Klamath Mountains

Conifer Country: Book Review

Today I offer my first book review; Conifer Country; A natural history and hiking guide to 35 conifers of the Klamath Mountain region, by Micheal Kauffmann. It is put out by our very own Backcountry Press who has put out some real neat books in them past few years.


The book is essentially a tree guide with companion hikes for all the species that occur in the region. But unlike most tree guides, which are generally about as exciting as dictionaries, Conifer Country describes each tree in a naturalist style of writing. There is just enough ‘technical’ information to properly identify the trees but the best part is the description of the trees ecology and how they fit into the landscape. This is done very well and makes the guide section fun to read, assuming you are interested in trees.

The author is certainly inspired by John Muir and like Muir, he really captures the essence of the Klamath that one only can obtain by spending significant time there. This is evident in the writing and I get the sense that the author is truly in love with these mountains and trees.

Confer Country is a great book for hikers and naturalists, beginners or veterans alike. Even if you are experienced in the area, you may just find several bits of interesting information that you did not know about the Klamath. I sure did! As a forester, I read technical writing all the time and while I of course enjoy the scientific aspect of things, I have always found great peace in naturalist writing.

If you are a follower of my blog and/or live in this area, i guarantee you will not be disappointed with this book. I have heard from one or two people that the hiking guide has pointed out a few peoples ‘secret’ spots, but I have always believed that when it comes to hiking back country, anyone who is willing to go to these remote places is probably someone I wont mind running into.

Be sure to check out Conifer Country online for Micheal Kauffmann’s blog. He also posts digital versions of the maps in the book that you can download after you buy the book – which is a pretty awesome idea.

I will also plug my favorite book store: Eureka Books. This bookstore has a whole section devoted to local books, and often you can find signed copied. Go there and get Conifer Country today!


Nooks and Crannies

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The picture above is looking north towards Hoopa. Im standing on a very cool rock formation. Where the Klamath Mountains meet the Franciscan geology of the coast range you might come across a limestone rock outcrop like this. Whenever I come across limestone (which is extremely rare in Humboldt) the first thing I think of is caves.

You never know what you might find in some of the nooks and crannies around these rock out crops. Good thing my phone has a flashlight, otherwise I would have never been able to take these pictures.

Yes, that is a bat. Funny thing is, I didn’t realize it was there until later when I was home looking at the pictures. Its even funnier because I was specifically looking for bats! lol In my defense, there are allot of shadows being cast with my light – the cave walls are by no means uniform and smooth – so one bat is easy to miss. After reading up on bats, I think I am calling this little dude Myotis californicus AKA California Myotis. Or possibly a Silver Hair, but caves where not listed in their habitat type – which isn’t always exactly true… Any bat experts out there?


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Continuing to explore I see this spot up the hill. Looks pretty dark behind that live oak…

A closer look…

Part of me is scared that there is a ferocious lion or bear in the cave, but so far, I haven’t encountered those animals in these places.

So now Im about 40 feet into the rock. Its hard with pictures to get the perspective, but this tunnel is trending down into the earth. Im more or less crouched down bracing myself as I shine the light down the cave which continues on for as far as I can see. I can also see many little opening through the fractured rocks which reminds me – these aren’t the limestone caves of the sierras. Earthquakes where a major force in the creation of these features and the likely destroyer of them. With a sudden and intense rush of claustrophobic anxiety, I am compelled to leave the tunnel as fast as possible! Which I do.