially if you break park rules and step over the cable barrier and scramble to the bottom where you can really feel and smell the waterfall. My guess is that not to many visitors go to the bottom, even though it was rather easy. We were all alone until we crossed the creek and looked up to a horde of jealous tourists staying neatly behind the fence taking our pictures and pointing. I felt like an animal in a zoo but they were the ones who were comical and missing out. As we headed back up a few of the more adventurous tourists were heading down following in our footsteps, a new trend that we may have started to the dislike of the NPS. I hope they thoroughly enjoyed the falls from the bottom, because from the top you can't experience the waterfall all you can get is a pretty picture. Camping in the National Parks has never been one of my favorite experiences. For one the spots are way to close and lack any kind of personality and two everyone there seems to be completely clueless about the meaning of "camping." Why is it today that people feel they need to empty the contents of their house and take all of it with them when they are trying to get back to nature? I mean you could sleep a dozen people in some of the tents we saw! Nicole and I slept outside under the stars and had a near gourmet dinner with wine and yet everything fit nicely in the trunk of the car. These other people needed special trailers or large RVs just to go camping, I hope one day they discover what they are missing in their "camping" experience. Anyways enough about that. We got up super early, or better yet Nicole got up early then prodded me out of bed so that we could see if the impossible could be accomplished. That is hiking the most popular trail in the park and trying to do it without anyone else around. And I would have never thought this was possible, we actually found solitude in a National Park! The whole hike up Lassen we crossed paths with only one other person and had almost an hour at the top completely tourist free. On the way down that was another story. We passed group after group heading up to the top. I can only fear what the top would feel like with all those people crammed around making cell phone calls to family and friends back home. Our summit was much more enjoyable, the sun was crisp and warm the wind soft and cooling. If not for the haze of some wildfire we would have been able to see for a hundred miles. But the view we had was stunning, all of the park lay before us with dozens of small volcanoes and Mt Shasta alone poking into the clouds in the distance. We finished the hike around 1030 in the morning just as a gaggle of boy scouts were loudly making there way from the trail head. This hike was an experience of a life time and was only possible because we got up early and beat the crowds of people. After this hike came the drive home. For this we took a new route, one neither of us had been on before. The sign at the beginner announcing winedy road next 140 miles was a bit of an understatement. Highway 36 from Red Bluff to Fortuna is beautiful, hot and has more turns than any other road I have ever been on. Took us some four or five hours just to make the trip. And every minute was well worth it, especially climbing over the first set of mountains out of the 100 degree central valley heat. The only two stops we made were in Platina (some little town that is really in the middle of nowhere) to get some water and at a swimming hole on the Van Duzen. This was an amazing trip and one of the last of the summer because we will of course be in Costa Rica for the first two weeks of August.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
There is nothing like a trip that gets you back to your roots. A trip that makes you remember who you are and what you want from life. A trip where you feel truly
alive. That is exactly how I felt about this backpacking trip to the Trinity Alps. I haven't been backpacking in a little over a year and the longing for the challenge of hauling my pack up a mountain was biting at my heels. So Nicole and I strapped on our boots and loaded our packs and headed up to the Trinity Alps Wilderness off of Highway 299 and hiked up the Canyon Creek Trail to get back into touch with something we had both been missing. This area is so extremely beautiful and incredibly remote that you feel like your in another world. Huge mountains sweep up both sides of the valley topped with sheer granite faces. Wildflowers exploded out of every meadow and crowded out the trail in some spots. The Tiger Lilys were exceptionally beautiful. Canyon Creek meanders through the valley occasionally cascading over the rocks in a handful of waterfalls that seem to appear out of nowhere. Our base camp was right next to one of the smaller falls a few miles from the trailhead. This camp was in the perfect spot. Near enough to the water so we could hear it all night, far enough from the trail so we didn't see to many people and tucked between a number of boulders for extra shelter. The first night was clear and cool so we slept out under the stars and a near full moon. From our base camp we set out to hike up to the lakes without our packs. Though we did not stay long at the lakes due to the accumulating clouds and the threat of rain. We hurried back to the camp to set up our tent for shelter and napped in the heat of the afternoon waking up to a clear nearly cloud free sky. This trip has been one of the best adventures this whole summer and was the best experience backpacking I have ever had. I feel so lucky to live close enough to such beautiful areas and be able in my body and mind to fully appreciate the beauty of such a unique environment.
This little plot of dirt surrounded by cinder blocks basking in the sun has taught me a valuable lesson regarding life and food. I shall no longer take for granted the overly simple act of grocery shopping for I have now planted my own food. I can see all the hard work it takes to bring 1 strawberry to the store and how that 1 strawberry should be cherished and not wasted uselessly. This garden was by no means easy or more cost effective than buying all our own organic veggies. We have spent a good deal of money buying supplies and dirt and even waged outright war on the invading snails who want to eat our rewards! The effort and money has been put in, now time to wait for the sweet benefits of our little plot of land. This garden has given us a starting point to further learn how to support ourselves. Now a 6 foot by 4 foot garden is not nearly enough space to grow all we need but we are learning the tools to one day grow all our own crops and have no more worries about chemicals in our foods, where our food came from or how much energy was input to grow what we are eating. All the energy we want to rely on is our backs, brains and the sun! Heres to hoping everyone has the chance to have a backyard garden and learn a thing or two about plants, food and life.
The Garden Retreat Cottage (Home)
Our home is not just where we sleep, eat and spend the down time of our day. It is a retreat from life and worries, a base camp for our explorations of Arcata and greater Humboldt County. A comfortable nook nestled in a beautiful garden to stage our lives as we see fit, free from the constraints of neighbors and lousy room mates. Free from the sound of passing vehicles and honking horns. Free from mean landlords and ugly parking lots. From our garden retreat we cannot see nor hear the road and are thus slightly removed from life outside, even if for just the moment. We are completely content in our 300 square foot castle, not cramped, not looking for anything better and not looking to move away for the time being. I love this cottage because it is the first place I have felt like was a home to me and not just simply a house in a long time. I live with a beautiful woman I call shmoo who is clean, thinks like me and likes my cooking. What more could I ask for?