Wednesday, September 17, 2014


I've started a petition on MoveOn,org because this is what happened to friends of mine in an area I know well.  My next door neighbors have a camp at Kennedy meadows but this is not their report. It comes from Domenic Torchia and Spencer Lennard.

"When we picked up the wilderness permit for our hike in the Emigrant Wilderness in the Stanislaus National Forest, we envisioned the Sierra high country to be wonderful fish and wildlife habitat lined with huge, picturesque ponderosa pines and white granite cliffs. The otherwise helpful rangers made no mention of the ecosystem wreckage we were about to encounter.
Instead of the pristine trout creek we expected, the otherwise spectacular Kennedy Creek was lined with thousands of steaming piles of cow dung, swarms of black flies, cow-trampled banks and waterways and green algae-filled water, instead of lush, wildflower-strewn meadows at Kennedy Lake.  We sunk into a green quagmire of muck created by a steady stream of cows cooling themselves in the shallows."

Let me interject here that we have technology to feed cattle and collect the
waste without contaminating the land, poisoning our water, killing our wildlife,
and spreading diseases to humans. My friend continues:

"As we scurried to get above the algae-clogged Kennedy Lake, we encountered several fly fishers, horse packers, photographers and hikers – all aghast and expressing the same sense of disappointment as we were. Why would the National Forest Service and the California legislative delegation continue the taxpayer-subsidized damage to some of the state’s best sub-alpine habitat, especially here, in this increasingly popular recreational area?

As we swatted flies and stepped over the excrement, we were struck by the notion that this hiker’s paradise should not be a taxpayer-subsidized feedlot. We understood that grazing allotments were grandfathered into many wilderness bills – obviously including the Emigrant Wilderness – when they were designated as such. We know that policy change is slower than molasses, especially when ranching culture and environmental issues are being discussed. But we could not understand how the U.S. Forest Service could let such taxpayer-subsidized harm continue to degrade one of our most preciously beautiful places, especially when species and habitat loss are also at stake?"

According to the National Public Lands Grazing Campaign, grazing programs operated by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management receive an annual taxpayer subsidy of almost $445 million to facilitate a program that doesn’t benefit the public, wildlife or the land. This defacement of our national treasures occurs  to benefit a small number of ranchers.
Private, un-irrigated range land in the West rents for an average of $11.90 per cow and calf, while monthly grazing fees on federal lands are currently a paltry $1.35. Despite the extreme damage done, western federal range lands account for less than 3 percent of all forage fed to livestock in the United States. If all livestock were removed from public lands in the West, beef prices would be unaffected.

Cattle destroy native vegetation, damage soils and stream banks, and contaminate waterways with fecal waste.
Keystone predators like the grizzly bear and wolf were driven to near extinction in western ecosystems by “predator control” programs designed to protect the livestock industry. Adding insult to injury – and flying in the face of modern conservation science – the livestock industry remains the leading opponent to otherwise popular efforts to reintroduce species like the Mexican gray wolf in Arizona and New Mexico."

There you have it. Archaic land mismanagement affects the local economy in Tuolumne County in favor of a few ranchers when people who come for scenic beauty, kayaking on lakes, recreation, hikers, horse packers and fishers encounter the degradation happening in the wilds on publicly owned National Forests, decide not to return
Please sign my petition and tell your friends:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


