Sunday, July 24, 2016

How Trees Talk to Each Other

I love Ted talks because they expose me to new ideas and concepts that I might never have considered or might never have thought interesting or appealing. I love trees, of course, and this video just makes me love them even more. Wow, so many fascinating things to learn about trees and their inter-connectedness! And there's so much symbolism in that and how it relates to us as human beings. I promise this 18 minutes will be worth your time (it might even make you wanna go hug a tree):

Here are just a few of the dozens of tree pictures I've taken.

 And this one is probably one of my favorites and this Ted talk made me think of it. It's like these two trees are holding on to each other as if to say, "It's okay, friend, I'm here!" :)
Let's be more like trees, let's take care of each other, support each other and hold each other up.

Friday, July 22, 2016

7.22.16 ... American River Confluence Loop

Hike Details:

  • Elevation - low of 535' to high of 1194'
  • Location - Auburn State Recreation Area - Confluence
  • Mileage - 4-5 miles
  • Hiking time -1 1/2 hours
  • Route - See the map below, we parked at the Confluence beyond the bridge, near the bathroom (fee area). We followed the Stagecoach Trail, but then took a sharp left to head towards the Manzanita Trail, which took us to the Park Headquarters. We crossed Hwy. 49 to join the Western States Trail, crossed the No Hands Bridge and then crossed the river again back to the parking lot.
  • Weather - Barely cool when we started at about 8:30, and just got progressively warmer. Fortunately we finished before it was too hot to hike.
These nifty graphics were made from the website -- best hike planning/mapping website!! I'm just nerdy enough that I enjoy figuring this stuff out. And I love that the elevation profile makes it look like we climbed a really high mountain. :)

So this hike was our second choice for the day. The original plan was to go check out Codfish Falls a little further up the North Fork of the American River. We followed numerous maps and recommendations about going down Ponderosa Way, which warned of the bumpy, dirt road. I was driving a truck so I wasn't too worried. I forgot to snap a picture but grabbed this off of Google maps to show the terrain we were heading down into. We were descending steeply into the canyon and the road was very windy and very bumpy.

 We drove about a mile and had at least another mile to go. There were just two of us that day and we were both starting to feel a little uneasy. We hadn't seen any cars going up or down and we no longer had cell service. That canyon was all of a sudden feeling very remote and isolated. I spoke up and said that unless we started getting cell service around the next bend (haha, wishful thinking since I have AT&T!), I thought we should turn around and go back. My friend immediately agreed with me. Fortunately, right around that next bend was about the only spot on this whole road where it was safe to turn around. So that's what we did.
We'll never know if we averted some kind of danger or maybe some car trouble, or maybe everything would have been perfectly fine, but I've learned to listen to those promptings and always err on the side of caution and safety. I definitely want to try again, the hike itself is supposed to be pretty easy, but we'll wait until there are more than just two of us.

Okay, now back to the hike we did end up doing. We headed to the Confluence trail area and decided to follow one of the routes I haven't done yet. We didn't have a trail map since it wasn't in the plan, but there was a group of nice older men who were happy to give us directions, though by the time the four of them were done explaining the different trail intersections we might have been better off figuring it out on our own. ;)

There's nothing particularly exciting about this trail, but it's a nice, solid workout with some beautiful river and canyon views. We got our heart pumping right at the start with a good incline.
 A pretty view of the landmark Foresthill Bridge
 Looking down at the canyon
 I think this waterfall is called the Black Hole of Calcutta Falls. A very impressive sounding name for a not super impressive waterfall. Maybe it's better in the spring?
 All's well that ends well. We had a nice hike and got home by 10:30!

Friday, July 15, 2016

7.15.16 ... Eagle Falls/Eagle Lake/Vikingsholm

Hike Details:

  • Elevation - low approx. 6,250 ft. - high of 7,000 ft.
  • Location - Emerald Bay State Park
  • Mileage - 4-5 miles
  • Hiking time - 3 hours
  • Route -We parked in the Emerald Bay State Park parking lot (fee area) on Highway 89, then walked back to the Eagle Falls trailhead. Just follow the signs to Eagle Falls and then on to Eagle Lake. Permits for the Desolation Wilderness are at the trailhead, make sure to fill one out. After coming back to the trailhead, we headed down the trail to the Vikingsholm Castle and then back up again. If I were to do this over again, I'd recommend starting by going down to Vikingsholm, then hiking back up and then over and up to Eagle Lake and then back down to the parking lot. Ending a hike with an uphill slog is slightly less fun.
  • Weather - Cool in the morning, but it started getting pretty warm by the time we finished around noon.
I haven't had time to do much hiking yet this summer but I finally have some on the calendar and wanted to drag my two boys with me on at least one of them.
   They were good sports, especially since it involved getting up before 7am to hit the road so that we could get a parking spot at the trailhead. They probably didn't believe me, but they found out I was right when we came back from the hike to find a packed parking lot and cars parked all along the road. The early bird gets the parking spot!

First stop before we ever even started the hike was the lookout right along the road at lower Eagle Falls. Oh, man, yet another hike where pictures just really don't do justice to the beauty and spectacular scenery of this hike! Seriously, I could have just sat here all day and soaked in the view.
This is the lower part of Eagle Falls with Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe in the distance.
My kids have learned to live with the fact that they just have to have their picture taken. :)
 "Stairway to Heaven" -- this is early on in the trail to Eagle Falls. I'm always amazed at the work that must have gone into making these kind of stone steps. Thank you, tough trail builders!
 It doesn't take long to get to the bridge over the upper Eagle Falls. There's a nice little area where you can climb on the rocks and dip your feet in the water.
 And then maybe only another mile to get to Eagle Lake. Such a beautiful lake with mountains circling all around. And that crystal clear water is amazing. And cold!
 Cairns! I love cairns! Spencer decided to add his building talent to this one. He restacked it so it was perfectly balanced as it got smaller and smaller. He was proud of his handiwork!
 After coming back down from the Eagle Lake trail, we walked back to the parking lot and descended down the trail headed to Vikingsholm "Castle", a cool old mansion built in the style of Swedish stone castles. The boys were already hungry and hot, but I coerced them into "just one more little trail". Going down was easy, but of course, what goes down must come up. It's not so fun to go uphill at the end of a hiking day, but they survived and I promised them a nice big lunch.
If I were to hike down to Vikingsholm again, I'd probably plan for a picnic lunch on the beach and maybe rent kayaks to paddle around Emerald Bay. Otherwise, it's not a hiking trail that's very interesting. But the trail up to Eagle Falls and Eagle Lake is awesome. And I'd like to go back there again and go even farther, maybe as far as Velma Lakes which I've heard are gorgeous.
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