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In the middle of the night, in the midst of the Trek the wind whipped at Old Lefty's rain fly like a lame dray horse on its last haul to the glue factory. Lilly huddled in her field expedient doghouse under Lefty's hammock 'all up in there' as the Captain had repeatedly pointed out, and well sheltered, but her little rippling shivers and barely audible whistling whine spoke volumes about her state of mind above the braying of the South wind. All up in hya, 13 miles inside and truly hung up on a driftwood picket cum windbreak in the Heart of the formerly Lost Coast Wilderness of Humboldt County a stiff South wind always threatens hard weather.
Three days before, at the beginning of the trip, the wind had blown from the opposite direction at 50 knots and, as a North wind often does up in hya it swept the skies clean and had given our savvy travelers a welcome assist in the three days since departing the trailhead at the mouth of the Mettole where the slogging had commenced. Like any well wrought Adventure of this kind, a semi-pro event if you will, prior planning had played its pivotal and proper part in preventing pp...poor perfomance. But in the case of their Canine Companion Lilly the formerly Lightfoot, grit, both hers and the sort amply supplied by the beach had conspired to render her paws a great deal more tetchy and her appreciation of both rest and soft grass far more sincere than before.
At Randall Creek the day before where she had recuperated in Splendor, though not entire, the favoring wind had begun to die as they filled their various water carriers from its salmon scented and blessed stream, Lefty perilously spurning such niceties as microbial filters, supping directly from these falls blaaaathering some nonsense about 'challenging the immune system' and the 'spiritual essence of the water', of which the more prudent Captain had not much to say, as actions speak louder than words, they do.

How wondrously supernatural,

And how miraculous this!

I draw water, and I carry fuel.

(Essays in Zen Buddhism – First Series 319)

Proceeding Southerly apace and apaw later from a bluff they saw
to their surprise these many seals
recumbent in their splendor,
looking stunned,
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
From the seals to their present site at stony mouthed ol 'Big Creek the wind had come around into their faces, progressively strengthening throughout the day until by evening any SANE person would have, maybe, covered up the SPEEDOS, but that's another story. Well, the ill wind having lived up to its promises Lilly was not at all happy with the dark and the wind and the LASHING. There was no rain but plenty of flying embers from the remains of the fire, enough to have seared a considerable hole through the camouflage (naturally) rain fly of Lefty's suspended sleeping quarters, doubling then as the windward side of Lilly's lean-to of towel carpeted cozyness. Perhaps the smell of the shell of burning rip-stop had finally fried her already overloaded input channels.

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.
sockwoodIt 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!

Section 1; Battle in the Skies, or, how to fully employ a day doing next to nothing at all.

 On this coast in this season the great cold breath of the Humboldt Current just off shore contends with the rising currents of the land joined in conflict directly overhead on the instance by two more contending aerial evolutions, pitting the unexpected Southerly advance now pinning them in the Big Creek bivouac against a slowly gathering counter-thrust sliding off the tops of the ridges to the North. Being only ground pounding recon dogs it was judged both prudent and well within mission parameters to keep a low profile while the outcome was determined by the air forces and to gather what intelligence they could on strategies and tactics playing out overhead.
 The battle of Sea and Land is so much more immediate, tangible and dramatic than the distant ponderous rolling cushions of air above, a slow motion pillow fight of enormous proportions. But the wind that drives the waves is driven by Apollo Himself, the Sun Above and the stone that dashes the waves and diverts the wind is driven up, ultimately, by the relic heat of terrestrial accretion and the decay of unstable radioisotopes incorporated from the Mother Nebula, long lived but dying embers spawned in the superluminous conflagration of a long vanished Star; the cooling hand of the Daughter of the Ancient Mother raised against the warm breath of the white hot Sky Father, her Brother and Consort in the Egyptian ontogeny. In the end there can be no winner, only temporary victories and tactical retreats. In the end its all about the battle, keeping the wheel turning as long as it can be turned.
The great secret is no secret
Senses fit the winds,
Visible is visible,
rain-mist curtains wave through the bearded vale,
grey atoms wet the wind's Kaballah

Allen Ginsberg Wales Visitation (l. 78-82). . . Allen Ginsberg: Collected Poems

 In other words, after finally grasping keenly the obvious fact that by moving to the OTHER SIDE of the barricade the fragging wind would be defanged and lying about semi- or fully prone and thus out of the line of fire was an amicable way to spend the day while remaining whole in body and making whole the soul by watching clouds and doing Little as Possible else, allowing Wisdom to arrive at it's and their own leisure, or not at all.
Word of the Wise Laziness
Let laureates sing with rapturous swing
Of the wonder and glory of work;
Let pulpiteers preach and with passion impeach
The indolent wretches who shirk.
No doubt they are right: in the stress of the fight
It's the slackers who go to the wall;
So though it's my shame I perversely proclaim
It's fine to do nothing at all.

It is fine to recline on the flat of one's spine,
With never a thought in one's head:
It's lovely to stare up at the sky
When others are earning their bread.
It's great to feel one with the soil and the sun,
Drowned deep in the grasses so tall,
Oh it's noble to sweat, pounds and dollars to get,
But it's grand to do nothing at all.

