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Jun 23, 2020 - 8:28:31 PM
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3510 posts since 12/8/2007

California has some of the nicest, prettiest, most saliently stunning vistas and views in the world. I happens to live a hundred kilometers from the coast o' Northern California if I drive west, and thirty kilometers from the Sierras if I drive east, a landscape featuring snow-melt waterfalls and piney pines and cedars and redwoods and juniper and so on. And although this is a populated state, if one ventures off the trail a short ways, he finds himself alone and amongst the wilds. To wit, some years back my mates and I found this unnamed stream (a river in the spring) which cascades gently down from 8,000' to about 6,000' whereupon it flings itself off a granite face and forms a waterfall the likes of which might be the most beautiful I've ever seen. At the bottom of the falls it's misty and cool on hot summer days, and the water forms a fine little lake made for swimming. Since there's no trail there--one has to follow the water down from a scenic overlook--I always have the whole area to myself.

So before I got married, I had my buddy make a right and proper redwood sign, one which looks like a USFS sign, and I hiked it into this place and planted it at the drier end of this little lake. It read:

(My wife's name) Falls
Elevation 6,025'
Population: 4

On our honeymoon, wife and I backpacked into this area and encamped for about four days. Upon seeing the sign she said, "What! Amazing. How did you find this place? And how unusual for it to be named after a minute...what's this about 'Population 4?'"

"You and I and our two dogs," I says.

"No, you didn't!" She says.

Fun times.

What are your favourite hikes? Any stories?

Jun 23, 2020 - 10:24:37 PM
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1602 posts since 12/11/2008

I'm loving hikes in my new post-retirement tropical rain forest digs but it's been hot enough the past few days to raise heat rashes on my poor aged corpus (and don't reverse the order of the "s" and "u" in that word, if you please!). I also occasionally find myself encountering a pork chop...that's still on the hoof.

Edited by - Lonesome Fiddler on 06/23/2020 22:26:03

Jun 24, 2020 - 10:10:25 AM
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3510 posts since 12/8/2007

I was telling my daughter about this hike/campout I took back in 1973. I'd just turned thirteen and had been sent to a hippie-dippie boarding school, one in which the students and teachers chose the classes, attendance was optional, grades weren't given, and so on. One of my favourite classes was Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants, a class that started my life-long love of flora and how plants have been used over the ages.

Anyhoo, the class started with about twenty students and yet by quarter's end there were just three of us, the teacher, who was also a sociology professor at the local university, and two students, Buster McGuy and I. We had diligently coloured and denoted all of our plant diagrams and pictures; we could tell the difference betwixt death camas and edible camas, (a rather important differentiation btw.) So when our final exam was announced, we felt ready and able. The exam was thus. Groups were to form and go out into the woods and meadows and survive for two nights, Friday-Sunday, eating ONLY what bounty each group could collect off the land. Easy peasy. And yes, even though Buster and I were the only ones to stick with the class, seemingly everybody in the school thought this was simply the grandest challenge about, so we had some forty students (and probably a few faculty) ready to hike out into the bush and live off the bounty of our fine Northern California foothills for a few days.

Buster and I were one group. We had already been exploring the area around our school, so we made a b-line to some walnut trees we had discovered at this abandoned ranch. We set up camp above a main stream, gathered dry rocks to form our fire pit, pitched tent under a grand ol' oak, and then went about hunting down our evening meal. Dandelion, purslane, plantain, some rather old blackberries, and of course, a couple handfuls of walnuts.

It wasn't pepperoni pizza. It wasn't hamburgers grilled o'er the fire. Wasn't stew meat and heaping mounds of potatoes and gravy and carrots. Our dinner was, alas,...a few walnuts and some greenery. Buster was quiet as he gazed into the nighttime fire. Finally, he says, "Curt, do you think they lock up the walk-in," referring to the big refrigerator back at the school.

"Most unlikely, most unlikely, " I said.

We grabbed flashlights and jackets and BAM make a b-line to the school's walk-in, trekking mainly by light of the moon. The going was not so hard, too, because we mainly keep to an old dirt road. Stealthy as could be, we surveiled and then entered the school and made our way to the walk-in. Grabbing chunk cheddar cheese, macaroni, ice cream (eaten there), cookies (we're kids!) and other essentials, we gleefully made our way back to camp. I remember luxuriating in my mac and cheese meal, as I had placed some chunk cheddar on rocks near the fire so's to give it a good smoking before adding it to the macaroni.

In the morning we had eggs. Some other students fcame by our camp, too, so we had to hide our unwashed dishes as we looked at their gaunt faces and agree with them that this challenge was a little more than we expected, that we were HUNGRY,...and so on. I remember Buster somewhat aghast as he motioned for me to clean my teeth, for I had remnants of cinnamon rolls showing.

On Sunday night as the whole school gathered to hear about the various groups' adventures (or misadventures), Buster gave a rousing and informative narrative on the need for "mental toughness," and he told the school that although we went hungry, we never lacked for food, the latter part being altogether truthful I felt.

