Posted 2 years ago

There are precious moments on trail where your mind just spins and spins until it starts creating the silliest scenes and imaginative conversations – with friends or strangers and the strangest ideas come forth. This blog is a close second, but the ideas I came across were wild, borderline manic. Some moments, I would be on a tear, thinking about all the different things I could accomplish when I got back to the city. Write a book. Start a business. Big, lofty goals, seemed easy or attainable. This was another symptom of the PCT mind (for me, but I’ve seen/heard other hikers go through this). Sometimes, I would create comedic parodies satirizing every label possible. Many might be offended if I documented what I thought. Maybe someday I’ll find the right timing to use some of it. Other mental conversations or images were just crazy. At the time, when I saw this small box of “Trail Guides”, and acknowledged it was empty, I thought, what if someone came across this and they needed it? “Whoo, they’re *really* out of luck!” After walking over 800 miles in almost every trail condition possible, this was the funniest thing, ever.

Posted 2 years ago

Cool heliotropic effect of plants following the sunlight.

Posted 2 years ago

In the middle of my growling at my ever-incessant foot pain and the insect torture, I was distracted by the sight of pinecone scales neatly stacked into a pile. In the middle, the nuts inside the scales were set aside, with the stem to the top of the picture. After being separated from the scales, the nuts were then eaten. It was as I found it. Obviously this (rodent?) had a very systemic approach to eating. I’ve seen other fresh cone meals scattered about, but not with such meticulous order. British? OCD? The personality possibilities of this creature are tantalizing to the imagination.

Posted 2 years ago
Picture sums up my tempered enthusiasm…

Picture sums up my tempered enthusiasm…

Posted 2 years ago

The 1500-mile mark. I felt good, but somewhat uneasy about bypassing 715 miles. Like cheating. But it’s all mental – and hikers can make themselves crazy with numbers and strategy that negates greatly from the experiential nature of the trail.

Posted 2 years ago

Castle Crags Wilderness. Even though the area is largely defined by volcanic and sedimentary geology, this feature is a granitic pluton very similar to the Sierra around Yosemite. Adding to the identical nature is the fact that it is glaciated, and was carved by glacial activity.

Posted 2 years ago

The southern section of the Trinities. They look relatively snow-free. Wonder what it looks like on the *other* side.

Posted 2 years ago

To the west, is Black Butte, a lava plug that formed about the same time Shastina erupted.

Posted 2 years ago

Shasta came into view the following morning – and from a vantage point that I’ve never seen. Usually, Shasta is seen from the I-5 corridor. But because the mountain is so massive, perspectives can be skewed. I-5 at this area rests at approximately 3,500 feet. Mt. Shasta is 14,162 feet, a good 10,500 feet taller. When looking up, with a relative 30-50 degree angle, about 8 miles southwest of the summit, the massive mountain can look somewhat flattened (or normal, or as I thought) compared to the angle of seeing it at 6000 feet, and 10 miles away to the south. It looked taller, more volcanic, more *threatening*, in the sense of how much material would be moved around, had it decided to be not so quiescent anymore. In this photo, three volcanic profiles are clear. The Shastina cone to the far left formed about 10,000 years ago; the main cone (the largest in the picture) is called Misery Hill, which formed about 15-20,000 years ago, while the tiny cone at the very top is called the Hotlum cone. It formed 8000 years ago with periodic episodes from time to time. The last observed eruption was in 1786, by a French explorer that noted a pyroclastic flow shot down to the southeast of this cone into the Mud Creek Drainage.

Posted 2 years ago

These designs would be so beautiful, incorporated into textiles or accessories…little did I know this would be my last night on trail. I was tired, and beaten down with the flies. The constant grating presence of their pesky poking around made tempers flare easily. I’d smack myself or my hands over and over until they hurt, just for a momentary satisfaction of insecticide. How I wish I could send a pulse of energy to incapacitate these things for a few hundred meters to have some peace…plus my feet were starting to seriously smell bad. I was surprised my feet could generate a stench like that. It almost smelled industrial. My spirit was worn down, and it became hard to appreciate the beauty around me. Hiking became like a chore, and miles were divided into tenths. Goals were broken up and counted down over and over like rosary beads. I was still torn about whether to continue on to the Trinity Alps or just bypass them from Seiad Valley.

Posted 2 years ago

I reached the McCloud River, about a mile south of McCloud Lake. There, a small footbridge crossed the river with many fly fishermen casting their hooks into the frigid water. I came across a young man, in his late teens – and we just happened to strike up conversation. He had come across a hard year; lost his job and girlfriend, and decided to just take the summer off and go fishing. I related to his story, as I’ve enjoyed a summer of discontent or two. Offered some sage advice that the present is temporary, and there will truly be new opportunities worthy of an open heart. He invited me over to grill a trout or two by the hot springs – tempting as this was, I felt the pull of getting to Castella by the next day. Any delay now means extra rationing. As I coyly admit it, my mother was waiting to meet at Castella with the promise of hot steaming thermos full of soup. Another hot liquid alternative to ramen had me salivating. As I mentally steeled myself for another big 3000+ foot elevation increase in the afternoon, I surged ahead with my mind occupied in head song to my own hiking cadence. Always love the layers of greenery illuminated by sunshine. Felt very beatific and sacred, as if looking up the sunlit St. Peter’s Basilica from inside.

Posted 2 years ago

This gigantic tree is in fact, alive. The cavity is large enough for an adult to easily walk inside, and the tree is in excess of 200 feet tall. Makes stilts look like a literal cakewalk.

Posted 2 years ago

Serpentine sagas aside, I went back to my mat to rest a bit. Lo and behold, I found a bunch of butterflies making love on my unfurled mat. A bit of foam lust, no? Never seen a such thing, but happy to offer a moment of joy for these pretty insects. They slowly flapped their wings, about 1 flap every two seconds – showing their colors in full display.

Posted 2 years ago

The Douglas fir trees were getting thicker and taller and taller. The circumference was easily comparable to the fuselage of a commercial jet, and as tall as the condominiums rising on 6th Avenue in New York City (have I said this before…?) It was time for the midday break, and I plopped my mat in the welcome shade of those green towers. I walked towards the bubbling creek, water filter in hand, and carefully stepped on the mossy stones to a spot that was still enough for pumping. As I walked over the stones, I saw a snake to my right, and made a little *unnngh!* I had seen many snakes at this point, but close encounters of the surprising sort are usually unsettling. Then I gasped. This snake was in the middle of doing something, and I happened to intrude. I sat down on the stone and started to pump all four liters of water. The snake, realizing I wasn’t going to be leaving right away, became less tense. It’s body merged with the main stem, with the head resting on a leaf. For the whole 10 minutes I was there, it stayed in this unusual “S” shape.

Posted 2 years ago

I see these nebulaeic clusters everywhere…