California Conservation Corps, Trinity Alps

Have you ever wondered where those trails in the middle of nowhere come from? It’s no coincidence that six-and-a-half miles from the road there just happens to be a nice set of stone stairs leading up a hill, or a water bar keeping the trail from eroding away, or switch backs making a steep mountain easier to climb. There’s a group of people wearing blue hard-hats and brown shirts devoted to making sure the backcountry is accessible and safe for weekend backpackers to hike out and connect with nature or disconnect from society.

 

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The California Conservation Corps has an array of duties throughout the state. The Corps maintains miles of backcountry wilderness trails with workers living in the base camp for 6 months at a time. Certain crews are among the folks battling the wildfires that are raging from Ventura County to Trinity County right now. According to their website “the Corps is providing logistical support and fire crews to suppress the flames.”

 

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I was lucky enough to spend a few days with the Trinity Alps Crew in mid-July. Throughout the week the crew gets up with the sun and works a grueling day on the mountain side constructing a trail to reach Conway Lake and Lion Lake high in the alps. Kelly Kate Warren, the camp cook, ensures they are well fed with surprisingly exotic cuisine while John Goodwin, the C 1, leads the crew and Ian Hunter Mac Donald, US Forest Service Backcountry Trail Foreman, makes sure the trail work is up to par. On the weekdays they work on the site near base camp and backpack out to remote destinations on the weekend.

 

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Their duties include cutting log-outs when a tree falls on the trail, creating rock bars to escort water off the trail, building stairs out of existing boulders and monitoring the wilderness for future projects. The workload is daunting and the conditions are hot. The tools they use are cross-cut saws, heavy sledge hammers, rock bars and pickaxes. They are tasked with repairing tools when they break while relying on weekly pack mules to provide food and haul away trash. If a hammer breaks they can’t simply go to a hardware store to replace it and chain saws are prohibited in the wilderness.

So the next time you find yourself miles away from civilization with a backpack and no neighbors, take a moment to appreciate the work someone did to provide the path beneath your feet. It’s no easy task to make the backcountry accessible but the California Conservation Corps Backcountry Trail Crew works tirelessly taking care of our trails so we can all visit nearly untouched landscapes.

 

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Here Come The Clarkes

On Friday June 26, 2015 the Supreme Court made history by ruling in favor of marriage equality for the entire nation. On Saturday June 27, 2015 my cousin Caitlin Clarke married her girlfriend Jamie Brayton, in Waterloo, Iowa. Though marriage equality has been the law of the land in Iowa since 2008, the court’s ruling made for an exceptional celebration. Congrats to the newly weds and may your future days be blessed.

 

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Memorial Day Weekend in the Sespe Wilderness

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Ventura Sunset

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Sespe Wilderness, After The Rain

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Street Shooting in Manhattan

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Soho

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Central Park

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Forsyth Park

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Soho

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Central Park

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Lower East Side

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Times Square

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Soho

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Ludlow Street

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Times Square

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Lower East Side

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Delancey and Essex

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World Trade Center Museum

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TriBeCa

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Midtown

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Lower East Side

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Hell’s Kitchen

 

Trail Gulch Lake, Trinity Alps Wilderness, California

This place was so beautiful it hurt to look at it.

After a two mile hike in Siskiyou County through parched meadows and into the backcountry lays a lake fed by an underground spring as well as snow melt from Deadman Peak. Despite the worst drought in California history, Trail Gulch Lake is full of crystal clear water without a distressing bathtub ring circling its banks. The trailhead begins at Carter Meadows Campground in Klamath National Forest and  leads into the Trinity Alps Wilderness. My good friend Ian Hunter Mac Donald, who works for the forest service maintaining backcountry trails, was gracious enough to bring me to this special gem tucked away in Northern California. More to come from this adventure.

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My Friend Guy

Guy Wilson is seen by many in this community as a prophet for the artists. He selflessly gives his time and effort to make sure the creative folks with whom he surrounds himself have a place to be able to express themselves. We call that place Stoneworks and Guy is the man behind the stone curtain. He is also quite photogenic.

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This is my friend Guy Wilson in his truck.

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This is Guy in his bedroom window.

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This is Guy talking to a police officer about getting a dog.

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Then Samurai came into our lives (Mini was not happy about it.)

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Guy and Sam connected right away.

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Guy enjoys helping his girlfriend Michele with her sculptures.

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He also cuts a lot of wood with a chainsaw.

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He always has a lot of wood to cut.

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More than anything, Guy loves giving advice.

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And rescuing pelicans.

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See? He’s got a pelican.

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Guy has been very happy since Sam’s arrival.

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Guy loves to terrorize Buster.

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He’s got a lot of stuff to sort through one win at a time.

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Guy has a one-of-a-kind recipe for extraordinary steak and potatoes.

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Guy has a bird.

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He sometimes dresses like a pirate and takes the bird to museums.

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He’s still giving advice.

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He even gives advice on the phone.

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One year at Christmas he played with bubbles.

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We all tell him he looks like Albert Einstein, Mark Twain and one other person…

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Hulk Hogan.

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Guy loves his dog and his morning fires.

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However nothing beats an evening fire.

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Except maybe an evening fire with Sam.

Camelopardalid Meteor Shower Curtain

On May 23 and 24, between the hours of 11 p.m. and 1 a.m PST, a never before seen cloud formation was observed. The “Camelopardalid Meteor Shower Curtain” occurred when the less than impressive Camelopardalid Meteor Shower was obscured by lenticular clouds over the Sespe Wilderness outside of Rose Valley, Calif. Since it was the first time the meteor shower had ever been observed from earth, it makes logical sense that the cloud formation that blocked the 5-10 meteors an hour, had also never before been seen… Throughout the evening a few jets flew by and the occasional shooting star until our patch of sky was blanketed by cloud cover. The bottom image is a composite of 55 images looking towards Piedra Blanca, none of which caught a meteor.

Camelopardalid Meteor Shower Curtain

Sespe Star Trails

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