to their surprise these many seals
recumbent in their splendor,
sunning while it shined
they and thee my friend could but surmise what waited in the kelp
besides their dinner
at some point they all must have
and some in their turn
Rain fly flushed of flame by means unmentionable, extinguished and refastened, Lilly reassured and resituated and apparently unoffended, Lefty zipped shut the four season weather shield having manfully handled the habitability hurdles he averted the gale and availed himself on re-entering his homey hammock of the dehydrated mangoes in the underhung storage pocket below. Munching in contemplation and cocooned from the elements a thorough mastication of both facts and fruit bore, eventually more fruit in the form of the dawning realization that it would be unwise as well as uncomfortable to venture much further from camp, at dawn, in that wind, than was absolutely necessary to bear that other fruit that also often flowers with the dawn and the consumption of fibrous foodstuffs, and is in consequence as conducive to the traveler's comfort as to his health, and a necessity also uniquely conducive to contemplation while servicing, as well.
It is also when upon the trail altogether necessary among the other necessities of comfort and health if sometimes necessarily somewhat of an ad hoc affair as well, to keep one's socks dry by whatever means may come to hand, whether by squatting in the sand or hangin' bah the fahr, all up in hyar, as it wahr.
And coffee of course, nothing like a nice hot cup of coffee in the morning, hmm? They heated theirs and tried to either dodge or grimace and bear it as the whipping tendrils of acrid smoke discouraged all but the most primitive of culinary manipulations and considered their options. Their trip had been planned with plenty of leeway for the unforeseen. As the now rousing Speed Hiking Ladies of a Certain Age from L.A. across the Valley a.k.a. The Valkyries of L.L. Bean had shown, it was possible, if not necessarily pleasant to cover the distance in two days altogether, if not perhaps altogether necessary although.
Speaking of that, and be forewarned there will be plenty of that, speaking that is, to accompany the photographical focus of this erstwhile effort, continue if you will beyond the fold to be amazed, be amused and be informed or begone!
|Word of the Wise||Laziness
Let laureates sing with rapturous swing
|from his mind to thine|
Section 2; Not much ado about next to nothing and plans are set for the End of the Trail.
The sought after technological artifacts of disaster being sparse or none at all, our Amateur Geologist scanned instead the the lower heights above that first narrow thread of rounded cobbles and their larger and even more inconvenient cousins of the Random Boulder Clan. According to the Book of the Stones and Soil as read by the Professionals, for millennia the Cascadia Subduction Zone which joins to its own inconvenient cousin the San Andres Fault of Ill Repute just offshore there ruptures catastrophically every three to six hundred years, ringing the Ocean like a bell that last raised the Thunderbird when its People still Remembered.
The Cascadia subduction zone runs from triple junctions at its north and south ends. To the north, just below Queen Charlotte Island, it intersects the Queen Charlotte Fault and the Explorer Ridge. To the south, just off of Cape Mendocino in California, it intersects the San Andreas Fault and the Mendocino fault zone at the Mendocino Triple Junction.
The last known great earthquake in the northwest was the 1700 Cascadia earthquake. Geological evidence indicates that great earthquakes may have occurred at least seven times in the last 3,500 years, suggesting a return time of 300 to 600 years. There is also evidence of accompanying tsunamis with every earthquake, and one line of evidence for these earthquakes is tsunami damage, and through Japanese records of tsunamis.
The next rupture of the Cascadia Subduction Zone is anticipated to be capable of causing widespread destruction throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Other similar subduction zones in the world usually have such earthquakes every 100 to 200 years; the longer interval here may indicate unusually large stress buildup and subsequent unusually large earthquake slip.
Pressed as the walker is there between the rock and the sea, questions of waves and how high they can get become pointed in a way they cannot be from the vantage of some land locked and lubberly lawn chair. In the immediate moment one keeps a sharp eye on the sea, never turning the back for very long. Searching for signs of the slower beat of plate tectonics Lefty's frosted head kept swiveling from surf to boots to up and landward watching out for geological Tsunami evidence in the form of beach rounded boulders on the benches above. Sure enough just along this stretch the searching eye detects a line of telltale stones smooth as a row of big dusty baby's butts projecting proudly for any attentive eye to see about 50 feet above, overhanging the hiker with what intentions one shudders to think. Either they have perched there since they were thrust there resting on the stones that bear them now as the waves chewed away at their rising backsides, or they were tossed up by a gigantic wave relatively recently. Like finding your first arrowhead, it sharpens the eye to hit its target and more tell tales lay ahead, much to Lefty's delight and the Captain's patient nodding, Lilly remained as ever neutarl on the subject.
