The Ridges of Mendocino County, Part 2: Yolla Bolly Wilderness- Ides Cove Area

(continued from Part 1: Yolla Bolly Wilderness, Ides Cove Area )

The Sausage King of Mendo

We built a killer campsite on the edge of a high cliff, overlooking Slides Creek Canyon and its descending chain of waterfall-fed meadows.

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Man, it takes my piss forever to reach the foot of this cliff.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

Dinner went slightly awry when Peanut seized a perfectly-cooked Italian sausage off of my plate as I was reaching for the mustard; but I still love him.  After all, it’s cut-throat out there, we all know this.  Survival of the fittest.  Living off the land and all that.

I can't stay mad at you. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
I can’t stay mad at you.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

In the Morning, Feeling Half-Right

Drank too much whiskey and wine last night.  We all did.  Nothing for it but to walk it off, right?

So after forcing down some strawberry Pop-Tarts, and the squished, bruised, and oozing remains of the bananas we had jammed, against their will, into our bear cans yesterday, we took a nice long hike out to to some peaks, lakes, and meadows. At Long Lake, the Pean and I set off on our own, dropping down a steep and trail-less crumbling cliff-face, riding the scree as if we were shredding a nauseatingly-angled double-diamond snow slope. We etched a slanting, zig-zagging path down the mountainside, triggering mini-avalanches that rained down rocks and boulders onto the grassy saddle below us as we went.  I made sure to keep Peanut above and behind me, so I didn’t crush him with any of the debris loosed by my body weight; and he acquiesced to the directive, skidding along in my wake.  When we finally reached the bottom, we ran across a huge green meadow and slaked our thirst and cooled our bodies beneath a waterfall which poured off the lip of the cliff above like fruit punch from a ladle.

Elegance, function, style.  It’s all there in the Yolla Bolly.

South Yolla Bolly Mountain, seen from our campsite. (photo by  D. Speredelozzi)
South Yolla Bolly Mountain, seen from the creek by our campsite.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

I See Dead Trails

I needed the very best of my route-finding skills to find the faded and disused remnant of the Burnt Camp Trail, which once upon a time had confidently led the way out of the meadow and back up the mountain toward our campsite, but at this point clearly had not been maintained in decades.  It was nearly impossible to find the track of the trail; but by summoning my inner Crazy Horse and carefully scrutinizing the lay of the land, the distribution of leaves and sticks across the forest floor, and the subtle breaks in the trees and shrubbery, I eventually managed to start tracing the ghost of the old path up the dry and dusty ridge. After 45 minutes of chipping our way uphill with the pitiless sun on our backs, we emerged back onto a familiar trail: the ridge trail we had hiked in on yesterday.  Across sinking slopes peppered with the fire-ravaged skeletons of white pine and fir trees I could see my yellow tent, Shane’s red Irish soccer shirt, and Abs’ ever-present royal blue Indianapolis Colts shirt, all perched on a high rocky outcrop overlooking the deep valley we had just hiked through .  We headed that way.

The trail up from Burnt Camp has clearly been abandoned for many many years, its route nearly impossible to trace. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
The trail up from Burnt Camp has clearly been abandoned for many many years, its route nearly impossible to trace.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

Hell in a Hand-Basket

Returning to camp from our sweltering hike to find Shane and Abs relaxing in the late-afternoon breeze, I grabbed the whiskey and settled in to a nice long intellectual diatribe with the boys on the state of politics and world affairs. Sometimes the world of man can creep in a little bit even when you’re well outside of its direct influence.

IMG_6885

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Shane-Nut atop Yuddy Point Rock (my name for it).
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

After the collective, three-way rant was over (Peanut, more well-versed than the rest of us in matters of social grace, knew better than to engage in a political chat among friends), we finished off the burritos we’d picked up yesterday in the Sacramento Valley, then spent another gorgeous, balmy night sitting around the campfire, looking out over the lower canyons at the twinkling city lights of Redding, out in the Sacramento Valley, and the peaks of Mt. Lassen and Mt. Shasta in the far distance. I slept like a bag of bricks in free-fall.

