Monday, June 27, 2011

Solitude in the Alps

This past weekend we escaped into the western reaches of the Trinity Alps. This part of the Alps is known for its rushing rivers, abundant wildlife, rugged mountains (which are smaller than the Alps peaks to the east and therefore snow-free in June), and amazing solitude. Oh, and one more thing: Poison Oak! The area lived up to its reputation in every way. We saw exactly zero people on the trail, saw lots of wildlife, camped along a beautiful rushing river, swam in frigid water, looked up at rugged, forested mountains and were nearly overcome by more poison oak than you could imagine. In fact, the poison oak was head-high in places and got so thick, that we eventually turned around. Still, this side of the Alps has an incredible sense of wildness and we had a wonderful weekend!
Still smiling before the onslaught of Poison Oak!
Susanna is surrounded by Poison Oak! Our beautiful campsite sat along this rushing river:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Rafting down the Eel River

In late May, I had a chance to do a 4-day rafting trip with the BLM down the Eel River, a long stretch of remote river in northern California. The purpose of the trip was to look for archaeological sites and to patrol areas of the BLM which are inaccessible except by river. The BLM land that we got to is extremely difficult to reach. In fact, one long-time BLM employee told us that we were likely the first BLM employees to get to some of these lands!

The trip was a blast, despite cool and damp conditions. We saw eagles, osprey, peregrine falcon, two gray foxes and a bobcat. Not a bad work week!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

100 Mile Views on the Hat Creek Rim

The PCT has been calling my name all winter long! Finally, I had a chance to backpack on a section which is a little bit lower in elevation. I did this 31 mile stretch solo, so in order to avoid doing a out and back trip, I ended up biking 29 road miles at the start of my adventure! I began the trip by dropping off my backpack at the PCT along highway 299. I then drove to the PCT trailhead on highway 44. From there, I biked the 29 road miles back to my backpack, stashed my bike and then hiked to my car! It was awesome!!

The trail ended up being everything I had hoped for. The temp was cool but the sun warm. After getting through a few storms on the afternoon of day 1, the blue skies returned. On day 2, I hiked up onto Hat Creek Rim and had about 20 miles of near-continuous views of mountains and valleys. To the north was the massive bulk of Mount Shasta. To the south was another massive giant in Lassen Peak. To the west was Burney Peak and Thousand Lakes Wilderness, both still white with winter.

I tried out my new tarp (photos below) and was mostly happy with it, although a cool wind came up on the second night which made me quite chilly. All in all, it was a big success and gets me dreaming about the next PCT adventure a little over a month away!!

Burney PeakOld firetower on Hat Creek Rim

Second campsite with Lassen Peak behindNear the end of the route with Lassen Peak glistening to the south