Sunday, June 28, 2009

The One and Siskiyou National Forest

Blog updated by Matt:

After swimming in the ocean and spending some time Golden Gate Bridge at sunset, we took Highway 1, going North along the coast. Our hopes set on Muir Woods, We made our way down the darkened winding roads that skirt the coastal cliff-sides. These hopes were cut short, however, when we found ourselves dealing with a flat tire on the shoulder of the road. We emptied the trunk, grabbed the donut, and got to work replacing the tire, all the while being watched by another motorist that had pulled off the road perhaps a hundred feet from us and sat idling.

We found no mechanic, and made the irrational late-night decision to continue down the freeway at 45 mph with the blinkers on, looking for a campground. We were only on the freeway perhaps 15 minutes before we were pulled over for the second time on this trip. The police officers directed us to stay at a hotel which they claimed to be quite affordable just down the road a short way. We navigated to this hotel, only to find rates at around $160/night. Needless to say, we left. We located a Motel 6 that the receptionist at the other hotel recommended. There we stayed.

The next morning we replaced the tire which was damaged and no longer held flush against the rim. We continued along The One, taking it rather easy for once. We stayed at Manchester, camping along a secluded stretch of beach in what was labeled as "walk-in camping." Our goal for the coming evening was to arrive and stay in the Redwood Forest. We found ourselves driving 30 min. out of our way at several campground turn-offs, only to find on each occasion that the campgrounds were "Full." Eventually we found a privately owned campground, whose owner's belief it was that the campgrounds were not full, but closed down due to lack of funds. The campground was beautiful and had showers and laundry machines. Of these, we took full advantage.

We never backpacked in what is officially designated as the Redwood National Forest. Instead we chose to hike up from Doe Flat, just east of Gasquet, to Buck Lake. The Forest Ranger asked before we went if we had done any off-roading yet, and what kind of vehicle we were driving. We assured her that the Honda Civic out front was really a trooper, and we went on our way. It was a brutal drive down to Doe Flat, but the ol' girl made it so no complaints, right? Stronger hikers now, than when we first set out from Lincoln, we missed the turn-off for Buck Lake only 45 minutes up the trail. We overshot it by at least an hour, hiking down steep switchbacks before realizing the error of our ways. With hesitance, we decided to schlep our way back to the lake. It was the right decision. We found this still, pristine lake was all ours for the night. The sunset over the mountain that night was beautiful.

The goal for the following day was to make it to Mt. Shasta, which was recommended by many a friend and stranger. We were even told by a woman at Love of Ganeesha (near Haight & Ashbury, SF) that it was "one of the vorteces of the universe." We met a very cool fellow at the Doe Flat parking lot who gave us lots of pointers on Mt. Shasta and Mt. Shasta City. Our plans were cut short, however, when we reached the top of the hill that leads to Doe Flat, only to find ourselves dealing with another flat tire. We were forced to stay outside the crusty old town of Crescent City which, for all its shortcomings, can at least be said to have cheap groceries! We stocked up and spent the night in yet another beautiful little Redwood campground.

We were running short on time, and abandoned our Mt. Shasta plans. So it was up 101 and 199, over to Interstate 5, through Portland over to I-84, up to I-90, and out towards Missoula.

Missoula and Frank Church River of No Return

Blog updated by Matt:

We arrived in Missoula on the morning of June 22nd with the intention of locating our high school friend who has been roaming the streets of Missoula as a transient for some time now. We sat ourselves down in a coffee shop at a window facing Higgins Street (the main strip in Missoula). There we waited, having determined this to be the most logical place to find spot the elusive Andy. Fortune was with us as I spotted a tall lanky fellow locking up his bike and walking with swagger into the coffee shop across the street. It was him, and this, he said, was the first time he had been in that coffee shop in a month.

We had intended to find another high school buddy of ours who currently resides in Missoula, but checking his facebook profile, we learned that we would be in the woods for 1 month. From our friend Andy, we learned that he was working with the Montana Conservation Corp (MCC). And so, after borrowing a couple of bikes at Free Cycles, a community bike shop where Andy volunteers, we set off for the Library. There we obtained contact info for MCC, and promtly placed a phone call. I explained our situation and told the man that we were looking for our friend Brent. He knew Brent and agreed to disclose his whereabouts.

That night we slept at "The Lab," which is a group living house complete with a huge garden, 7 chicken, a turkey, a homemade wood-burning oven (outside), bio-diesel (used vegetable oil) for the truck, a homemade shack/bedroom in the backyard, and many bike tools and parts. In one of the photos you see Claire, Andy, and two of the other residents gathered around a sick chicken during its final hours. We slept on a few of the many hammocks on the back porch that are reserved for just such occasions.