In Part 2 there is an image provided by NOAA of their wave height model of the 2011 event. Shown above is a screen shot of that model overlaid on the Pacific seafloor terrain, sharpened to emphasize detail. The odd red tendril of amplified amplitude across the North Pacific as noted before is focused precisely at Cape Mendocino and the Lost Coast. As this overlay makes clear the cause of that surface phenomenon lies many thousands of feet below. The Mendocino Ridge originates at Punta Garda and runs in a 3 to 12 thousand foot high ripple 2850 miles along the yellow line to the Martin Seamount, Latitude: 34° 59' 00" N, Longitude: 176° 25' 00" W at the crosshairs, where it rises from the abyssal plain at -17000 feet to about -4800 feet below MSL, just about equal in height to a submerged Mt. Hood, the fancy hat of Portland Oregon, and as the opposite number of Punta Gorda really deserves a better name, Monte Dolorosa perhaps.
This image shows the seafloor topography where lurked the fishes Captain Jack so avidly sought, exactly at the Southern end of that odd red tendril of wave height, 5180 miles away from where the note was sounded in Japan, a body of water 2800 miles long, 13000 feet deep and as much as 200 miles wide was harmonically excited by the shape of the seafloor, conducting a relatively small but still locally significant focused oscillation of the body of the ocean, like the strumming of an immense submerged guitar. Traces of other great strummings lie about the Flats if you know how to look, hiding in the grass and hiding plenty of rabbits themselves, much to Lilly's delight as she did know how to look, for bunnies anyway. The trees at the back of the Flats have made their peace with the Thunderbrd as well and their age and distance from the waves tells how long its been since a wave came along high enough to salt the roots up in there, 80 feet above and 1500 feet away from where the more modest waves of mere hurricanes spend themselves today.
Whether Cape Mendocino is truly Thumbnail of God is debatable, but the Gorda Escarpment is in visible fact the actual Skin of the Earth peeling back like an Orange, split down the middle at the root of the Mendocino ridge. To the Northwest the Gorda Ridges and the Escanaba Trough buckle from the pressure. The San Andreas Fault takes an abrupt left and exactly there ceased it's Northward shift in the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. A couple miles South of that groaning lockup, the constipated San Andreas lies less than 1000 feet offshore at Randall Creek of Megalithic Doghouse infamy.
According to the USGS, in 1906 right there the earth moved 22.6 feet towards Alaska in about six minutes before, but not much before the first fires had began to burn in San Francisco 200 miles south. The rupture tore up the fault at over 8000 miles per hour and came there to an incomprehensibly energetic screeching halt. Anybody lazing beside the Dog in a previous boulder shelter there would have first been pinned and then, in about two minutes washed 60 feet up to just about right exactly where they saw more of those baby butt boulders perched at Shipman Creek the coming picturesque and serene evening, or sucked out to sea, probably both, repeatedly and quicker than you can say "blub". All this majestic scenery should not deceive, this is a potentially deadly place on time scales great and small and in the worst event there is no escape at all, none, nor fortunately much time at all to regret the unfortunate timing.
Now imagine if you will a reversal of that bloody NOAA model, WHEN not if the tone is struck from this end by the TWANG of the Cascadian Thunderbird's mighty bow, in answer to O Tsunami-kami-sama's challenge, neither for the first time nor the last. Would a closer reading of the Lost Texts of the Songs of The People, the Haida, the Tlinglit, the Tsamishan tell us, and what of the Mettole and other First Nations? Strangle a language and you stifle the understanding of the world that it encodes. The People have been here for more than ten thousand years and once they sang their Stories on the shores of the Sea. We should pay attention to the Songs not yet forgotten and pay attention to what our own lab coated Elders are saying.