Truly was one of my greatest hikes/adventures.

Jun 24, 2020 - 11:42:53 AM
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11046 posts since 9/23/2009

Sounds like cool places and nice times. We used to live between Cumberland Falls and Yahoo Falls in KY, and always took long walks through the wooded areas and rivers throughout that area. I worked as a map technician for the state, just as temporary job for two years, but I mapped out the entire southern shores and surrounding woods of Laurel Lake and always had adventures and fun...faced an angry person with a gun two there in nowhere, but once I convinced them I was not with the state police, even though I wore a similar badge and carried a similar notebook and camera...and convinced them I was ok with their stills and marijuana patches hidden in the woods there...fortunately, they forgave me and didn't shoot.

These days we hike up here in Northern Ky where we have been for the past 30 years...there's some nice patches of woods here, but nothing like where we came from. We still enjoy the walks and wildlife, native plants, serenity, etc., when we can experience those things.

Edited by - groundhogpeggy on 06/24/2020 11:50:13

Jun 25, 2020 - 2:04:07 PM
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4726 posts since 9/26/2008

I like in the middle of Iowa. One of my favorite hikes is in nearby Boone county at Ledges State Park. Some elevation, lots of trees and well maintained trails. There is a huge rock overlooking the Des Moines River that has a hole carved in it by long gone indigenous people that marks the solstices. Once I spent some time there working out a tune that I eventually called ‘Lookout Rock.”

Another place I go is also on the Des Moines River at a county park. There is a narrow switchback trail that descends into a heavily forested creek valley that immediately ascends back up and opens into a hidden prairie. Iowa prairie, complete with big bluestem grass, wild flowers and the occasional deer. At this place, I have found a mother lode of oyster mushrooms. This year, the rain has been few and far between. When I went to “the spot” there were some dried ones and two smallish clusters. I picked one and left the other. Well, it rained a bunch in the next week but I could not get there over that weekend. I went there on Tuesday and found I was too late. Many new clusters but all dried up. On the upside, I hiked around under the forest canopy and found 4 more places where the mushrooms had bloomed. I set an appointment reminder in my phone for earlier in May of next year; I’m not missing out again. When I get a chance, I’ll post some pictures of the mushrooms from last year. It was amazing.

Jun 25, 2020 - 2:31:31 PM
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8419 posts since 3/19/2009

My Sierra Club guide friend, Roger, took me and my wife and just one other person to the Escalante area of Utah a couple of years ago. This one particular hike required driving 20 miles down a one way, 53 mile road.. We got out of car and walked into a sandstone wilderness that few people would be able to find without an experienced guide..Lots of beautiful slot canyons........On another day, Roger took us on a LONG trail into nothing, marked only by cairns. We walked down a very steep cliff..I had taken my special hiking shoes along with my homemade car-tire sandals.. On the way to the cliff I LOST my regular shoes and had to descend the cliff in sandals.. Boy, was I intimidated.. On the way back, I found my hiking shoes. Apparently, a passing hiker saw them in the trail and thought.."Interesting.. a pair of shoes and no person.. Must be an abduction story here somewhere." To this day Roger teases me about my shoes having a more interesting hike than I had..BTW, Roger is a pretty good fiddler.. Too bad we didn't take fiddles..

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 06/25/2020 14:32:00

Jun 27, 2020 - 4:32:54 AM
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11046 posts since 9/23/2009

If I ever didn't live close to the woods, I'd lose my

Jun 27, 2020 - 5:58:24 AM
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2545 posts since 2/3/2011

Sometimes I get out to a tiny town called Eben. My climbing partner of many years was born and raised there. It's said to be where old Finlanders go when they die. It's near some of the Michigan State University ag stations, so it's in farm country. Nearby is the Laughing Whitefish Falls Park with a short hiking loop through trees and mosquito air armadas to a drop dead gorgeous gorge and the Falls itself. Cedars, moss and stone. When I first came 30 years ago there was a low guard rail and a steep path to the bottom. Terrible erosion. Now they've got a proper walkway with a bunch of steps and handrails and stuff. The erosion issue is much improved.

So, you're driving along this straight-as-a-die blacktop until you turn 90 degrees on an equally straight gravel road and into a wall of trees. Park. Walk. Breathe and wonder.

Jun 28, 2020 - 8:51:26 AM
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4260 posts since 6/23/2007

I was raised in the Adirondack State Park in extreme northern New York State. The park consists of 6.1 million acres and periodically grows even larger. It contains more than 10,000 lakes and 30,000 miles of streams and a wide variety of habitats including wetlands and old-growth forests.
Strict environmental laws are enforced.

Forget that New York City image of the Hudson River for a minute. In the Adirondacks it is a big rocky white water river. If a person wants solitude and natural environments this is a wonderful place. The image of New York City can create the wrong image of New York State in a persons mind. Each different region of New York is unique. Acquaintances who traveled through New York for the first time often told me how surprised they were by what they saw. They then realized their mental images were incorrect.

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