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June 22, 2008

Weaverville, Scott Valley, Marble Mountains

I rode the 20 or so miles into Weaverville on Thursday morning, after that shit night in the national forest. Weaverville has it all goin' on: sawmill, ranger station, bike shop, grocery store, long's drugs, library...it's a bustling metropolis. I must've ridden 10 ,miles going from one end of town to the other, trying to gather essential supplies like a comb and a stocking cap (I lost mine in the lost coast). Finally I rode up to Trinity Lake, a much tougher 10 miles than I anticipated. I gotta learn to pay attention to topo lines.

From my campsite, I could see some people fly fishing in Stuart Fork below me. One was a guy teaching some lady, but who seemed to think she would learn best if he never actually let her hold the rod. The other was a woman who clearly knew what she was doing - she was reeling in fish one after another. I was too beat to join them. The next morning I tried my luck - nope. It made me feel better that a guy using bait hadn't had any bites either. Guess I missed my chance at hungry fish.

Erin picked me up and we crammed my bike into the back of her car, along with the five of us. Erin had brought along a friend who'd had a lung transplant, ie her lungs were NOT ORIGINAL. Nonetheless, she hauled herself up 2000' and 10 miles of trail to a beautiful lake in the Marbles.
I was breathing hard, and my lungs are a matched set with my body.

It was a nice chill weekend, with more unsuccessful fishing (Scott River). We did go snorkeling though, and saw tons of little baby coho and chinook salmon running around, along with a couple of good sized trout. They were not tempted by my graceful casts, though, nor those of Erin's friend Justin. This also made me feel better.

I rode back to Etna on Sunday, a short 20 miles, because I wanted to stay at a little backpacker's hostel in town, before starting down the Sawyer's road to Forks of Salmon. Somehow, I broke a spoke on my rear wheel (40 spokes, you'd think it'd be strong enough). Maybe I weakened it on the rough gravel, or maybe it's just 20 years old. Anyway, I though 40 would be sufficient and didn't bring along any extras, so I trued it up the best I could and am going to ride it to Yreka to a bike shop tomorrow. Hopefully they can fix me up, and send me off with a couple spares.

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:
fish001.jpg

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:
fiosh2.JPG

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:

cooked.jpg

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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