Trip Report: Ascent To Another World

Trip Report: Ascent To Another World

When I woke up I was on Earth. By 1pm I was in another world.

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February 24 | 7:40AM — I wake up with no water, and head to the banks of Rough & Ready Creek. I breakdown into swim trunks and sandals, braving a ford through the frigid and waist-high waters. After crossing the creek I head down river, crossing a small creek that I’ll be following to its source.

There I drink cold instant coffee, hydrate and ponder the weather. I’ve trapped myself here before, when on my way in the creek was knee high and on my way out it was up to my chest.

Blue skies to the south, blue skies to the east, and just a few drops coming down over me. I don’t pause for long, and get hiking an old road adjacent the creek. It quickly gets steep and rocky, the water gurgling over jams of Port Orford Cedar (POC).

I’ve seen this and similar creeks enough times to see the quiet dance between the POC trees, crumbling geology, and unique hydrology. The logs aggregate and build pools big enough to swim in, and produce beautiful little waterfalls splashing with the world’s clearest, cleanest water that I don’t bother filtering. IMG_0035.JPG

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10:30AM — My coffee is gone, and I stop again to re-hydrate at a point where the bulldozer track gets even steeper, departing the creek for a straighter shot to the ridge top. After huffing up, I reach the top and by now the clouds have cleared.

I gaze at the rim of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area and follow the dozer track along a ridge dominated by disected peridotite outcrops. I feel like I’m in Moab. Or on Mars. But I haven’t been abducted. I’ve ascended into the western Siskiyou high-country. Mars Outcrops

12:20pm —The road descends into a high basin with true soils, and real big trees. Stumps stick out here and there, cut long ago by hand, bleached out over time. History comes alive in the form of blaze marks, historic markers.

1:15pm —I’m brought out of the forest onto another rocky ridge, and old bleached out timbers start appearing, as well as holes in the ground. Finally I reach Alberg Mine.

There’s a dilapidated structure, old mining tools, and a near-vertical hole in the ground that goes as far as I can see. It’s entrance is about 8×6 feet, and the shaft is supported by a strongly built timber frame. I toss a rock in and hear it crash in water about 50 feet down. Alberg Mine

Here I rest, nap in the sun, and eventually make my way back to the spring about ten minutes away and setup camp. I read there for a couple of hours.

5:45pm — The ridge calls for me as the sun creeps down. I walk back down to where the trees become sparse and the views become huge and watch the colors brighten. The mountains far off become alive in the sunset, and I hear the curdling shrill of cougars in the distance. IMG_3692.JPG

February 25 | 8am —Waking up late, sore, I drink more cold coffee, take in the morning, stir last night’s coals.

On the hike back down I follow the ridges instead of the road. I catch a barren slope down, eventually running into the same creek. It’s another world up there, and only miles from the highway, whose breath I can hear again as I descend.

1:10pm —I ford Rough & Ready Creek again. Frigid, clear and wild.

“Why do you hike to nowhere?” someone asked me once. “It’s not even on the map.”

He was the type hooked on destinations. He had all the most expensive gear and explored to conquer. He bragged about the most famous spots he’d been. The Grand Canyon. Mt. Hood, Rainier, Whitney, a host of other monumental peaks and rivers featured in Sunset Magazine and National Geographic.

I don’t come here to reach destinations. I come here for the wonderful feeling I get when embarking on a truly wild place. As I enter the wilds, time slows down, my steps become rhythmic. Like these pristine waters to which I gravitate, everything becomes clear. That’s why I hike to nowhere.

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