Such Great Matters are in the hands of mightier forces that we, but we can do what we can in the case of the knowable things, by holding ready, bearing witness, bearing off the rubbish when, not if, it gets here and repatriating whatever is repatriable, showing respect for the Ancetors on all sides. It is also right to bear witness to just how directly connected are the opposite sides of the sea. There is in fact quite clearly a long wavelength acoustic energy conducting channel with but one carom along the way between the Lands of the Setting and the Rising Sun. Old Lefty is convinced that this would be news to neither the Whales nor the Navy, but, consider the source and draw your own conclusions
Lefty walked along behind Lilly and Jack, her infatuated with rabbits and Jack with the Compound, as they approached along a sandy private runway right atop the Old Jeep Road to its windsocked doorstep. The evidence of big waves there is scattered and muddle there but as is evident in the image above as well as at ground level, Miller Flats to the South bears clear witness to a series of at least six monster waves, the highest more that 1500 feet from the water and 80 feet high, recorded in the scalloped bands of dark and light, heavily modified in this image to emphasize the variations in contrast and color. This is evident on the ground in rolling parallel ridges with smooth 20 foot deep troughs a half mile long, the fourth one from the beach accommodates a second rustic runway between and round beach rocks in orderly rows at their crests 200 feet apart, frozen terrestrial waves recording maritime fury of grand proportions and almost certainly tectonic in origin.
The Compound is as wonderfully crafted and situated a wilderness retreat as can be imagined. It is also close enough to the base of the mountain that when the big wave comes you MIGHT have enough time to RUN LIKE HELL UPHILL as long as you were on your toes, your shoes were too and your pants were not around your ankles. But, vague visions of excellent group expeditions from this air supported base camp and danger aside, as is the Way all True Adventurers, what was truly uppermoston the agenda was the airdrop they had scheduled, forethoughtfully before departing for those parts. Lo and behold, as they waded across then waited beside Big Flat Creek (for the umpteenth time) for the persnickety Captain to perform his pedal ablutions, a beautiful blue bodied airplane circled above, then out to sea then back and out and round the ridge in the image above to come to ground a quarter mile away and all up in its Tsunami Trough hosted runway, perhaps responding to the prearranged signal of the hearty and in retrospect foolhardy flapping of Lefty's 'Yellin' Yella' cycling jacket
But no, Lefty again struggling to overcome his crippling natural shyness, leaving his pack behind went with Lilly down to greet the airmen despite the fact that Jack's far better weather eyes had ascertained that it was unfortunately not our friend Pete the Pilot and the Captain's dad Chris our chauffeur, and thus NOT their steak and whiskey resupply but some other errand that had brought these strangers to this rustic aerodrome on such a sunny, softly breezy and alluringly flight-worthy day, no, sadly, not. But despite Lefty's imperfectly concealed chagrin and on the strength alone, and certainly not on good looks, of purporting the construction of this very story, these aviators were free with their details but far less so and thence more chagrin, with their enticingly frosty beverages.
They volunteered that there were five 'inholders' there who commonly controlled that airstrip and were in turn very strictly controlled by the BLM within whose vastly larger and aggressively protected holdings their own individually held inholdings were held and tightly controlled as well, by The Man Itself. The Compound and its airstrip on Big Flats had included the foundations and dilapidated remains of three structures which The Man had agreed by Grandfather Law entitled the owners to 'rebuild', new structures in all but name so long as they fit exactly withinin the footprints of the former. Our informants had not been so fortunate as to have inherited such grandfathered footprints form their own Grandsires and so were thus confined to erecting only temporary structures by The Man, man. Bummer.
That aside, contact information was exchanged with an eye toward facilitation of future forays with better logistical options, given potential advance permission rather than the dicey probability of retrospective pleas for forgiveness. Having access to one or both of these runways and to the Jeep Road down from Telegraph Ridge just a mile to the North at Spanish Flats would be a fine and portentous thing regarding the hosting of a possible Event at the End of the World. To what (or which) End, you ask? Stay tuned.