So sing to the praise of the fellows who laze
Instead of lambasting the soil;
The vagabonds they who lounge by the way,
Conscientious objectors to toil.
But lest you should think, by this spatter of ink,
The Muses still hold me in thrall,
I'll round out my rhyme, and (until the next time)
Work like hell doing nothing at all.

             Robert Service

from his mind to thine
 Dog beside and doggerel aside it WAS indeed a day well spent in disport and indeed as well a mighty confluence of forces, coincidentally or not, disported above their eponymous valley all that long lazing day. Like observing a Senate inaction, the Kabuki play in the clouds overhead evolved without bloodshed but with much expansive gesturing and self conscious sense of Majesty, fantastic forms indicated but never fully revealed, endlessly fascinating from the vantage of their couches on the Trail Mix Gallery floor, if rather mystifying and wearying withal.

Section 2; Not much ado about next to nothing and plans are set for the End of the Trail.

 And so on the Fourth Day Dog Rested, having thus employed a Privilege granted to damn few, this Company of Stalwart Beings were pleased as, throughout their long, exhausting Afternoon of Ennui the wind too succumbed incrementally to lassitude finally withering to the slightest filaments of breath allowing at last for consideration of things domestic and logistical. Nightwould be coming soon and soon the day thereafter. The Map was consulted and the Captain ruled that they would make for Shipman Creek; a mile on the beach then three on the two conjoined Flats named Big and Randall from North to South respectively, and then one more by beach again to round the Ridge named after its Creek, to no one's great surprise, and the best Camp of the Journey as estimated by their estimable Captain.
  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.
Earthquake timing
  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
  bigflatswavelines  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.

 The magnificent, sinuous Delgada Canyon dissects the submerged continental margin from its root at Shipman Creek, their camp for night five where the narrow valley mouth was landscaped by a terraced arrangement of 60 and 80 foot long logs, one of which, a mere pole by comparison projected 30' Southwestward toward the sea form the second tier and was terminated by the round black punctuation mark of a spherical black buoy suspended from the tip by a loop of wire, the period at the end of a paragraph from Swiss Family Robinson, arrayed to repel the Pirates, or so it seemed.
  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.

 Now, why anybody coming across our Company on day six and somewhat worse (smelling) for wear, would imagine them to be anything but the hippest of hipsters is I'm sure as far beyond your credulity as it was their's, but there you go. Like beauty, this too is in the eye of the beholder, apparently. Despite appearances to the contrary, these two humans are very very sensitive, even delicate fellows, not to sat flowers, nearly as affected by the raising of an eyebrow as is Lilly by the flash of a rabbit's tail. And indeed, believe it or not there were here and there a raised eyebrow or two along the way as Lefty, not coincidentally, on the left in the image above would, despite his crippling shyness, or perhaps because of it, inquire as to  name, age, place of origin, reason for traveling, occupation and the like of nearly every one. Motivated strictly by journalistic necessity, nonetheless they detected a distinct air of unease, as, when accosting a party of five U. Cal youngsters, veritably backed up against a cliff on the way South the next morning, one inquired "Are you going to arrest us?"
  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.

