31 December 2018


Finally! But only the one. The book is there, but I keep taking off on hikes that will take the whole of the remains of the day. (Usually all of it.)

Admiring all the mortar stones and their view.

Hackberry Peak: down via Hackberry Spring

Mojave National Preserve

Click for map.

This is the second part of a long loop. To read about all the mines I found on the way up and see the pictures at the top, click here.

The ridge will be easy enough to walk, so I take off to find the azimuth. My suspicion is it will be in the rocks I came up in, but that is not far enough and I don't see it. The rest the ridge looks grassy, but at about 200 yards from the station, there is a rocky section again. It also does not have any marker. I continue on to the next small rise where there is again rocks. A loose post has been left cradled in a rock cairn at the top of this one and off to the side of it some 40 feet is the third reference. It's just 100 yards extra. Walking along the ridge gives me a chance to look down into some of the other valleys. One should hold a road up to Hackberry Spring. A bit further around than I expect, there it is.

northerly views
Northwesterly views.

road to Hackberry Spring
Far down in the valley, the road to Hackberry Spring is easily visible.

I know that people have climbed this peak from Hackberry Spring and the road comes out to the main road just a short way north of the road I am parked on. That seems like a great way down. I won't get to check out more mines, but I'm okay with that. I saw plenty. I haven't seen a spring yet. The map would imply I should circle back to start going down a bit further southwest and my instincts are there are a lot of cliffs directly under me. Of course, as I start to walk, this translates into going down tending to my right, which really isn't enough. There is one of those cliffs below me. Suddenly indecision reigns. Earlier, I'd thought the wash south of this one looked easy to get into and travel, so I decide to get down to the lower saddle the same way I came up and then try for that wash instead.
Backtracking is easy enough, but the lack of cliffs in certain spots to get down to the southerly valley starts to look somewhat less than accurate. Now I am below that first band of cliffs and coming at it from the right angle for the easier approach. There is still the spring to see. From where I am, there is a band of exposed ash that would be hard to travel, so I have to climb again a fair bit to get over that, but then wide areas to walk for a bit. Okay, so back to finding the spring. As I climb just a little bit higher than the ash, there is a distinct trail. Trails bring confidence, so I follow it. Someone who left no cairns made this trail. Someone, in fact, who seems more likely to mark the way with frequent road apples made this trail. Ponies! Well, probably burros. The folks who came up from the spring mentioned "game trails" to help find easy ways around the cliffs, but this really is a class of trail that is nearly as good as built.

road apples with a view
Following the pony trail with its particular trail markers.

Hackberry Peak: up past a lot of mines

Mojave National Preserve

Click for map.

I was eyeballing the "Bobcat Hills" as a nice spot to hike, but then decided to go for the much higher spot on the other side of the road in the middle of a green wilderness area. Oddly, it seems to have a few roads reaching into it. I can drive in as far as I can and then, at worst, it will be 4-5 miles to the top. There is a handy camp site (or three) at the parking I used, which works out great. (The Mojave National Preserve allows roadside camping at well established sites with a metal or rock fire ring. You are required to pack out all trash including ashes and toilet paper and may not "improve" or increase the site in any way.) I probably could have driven in further, but there just doesn't seem to be much point.

dawn sunlight
Dawn sunlight playing on the hills. This is the road.

The day dawns pretty, but inauspiciously. Just 10 minutes after the sun breaks the horizon, it hides determinedly behind an increasing black cloud blanket that nearly fills the sky. And then, yes, only two or three flakes visible at any one time, there is snow. I forgot to get a weather report. I have no idea how bad this could be or how long it is expected to last. I pack up anyway. I will at least get high enough to get a weather report and if I am overpacked for a little trip, so be it.

thin line of light to set off some distant peaks behind the mojave yucca
Light at the end of the tunnel? Except that is the direction the clouds are spreading to.

nipple shaped peak
Well, that looks like a suitable boobie prize if all I do is get a weather report and come back to hunker down.