Just to the left of the 'S' in the word 'Shipman' in the image above runs a long escarpment 150 feet below current MSL and 300 feet deep at its foot. This is the Holocene coastline from the depths of the last ice age when the waves would have lapped at the feet of this now drowned sea cliff. The 'Thunderbird Lockup' point designated by the tip of the red arrow is the exact location where the Earth stopped tearing last time and is likely to be where it starts the next. Having made camp and filled the largly unphotographed section with scavanged images, the tiresome pedantic Geology Briefing will be suspended, just where Lefty suspended his hammock tent between the rakishly angled Punctuated Pirate Repeller and and the handless tentacle of a handy root ball, the Captain attempted to plumb the roots of the Delgada Canyon with fifty feet of line. To no one's surprise, it was mussels for protein again.
Coming round the head at Miller Flats after leaving one lusty rustic aviator, shirtless and shiny, surrealistically thrusting a noisy red lawnmower half a mile each way up and down the runway, making clear to root and mole alike that indeed this MacArthur too would be back, Jack had briefly had line of sight to Shelter Cove and made scrambled contact withj Willits HQ Air Operations Central; i.e. Shanachie Pub. Heavey enemy activity in their vicinity the night before had prohibited discretionary logistical missions despite the ideal flying conditions that day and resupply had been rescheduled for the morrow when unfortunately the Company would find itself in narrow confines rather than the Flat, and the encroaching chill and fuzzy breath of the Humboldt Current backlit by the setting sun did not bode well for either steak OR whiskey, and so dog bones too doggone it. Butt Lilly Loved her some mussel guts and by this late date the Captain too had come to appreciate if not their Halloween colors and their kelpy taste and texture, then at least their availability.
At the head of the valley the beach widens, flattens and spreads its skirts in a sweeping series of scalloped arches first 2 and a half miles to Gitchell Creek where they would spend the next and last night on the trail and then the last four regrettable miles on to Shelter Cove, the End of the Trail, and 'Civilization', such as it is in those parts.
Section 3; Rednecks, Hotshots and bear, Lefty get his comeuppance.
Only their anxiety was arrested when Lefty, employing an ancient pacification technique known to all True Peace Officers soothed their fears by deploying a certain implement of the same name in a ritual honored from time immemorial involving both fire and breath control. Thus both pleased and appeased and a good deal more chatty they shared their hopes and fears, which like they shall remain nameless, and left us headed Northward, laughing like hyenas for no apparent reason, but reasonably reassured that the arrest had been temporary, and not altogether unpleasant.
The short day like the one before had been timed to dodge the tide and designed to prolong the time that Jack would have for fishing at Gitchell Creek, where he would either have to put up or be forever the butt of Lefty's ribbing about the futility of fishing when there was a plenty of stationary delicacies on every knobby headed rock that poked it shell encrusted top above the water on a modest minus tide. Sad as it was to depart the lovely Shipman Creek that morning, the Seaman's well known superstitious nature sent a shiver of horror through the Captain when he rousted from his tent only to notice for the first time that he had pitched it disturbingly near to where someone else had pitched a pair of forlorn and fog bejeweled black Speedos for some unknown reason to hang limply about two feet in front of his bleary horror stricken eyes, barely open after YET ANOTHER night spent tossing and turning on the ground and not that happy either to see Lefty's languid and luxurious morning cat stretch of I told yo so nor to hear any chipper descriptions of how very very very well the old S.O.B. had slept, neither.
So they arrived in fine fettle and just in time for the Fisherman's rising tide at the broad cobbled strand where the narrow brushy creek dumps out of its valley 200 feet from the waves. Plenty of fuel was lying about and just the right type of stones for the construction of the very pit oven lefty's Mom had taught him how to build and use up in the San Juan islands back around the middle of the previous Century, several decades before the turn of the Millennium. Back when Men were Men and they would beat the livin' Jeesus out of anybody who even looked like they had once thought about being different, ah yes, the Golden Past of Jim Crow, Joseph McCarthy, and Edward Teller's brand new shiny Hydrogen Bomb, sigh. Those were the Days my friend, and there's a BUNCH of folks trying to bring them right back again. "Screw nostalgia" is what Lefty says, and in this one single case your narrator is inclined to agree.