In the mountains of Idaho, in the Frank-Church River of No Return Wilderness Area, we did find Brent. We hiked the full 18 miles the first day, a feat which impressed even the MCC kids and the horse packers that made the same journey that day. We spent 2 days and 2 nights with the MCC folks, but somehow managed to skip out on getting any photos of the crew themselves.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Yosemite and San Fran



No time for writing. Photos of the city and beach of of San Fransisco, photos of wilderness are Yosemite. San Fran was crazy but cool, Yosemite was beautiful but so filled with people that it was like Disney Land. Especially after the quiet beauty of Sequoia, Yosemite was a bit over populated. There were some rangers who were very bored of people talking about bears, and we got to see a little 1 year old bear at Crane Flat, which apparently the bear is at every day. Bears leave thier mammas at about 1 year, so he was just hanging out, eating grass and taking little bear naps. Matt and I hung out and watched the bear nap, and the other people that had been around when the bear was awake left. But it was weird, as soon as he woke up the was a "bear jam" of people. Just people randomly showed up, Italians and a polish family and American alike to gawk at the bear. If you look closely at the ranger photo, one of them is holding a tranq. gun... just in case.
In San Francisco, things got a bit nutty. There were 3 festivals going on simultaneously, all around the hostel where we were trying to stay. It took us 3 hours of fooling around to find a safe place to park our car, which is packed full with goodies. It was worth it though, the hostel, called the "green tortoise" was one of the coolest hostels I've stayed at, and was a good hostel for Matt's first one. Very chill and layed back. I went out to a queer dance party that night, as it was a Saturday night, and it was very cool and a little wild. The music was pretty good, except for some annoying songs involving "Bunny and Lategra" and "Cars that go vroom" that I could've gone without.
The next day was a festival at Haight and Ashbury, the famous hippie streets that were once home to the Grateful Dead, and the boring pic of the house is of their old house. We tried to find Janis Joplin's house, to no avail.
The festival was cool, and reminiscent of the festivals we are accustomed too. That's where we met the guy with the cool railroad tracks tattoos pictured, and the dancing cross dressers. We got free tea at a "tea party" for peace. "Free Unvirtual Tea Party" was it's official name. A woman also gave me a branch of her Jasmine bush to put in my hair, and that is also pictured.
We have so far been able to do everything we had wanted to do, we got to swim in the ocean North of San Fransisco. Which was freezing but wonderful. And we got a flat tire!!! (Oh wait... we may have not WANTED that....) So anyways, we gotta hit the road so peace love and chicken grease, enjoy the photos. ENJOY THEM!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sequoia National Park

Claire writing again!
Our original plan was to go just North of LA too swim in the ocean. We nixed that in favor of Sequoia. Excellent choice. Lots of wildlife, enormous trees, breath taking scenery, and blessed quiet. Wonderful place.
The drive up the mountain was beautiful but long, we didn't make it to the ranger station for our permits and bear boxes until late in the afternoon, and because my henna has all the smelly oils in the mix it made our car smell sweetly delicious for bears. It took us forever to get all the smelly stuff outta the car and into the bear locker. And even longer to pack ourselves. We only camped like 3/4ths of a mile up the trail, but it was a quiet night as the road to get to the Redwood Loop trail head is down a steep low maintenance dirt road.
The next day remained cool, and a thick eerie mist clung to the woods. At any minute we expected some sort of magical creature to step out from behind the behemoth trees. Lots of deer approached us, they are quite fond of humans, the ultimate walking grocery stores.
Every so often, we'd stop and scramble over the enormous trees. That night we slept near "Fallen Goliath." We had a giant live Sequoia next to us, we hung out in it's cavern. Very cool.
The next day we hiked. Very pretty again, a little sunnier, not much. The rangers said that they'd had snow a few days before!
After we got back to the car we drove down to Cedar, which is one of the biggest canyons in the world. Did another hike, hung by the river.
On the way back up we watched the sunset on a ridge. There were a few other people their, and at least 3 languages were being spoken. It was unbelievably beautiful, once again.
After that, we headed out of the park, (we had to stop on the long drive up from Cedar to get gas at a very expensive but interesting place that had old fashioned pumps.) It was 9pm when we really got on the road, we stopped into a cool mountain restaurant. It was closing but the owner was super nice and fried us up some fish and chips in a pan. After all the backpacking and ramen noodles it was excellent and decadent.
We made it all the way to Yosemite that night, pulling in at about 3am. Tiring!

The drive to California

Ok. Crazy ass driving. The Matt and The Claire left Arkansas leisurely at 4pm. Made it all the way to my Uncle's house in Albuquerque New Mexico at 3am. Never stopped in Texas. =)
The next day had a tasty breakfast and zoomed onward. Made it to Barstow. We stopped in Needles California, and bought some honey from this crazy road-side self serve place. Tasty stuff. We marked our hometown on their map, we were their first Nebraskans. Woot woot I suppose. Or perhaps "represent"?
Barstow had none of the camping we required, (other Californians refer to Barstow as "the armpit of California." It was rather sweaty looking. We sped onward toward Red Rocks, a park where we camped. Very pretty desert area, lots of stars. Good views the next morning.
That next day we went into Bakersfield, picked up breakfast, supplies, and an oil change. Good ole' Honda is trucking along nicely.
Got some bear advice from a nice fella at the sports store.
Left for Sequoia.