Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mile 1440.5: Burney Falls and how not to handle a bear


We caught up to Brazil Nut (who we haven't seen since the Saufley's) this morning. She had hiked 37 miles yesterday, trying to catch up to us, though unbeknownst to her, she had passed us during dinner. She's Brazilian, with a beautiful Portugese accent, and an absolute hoot. Her style is to hike long days and then party in towns, but I hope we'll be able to keep up for at least a few days.

We got into Burney Falls State Park this morning. Sweet 16 had to resupply, and unfortunately the pickings were slim. She ended up buying a loaf of bread and some bologna. We ran into Gnar, who's been talking about getting off the trail for quite some time now, but every time we run into him, he's changed his mind. This time, he's set on it, and we didn't try to talk him out of it. He's going to Humboldt to enjoy the best of what the county has to offer, and also the beaches and honeys. We're sad to see him go, but he might end up southbounding Oregon or something like that.

Burney Falls is pretty cool. The falls themselves are tall and pretty and flowy and the like, but 600 feet upstream, the riverbed is completely dry. Except during peak runoff, the falls are completely spring fed. It's awesome!

A few miles down the trail from Burney Falls, we crossed Rock Creek. There's an excellent - albeit nearly inaccessible - swimming hole beneath the falls. We found some decent swimming holes upstream of the bridge, although it took a little (bu)'shwacking. I was so happy! I got in with all my clothes on, and just tried to stay 90% submerged as much as possible. As I lazily swam in place pointed upstream, Brazil Nut called me a salmon, and once I started taking off my clothes, I couldn't stop, and she ended up calling me Eve in my own little Eden. Once ou of the water, I laid out all my clothes to dry while I brushed my hair and ate lunch, and refused to put any on until I was ready to go. Sweet 16 took a photo of me in my underroos and cowboy hat, with my long hair making up for the lack of bra.

We came across a sign nicely explaining how the trail ran through an area that was in the middle of being logged. They were attemting to create an old-growth ecosystem by removing the smaller, thinner, shorter trees and thereby reducing competition for the old trees. Sure enough, I looked around and saw little stumps and big trees standing happily. I felt pretty good about the whole thing, but somebody had written, "Bull Shit!" A few miles later, we saw a tirade taped to a tree. The gist was about how the next section is all natural as nature can regulate itself, and the last section was just raped and pillaged to line the pockets of Big Timber tree co. We all had to laugh, because it seemed like the doofus who wrote these things doesnt understand forest ecology any better than we do it.

Brazil Nut ran into a bear this evening. She's had a lot of bear encounters during this trip, and is completely unphased. Once the bear, a young adult by the sounds of it, had seen her, it moved a few feet off trail to behind a stump. Then it just stayed there, playfully/curiously peaking out at her while Brazil Nut quietly took photos and waited for us to catch up. It annoyed me, since my phobia of all bears tells me that bear attacks are like the Spanish Inquisition. If I had been in her shoes, I would have been making more noise as I walked along in hopes of preventing bear encounters, and once the bear had seen me and showed no sign of fear, trying to scare it away with yelling, poorly aimed projectiles, etc. Oh well. Nothing bad happenned, it ambled off very slowly once Sweet 16 and I showed up, and we talked in loud voices. Still, I don't like the idea of a bear that isn't immediately frightened away by humans.

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