Grog-uddies. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
Grog-uddies.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

Ridging Our Bets

Next day we packed up camp, hiked back out to the trail-head, and parted ways with the fellas.  They were headed home to the Bay Area; but the Pean and I decided to stick around the trail-head to climb South Yolla Bolly Mountain (Mt. Linn), the highest point in the wilderness.

Hot-tuddy. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
Hot-tuddy.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

It was hot and exposed for the first part of the climb; and Peanut bitched and moaned accordingly, protesting by beaching himself in the shade of any tree we came within 50 feet of; but he was jacked and re-invigorated once we had gained the ridge and come into the path of the breeze blowing up from the lower flanks of the mountain.

Cool-uddy. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
Cool-uddy.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

We made the 1,500-foot, two mile ascent to the peak in just 55 minutes, and then spent a little while taking in the whole of the Yolla Bolly Wilderness and beyond from on high, gazing out at the hazy Sacramento Valley to the east, the numerous jagged ridges of the Mendocino National Forest to the south, the North Coastal Range to the west, the distant peaks of the North Yolla Bolly Range and the Trinity Alps far to the north, and our little campsite on a cliff far below our feet, before running back down the spine of the mountain (20 minutes) and setting off on the next leg of our Mendocino adventure.

(to be continued)

 

Next chapter: (Part 3: Race Under Pressure)

 

 

The Ridges of Mendocino County, Part 1: Yolla Bolly Wilderness- Ides Cove Area

The only thing that can be said about Paskenta is that nothing can be said about Paskenta. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
The only thing that can be said about Paskenta is that nothing can be said about Paskenta.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

Instant Caravan

I decided to see the month of May in by getting way off the grid for a few days. So I did the only thing I know how to do in that situation: I excused myself from my Friday morning Philosophy class, threw my dog Peanut in the car, along with most of my camping gear, cruised across town to pick up my friend Shane, and hit the highway, all by 10:30 AM.  We linked up with Abs in Suisun City, and with that- instant caravan!  We stocked up on food and booze at the Safeway in Vacaville, and then pointed our motorcade north towards the Upper Sacramento Valley, bound for the lonely vastitudes of the Mendocino National Forest, specifically that exceedingly rugged, and little-used, subset of the forest known as the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness, a.k.a. Bigfoot Country (but if that’s all you’re here for, I’ll save you the suspense right now- we never saw him).

Our last outpost of quasi-civilization, as well as the end of the paved part of our journey, was Paskenta, a map-blip of a village about 35 miles southwest of the town of Red Bluff.  As we left Paskenta, we immediately began to climb steeply up into the Mendo National Forest on Forest Road M2, which was at first a good dirt road, but soon became a total pain in the ass.

Forest Road M2: a nice wide dirt  road, reasonably-graded, with good tread, and no obstacles, (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
Forest Road M2: a nice wide dirt road, reasonably-graded, with good tread, and no obstacles,
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

Ruts Never Sleep

About 15 or so miles in, a series of runoff channels, cut diagonally across the road and each about 4-6 inches deep, the breadth of a truck tire, and with raised banks on both sides, started appearing at maddeningly-short intervals, requiring near-constant stopping.  Hazardous to pass over at anything faster than 2 or 3 mph, these cumbersome ruts would require you to slow down and cross at an angle, causing the vehicle to rock and jar back and forth as each wheel crossed the threshold at a different time.  In this way, a good 8-10-mile stretch of the road became a time-sucking trial of patience and restraint that took almost an hour to drive.  The situation called for ice cold beer.

And fortunately, we were holding.

Forest Road M2: starting to become a pain in the ass. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
Forest Road M22: starting to become a pain in the ass.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

Eventually the runoff channels began to abate, and after an interval they vanished altogether; and from that point on we were able to resume making reasonably good time to the trailhead, which was only another few miles anyway.