As he simultaneously rejected it as he embraced nostalgia in the form of a pit of very hot round stones which he lined with fresh sopping kelp that sizzled as it hit them his eyes lifted to from the task for a moment to spy a decidedly feminine silhouette approaching from the South. Friends, our Amateur Geologist is a fairly well seasoned fellow in matters distaff as well a tectonic having fathered two daughters and raised them pretty well pretty much single handed in the face of some vigorous headwinds shall we say. The young woman nearing the fire temporarily displaced from its pit to accommodate Lefty's arcane aboriginal manipulations and the consequent wafting steam smelling of seared seaweed piqued their new acquaintance's interest in the same way she did his.
Andrea was her name, and that's her gear in the lower left of the image above. In less than three minutes her name, her mission and her bright and beautiful inner flame were parked together with her formidable elf beside their flames and she in turn was learning of the ways of the pit oven as Lefty piled about 6 pounds of monster mussels on top of the steaming kelp, piled more kelp atop the mussels then hot rocks on that and finally the burning coals to top the pile as she watched in rapt fascination, camera in hand.
Hey 'Lefty' I forgot to tell you when you asked about a main influential person and "legend" in firefighting that has a direct relation to my crew, a great man named Brit Rosso.Wow! Who's baaaaad, hmmm? The Trail and the Tale live on. More on this in the Epilogue (and for sure really the Last and Final Installment of this story, for now) next week.
In addition I would like to thank you for all the hospitality and knowledge you shared with me. I am so grateful to have meet you guys! You really made my trip so much more meaningful and dynamic than I could have ever hoped for. It's refreshing to cross paths with people like you where all one needs to do is to listen to find themselves being granted a massive amount of knowledge that contains depth and usefulness. For that I thank you deeply! I really enjoyed the area, I felt oddly at home there.
Well I'm back at work now. Just got off a fire on the Sequoia National Forest where I got a solo helicopter ride on Wednesday to meet up with my crew who had been working for a few days prior while I was stuck getting checked into the system. We hiked out yesterday and are now headed to Colorado. I'm excited I've never been there before. Any who I hope all is well with you, take care and keep in touch!
Back on the Trail and back into our Tale where we were at before being so pleasantly interrupted, Arr Harr and Begorra no sooner had he sent his line plummeting into the gloomy depths than, WHAM! a bite by Gawd and a good one too. Six days of trying and FINALLY this one was GOING to come ashore. Six days of taking Crap and eating if not Crow then maybe the next worst thing and sixty thousand fruitless casts and now it was time for Someone Else to either pluck off the shiny black feathers or eat them WITH the carcass. The Captain bellowed as if he'd just sunk a harpoon into his Nemesis and perhaps there were some slurs as well regarding Lefty's Ancestry and Character, but who can tell? Summoned to witness the Triumph of the Will, Andrea, camera in hand stood in for Leni Riefenstahl and Lefty played the Goat.
Is it just me or is there something....demented in those eyes, something scary in the heft of his haft if not daft in the demonic dedication to his craft?
Lefty laced his hammock up between two logs wedged in the mouth of the canyon and hanging over the stream in such a way as to hopefully discourage any curious bear from paying him a nocturnal visit as the now clean Fish of Golden Dreams steamed in their silver wrapper stuffed with lemon balm plucked fresh from the sand and a few fir needle as well for flavor. And there upon the sand where Lilly had immediately judged Andrea to be fit company for both wretched old Man and Beast, those four had such a sunset and firelit feast as few have ever savored; mussels steamed a les Indegines, as fresh a head on herb fish as can be had, sweet Medjool dates as sticky as honey, dried mangoes and Whiskey with Friends, topped off with a great big chaw of Wintergreen Skoal. What are we, Barbarians? Don't answer that. After much swapping of stories metaphorical masticating of adipose tissue, they each repaired to respective and widely separated quarters their locations reflecting each parties bbbb.....best hope regarding the foiling of curious bears.
They parted ways then with Andrea that morning for the first but it turned out not the last time, admiring her staunchly Puritan whiskey and tobacco only policy and her sincere dedication to perusing a career in firefighting, much like her professional totem Smokey the Smokeless Bear. She snapped this shot of the Company heading off toward Shelter Cove as she headed North herself.
And someone else returned the favor for her later in her own journey.
Afterword and Adieu