For vacation this year, we went to Klamath Mountains of northwestern California. When you live in rainy western Washington state you can chase the sun by going south or east. And, I wanted to see the exceptionally diverse conifer forests of the Klamath Mountains. There are also a lot of Bigfoot sightings here but we did not see the big, hairy ape-like creature.
I got a few nights in the hammock. That was one reason I wanted to hike and camp in the Klamath Mountains. All those diverse conifers must be good to hang from!
We dumped off the old, crazy dog who gets anxiety attacks in the car with the inlaws in southwest Washington state. He's so crazy in the car he needs to be medicated with a quadruple human dose of Xanax to calm anxiety attacks. Without his meds he shakes, his tongue turns blue from hyperventilation, he whines and paces back and forth and drools all over the back seat. No way he's going or a 12+ hour drive with us. Plus, he couldn't have handled the California heat. Crazy J the bird dog came with us.
On the drive down, we hit the REI in Seattle and I bought ENO Slap Straps for the DoubleNest. Since it's much heavier than the Grand Trunk UL, I only use the ENO-D when car camping.
The first night we camped at Scott Mountain Summit campground which is next the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) close to the Trinity Alps Wilderness. It was Sunday night and we were the only campers. The woods here look a lot like the forests around Crater Lake in southern Oregon. It dropped down to about 45 that night. I used a Speer PeaPod with space blanket under an Equinox silnylon 8x10 tarp. My underside got a wee bit chilly because I did not hang the PeaPod with enough sag and it pulled tight, reducing the loft. It's important when hanging a PeaPod to let it sag under the hammock quite a bit. The PeaPod will tighten when you get in the hammock with a diagonal lay.
Next day, after breakfast, the weather deteriorated. We laid low in Yreka for a day then did a dayhike in the Russian Wilderness next day. Trip report here on NWhikers.net. After that, we did an overnighter to Paynes Lake from Etna Summit south on the PCT. I slept on the ground (gasp!) at Paynes Lake to see how fast my Cascade Designs NeoAir mattress loses air with the slow leak. The slow leak is becoming less slow unfortunately. It needs to go back to Cascade Designs for repair. We slept under a Speer Winter Tarp which makes an excellent summer tarp for 2 people and a dog. We could not find the route up to Albert Lake after 30 minutes of searching. Small brook trout and 1 rainbow in Paynes Lake. For dinner, I made a cornbread-chili casserole in the new Banks Fry-Bake pan that NOLS uses. It was good but the multi-bean chili caused brutal farts. The gas was so painful it hurt! Not funny after awhile. My poor wife. NOLS Cookery calls it Thunder Chili. I think my Mountain Hardware UL down bag is permanently scented with fart odor. If you see it For Sale on the Web, don't buy it!! They call 'em "fart sacks" in the Army for a reason! Ha ha
After the hike out we drove west down from Etna Summit and car-camped at Idlewild Campground. The road down to Russian Creek is insanely steep! Idlewild Campground is decent. It's cheap, has water, standard US Forest Service outhouses, picnic tables. However, there's private land with structures and mines nearby. There's some truck noise presumably for nearby mines. This camp has really cool wood stoves.
Poison Oak is everywhere. I love the Klamath forests. It's a real shame there's so much Poison Oak at lower elevations. I'm highly allergic to Poison Oak and Poison Ivy. Plus, I have to keep Crazy J away from this demonic weed so I don't get any of the oil from his fur on me. Slept in a tent that night. There's a pay phone at Idlewild Campground which is kind of strange since it's deep within the large Klamath National Forest. For breakfast, I baked cornbread in the Banks Fry-Bake Pan with a "twiggy fire". The cornbread turned out OK. It made it with powdered eggs. Cornbread needs real eggs for body and moistness.