It doesn't take a lot of elevation gain to get a weather report and the outlook is good. It should only last a couple hours and drop maybe 0.3 inches of rain. Then, it should clear up but be very windy. "Rain", as I wipe off a melting snow flake. The nearest weather station is 20 miles off, but in the direction the storm is moving. I should see clearing even earlier, and much colder temperatures as I climb. My tyvek rain pants, suitable for very little else, have been a nice cold wind blocking layer in camp so far and I have them and a fair bit other warmer clothing, so I should be fine. The amusing shaped hill can wait for later if there is time.

29 December 2018

Dunioth Mountain

Calico Mountains (BLM)

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You know what? It's cold out here! One might even think it was a bit into winter. I have this idea to wander over to places that have large prominence peaks, but they tend to be even colder and particularly cold at the top and, well, maybe now is not quite the right time. So, with a little bit of grumping, I am off to an opportunistic bit of peak bagging in the Calico Mountains. The mountain itself looks fun except for the swarm of truck trails wandering all over it. (Also, the sounds of ammunition from random target shooting isn't inviting.) A geocacher offered up an alternative (by way of putting a geocache at the top) that looks much quieter and can even be done in the few hours of light left in the day. The mountain is actually unnamed, but this person dubbed it "Dunioth Mountain" without explanation. I may as well call it that. One name is generally as good as another.

going toward the land bumps
Already in shadows to start on the late afternoon. The peak is not that one but the one behind it not yet visible.

No route advise is given, that is part of the challenge to sign this particular geocache. My choice is a stubby little road that comes off the main paved road. The only marker at the road for it is a break in the fence and a cattle guard. I park just off the paved road because it is too short to go worrying about the little car on it instead of walking. The purpose for the little road is soon apparent: mining. The hillside has been chewed away in a couple of spots and, this being BLM land, they are now a couple of campsites.

hill side removal
Looks like they just want all of it. The first mine.

The road surprisingly ends soon after the second mine. I continue up the valley as the footing is easy, then up to a low saddle. From here, um, sort of up along the ridge to my left seems like something that will go generally up to the desired finish point. The views all around open up quickly.

Calico Mountains
Looking back to Calico Peak itself among more of the Calico Mountains. It has some electronics on it.

26 December 2018

Remington Ridge to Lightner Peak

Sequoia National Forest

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It is time for another peak, surely. The rain following the hike up Mill Creek was snow in the very high elevations and I can see the dusting on a few of the peaks nearby. If this has added to more already on the higher peaks, I don't know. Hopefully if it is there, it is still little enough to trudge through. Remington Ridge is another motorcycle trail that gets plenty of hikers. It gets plenty of the motorcycles too and I can see their tread in the trail along with one pair of boot prints on top of them all. It's some 5 or 6 miles up to the peak from here and I would again like to be back by dark. No rain expected today, it just gets cold without the sunlight.

start of the trail is signed
Signs at the start to make it easy to find.

There are all sorts of people parked across the road from the trail and further up the road in the larger turnouts. The trail looks almost untouched today, so they are here for something else. I expect one of the area hot springs is nearby but not enough to investigate, say, the road off the biggest of the turnouts. It looks like quite a crowd. Anyway, I am getting a later start than I wanted. The days are short and there are miles to climb.

Kern River Canyon
Just high enough in the Kern River Canyon to see some snowy mounts almost totally obscured by cloud.

close cropped oak savanah
The first bit of sunlight for the day on a close cropped bit of oak savanna. This is open range land.

After a little bit of climbing, the trail wanders over the top of the ridge and down into a shallow valley to start climbing a different ridge. Although the day looks great, I can't help but notice that the clouds seem to be lingering and even increasing around the higher peaks that I can see. As usual, I can't really see what is happening on the mountain I am climbing, but there are some clouds around it too. I may just have to settle for the mystique of clouds instead of view.

down the Kern River Canyon
A nice outcrop of rocks in the little valley and then the view down the Kern River Canyon.

Of course, climbing is the name of the game for this one, so the valley is quickly crossed and the climb quickly regained. Sometimes it is a bit too steep. The bikes have cut the corners for so long, the old corners have vanished. Now there are wide, steep turns with a bit of a bank and, today, a lot of mud. Climbing up them is a chore. Still, I can find a way.