Peanut guards the parking lot while the team closes up shop and prepare to walk.(photo by D. Speredelozzi)
Peanut guards the parking lot while the tail end of the team (me) closes up shop and prepares to walk.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

Beware: The Ides of Mendo

We reached the Ides Cove Trailhead, situated on an eastern saddle of Mt. Linn (or, as it is known to local indian peoples, South Yolla Bolly Mountain), around 5 PM, and took our time packing our packs and finishing off the last of the beers.

The Yolla Bolly-Middle Eeel Wilderness is the best-named wilderness in the state of California. The name, which means   "snow-covered high peak" in the language of the Wintu indians, is so bad-ass that the whole thing can't even fit on the sign. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
The Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness has the coolest name of any wilderness in the state of California. The name, which means “snow-covered high peak” in the language of the Wintu indians, is so bad-ass that they can’t even fit the whole thing on a standard wilderness sign.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

We hit the trail at 6 PM, and took to the wilds.  It would be a short walk to camp- no more than three miles, along the north side of a ridge, into the setting sun.

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Peanut watches in amaze as the ghosts of the great Indian chiefs of old, channeling ancient griefs beyond reckoning, scatter golden tears across the forest floor.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

 

Next chapter: (Part 2:  Yolla Bolly Wilderness, Ides Cove Area)

 

Addicted to Steel – A Walk on the Bay Bridge Trail

Looking back towards Oakland from the western end of the Bay Bridge Trail, the ever-diminishing structure of the old bridge still dominates the view. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
Looking back towards Oakland from the western end of the Bay Bridge Trail, the ever-diminishing structure of the old bridge still dominates the view.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

Spent a recent Sunday afternoon hiking the newly-constructed Bay Bridge Trail, a 4.3-mile one-way out-and-back route which stretches from Emeryville almost all the way to Yerba Buena Island, by way of a multi-use (both pedestrians and bicyclists) paved, surface trail .  The trail opened to the public on September 3, 2013, the same day the new span opened to vehicular traffic.

In the days immediately after the September 3, 2013 opening of the new eastern span, an observer positioned on the east end of Yerba Buena Island's summit would have this view, with the busy new span channeling traffic as the just-closed old span sits in darkness, awaiting the imminent commencement of its dismantling, which would commence in the following months. (image property of en.wikipedia.org)
In the days immediately after the September 3, 2013 opening of the new eastern span, an observer positioned on the east end of Yerba Buena Island’s summit would have had this view, with the busy new span channeling heavy traffic as the just-closed old span sits in darkness, awaiting its dismantling, which would commence in the following months.
(image property of en.wikipedia.org)

From Emeryville, the Bay Bridge Trail runs along the approach freeway to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, and then alongside the eastbound lanes of bridge traffic, on a steel-girdered suspended walk/bikeway which, at present, dead-ends about a third of a mile east of Yerba Buena Island, though an extension all the way to the island is in the pipeline, awaiting the completion of some deconstruction work on the old eastern span which is currently blocking the path’s right-of-way.

The now-defunct old eastern span of the Bay Bridge still dominates the southern view from the new Bay Bridge Trail. In center frame, the western span can be seen touching down in downtown San Francisco. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
The now-defunct old eastern span of the Bay Bridge still dominates the southern view from the new Bay Bridge Trail. In center frame, the western span can be seen in the distance, linking Yerba Buena Island to downtown San Francisco.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

The trail begins along Shellmound Street in Emeryville, just outside the IKEA parking lot and garage (parking at IKEA is technically not allowed; but ain’t nobody messed with my car, which I parked in the garage, before flagrantly crossing the lot and meeting the trail, without so much as a gesture, step, or even head-fake to suggest that I was going to shop or browse inside the store).

The Bay Bridge Trail starts in Emeryville, underneath the complex web of concrete flyover ramps that comprise the I-80/I-580/-I-880 Bay Bridge freeway interchange. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
The Bay Bridge Trail starts in Emeryville, underneath the complex web of concrete flyover ramps that comprise the I-80/I-580/-I-880 Bay Bridge freeway interchange.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

The first part of the trail passes beneath the complex web of concrete flyover ramps that is the I-80/580/880 Bay Bridge freeway interchange, and then runs for a couple of mostly-unremarkable miles alongside the eastbound lanes of I-80, as they touch down into Oakland from the Bay Bridge.

