The PCT via Shelly Meadow Trail

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I was recruited by the Scott/Salmon district here in the Klamath to go out on an 8 day hitch on the PCT. They received a report that there were about 70 logs down on a stretch of the PCT. Luckily they decided to pack us in with mules for this hitch, which never happens in the Happy Camp district. So, naturally I still packed as light as I could just in case I was going to be carrying all my supplies up the trail. I was the only one with this mentality everyone else packed as if they were moving up into the mountains haha. Duffel bags and boxes full of food, multiple changes of clothes; I was definitely the odd one out. I managed to get everything I would be taking up with me for 8 days in an 85 liter pack.

Getting packed in by mules takes about half the day; you’ve got to feed them, brush them, saddle them up. The part that requires some finesse is packing the loads because both sides need to be even otherwise one side will sag and that just wouldn’t be comfortable for the mules. I’m always a little hesitant to give up my things for the mules to carry but that’s only because I feel bad having them carry it. I’m sure it’s a little silly but I can’t help but feel that way which is partly why I prefer to walk with them than ride them. Lucky for me there was Bella for me to hang out with while we were headed up to camp. She was definitely a puppy with so much energy, in the beginning. By the time we made it up to camp she was down and out and crashed immediately. Once we finally got all the mules unpacked it was time to set up camp and say good bye to the mules and Bella unfortunately they wouldn’t be staying.

The next 2 days would be the hardest days we had by far the entire hitch. We had 15-16 mile days back to back on the PCT lugging around our tools on rocky trail. My feet were feeling the miles but the views were amazing. The Marble wilderness never lets me down and every mile was beautiful. Most of the trail followed high on ridges and you could see everything. No picture I ever take there does it any justice. We went for a swim in Man Eaten lake, a beautiful emerald green lake that is surrounded by rocky ridges probably carved out from snow melt right into the deep lake we were enjoying.

After those 2 days to mend our broken bodies from all the miles and long days we thankfully had a low mileage day of just brushing. We probably maxed 3 miles, my body was happy about that to say the least. We ended the day with a cross country hike up the ridge behind our camp to Shelly Lake. This lake wasn’t quite as emerald green like Man Eaten lake but still just as beautiful and when you don’t have a shower lakes are the next best thing.

The next few days we worked on cleaning up the PCT junction where we were located and started working down the Bug Gulch trail. These days only maxed at about 10-12 mile days. The trail follows a creek that I am sad to say we didn’t get an opportunity to swim in. The creek runs through rock and carved some pretty amazing natural water slides. There’s always next time though and who knows I may be back here next summer!

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Sleepy Bella!

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Man Eaten Lake,

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And time for a much needed swim.

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Dinner swims at Shelly Lake.

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That’s not snow on the mountains over there, it’s white marble. The Marble wilderness has white and black marble mountains, it’s incredible.

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Really cool flowers that I unfortunately don’t know the name of. They look like something out of a Dr. Suess book and were soft too!

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Coolest dog I’ve met on the trails so far, this is Arrow. He had is own pack and sleeping pad packed up on his back. Such a sweet dog.

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Mountain sunsets never disappoint.

Farewell Cortney!

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It was Cortney’s last day of her internship so the whole team got to go out on the river to celebrate. Any day on the river is guaranteed fun! We floated the Indian Creek to Wingate river access stretch. Right from the start we started seeing some really awesome animal sightings. A Bald Eagle flew right over us and caught a lamprey right out of the water and flew back to shore for some good eating. I also ended up finally seeing my very first River Otter! I’ve been waiting all summer to see these little guys. I saw something bobbing in the water and got closer to inspect and lucky me there he was! We also ended up stopping at some rapids on the river that you can surf on boogie boards. I didn’t surf the waves because I was somewhat nervous about it and I also ended up finding a really cute frog and decided to play with him instead. We ended the day with a BBQ party and some glow in the dark bocce ball.

I will miss Cortney, she has been an amazing roommate and friend to have over the summer. From our adventures in Ashland to breakfast at Seiad Cafe and hanging out with the mules.

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Rattlesnake Rapids, making sure to completely avoid the holes to the left in the picture.

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Jeff and Dave surfing the waves.

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Jeff feeling pretty excited about it!

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New frog friends! Super cute!

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Cortney and I getting ready to jump!

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Fridge Rescue

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To welcome the new volunteers and interns to the Happy Camp Recreation team we decided to do a team building project. Unfortunately not everyone respects nature and the outdoors in our forest. Somebody decided it might be fun to push a fridge down a cliff and into one of our local creeks. In order to get the fridge out we had to hike down to the creek and get it on top of 2 inflatable kayaks we tied together and float it 2 miles down the creek to our take out point. Some parts of the creek were deep so we couldn’t touch the ground and had to swim it through. Other parts were shallow and rocky so we had to really try and push the kayaks over. It was definitely a long day but still lots of fun!

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Trying to figure out the best way to load the fridge onto the kayaks.

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Cortney and I swimming the gear boat.

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Wrangling the fridge over the shallow rapids.

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Lunch time, you know I went swimming with some goggles we found.

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Made it successfully to the take out point!

