Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Plying The Tubal

So then, all good things come to an end. Sometimes a bad end. In this case, not. It was mostly down hill from there...

...after a few hundred vertical feet of uphill. That is.

Things are often like that in my world. I don't know how yours works, but I get a lot of uphills. Fortunately, I'd rather go uphill. (Insert happy simile here.)

They're called switchbacks because they switch on you and send you back, but on a higher plane, if you're climbing, or lower if you're sinking. And some of them go on a long, long time before they get switchy, so you grunt. I do, anyway. I grunt happily. I am gruntable. Gruntled. A gruntly sort of person.

Anyhow, this is a good place to do it. There aren't many people out here, especially since this area is a bit off any major roads. And then there is all the uphill stuff involved in getting there. And not much to see. Officially. Unless you like mountains and rivers without end, as Gary Snyder put it. Mountains and rivers and sky and dirt and air. And quiet.

But going back north, on the way out, first you see a lot of emptiness after a bit of climbing. I don't know about you, but I like that. Maybe it's having grown up on the plains. On the plains, it's all horizon, and no matter which direction you look in, there it is. You get to like that. That way nothing can sneak up on you. It may still come, and it may still kill you, but since you can see it coming, you have time for another beer first. That's nice too.

So after I got up to the top (with a little grunting to help me get there), I got a good view, and then prepared to hold my grunts and coast down into the Silver Creek Valley. Way down there. Which looked like it would be pleasant enough. It was.

And like that woman who insisted that the world existed on the back of a turtle, and who could no be cornered by being challenged by the question of "OK then, what does the turtle stand on," said that "It's turtles all the way down."

In my case, in this place, it was views all the way down, and I have the pictures to prove it.

I even saw a bear. From way above. As I was scoping out the area for a campsite.

So, there's a small lake (which doesn't show up on the map I've linked to), and a camping area there, and there was a bear too. So I decided maybe I'd stay somewhere else.

But I did see a bunny. And the bunny saw me, but didn't run away right away. "Why?" you may ask. "Because it was a dumb bunny," I'd say. But who can say, really?

I guess I was maybe more excited than the bunny, because my photo is a little blurred. Or maybe it was a magic evil bunny and it cast a little spell on me. Or maybe I'm just a lousy photographer.

"What's more likely," I might ask, if I had time to ask, and time to think about it, but I'm a lazy bastard and so that question may never be answered, or even asked, even though technically I've just asked it. But even so, I refuse to answer it, so there — another mystery for the ages.

Yeah, so even without evil bunnies there was lots to think about, like that woman I saw about the time I sailed over the high point of the trail. You don't see that many solo hikers, and fewer solo women hikers, but there she was.

She probably knows a hundred times what I do, 'cuz I pretty much a doofus anyway, so, being a doofus on top of everything else, I probably can't figure out anything. So I cleverly said "Hi" and she said "Hi" and then I was all alone again, with that bear down there somewhere.

And then there was that guy I also saw. Looked like an older guy. I think he was on a day hike, coming in from the east (Highway 101 side). He looked like he was headed right up to the top of Buckhorn Mountain. That might be fun, though the trail was wicked steep and just kept going up and up.

But that was really about it for excitement. First I left the Constance Pass area, and then climbed up to the Buckhorn Mountain pass, and headed down into the Silver Creek drainage. Pretty standard hiking around, but for some reason it never gets old.

Beyond that, I saw a bunny and a bear, and some old snow melting out. Hey.

And then eventually, after passing the camp site (with a bear in there somewhere), I made it down to the creek, and the site of the Tubal Cain mine. There were a few pieced of metal lying around, which was sort of not-interesting in a sort of uninteresting way, as these old dump grounds usually go.

But it was a killer place to camp. And there was no one there, and no one came in later, or in the middle of the night, or the next morning or anything. And no bear. Not even a bunny. It was really quiet.

Sheltered, flat, full of agreeable trees, with a few bits of old boilers and gears and pulleys and things from the failed Tubal Cain copper non-mine, with a lazy clean flat stream flowing through it. And I loved it.

So I ate, cleaned up, hung my food, and went to bed. What can I say?

Maybe, if I was the sort of person to get excited about flowers, it was a good place for flowers too. Rhododendrons. It's odd.

It's odd to me to see flowers in the forest. Maybe I'm odd. Could be, but somehow I expect flowers to be in flower gardens, in town, but then there are these flowers. Out in the woods. And the flowers out in the woods look just like town flowers.

Sure, it's just me. But again, maybe it's having grown up on the plains, where you see grass. Lots of grass, leading up to the horizon, which is out there, right on the horizon, surrounding you, and no flowers. Flowers are in town, in gardens, but not out there. So I haven't gotten over that either. The flowers.

The flowers are all over. Were all over. This was last year. Maybe it was the weather. Mild, dry winter, dry early spring. Thus flowers? I can't say, but I had to keep stopping to photograph them. Because.

Because you don't see big flowers on bushes where I come from, so when you do, you have to stop and photograph them because maybe, just maybe, you're the first person to ever see anything like this. Not, I know, but I can't get over it, and the bear wasn't around to liven things up so I had to do the best I could with what I had.

So where were we? Day three I guess. I got up, scratched a lot, mooned around, found my food hanging in a tree, had breakfast and so on, and continued hiking lazily downslope.

And I saw what? Forest, flowers, sunlight. Can't complain. It was fun if you like that sort of thing.

Almost forgot — I had more excitement. Two bicyclists. Headed downhill.

OK, maybe not too exciting to high-powered thousand-mile hikers but for me? Hey. A Pretty Big Deal. Kinda. Nice people anyway. Intelligently going downhill. Maybe it was a trend last year.

And eventually I crossed that spur of road and hit a disconnected bridge, and then it was back upstream a while and I found my car right where it should have been, and all that was fine and good.

And after that I drove home and had some beer and wondered what to do next.

And now a year later I finally decided to look at my photos, and did that, and then wrote this stuff up and have been thinking of going out backpacking again, somewhere, when I have equipment again, and am someplace where I can go backpacking. So simple. It seems. I'll have to try that.

Part 1.

Part 2.

As always, Effort or Eff it. No sniveling then, eh?

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