Before beginning its long, slow rise over the waters of San Francisco Bay, the Bay Bridge Trail closely parallels the eastbound lanes of I-80, as it deposits eastbound drivers  into Oakland. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
Before beginning its long, slow rise over the waters of San Francisco Bay, the Bay Bridge Trail closely parallels the eastbound lanes of I-80, as it deposits eastbound drivers into Oakland.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

Right where the roadway and the Bay Bridge Trail pass out over the choppy blue-green waters of San Francisco Bay, the old and new bridges diverge, the old eastern span cutting off to the left a bit, the new span barreling straight on ahead.

The only notable obstacle to hiking or biking the Bay Bridge Trail is this here bridge troll, whose lidless eye ever keeps watch, seeing all. The trick?  Slim Jims (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
The only notable obstacle to hiking or biking the Bay Bridge Trail is this here bridge troll, whose lidless eye keeps a ceaseless watch upon the crossing, seeing all, but excepting none. The fee? Slim Jims
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

For almost two miles, the view from the Bay Bridge Trail is dominated by the old eastern bridge span, which towers high above the path, just yards from the new span.  The old bridge is actually quite a fascinating structure to see up close.  Eventually you get to a point where immediately south of you is a huge void of open air and water- where sections of the old span have already been removed, allowing sweeping long-range views of the bay, the peninsula, and behind it the Santa Cruz Mountains.  Here the old roadway ends abruptly at a sheer cliff of steel and concrete, hundreds of feet above the restless waters of the bay. Teetering at the brink of this drop-off sits a gigantic yellow piece of construction equipment, just daring the bridge to give out beneath.  But it doesn’t.

Pshaw- anybody can look good in this light. (photo by some random dude)
Pshaw- anybody can look good in this light.
(photo by some random dude)

Soon, sometime in the next year or two, the Bay Bridge Trail will be extended the final 1/3 of a mile to connect with Treasure Island, and at some point in the more distant future, all the way to San Francisco, completing a trans-bay crossing that has long been in the minds of countless Bay Area bicyclists and pedestrians.

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This dude set up shop in the steel undercarriage of the old bridge span.
He has no idea what’s coming.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

Until then, we have what exists of the Bay Bridge Trail; and that’s still pretty cool.

 

 

 

My Dog is Not in Anybody’s Way

Cut the shit.

I’m tired of people just rounding all dogs down to “public nuisance”, as if it’s somehow reasonable and equitable to paint them all with the same brush.

There's enough beach to go around.  Let the dogs run wild. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
Back off, establishment. You’re out of your element.
There’s plenty of beach to go around; so let the dogs run wild.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

As it is, our hounds are for all intents and purposes banned from National Parks across the board (only allowed on paved trails, or tied up in campgrounds- woo-hoo!!).  So can’t we just throw them this bone?

Who will give good sport to these seabirds? (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
Who will give good sport to these restless seabirds?
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

The battle rages on. See here for the latest on the dogs vs assholes battle for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Look- there’s a lot of land out there (even here in San Francisco); so let them run wild. We’ll pick up the dog shit.

Whatever, dude.  Chill out. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
Yeah, so?
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

San Gabriel Wilderness, Angeles National Forest

It was between the brothers, Kay.  I had nothing to do with it. (photo by K. Riley)
It was between the brothers, Kay- I had nothing to do with it.
(photo by K. Riley)
This is Bear Creek; but I can't think of any good double-entendres at the moment. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
This is Bear Creek; but I can’t think of any good double-entendres at the moment.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi) 
Once upon a time, back-country adventurers were literally baked in these kilns.  But sometimes they saved their weed for when they reached camp. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
There was a time when it was a semi-regular occurrence for hapless back-country adventurers to find themselves being literally baked in these kilns.  But then winter would come and they’d smoke their weed at home for a few months.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)
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Go ahead, Sped- just try to get anywhere near this tent.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)
Thank GOD we live in this time... (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
Thank GOD we live in this time…
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

 

 

Deek vs. The Bear

You haven’t lived til you’ve wrestled a large carnivore to the ground , gutted and skinned it, and roasted it on a spit over a driftwood fire.

