Trinity County

Love Letter Springs

I had the fortune of driving to a job near Hayfork, CA this summer. The job went super quick and I ended up with a day to kill – so I set our to explore some backroads between Hayfork and Big Bar. You can take Barker Creek Road to eventually get to Coral Bottom Road and then over to Big Bar. There are also endless USFS roads that go off in all directions. I happened to notice a neat looking ridge that had a spot named Love Letter Springs on the map. With a name like that, I couldn’t resist checking it out.

So many roads I tell you...

So many roads I tell you…

In the lowlands, the forest transitions from oak woodlands to conifer forests. It is evident that there once was way more of this oak woodland, largely due to Douglas-fir encroachment. As fire suppression in northern California reaches its 100th year, we see the last of the oak stands being swallowed up by conifers.

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As you leave the lowland valleys the road leads into the deep forests that make up the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. These forests are diverse, and many different forest types are found along these roads. Douglas-fir stands appear to be the most common.

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In the higher elevations, true fir species, pine and incense cedar become more common. The composition of these forests are largely driven by fire disturbance. Indeed most of these ridge lines have been used as fire lines during firefighting efforts in the past several decades.

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This became more evident as the road passes through more recently burned timber. Many view forest forest fires as devastating, however this is seldom the case. In wilderness areas, fire – while they may look destructive – create tremendous life. Dead trees lure large populations of insects and as result chum up the food chain in the form of food for birds and reptiles, while advancing decay in standing snags that will provide nesting structure for many birds and small mammals.

Fire also creates a mosaic of forest layers that increase diversity. Grass and herbaceous plants tend to thrive post fire and these reinvigorated regrowth is highly nutritious for grazing animals like deer and elk. I write this is the wake of a busy fire season Humboldt County and indeed the whole State. While many people get frustrated by “let it burn” policies in national forests, its important to understand the benefits of fire. It also should be known that fires have always been part of the climate in western forests. Millions of years of evolution have shaped the disturbance-response effects of forests, from the serotonous cones of pine trees that only open following fires, to the development of large cavities in trees that many species depend on.

Love Letter Springs

Love Letter Springs

Tried as I might to find the backstory of this place, I found nothing. Most place names tend to be either practical names, like the names of homesteaders or ranches, or names that signify some hardship – like Hells Hole or Devils Elbow or Starvation Flat…This spot got a name that seems inspired by someones love. A rare thing, at least on a map. And sitting near this cold water spring, high on a mountain you can see how one would find inspiration. A magnificent view perhaps fueled the longing to write to a loved one in the mists of desolation.

Even if you prove to me that you have the blemishes you think you have, it cannot appall me any, because with them, you will still be better, and nobler, and lovelier than anyone I have known. I will help you to weed out your faults when they are revealed to me but don’t you be troubled about the matter, for you have a harder task before you, which is helping me to weed out mine. Let me pay my due homage to your worth; let me honor you above all others; let me love you with a love that knows no doubt, no question– for you are my world, my life, my pride, my all of earth that is worth the having. Let us hope and believe that we shall walk hand in hand down the lengthening highway of life, one in heart, one in impulse, and one in love, bearing each other’s burdens, sharing each other’s joys, soothing each other’s griefs. What we will lose of youth, we will make up in love, so that the account is squared, and to nobody’s disadvantage. I love you, my darling, and this my love will increase, step by step as tooth by tooth falls out, mile-stoning my way down to the great mystery and the Sweet Bye & Bye.

For I do love you… as the dew loves the flowers; as the birds love the sunshine; as the wavelets love the breeze, as mothers love their first-born; as memory loves old faces; as the yearning tides love the moon; as the angels love the pure in heart…

Take my kiss and my benediction, and try to be reconciled to the fact that I am

Yours forever,
S.L.C
[aka Mark Twain]

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2014: Year in Pictures

A New Years tradition continues here at Nook and Crannies! This is my third year and I have added The 2014 Gallery. Once again, picking a favorite image is very hard, so this year I decided to pick out a few:

VAN 081The Grandfather Tree. This remains the largest, most interesting Douglas-fir tree I have ever encountered in Humboldt County.

 

MR 559Mad River Rocks! This is one of the coolest rock formations I have found yet. I still hope to return to this location with better light and get some better pictures. However, I can say that I was able to return and confirm the presence of a peregrine falcon nesting on the rock.

