Monday, July 6, 2015

Into the Wild Blue Yonder, Part II ~ May 29-30, 2015

May 29th:

After breakfast in Chester it's north on Hwy 89 to Lassen. We never tire of the trip, the mountain air and the views. The journey is uncrowded, the weather gorgeous. Times like this we miss the motorhome and camping opportunities. Cooking outside, sitting in front of the campfire, and star watching miles from civilization. 

We saw a number of these at higher altitudes in pine forests. With a little research we discovered they are Sarcodes sanguinea or Snow Plant. It has no chlorophyll and derives nutrition from fungi in the soil. Learn something new every day. 

Highlight of the day was a stop at Manzanita Lake for a walkabout of about three miles. Saw blue herons, osprey, ducks, geese, goslings, and a muskrat. 

Had a picnic outside the Manzanita Lake Store and then drove down to the park's south gate so the Rodster could do a little fishing. I was happy as a clam sitting in the shade reading some of my Grandfather's letters. Late afternoon we continued on Hwy 89 to the town of Burney where we spent the night at a little hotel in town.

May 30th ~ When in Burney you have breakfast at Blackberry Patch. Once packed up we headed to McArthur Burney Falls for some hiking and fishing. 

Flashback: In 1970 I hiked up Berg Lake on Mt. Robson, in British Columbia, with new friends Bobbie and James. It's a 15 mile hike that took us two days. I had my pup Charis with me and he would often take off ahead of us to explore and then come back and check in. 

The Lodge at Berg Lake

While Rod was fishing Burney Creek I was doing much the same. Hiking on ahead and walking back to touch base. I got in 5.5 miles and found some beautiful places to sit in the shade and just be. 

Walking near fallen trees along the trail we heard the unmistakable sound of chewing. Coming up the path from Lake Britton to the campground we heard the same sound, even louder, coming from living trees. The ranger told us it was an infestation pine bark beetles.

From the SF Chronicle March 2015: "Pine trees across the state have been dying off by the thousands due to pine beetles that take advantage of their drought-stressed bodies. The small groupings and vast swaths of dead trees create an especially dangerous fire hazard in already parched conditions..... experts warning that the situation is on track to worsen". Worst of all this isn't just a local problem, it's happening all across north America. What have we humans done?

After a snack we continue north on Hwy 89 and pick up Hwy 97 to do some exploring on the way to Klamath for the night. The Hwy 97 corridor from California through Oregon is visual feast, a legacy of the volcanic activities of the past: outcroppings, gorges, rich farmland, marshes and large ranches follow the road north. We stayed at the Best Western in Klamath and walked a few blocks to dinner. Early to bed, tomorrow we head for Crater Lake.