It's cut-throat out there, though.  Kill or be killed. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
It’s cut-throat out there- kill or be killed.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

Labor intensive, perhaps- but mmm mmm!

I feel bad- he was very friendly. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
I feel bad- he was very friendly.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

I’m just kidding… I’ve never killed anything that didn’t fit under the sole of my shoe; and even that I’ve only done when it was either him or me.

Although that’s probably less about bugs’ rights than it is about me being kind of a pussy.

 

Dreaming of a White Man Christmas

On the night of last week’s full moon, I took Peanut on a pale orb-lit hike up to Sweeney Ridge, a lovely crest from which one can, if they look west, see and hear the roiling Pacific Ocean assaulting the shoreline, two and a half miles and 1,200 vertical feet away, behind the lights of Pacifica.

Commemorating the Christmas season by pasting a big glowing star on a water tank on top of a mountain ridge is such a cracker thing to do. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
Commemorating the Christmas season by pasting a big glowing star on a water tank on top of a mountain ridge is such a cracka-ass thing to do.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

If one looks east from this spot, one can see the San Francisco Bay Area: almost 500 square miles of orange-glowing urban sprawl, ribbons of red and yellow-streaked freeways, and far off in the dark sky, chains of white lights describing queues of airplanes lining up and making their way into the region’s three major airports from all corners of the globe (which actually has no corners).

And this spot, Sweeney Ridge, has another “thing” about it- it is what is known as the San Francisco Bay Discovery Site, which is no more than a euro-centric term for the Columbusing of the Bay Area.

Thank god somebody finally "discovered" San Francisco Bay.  Just think how many years- centuries- went by with NOBODY having any idea it existed. (image property of www.weekendhike.com)
Thank god somebody finally “discovered” San Francisco Bay. Just think how many years- centuries– went by with nobody having any idea it existed.
(image property of www.weekendhike.com)

For, weren’t there some folks here before us?

The Sausalito Shuffle

Took a lovely walk with the Peanut the other day, from Sausalito, up into the Marin Headlands, across the Golden Gate Bridge, and across the northern part of San Francisco back to my home.

Here in Sausalito-by-the-Bay, nobody realizes it's Christmas. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
Here in Sausalito-by-the-Bay, nobody realizes it’s Christmas.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

After poking around some of the very steep stairways connecting the terraced streets of Sausalito, we found a trail that I had not been aware of (this is noteworthy, anywhere within 50 miles of San Francisco).    Beginning at the junction of Edwards Ave and Marion Ave, on the southern edge of town, an un-named trail departs steeply upward into the Marin Headlands, which loom immediately to the west in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

In Bizzaro Sausalito, the driveways are on the roofs of the houses, Peanut is inside out, and I am a lefty.  Curiously, this does not make my penmanship any worse. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
In Bizzaro Sausalito, the driveways are on the roofs of the houses, Peanut is inside out, and I am a lefty. Curiously, this does not make my penmanship any worse.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

The town of Sausalito takes its name from the Spanish word sauzalito, which means “small willow grove”.  So it seemed fitting enough when we found ourselves climbing fairly steeply for about a half a mile through thick groves of willows and eucalyptus, eventually topping out at a ridge overlooking San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

The rolling green hills of the Marin Headlands make the Golden Gate Bridge look like that much more of a bad-ass.  You, however, are a pussy. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
The rolling green hills of the Marin Headlands make the Golden Gate Bridge look like that much more of a bad-ass. You, however, are a pussy.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

We dropped down out of the Marin Headlands into Fort Baker, a decomissioned coastal defense station which sits at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, on the Marin County side of the famed strait.