25 December 2018

Lake Ming

Lake Ming County Park

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To walk around Lake Ming was just a spur of the moment thing, but there it is and there I was and it is possible to walk around it. Besides, there was this weird goose that was just standing around in the cold wind.

goose by picnic table
One goose with a fleshy face like a vulture. Maybe more like a turkey.

There is no path to start around the lake, only the parking lot or the picnic areas to walk through. There's not really anyone to disturb while walking through the picnic areas today since the wind is just getting stronger and coming right across the water for maximum chill. There are a few visitors, but all are out moving in some way. A few are fishing.

dying grass under picnic tables
Little fenced in playground to the right and picnic tables and lots and lots of parking. Yep, it's a county park. No swimming, though.

At the end of the lot is a wide road signed for pedestrians and bikes and definitely no motor vehicles.

24 December 2018

Mill Creek to a mortar stone

Sequoia National Forest

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One of the Kern area geocachers has been slowly setting a series of "5 Mile Hikes" at the 2.5 mile mark on some of the area trails. It's really quite a nice chunk for a lot of people. I have intended to do a few of them (probably without using the cache as a turn around point) but never seem to get to it. One has been set on a trail I know from attempting to hike up Breckenridge Mountain one day after a snow storm. The top where we were trudging through ever deepening snow and the middle where we were washed with quickly melting snow were not so great, but the bottom was quite lovely. (It probably didn't hurt that our feet were dry when we first got to it, either.) Since I'm familiar with this one, I thought it would be a good one to take Timmy on. Yes, I'm bringing the cat along again. I've devised a way to easily carry him, too, since he is still 19 years old and that's quite old so I don't expect him to walk the whole way.

signs and turnout and foggy hills
A bit foggy today. Mill Creek Trail is signed at the side, but visible while driving, and has a number of turnouts. It is legal for motorcycles, but seems primarily hiked.

The day starts off foggy and overcast and there is expectation of rain in the later evening, but somehow I still feel hope that the sun might break through at some point. Just not very soon. The area is free range for cattle, so there are fences and the vegetation is changed by their grazing and movement. Grazing seems to be quite a popular thing in Sequoia.

gate and view of the valley
The first view up the valley comes with a gate.

draught broken oak and Timmy giving a sniff
Timmy has different interests like the rat evidence in this bit of oak broken by the drought.

Timmy somehow picks up a tick in the first quarter mile in spite of the chill and season. The squirming creature is easy to see against his light fur and flick off, but it is something to look out for at any time.

blue sky bits over the hills of close cropped oak savanah
There really is hope the sun will be out.

22 December 2018

Rockefeller Loop

Humboldt Redwoods State Park

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I stopped at the Rockefeller Grove intending to travel a bit of the River Trail until I felt like turning around. Well, I missed the narrow steep bit of road that looked like it might not even be paved and stopped a little further down the road, but close enough. Turns out the road is paved down to the parking, although very narrow. I pick a direction at random for the loop. One is surely as good as another.

Bull Creek emptying out into Eel River
Looking out over the river toward where a bit of blue water, colored by a different silt, pours from Bull Creek into the Eel River.

signs at the start of the loop
Signs characterize the difficulty of the loop and mileages along trails on the other side of the loop.

The trees are pretty big. None of them quite rivals the Big Tree at Big Trees just a couple miles up the creek, but that was a particularly impressive specimen. The overcast of the day is all sorts of gloom, but it seems to be higher than the trees, so the tops are only lost in their height, not the clouds.

looking up in the trees
Not every tree can be a big tree, they have to start somewhere. The ones on the left are still getting in being a tall tree before they start to gain heft like the one on the right has done for a while now.

long row of mushrooms
Trees do like their mushrooms.