Next trip, we did an overnighter on the PCT from Scott Mountain Summit to Carter Meadows. The PCT here passes through the northeast end of the Trinity Alps Wilderness. We camped at Telephone Lake off the PCT. Small lake but not too shabby. The trail to Telephone Lake from the PCT is hard to find. It crosses a meadow that is grazed by cattle. The trail down to Telephone Lake from the ridge is fine.
Hanging at Telephone Lake was a bit of a challenge. The Shasta red firs were either too large or did not have the right spacing. They were a lot of hazardous snags in the area. I don't hang near scary snags. I had to hang the hammock between 2 trees with a number of squiggly little trees next to. There was enough space but it was pretty close. There was not enough space to pitch the 8x10 tarp so I had to use the DIY hammock sock. I love the sock. It's possibly the most useful accessory for hanging in the chilly, high elevations of the western U.S.A..
For dinner, I made a pizza in the Banks Fry-Bake pan. It was decent but had too much tomato sauce. We put shrimp from a foil pouch on top. Smoked salmon would've been better. The crust was thick, a pressed down biscuit dough. We like thin crust in the city but thick was better after hiking all day.
The hike north on the PCT to Carter Meadows was great. 2 PCT thru-hikers were passing through here. I calculate they were about 3-4 weeks behind schedule to make Monument 78 before the arrival of fall storms. Saw a young bowhunter with a pack frame with a massive bucket thing. I hitch-hiked back to Scott Mountain from Carter Meadows. It took about an hour and a half to get back but it was Sunday of Labor Day weekend which means more traffic than normal.
That night we camped at Hidden Horse Campground. This campground is great! Water spigot in each site. Only $10. Recycling and trash. But, it's designed for equestrians. Since, we were the only campers this night, it was OK for us to camp here even though we don't have horses. I don't know what the etiquette is for non-horse campers in horse-centric USFS campgrounds.
Next day, I dayhiked the PCT from Carter Meadows to Paynes Lake and out for a total of 14 miles. Mrs. Hikingjer and Crazy J picked me up a Paynes Lake Trailhead. I really liked the PCT through the south end of Russian Wilderness. That's quite some granite!
The last day in northwest California, we did a dayhike in the Siskiyou Wilderness from Poker Flat Campground. We drove in from Happy Camp which is a great little town. The trail was through typical red fir forest at first on easy terrain. Then we cross country hiked on an open, gravelly ridge to a knob with views of Preston Peak and other high Siskiyou peaks. Made for a great hike which was nice because we did not know what to expect. For pics, click the Flickr link below.
That night at Poker Flat Campground, it dropped down to about 40 degrees and was breezy. No tarp but relied on the DIY sock again. I also used no- longer-fart-scented Mountain Hardware sleeping bag as a top blanket with the ENO-D and SlapStraps. Boy oh boy, was I warm, toasty and comfortable that night! The SlapStraps were fast and convenient but the trees can be not at the exact length as the loops so there can be some undesirable sag on the straps. The SlapStraps are heavy too.
There was the cutest little bear out in Poker Flat meadow in the morning (see Flickr link below). Clouds and rain moved in so we headed north back to the Pacific Northwest (even more rain) to pick up the old crazy dog and grouse hunting in the home state.
Cooking casseroles and pies in the Banks Fry-Bake Pan with a twiggy fire was good but not worth the weight for backpacking. Just doesn't make the flavor-to-weight ratio cutoff. I bought the Banks pan to get away from the just-add-water glops. But, glops can really hit the spot despite the gooey texture. And, glops are lighter and much faster to make. I guess I'll reserve the Banks pan for car camping, canoe camping and travel camping. If we were hiking out of a base camp for days on end, days away from civilized meals, the Banks pan would be good. But a glop on a weekend trip is just fine, especially when the pack is lighter.
All the scenery and wildlife photos from all the hikes are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/7401414...7624943777092/. Do the slide show feature for best effect.
Vacations go by way too quick. We need longer vacations like Europeans even if it means sacrifices in economic efficiency and productivity.