 

ER 078Baby Owls! Speaking of wildlife, this was one of my luckiest experiences this year, at least being able to get such good pictures of spotted owl monitoring.

What will 2015 hold? I hope to keep it going with pictures of our wonderful area. I also hope to actually find the time to explore more public places, such as the Klamath and Siskiyou wilderness areas. Who knows, maybe Ill even get an actual camera which would be a serious upgrade from my current camera phone. Happy New Year!

The Lassics

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One of the great places to visit of our area, Black Lassic. The great thing about this peak (5,900′), is that it is very easy to get right up on top. A road essentially crosses a broad saddle where Black Lassic connects with Red Lassic and Signal Peak. There is a turn off where you can park then walk a relatively gentle trail and be on top in 15-20 minutes. If there is snow, you might not be able to get as close so be prepared to hike for a few hours depending on how close you can get. The mountain is always in plain view so its not hard to know where to go, just make sure you get to the uphill side of Lassic before you try to get to the top. All the other sides of the mountain get extremely steep and most of it is fractured and unstable.

The Lassics are considered a unique geologic area where different pieces of ancient history collide. This grey and red soil is called ‘serpentine’ and is highly acidic, and even has naturally occurring asbestos within in it. While allot of this land can be barren, stands of incense cedar and pines can grow on serpentine. Where more developed soils occur, stands true fir stands develop.

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I decided to scramble up to Red Lassic first. While this is not a hard hike, there is no trail so don’t try to take small kids or bad legs up here.

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At first glance it looks like a simple enough walk, but you must cross these talus slopes and that can be hard on your knees. My knees seem to feel it more and more each year, but I have always enjoyed scrambling over this kind of terrain.

Eventually you get to relatively stable rock and can take in some fantastic views.

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The highest point in this picture is called Signal Peak. I think there used to be a fire lookout here. When you visit this place, you can easily get to the top of all three of the peaks, Black Lassic, Red Lassic, and Signal Peak in a single day.

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A nice view of Mad River Rock. That is on my radar for my next adventure. I have always wanted to explore it! Someday Ill find the time.

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And of course a great view of Black Lassic from the top of Red.

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Looking back at Red Lassic, it does not look that impressive, although shooting a picture into the sun never really works…

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Making my way up Black Lassic, you can really see the black color of the rocks and soil, which is indeed in contrast to the red hue of Red Lassic.

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And finally, the truly epic view. Mad River Rock again. Its the Van Duzen River between us and the Rock. The next ridge you see is ‘South Fork Mountain’ which drains the Mad River. I do not know what to call the next ridge line, however I know that the east side of South Fork drains into the South Fork Trinity River. I have some panoramas Ill be posting next taken from these peaks.

Grays Falls

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I was recently driving on 299 after a sort of “day killer”, meaning I had to go way out somewhere to work for 2 hours and found my self at 1 PM with nothing to do. Then I passed by Grays Falls and remembered a fellow blogger had recently mentioned that spot (Thanks Ross!). So I doubled back and walked down to the falls.

More like rapids than a true waterfall, but a neat spot just the same. The steep cliffs on either side of the Trinity are really impressive. The trail is a easy enough walk, although it is a little slippery in spots. It was raining lightly when I was there, and think the river was up from melting snow in the highlands. You can also take a short trail down to the banks of the river, which goes though a pretty Douglas-fir forests. If you want to go there, just look for the sign on the 299 near Burnt Ranch.

More South Fork Mountain Diversity

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There are not many places in Humboldt County with this type of forest. I typically find chinquapin mixed in tanoak/Doug-fir associations and almost always as a minor component of the overall composition. These stands on South Fork have clusters of old, gnarly groves mixed with true fir and sugar pine.

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As small as the world can seem at times, you can still appreciate the vast expanse of forest in this part of CA. Most of the land in the picture is part of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest which is a forest of about 1 million acres.

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Here is a stitched panorama. Its a great view of the South Fork Trinity River. Hyampom would be off to the right eventually, 5 or so miles up river.

Want to learn more about the unique golden chinquapin? Chrysolepis chrysophylla

Incense-cedar

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From Silvics of North America:
Incense-cedar (Libocedrus decurrens) is the only species from the small genus Libocedrus that is native to the United States. Increasingly, it is placed in a segregate genus Calocedrus. Incense-cedar grows with several conifer species on a variety of soils, generally on western slopes where summer conditions are dry. It is long-lived and grows slowly.