17 December 2018

Hammond Coastal Trail and Mad River Bluffs

Mad River County Park

Hiller Park

Mad River Bluffs

Clam Beach County Park

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Hammond Trail is a generally paved ACA compliant trail that runs from the Mad River Bridge up to Clam Beach where I started hiking a month ago. It is signed at many exits along the freeway and seems to be popular, so I intend to see what it is all about. The Mad River Bridge is the closer end, so that is where I start before the rain starts tomorrow. There are about four spaces for trail parking at this end, but the signs are set for hikers so that they know where they've stopped already. Fencing lines the walkway up onto the bridge and across although taggers have opened it up in a couple places for views of the river. (That wasn't their purpose, but it is an effect.) Not a particularly auspicious start.

fence lined path over the bridge
Mileages and amenities marked at the Mad River end of Hammond Trail. Parking is behind the fence to the right and more signs for the trail are at the end of it.

Mad River and inland views
It already looks as though it might rain as I ponder the upstream direction on the Mad River.

One of the destinations on the sign is the Interpretive Trail section. The trail actually has many signs along it to educate the general public. Unfortunately the one along the bridge has become a target for those taggers and now shows nothing of its former topic. The bridge empties into the nonsensical end of a public road with a gravel turn around and a fellow putting away his camera equipment into his car. I have to walk around on a burm to keep out of a large puddle before hitting pavement again. A missing piece, but still possible with wheels although preferable when dry. Farmlands surround the road until it climbs just barely above the tsunami zone and then there are houses.

clouds over mountains
Mountains and clouds stacked up in the distance.

barn on high ground
Barns and other farm buildings may drift downward some, but mainly stay high.

06 December 2018

Hennessy Ridge and the world's largest tan oak

Six Rivers National Forest

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After finding no trails coming up to the ridge and the "world's largest tan oak" from near the rest area below, I drove up to Hennessy Ridge. It feels silly to drive more than 10 miles to get 0.9 miles away, but there is some climbing as well. There are a couple roads up and the one signed for Hennessy Peak is not bad. It was once paved for the length from the paved South Fork Road up to the ridge, so has a few deep potholes to look out for. Once on the ridge, there is a spur road. This was paved once for a short way, but after that is often one lane and, since I overshot the tan oak, eventually has areas where the vegetation drags along both sides of the car. I parked at the edge of a longer two lane section just past a blocked road heading up to the ridge that I hoped was the higher ridge route shown on a map I looked at before but do not have.

open single lane with trees all around
A single lane section of the road where passing could be had if someone wanted it badly enough.

The clouds are still rising and just barely rose above the road as I got to the ridge. It means I can see the trees, at least. That is about all I can see anyway. The old road is blocked with a high pile of dirt that has a well worn path around the edge. The path makes me think it might be what I am looking for to meet this big tree.

tall pine trees
No redwoods here, but the furs are still quite tall and hung with lichen in a lovely way.

big tan oak
Not the one, but that is quite a large tan oak.

The old road goes quite a ways in the wrong direction before finally coming to the edge of the ridge and turning upward. A huge tan oak presides over the turn. I am rather surprised to see rubber water bars crossing the road as it climbs back the other way. Someone has put an effort into this route. It is definitely the one I was looking for.

Tunnel Flat and down to Trinity River

Six Rivers National Forest

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There seem to be almost no hiking opportunities near 299 as it passes through Six Rivers National Forest. There is a trail way at the end of South Fork Road and then one at the end of Denny Road. That second one is actually in Shasta-Trinity National Forest though. You're supposed to come here to raft. There is also a point marked on the visitor map high on Hennessy Ridge that says "World's largest tan oak" and a rest area with mysterious trails in the back just 0.9 miles from it. It is also 1500 feet, give or take, up. If they don't have a trail up to the tan oak from the highway, I feel like they have missed a trick, but it would be reasonable to expect it to be marked if they do. Anyway, I am going to see where these trails go.

overhanging moss covered tree
The bit of trail out the back of the rest area.

rest area below through the trees
It's a nice little rest area.