The Golden Gate Bridge, seen here from Fort Baker, a mid-1800s military installation erected to defend San Francisco against a hostile advance by Sigmund the Sea Monster (who, it turned out, just wanted to be friends). (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
The Golden Gate Bridge, seen here from Fort Baker, a mid-1800s military installation erected to defend San Francisco against a hostile advance by Sigmund the Sea Monster (who, it turned out, just wanted to be friends).
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

Then we made our way up to the pedestrian walkway of the bridge, which, as it happens, doesn’t allow dogs.  Lucky for me, though, I don’t give a shit about arbitrary rules; and so proceeded Peanut and me onto the walkway.  As usual, every 50 yards or so I was stopped by tourists who couldn’t seem to stop raving about how handsome he is.  Nothing new about that.

The lidless, all-seeing-eye of Big Brother tirelessly scans the Golden Gate Bridge for any sign of non-acquiescence to the status quo.  Servants of the military-industrial policing establishment are ceaselessly standing by, ready to quell any and all harmless human intercourse. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
The lidless, all-seeing-eye of Big Brother tirelessly scans the Golden Gate Bridge for any sign of non-acquiescence to the status quo. Servants of the military-industrial policing establishment are ceaselessly standing by, ready to quell any and all harmless human intercourse.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

On the bridge we met some guy named Nick, who was scoping out the city for a possible (and likely) immigration.  He was traveling with his brother and another friend.  We spent 15 or 20 minutes plying each other with questions and information, talking about the weather (in an interesting and productive way), and laughing at how ridiculous conservatives are.  Then we went our separate ways.

The completion of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1938 shortened the commute from San Francisco to Sausalito from 229 miles to 9 miles.   (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
The completion of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1938 shortened the commute from San Francisco to Sausalito from 229 miles to 9 miles.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

Touching back onto terra firma on the San Francisco side of the bridge, me and the Pean made for the Presidio, cutting irreverently through its cemetary en route back to our house.

I see dead people. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
I see dead people.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

Don’t worry- I didn’t let him piss on anybody’s grave.  He would have, though, had I not stopped him.  Last year, when we visited Hendrix’s grave outside of Seattle last year, he totally lifted his leg to douse Jimi’s crypt.  But I do not brook urinations on guitar gods; so Peanut’s designs came quickly to naught.

Look at him, acting  as if he wasn't just a few seconds ago trying to piss all over Jimi's remains.  Today's youth has no respect. (photo by K. Riley)
Look at him, acting as if he wasn’t just a few seconds ago trying to piss all over Jimi’s remains. Today’s youth has no respect.
(photo by K. Riley)

After almost five hours and 13 miles of walking without any annoyances whatsoever, I got my head shit on by a bird as I was walking up to my front door.

Ho Ho Ho.

 

 

Dude, Check Out This Sideways Waterfall

The water is flowing once again up in Marin County; and not just “flowing” flowing- but flowing flowing.  It’s going shit-house.

But who are we kidding?  You won’t go up there.

Whatever dude.

 

Is it all just smoke and mirrors?

California really is an amazing place.

 

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Go Sox!! (photo by S. Jernigan)

Afternoon On Grizzly Peak: Part 2 of 2

It was from around this bend in the torched mountainside that the beast made its initial approach, unheeded at first by even the ever-vigilant Pean-Bear. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
It was from around this bend in the torched mountainside that the beast made its initial approach, unheeded at first by even the ever-vigilant Pean-Bear.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

Suddenly a startling sight stopped me dead in my tracks.  I stood stone still for an indecisive moment, unsure how to best proceed, before collecting myself and forcing myself to think clearly and rationally.  Then, narrowing my eyes and squinting in the hot summer sun, I looked again.  Up ahead and several hundred yards out, I espied a strange, large creature moving in my direction.  Though well-camouflaged, I could plainly see that the beast walked erect on two legs.  Through the dry grasses and torched earth it made its way toward me, seeming to almost skip as it went.  As the creature closed in, I braced myself for confrontation.

