Trips & Pictures North California, June 1998

Escape to North California...

21 June 1998

After a hectic semester, a *LOT* of preparation for my Design Automation Conference paper presentation the previous week, and lots of personal turmoil, I was more than ready to head for the mountains! For a change, though, I wasn't going alone, since my sister Shirley was coming along! The plan was to leave Sunday morning, but we got caught up in some things (specifically I still had to get some work done, and we had to finish scraping my parents' picket fence (which we had promised to repaint :P)), so we didn't actually hit the road until 3:30ish. Our goal was the Trinity Alps and Trinity Lake, where we hoped to find a campsite for the first night. The drive up was pretty uneventful, the only highlight was the *very big* black bear that ran across the road in front of our car as we were approaching the camping area... WOW! Didn't dissuade me from sleeping outside, though :) Shirley chose the tent, though, to avoid the mosquitos.

While driving in, we were greeted by several nice views of some of the still-snow-covered Trinity Alps... I half-seriously said "wow, that one over there looks like it deserves to be climbed..." - to my amazement, Shirley agreed!...

22 June 1998

... So, the next morning, after breaking camp, we set off into the wilderness, first up a 3-mile gravel road (poor car!), and then by trail, trying to climb Granite Peak. Pretty amazing - there was *no one* else on the trail! Unfortunately, after several hours of hiking, we hit the snowline, and the trail shortly just disappeared :( We crossed a snow-covered stream and searched, but to no avail...) At this point Shirley questioned whether we wanted to go on, so we headed back down, to drive on to Redwood National Park.

The drive along the Trinity River down to the coast was amusing (worked on my windy-road-passing skills with the countless trucks), and we shortly left behind the warm inland climate and hit a thick bank of coastal fog. We stopped in Trinidad for a HUGE dinner to replenish our energy after the morning hike, and then drove north to Redwood. Visited the Lady Bird Johnson grove - The trees were awesome, and completely shrouded in fog... It was almost eerie, but very very cool.... Forgot my camera, hopefully some of Shirley's shots came out. (Turns out this one did! :)

Once again I made a half-serious proposal, this time that we start backpacking in to the "tall trees grove," which was about 8-9 miles hike in. It was pretty late in the day (6/7 ish), so we obviously wouldn't make it before dark, but I figured that we could get part way. At first Shirley was against it, but after the Lady Bird grove, she changed her mind, saying "wow, it would be awesome to camp somewhere like that..." :) So we packed the packs quickly, and off we went! Along the way we say our second bear of the trip, and ran into two people hiking back with their dog who said that signs indicated that the trail was closed ahead, but we didn't let that stop us :) We sprinted along until it started to get dark, and set up camp at the side of Redwood Creek...

23 June 1998

We were up early the next morning, and decided to leave camp as it was and head off without packs to see if we could reach the grove. The trail was great for another 2 miles or so, until we reached the reason for the closure - a huge mud/tree slide :P Tried to pick our way through that, with little luck. We finally decided to make our way down the slope to the creek again, with the hope of following the banks all the way. Hmm, that didn't quite work out either, since the sand banks switched from side to side of the creek, and the vegetation was thick and the slopes VERY steep on the sides... Since we were both pretty frustrated by having another trail disappear on us, I was able to convince Shirley that we should power on anyway, and thus we began fording the creek :) Pretty fun, but very rocky and slippery. Neither of us fell in, but Shirley quickly got sick of putting on/off boots, and ended up just crossing with boots and jeans on :) Unfortunately, after a while longer my feet were getting tired of it too, so I left my boots on. Turns out to be a much less appealing prospect for waterproof leather boots - the water stays IN, and you end up feeling like you are walking in a puddle :(

Anyway, we did reach the tall trees grove, and got to see the world's tallest tree. Thank goodness we had brought some powerbars along - the slog was much tougher than we had expected!

Getting out wasn't easy, either - after many river fordings, we got sick of it and decided that we wanted to get back on the trail, which require a somewhat technical climb of a pretty steep and slippery slope... I'm still amazed that we made it!

Upon return to camp, I gave up on the boots and changed to tevas (DOH! Now why hadn't I thought to bring THOSE along that morning instead of the boots? :( Probably because of the burning nettles, which were in great presence. Facing burning nettles in tevas and shorts is NOT FUN, too, by the way...). We packed up and hit the trail, and I discovered the downside of tevas in combination with a heavy pack :( - lots of chafing, and blisters... *sigh*. Still, it was worth it! What an adventure :) Ran into a group of day-hikers on the way out, they were impressed by our state (they didn't quite understand my hiking poles though, they asked whether we expected snow :P ).

We decided that we had explored Redwood NP to our content, and so, after another huge re-charging meal at a local place (including three desserts :P), we drove off for Crater Lake... Reached it just as light was fading, but wisely we decided to take a look anyway, which was wise, since that was the only view of it that we would get!

The lodge was fully booked, so we had to head back down the hill to find another place to stay... Along the way we saw a huge porcupine on the side of the road... Or more specifically, I did. Shirley couldn't get my poor little car into reverse (and blamed HIM for it! :( ), so we couldn't go back to take a closer look... Ah well... We ended up finding a place to stay in Fort Klamath, Oregon, where we got to take our only showers for the whole trip, and I got to log-in and check email :)

24 June 1998 We continued the tradition of one huge meal a day, this time with breakfast at a local cafe, and then headed up to Crater Lake, only to find that it was pouring and visibility was so bad that you couldn't even see the lake from the rim... Thanks to El Nino, there was still lots of snow as well, so even had we wanted to, we probably could not have hiked the trail down to the lake, either. We did find some comfortable chairs in the lodge, and settled down to write post cards and hope for the weather to clear... The weather only got worse, the power went out, and we got to listen to the maitre'd for the restaurant tell all the tours arriving that since they couldn't power the fans for the grill, only the cold items on the lunch menu were available. After a while, we decided that enough was enough, and the we would try for better weather in California.

We headed south for Alturas with little hope for improvement, but did eventually get out from under the rain. Although it was cloudy there, it was not actually raining. Since it was a long way home and late already, we decided to head into the South Warner Wilderness Area and camp. What was the worst thing that could happen? If it rained and everything got soaked, we would just throw it all in the car, head home, and hang it all out to dry there :) Turns out that this was the right call - the weather ended up clearing, and the wilderness area was stunningly beautiful. We found a nice camp site on Blue Lake (mostly populated by seniors with mobile homes/trailers and a fetish for fishing), where we saw a beaver/muskrat dam, a juvenile bald eagle perched in a nest, several brilliantly yellow colored woodpeckers, and birds diving for fish... Pretty cool!

25 June 1998

We spent the last day of our trip on a long hike in the Warner Wilderness area, which is an incredibly beautiful and peaceful place... We didn't see anyone out in the backcountry, which was very liberally populated with wildflowers, mosquitos, and lovely scenery, as well as lots of birds, some of which dive-bombed us when we stumbled across their young... Oops... I vowed to return again someday for a longer expedition with packs... (We climbed up the right shoulder of the mountain on the right in the second picture).

Upon return to the trailhead, we decided to head back to Berkeley that night - despite the fact that we still had an extra day left (that would have been spent at Crater Lake), there wasn't anything that we wanted to explore within a day range (and we were anxious to get back to work on the picket fence...). Although we drove through the Lassen area, we didn't really have any desire to stop, since we knew the park was still mostly closed due to snow, and that there was just no point in trying to top the beautiful area that we had just been in...

We pulled back into Berkeley around 10:30 pm, with a total distance covered of ~1500 miles. Trips & Pictures North California, June 1998