It doesn't take long to find where the trail goes. It goes to the highway again. There is a road above the trail and a spur climbs up to it, but it just goes to the highway a little further up the road. There is an old fuel break climbing steeply between the trees with a use trail up it. I wouldn't believe it was one, but someone has dug trenches across it to reduce erosion. It is so narrow, the trees touch above, but I guess if a fire were in the crown, a little bit of separation isn't likely to hinder it much. The trail is hard to follow up and just comes to some abandoned belongings. They look like the abandonment was not voluntary. Above that, there is a choose your own adventure of game trails, but I am not so sure I really want to do that for 1500 feet up, give or take. I am sure I could eventually, but I could just drive up instead. It does feel a little wasteful to drive 10-15 miles to get 0.9 miles away, but cold and clouds are sitting on the ridge I would be climbing to and other excuses.

entry to Tunnel Flat area
And there is a tantalizing sign for something called "Tunnel Flat" across the highway.

28 November 2018

Beith Creek Loop

Arcata Community Forest

Click for map.

Out for a quick loop hike while there is clear air and patches of sun. Oh, and the threat of rain. In fact, it is actually sprinkling a little as I start, but I have my rain coat and the trees will probably put an end to most the thin drops. Sure, they'll replace them with big drips, but it takes a lot of thin drops to make a big drip.

horses in the field through the trees
Not so deep in the dark forest looking out on the neighborhood horses.

redwood leavings covered path through the redwoods
The eyes adjust and it is not too dark to follow the path through the redwoods even covered with redwood leavings.

I know there are some spots up high to look out to Humboldt Bay, so power up the road to the top so that the weather has the least amount of time to fill in the air with rain or mist. Of course, the weather doesn't need more than a few minutes and it takes me longer to get to the top.

huge tree stump from when the woods were cut
On big stump cut off bluntly. This is a second growth forest, so the trees are tight and much smaller.

20 November 2018

Grasshopper Mountain and Johnson Camp Loop

Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Click for map.

I was wanting to do some redwoods "properly" meaning, well, wander beneath them for a while trying to look up far enough to see the top. Probably. I'm not really sure. But redwoods. Properly. I noticed I could find some and get a peak as well and went for it. I also noted that it is a bit of a long hike and I would want to use all the light of this short day and started off very early. The route up the mountain starts with a fire road signed as "lookout". The main parking at the bottom of the road is all signed no parking from sunset to 8 AM making it illegal for another 1.5 hours and I don't want the pressure of getting down before sunset (after all, there is still some light available after sunset) so continued on to something unsigned next to the gate. It is still quite dark as I park and a little lighter once my shoes are on, but still too dark for the camera to autofocus on the gate for a picture of that start. Light enough to walk without getting out the lamp.

redwoods with just enough light to see the bark
Looking up and trying to see the tops. At first they were just black silhouettes, but the light is quickly growing and showing the bark to be quite light.

The trail is the fire road and reputed to have nearly no views until the top. The day is gearing up for a storm tomorrow, so I rather expect no views even when I get there. That doesn't matter, the point is the trees. The view in the middle is a bonus if it comes. For now, I can see the ghost of some hills through the trees in a few places. The dawn is giving the sky the faintest rust color but otherwise the only indication of the rising sun is how quickly everything is getting brighter.

faint hills behind thick, tall trees
One could certainly imagine that there is a hill back there behind the thick trees.

The road splits and my instinct is to go on the one that goes up, but it is signed to help save me from that error. The right fork finds its way up Squaw Creek Ridge and maybe more, but not to the peak. The left fork is signed Grasshopper Multiuse Trail, so that is where I go. It stays rather flat and even drops a little, but is going to the peak. I must just have a little faith. Or a map to show that I'm just going around the side of one bump to get at the larger one further away. Just one reason it is nice to have a map.

road and lots of trees
Lots of trees that aren't redwoods, too. The madrone particularly stands out.

I am suddenly aware of the sound of water flowing. It takes a little longer to actually spot some water, and then the road crosses a couple courses. A trough is provided next to one, although the hosing getting water into it needs some work. It is still nearly half full and the next few months will probably keep it full enough.

a few yellow leaves down a stream
Looking down the smaller of the streams to their join. The hint of fall is here.