Exceedingly reluctant to startle it and possibly provoke an aggressive encounter, I had to settle for this grainy footage of the strange creature. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
Exceedingly reluctant to startle it and possibly provoke an aggressive encounter, I had to settle for this grainy footage of the strange creature.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

The dude stood before me, naked as the day he was born (except for the Tevas on his feet), smiling widely, and radiating sweat the way a high-explosive shell propels shrapnel through the air.  I could almost see the multi-colored rainbow of the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum refracting through the enormous beads of sweat pulsating on his brow.  As lidless as a common muppet, his eyes were popping out of his head to the point where it worried me slightly for his physical well-being.  In his hand he held a wooden acoustic guitar (not in a case).  Though I doubt highly that the dude had deliberately choreographed his movements to this end, his instrument (the guitar) mercifully hung in such a way so as to spare me the sight of his shriveled, sun-burnt junk.

The ever-lilting siren song of the highly-elusive Great Northwestern Tripping Pack-Rover seldom finds human ears; but when it does... it sounds not unlike Joni Mitchell. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
The ever-lilting siren song of the highly-elusive Great Northwestern Tripping Pack-Rover seldom finds human ears; but when it does… it sounds not unlike Joni Mitchell.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

“Man you’re just going for it!”, I offered at our meeting, as a kind of ice-breaker of sorts.

“I guess I am!”, replied the beast with a good-vibes smile, a swat at the aggressive insects swarming his sweat-soaked body, and a shit-eating grin to end all shit-eating grins defining his sparkling countenance.  “There’s something going on up here today, man- can you feel it?”  A pair of googly pupils, absurdly enlarged, bobbled around directionlessly amid the whites of his eyes, like those air-buffered floating numbered balls that blow around haphazardly in those old-school lottery machines.

“Yes there’s definitely something going on”, spake I.

“It’s permeating the whole atmosphere and everything, man.  It’s like it’s the only thing you can concentrate on!””, overjoyed at the realization.

“That’s the same thing I was thinking”, I volleyed back without irony.

“I’m kind of on mushrooms“, he added, wiping his sweat-soaked brow with the back of his forearm, making it considerably more filthy in the process.

I noticed the sun reflected off the kid’s forehead.  “Well, you’ve got the whole place to yourself today!”, I pointed out with exaggerated enthusiasm; though I was genuinely happy for the guy, in a measured way, that he was having a great day, which he quite clearly was.  “Except us, I mean.”

“Nah, you guys are good people”, he said, presumably of me and the Peanut.  “Anyway, peace, brother!”

“Enjoy your trip, man”, I said to close out the conversation.

He ambled away, swinging his guitar through the tall grass, and occasionally appearing to bring it up to proper playing position to strum a few fleeting out-of-tune chords.  As the profoundly torched dude receded through the equally burnt forest, I watched in a kind of curious amazement.  Amazement at his commitment to his adventure.  I really didn’t want to get in the way of a guy tripping on mushrooms anyway.  I know what that’s like; and it’s usually better to steer clear of people who aren’t on the same page when in that state.  It is also advisable to avoid supermarkets, corner stores, and office buildings at such times.

Part Sasquatch/part wandering minstrel, the Great Northwestern Tripping Pack-Rover wanders the grassy hillside, heedless of the 95-degree sun, bound neither by agenda nor fixed destination, and answerable to none but itself. On rare occasions, the Tripping Pack-Rover has been known to burst into song without warning- usually some vintage Marley or early 70s Dead. A simply fascinating creature. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
Part Sasquatch/part wandering minstrel, the Great Northwestern Tripping Pack-Rover wanders the grassy hillside, heedless of the 95-degree sun, bound neither by agenda nor fixed destination, and answerable to none but itself. On rare occasions, the Tripping Pack-Rover has been known to burst into song without warning- usually some vintage Marley or early 70s Dead. A simply fascinating creature.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

Away from me danced the tall, shining creature- its dreaded blond hair fixed in a long ponytail, a large day-pack (presumably containing clothing– one hoped anyway) hanging from its shoulders, and a bare ass connected to legs which led down to a pair of dusty sandals completing the ensemble.  He didn’t need my help- that much was for certain.

"Okay- what the fuck just happened here?" demands the Pean-Bear. (photo by D. Speredelozzi)
“Okay- what the fuck just happened here?” demands the Pean-Bear.
(photo by D. Speredelozzi)

For the rest of the hike, we walked in total silence.  There was nothing more to say.