 Arrowhead Hotshot Scrub, that's the ones that run UP mountains TOWARD the fire with 45 pounds of gear on their backs and a shovel in their hands. She was about the same age as Lefty's oldest daughter, also Ranger trained by the age of 6 she too had had a close relationship with her woodsy Paw so they hit it off in about ten heartbeats. Jack, who had been up the canyon checking for bear sign came back with tales of terrible tearing up of brush in the upper reaches was quite pleased and, ah, interested to make the acquaintance of Andrea,offhandedly opining how the narrow log clogged mouth indicated that if Yogi or Yoga did come down for a stroll on the beach that night there would not be much space to pass while he surveyed her personal and professional assets with an equally professional eye while she nervously inquired after more details regarding the likelihood of making their acquaintance in the dark.
  Jack was impressed as Lefty was with her character and bearing, intensity and pure Badassicality, but both were gobstopped to learn she had both Whiskey AND Terbaccy, wintergreen Chew no less! They were not worthy and they knew it. Lefty had intuited it immediately after one look at her slightly less than knee high 2 inch heeled 6lb apiece firefightin' fo a muhfuh BOOTS. But talk of intimate congress with bears clearly had her spooked so Lefty made it far worse for her by sharing horror stories from Alaska and Jack went down to the tide for one last try at the fish, like Ahab, the scent of steaming shellfish taunting his retreat though oh no, not Lefty.......OK, maybe a little.
 In the oddest bit of coinky-dinkery you're likely to come across today and no kidding, just as your humble author was typing these words there came the little 'boink boink' noise that FaceBook makes when a message comes in. Who do you think it was from eh? She asked me to forward this to Lefty who is out somewhere in the field he was named after, so I republish a slightly redacted version here in hopes he will see it someday.
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.
  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!
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.
  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.
 Despite the aspertions from the formerly apersed, Lefty resigned himself to Beta status for the time being and did what any good fisherman would do, not that he was one but he knew that the Right Thing was to dispatch the suffocating morsel, err, ascending being thus putting IT out of its misery and THEM one step closer to helping it become the best that it could thereafter be; dinner. But Pride doth Preceedeth the Fall, boy howdy didst it ever. Lefty collected a likely cudgel from the beach and crouched to deliver it the Coup de Grace. He snagged the slippery devil in his left hand and rared back with the right, letting fly with sufficient force to crack its skull and usher its soul hence into the aether but the ungrateful wretch had other ideas. With a flip and a squirm and a dastardly twist whipping out its previously unknown but Very Powerful Fish Style Kung Fu it used Lefty's own force to divert his blow from the back of its head directly into the terminal phalanges of Lefty's eponymous thumb, with sufficient force to CRACK the bone, elicit a geyser of colorful language and equally colorful contusions and bring forth the grimace recorded below by the steady handed Andrea standing providentially by at the ready to provide all Lefty's friends with this gift of Frozen Schadenfruede that just keeps on giving.
 Lefty retaliated with his own less elegant Kung Fu of the MoFo School using its I'll bash your Head In You Bastard form, to good effect from his if not the fishes point of view. But let us not dwell on him, but upon the Triumphant One for whom Persistence Finally Pays while the Hot Woman looks on Admiringly, harrumph. Gaze then upon the Glorious Trophy.
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?
 All right, ALL RIGHT, we'll cook the damn thing, and yes its beautiful, yes already, just beautiful, sheeesh! Put down the knife, Ok Jack? Some people jut do NOT take six days of merciless ribbing interspersed with long windy rambling lectures on Plate Tectonics all that well. Hmm, who knew?
  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 hope regarding the foiling of curious bears.
The morning brought with it ample confirmation that the bear had indeed been in camp, curious, hungry persistent and ultimately successful in its quest to spice up its diet of kelp and shredded corpses with some Medjool dates and other delicacies that had unfortunately been left in Lefty's detachable but fortunately detached pack top instead of having been put where they belonged inside the bear canister which itself was found about forty feet down the beach.
 No blue and black Kelty pack top was sighted then or later, and no doubt it lies shredded up the canyon where some happy bear was licking date resin off its claws and wondering just exactly what might have been in that other resinous ziplock and why it was feeling soooooo sleeeeepy. Do you suppose that bears can giggle like those U. Cal boys?
  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.
 Their final four miles was uneventful as the beach widened and the cobble dwindled to pebbles then to plain black sand. Lilly demonstrated her new found discrimination by tiptoeing gingerly over the coarser patches then dashing about like a rabbit when she struck an especially soft bit. The Glory of Vindication had almost left his face as the Captain ruminated upon the unhandyness of jobs and relationships when it would be just so nice to turn about again and head back up the coast. He even opined that them damned mussels were not half bad when cooked Indian style (feather not dot) like the night before. Lefty's bones, particularly the one in his left thumb which had now swelled up to the size and approximate color of an overripe plum were aching, good thoughts of showers and bacon and bad ones of the bear who stole his trusty rumatis' meddicin' were uppermost on his mind and getting back to civilization did not seem like such a bad idea, to him at least. In startling exception to the general drabness of the fog sheathed home stretch, about halfway to the parking lot and final extraction a Great Big Effing Rock to dwarf all others loomed up out of the mist.
 Similarly formed but bigger than Donald Trump's hair, bigger even than Newt Gingrich's ego this bad boy had come tumbling down from above long ago to break itself in three big chunks to stand as gateway and sentinel and convenient photo-op and pit stop on the way back to unfortunate realities. The vista faded into fog in picturesque fasion as they applied themselves to the final slog. Oh and what a slog it was, Captain Jack having failed somehow to adequately apprise Lefty of the fact that the pickup point was a parking lot ever so inconveniently situated 350 feet ABOVE the false promise of the end of the sand.
 Lefty in fact was overheard by a little bird I know casting doubt not just on the legitimacy of the Captains' birth but the species of his parentage as well. Oy with the trudging already! But at last they made it to the overlook with its phone service and asphalt and cars and bathrooms and such and it was determined that our Angel of Mercy, Lilly's Mom and Jack's Significant Other Melissa would be there to deliver us from evil in about an hour and a half. Lefty deftly strung up the hammock one last time and prepared to doze off in comfort while waiting as Jack and Lilly scrunched up on the ground against his pack muttering "well, there's reason number 289 to camp with a damn Hammock.

Afterword and Adieu

There will follow an epilogue in a week or so, not exclusively to milk this cow absolutely dry, but also to acknowledge contributors, respond to requests and elaborate on the Event at the End of the World. In response to numerous suggestions, there will be links to an audio version as well as to a nice clean printable PDF. I would like to thank the many readers who have commented and borne me up through what has been my longest most difficult, fun and most intricate piece of writing ever, and the people who we met along the trail who added so much to the story.

Originally posted to Old Lefty on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 01:09 PM PDT.

Also republished by J Town and Community Spotlight.

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