backpacking Archives

June 16, 2008

lost coast

The Lost Coast is a stretch of coastline south of Eureka too rugged for the construction of the PCH - it goes inland here. As a result, there's a remote stretch of wilderness beach that one can access only on foot.

As Liz put it, maybe it should stay lost.

We failed to get any hitchhiker shuttling action, so we resigned to hike in for a day and a half, then hike back out the way we came. If you like foggy walks through deep sand with bear cans, come here. If you don't, don't.

No really, there were some beautiful spots, especially when the sun came out on our last day. I don't regret making the trip, but folks it ain't all it's cracked up to be. We did see a couple of freshly shark-attached octopi, which were sweet.

Lessons learned:
- walking on sand sucks
- fog sucks
- you should always bring chips on the first day of a backpacking trip because you will definitely want them.
- instant potato pancakes are gross

July 2, 2008

June 27 - July 1: Trinity Alps

Fires in Weaverville, fires in Hayfork, fires off the Cecilville Road, in Happy Camp, and basically all throughout the Klamath Mountains. Becca showed up expecting to rescue me and drag me back home for a shower.

Instead, we did a great loop of ~30 miles (hard to say what with the bushwhacking and being lost), camped at a couple of different lakes, and I finally lost my fishing virginity at Lower Boulder Lake. The thing about fishing is you either have to wait until pretty late to eat, or have fish for breakfast, neither of which we wanted to do. My four fish will therefore live to swim on. Steve was right, catching fish is inevitable.

Our trip ended with swimming in Stoddard Lake; we saw a few fish jumping, but I was happy to swim around with them rather than stalk them, this time...

July 25, 2008

My sister's fish

When my sister and I were kids, we went to some friends' of my parents place in Wyoming, and there was fishing. We'd never fished. The idea sounded appealing, but as we cruised around a lake, just sitting there for hours and hours and hours (probably 30 minutes), I got bored. I got off at the next stop, having caught no fish.

This was the result:

That smarmy sister of mine caught two fish. (Lisa claims that she remembers looking down from the boat and seeing fish everywhere! I don't remember that; I was probably splashing around and scaring them away.) Some cowboy from Wyoming grilled 'em up, and they were delicious. I got exactly one small bite of it.

Fast forward 15 years or so, and we were fishing again. Lisa and I were backpacking in the Beartooth mountains in Montana, and we'd been going on and on about the fish we were going to eat for dinner. We hiked up to some lakes, but it was two in the afternoon and the fish were sleeping, or whatever they do at two in the afternoon. Maybe enjoying the scenery, which was fantastic. As we headed back to our camp, I wanted to check out a side trail that went down to one of the other lakes. Lisa got that contorted look on her face that says, "I am tired and hungry and there is no way I'm doing anything besides going back to where there's food and sitting down". So I convinced her that I wouldn't get lost, get eaten by a bear, fall in the lake, etc if she went back without me.

The result: my first murder.

I scrambled down the bank to the lake, and looked down at the water. I could see the fishies cruising around in there, grabbing bugs, swimming around, just waiting for me to pluck them out. I got a fly in, and it must've been 15 seconds before I had a bite. I reeled it in, grabbed it out of the water, and contemplated its fate.

Lisa and I had been talking about eating fish so long that I couldn't release it. A certain instructional comic book had advised me to put the poor flapping thing out of its misery by whacking it over the head with a rock. So I did that. It just flapped harder. I whacked it again. It started bleeding from the gills. Then I thought, maybe they meant on the top of the head. So I hit it a couple of times there. I must've bludgeoned the miserable fish 6 or 8 times before I resolved that it must be unconcious, even if its gills were still moving and it occasionally flapped like crazy. I looked back at the lake, which was still teeming with big, hungry trout, and knew I couldn't go back for more. For one thing, that fish was slippery, and I didn't know how I would carry more than one of them without putting it in my pocket. (I don't really understand the mechanics of the line-through-the-gills trick). For another, I couldn't bludgeon anymore.

Here's the fish:

You might notice that it's bigger than the ones Lisa caught.

Instead of building our own fire to cook up the beast (a cutthroat trout, according to my fish identification card!), we decided to ask a lone old guy camping near us if he'd like to share our bounty, in exchange for some fire. Although he was mostly deaf, he agreed happily. He even supplied some onions. I told him this was my first kill, and that I didn't really know what I was doing with the cooking. I also tried to get him to explain to me how to properly kill the fish after catching it, but he couldn't understand what I was saying. Here's the meal:


The old guy looked at me, looked at my sister, looked at the fish, and finally said, "Hang on girls. I gotta get my camera. The boys are never going to believe this unless I get a picture." So he took our picture, eating the first animal I've ever killed with my own two hands.

I guess he wanted to blog about it.

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