PCT via Cold Springs Trailhead

This was my first time ever visiting any section of the PCT and it was beautiful! The trail is maintained to a high standard and there were some fallen trees on the trail from a burn from a while back. So we packed our tools and were off for a 3 day hitch into the Marble Wilderness. We would be clearing the trail from Cold Springs trailhead to Kings Castle which boundaries with the next district over which was about 8 miles of trail. We decided to hike up to Kings Castle and then work our way back to the trailhead. Luckily there wasn’t too many fallen trees along the trail compared to other trails in the area we’ve started work on. We spent the night up on a ridge right below Kings Castle with amazing views of the meadows below and endless mountain ranges in the distance. This was also the first day of Summer and the longest day of the year, such an awesome place for watching the sunset and the moonrise. The moon was full and seemed like it was 100 feet away from us. I spent most of my night waking up thinking it was morning the moon was that bright.

We woke up the next morning and packed up our things and started back towards the trailhead and worked along the way. It started off fairly easy and then the trees started to get a little more difficult. There was a few tangles where multiple trees had fallen on each other and sometimes the logs were really heavy so it took some time to push them off the trail. The most difficult one we had to work on was a single tree that was super tall. Our crosscut saw kept getting stuck half way through because of all the compression and wedges were no help because the wood was so soft. This tree took us about 3 hours to work on and 5 cuts but we finally did it! Luckily this was the hardest one we encountered and we ended up finishing the trail in one day so we were able to head back home.

PS – We ended up seeing a bear on the road! I was literally in the middle of my sentence, “Aww we didn’t get to see any bea—!” when he ran out in front of the car. This has been the second bear I’ve seen since I have been up here!

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This trail was covered in wildflowers of all colors, beautiful!

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Replacing the Marble Wilderness boundary sign that was previously burned.

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Tons of meadows along this trail with mountain ridges as the back drop.

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More meadows scattered throughout the forest.

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Coming up to our destination, Kings Castle.

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Panorama of Kings Castle and the meadows below, this is where we camped for the night.

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Very nice looking Christmas tree.

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Thought this tree was interesting.

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Sunset skies of purple, pink and blue.

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Just messing around with pictures.

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From left to right; Amy, Fang, and me!

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The bright light to the left is the moon, which lit up the sky all night.

Clear Creek Trail

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This was the first trail I worked on since I got to Klamath National Forest after the Wilderness Ranger Academy. The trail is gorgeous and in good condition, aside from some logging out that needs to be done and a couple of mudslide areas. The water is clear and some of the swimming holes look to be about 10 feet deep if not more. Amazing swimming opportunities on this trail. It did start raining while we were out working on the trail but it added a lot to the beauty of the landscape. It also helped keep the dust at bay from all the dirt we were shoveling around.

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One of the many amazing swimming holes.

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Startled this little guy when I was crossing the creek.

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This was one of the bigger swimming holes we came across but it didn’t have an easy access to the water.

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Academy Recap

So I am finally somewhat settled here in Happy Camp where I will be stationed for the Summer. The forests and mountains are endless surrounding this little town. It definitely has its quirks. They are quite fond of Big Foot or Sasquatch here whatever you want to call it. They have a quite a few sculptures around town and the footprint seems to be the decorative theme of the city. I’ve been terrible taking pictures these past couple of weeks because I’ve been so busy.

The academy was awesome! I met a lot of really cool people who had similar ideals to mine. A lot of these people will work these seasonal positions during the Summer and then get seasonal winter jobs. I think this is definitely a lifestyle I can get on board with. The first few days of the academy were mainly sit down classes and also key note speakers and a background about all things wilderness. It was interesting learning about the prominent figures in the history of the outdoors. The last couple days was spent getting my crosscut saw certification. Definitely easier than I was expecting it to be but obviously still a little difficult since you are manually sawing the tree trunk yourself. I have to admit though I was having a lot of fun sawing the trees and using an axe on them. We got to watch a couple fire rangers felling trees which was cool to see too. The guy that I drove up with to the academy that was in the same volunteer program with me ended up leaving the first day of the crosscut saw certification course. I guess it wasn’t for him. He seemed to want out of there as fast as he could get out haha. Anyways overall the academy was much more than I could have asked for. Made some friends and also did some networking with the supervisors in other forests I was interested in working in.

The one thing I’ve been kicking myself for is, why didn’t I do this sooner. I guess things work out how they are supposed to though and at least I am doing it now! I don’t have any pictures right now but I will definitely have some soon. I have a couple of hitches coming up tomorrow and next week on the PCT!

-Tabatha

 

Goodbye Southern California

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Ended up going to Joshua Tree this weekend for one last trip with friends and family before I leave for Stanislaus National Forest for the Wilderness Academy. Couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my last weekend here. It was a bit hot but that was to be expected in the desert during the Summer. The temperatures were in the 100’s but luckily there was a nice breeze to keep it cool and bearable. We hiked to Barker Dam which was completely dried up already. I tried some outdoor climbing for the first time which was pretty exciting. The rock in Joshua Tree (or at least the boulders I tried out) were super rough and grainy. When you would grab for holds or try and get a foot on, the rock would start to chip off like sand. There was a cool boulder that had some under hang practice climbing which was really fun to try out. Unfortunately I couldn’t quite complete the sequence but it was still fun to work on!

The night time was absolutely perfect out there. The temperature must have been in the 70-80’s so it wasn’t too hot or cold. No sweater needed! I spent the entire night laying down on my crash pad stargazing next to the fire with good conversation.

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