Friday, December 19, 2014

Forest Fires in Northern California

Vinnie brought us back to the part of the trail where we had gotten off last, 
and we began hiking again and looking for a place to set up camp for the night.

We witnessed a beautiful light display as we walked. And after we found a campsite 
beside a lush meadow with a spring, we were blessed with a vibrant sunset.

In the morning we saw Swiss Machine, and then a half hour later we ran into her friend, Uber Dude at a spring. We first met these two back in Sierra City. We walked with Uber Dude and his new friend James (trail name, "Kevin") for awhile. He picked up this guy in Mount Shasta. 

Before parting ways, Uber Dude kindly let me use his phone to call my dad 
while he and Freebird had deep philosophical discussions.

Trinity Mountains.

Porcupine Lake. Looks like a great place to rest!

Relentless chipmunks came to try to devour our lunch!

We stayed all afternoon, enjoying such a beautiful lake. We decided that we wanted to camp out here. But then a big group of people arrived - using walkie talkies, yelling across the lake at each other, and shampooing their hair in the water. They saw us but were completely oblivious to how loud they really were. We figured it would be best to move on; reluctantly, we packed up our things and left.

Our last view of Porcupine Lake. Thankfully we at least got to spend most of the day there, swimming, eating lunch, napping, and reading.

Soon we approached Toad Lake (Mount Shasta in background). Because we saw more 
people below and also due to intuition, we continued on. Late afternoon and sunset are the 
best times to walk, and we would soon agree that it was well worth it to leave Porcupine Lake.

Castle Crags off in the distance.

Pyro-cumulus clouds rising from forest fire smoke.

Mount Shasta and Black Butte.

We jokingly called this "ley lines," dedicated to the hippies of Mount Shasta.

We loaded up our water at a spring and began looking for a campsite. But then we saw a spectacular view of a forest fire and the Trinity Mountains, as the sun was starting to go down. We chose to stop and enjoy the show.

This was my first time witnessing sunlight turning red when shining through a layer of smoke.
Trinity Mountains.

The next morning, our destination was to Dead Fall Lakes. From there, 
we would hike a side trail up to the summit of Mount Eddy.

Mount Eddy, the peak to the right.

A merganser.

Taking a nap after lunch. We laid around all day. Then around 4 in the afternoon, 
when smoke started to roll in, we started for the summit of Eddy.

The smoke created a filter that gave everything an eerie glow, almost as if it were sunset already!

The last lake we were at. We're climbing higher!

Another view of Castle Crags.

Chipmunks at play.

As we rise further up in elevation, the plants are tiny!

Damaged buildings on top of Mount Eddy.
Mount Shasta and Black Butte.

We've made it to the official summit of Mount Eddy! From here we could see 5 forest fires!

Overlooking the forest fires and the path we just walked through Dead Fall Lakes.

The town of Mount Shasta and Lake Siskiyou.

We ventured down the crest for an unobstructed view of the whole panorama of Mount Shasta, 
Black Butte, the town at the base of the mountain, and Lake Siskiyou. 
Then we ran back up to the summit to watch the sun set below the horizon.

What an incredible experience for my first ever mountain summit! I'll never forget it.

We night-hiked back and were pleased to find our campsite still available, as well as neighbors who were actually quiet. So we got to sleep overnight at a lake on the Pacific Crest Trail, finally! 
I laid down right on the edge of the water, hearing the waves lap peacefully against the shore 
while looking up at the countless stars in the night sky...

View from my sleeping bag in the morning.

Our neighbors.

Last view of Mount Eddy over Dead Fall Lakes. As we walked back to the Pacific Crest Trail, 
dozens of talkative people were hiking up to Mount Eddy. How fortunate we were 
to be on the mountain all by ourselves and to watch the sunset, with no noise!

As we hiked onward, fresh spring water was plentiful.
More pyro-cumulus clouds forming out of the smoke.

By looking ahead at the smoke, we sensed that we might want to get off of the trail a bit earlier and make it to Etna, so as not to be breathing in all that pollution while hiking. So at the next opportunity, we hitched out of there.

A couple that seemed to be an odd match drove us down Forest Service Road 17 to Highway 3. The man was a forester and cleared trees, while his wife worked with a group that protected the forests. They make it work somehow! As they dropped us off, they gave us apples, bananas, and a peach from a farmers' market.

Sadly, my free dress from Shasta ripped while climbing into their SUV, 
so I changed behind some trees. That was fun while it lasted!

We met a thru-hiker named "Optimist" who had been trying to hitch for hours but couldn't 
get to Etna. He seemed relaxed, without a care in the world, hence his name! 
We gave him a banana and then moved farther away to hitch.

Look at all the heavy smoke up Highway 3!

It started feeling a little too warm for us standing along the highway. It made more sense to just go swimming under the nearby bridge. So we took a break and refreshed ourselves in the cool waters of Tangle Blue Creek.

When we returned to hitching, a man named Dave dropped off some water bottles with us. He apologized because they were warm, but that was all he had with him. We thanked him, and he left. Then Freebird suggested we may as well camp nearby and catch a ride in the morning. As we started to walk up the forest service road a bit, Dave returned in his pickup truck to bring us some ice cold water. He informed us that he was staying nearby at his boss's cabin for the weekend. Dave showed complete, genuine concern for both of us. He asked us if we had food and a place to stay. 
Relieved to hear that we were doing well, he returned to the cabin. And soon, we found the perfect spot right on the edge of the road, but far enough away and with great tree cover.

In the morning we went for a swim in the Trinity River, across the road from our campsite.

Then we returned to the forest service road to begin walking back to Highway 3. There we would continue hitching. But as soon as we set foot on the road, a former thru-hiker named "Whisper" was already letting us climb into her car. Then off we went, on a journey to Etna. 
We escaped the smoke of the forest fires.

A piece of broken glass on top of Mount Eddy, from the damaged buildings.

While still in Moab, Freebird introduced me to Science and Health:  With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. So in honor of this book that has such a profound effect on me, and in commemoration of Mount Eddy, here's a quotation from within the text:

"The manifestation of God through mortals is as light passing through the window-pane. 
The light and the glass never mingle, but as matter, the glass is less opaque than the walls. 
The mortal mind through which Truth appears most vividly is that one which has lost much materiality - much error - in order to become a better transparency for Truth. Then, 
like a cloud melting into thin vapor, it no longer hides the sun."  --Mary Baker Eddy


  1. I look forward to your new posts ever since finding this blog through Suelo's blog. All the great photos take me along for the ride!

    1. Thank you and welcome! Look forward to more entries...I'm a few months behind so there's so much more to come!