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Three trails take you into the depths of the Hoh Rainforest. The river trail is 17.5 miles long, the spruce trail is 1.2 miles long and the moss trail is .75 miles. We've seen a good bit of rainforest these days and decided on the shorter moss trail. Sixty feet into the trail and wham, this big cedar jumps out at you. I tried to take a panorama shot of it, with minimal success. It is just too big.
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And again, another panorama of a huge spruce tree...DSC05047 (Copy)
with the top showing above some other trees. I'm standing among giants.
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In a small cleared area, I was able to stand far enough back to get a smaller tree from top to bottom, except the bottom is hidden behind a rotting spar, but, you get the idea. Wow!
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And then when one giant falls across the path and another giant falls across it? How many years before they become decayed and dangerous? Twenty-five, thirty years?
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This trail is named moss and there is plenty of it. As we got deeper into the woods, we saw heavy moss like this.
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And this.
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The mosses are licorice moss and another that survives on the nutrients in the air. It can be pretty. But, some heavily covered trees look dead and ugly to me.DSC05101 (Copy)
The understory is beautiful and the woods an exciting walk through.
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A sign asked us to pace off this fallen tree. You are looking at half of it.
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I was stunned when I learned how tall they grow.
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You look at this living and dying forest, the mixture of the little things eating up the big things. This rain forest averages 155 inches of rain per year.
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If you hold still log enough, you'll have a new hairdo.
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The fungi are relentless, and do their job and provide a bit of beauty too.
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We left the moss trail and walked part of the spruce trail. Doubtless we missed some different sites, but it was similar in many ways to what we had just seen. We packed up and went home.  Having missed lunch, we enjoyed an early dinner instead. If you have the opportunity, you should visit Hoh Rainforest.

Monday, September 15, 2014


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It was a cold morning and we waited until 10:30 to make our way to Rialto Beach. It knocks your eyes out to see the massive amount of trees dead on this beach. From the picture, in the background you can see a whole line of dead ones that haven't fallen yet.
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The wood lying on this beach could build a city.
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Stacks mark an ancient measure of the elevation of the land that once filled this beach area. It is a pretty beach about 3-4 miles long. Sunday, and people were out in force. The beach is part of the Olympic National Park.
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I like to spend my time picking up pretty rocks. Each one you see is different from the one you just picked up. I won't keep them, I just like doing it. In the process I spotted this little dried up starfish.
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And a type of jelly fish I'd never seen before. Double click the photo and you can see through its mass and see a little stones under it. When the waves woUld come in, it would fluff up as though it can survive this sunny inconvenience.
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We drove to the Quileute Reservation for lunch. This totem sits in front of the River's Edge Restaurant where we had good chowder and salads at reasonable prices.
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This was the view from the restaurant window.
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We walked around the waterfront taking pictures.
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Gulls feed in the shallows and habit the docks and harbor.
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On the reservation, houses have personal totems.DSC05006 (Copy)
This is a nice interpretation of eagle, dog and fish.
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Businesses and houses commonly decorate with native art.
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We moved on to La Poch, pronounced La Push which is a changeling French word for La Bouche, mouth, as in mouth of the river. Jim says he heard ferme la bouche a lot During his childhood, which means close your mouth. In other words,  shut-up! The path was very steep at times but not nearly as long as the trail to Cape Flattery.
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La Poch has three beaches, Beach One, Two and Three. A woman at Rialto told me Beach Two required a three-quarter mile hike to get there, but she saw thousands of jelly fish sparkling on the beach like diamonds. I saw several small ones at Rialto,  dime, quarter and cup size. We hiked to Beach Two.
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By the time we got there, the tide had come in. The jelly fish were gone, but the beach was pretty. Quite full of people, some swimming or sunbathing. People back-pack in and spend a couple of nights on the beach, then curse their way back, packing ice chests up the steep cliff, complaining of aching shoulders and why did we do this, jokingly offering money if we'll help them carry.
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The light was right to photograph a stack up close.
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And this one into the sun, shows two climbers testing their skills.
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On the way back we happened upon a snake eating a frog. The frog didn't move. You could see it's heart beating. A woman theorized that once the snake bites the spine, it paralyzes the frog. It looked like a small snake compared to the frog.
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But as we passed it, the snake is bigger than our first look.  I'm not familiar with this snake. It resembles  the garter snakes I played with as a kid.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


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In our quest to view the Olympic Peninsula, we landed at Bogachial State Park, about seven miles  from the town of Forks, situated on the forks of four rivers, the Bogachial, Quillayute, Callawah and Sol Duc.
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Town was jumping. A drag race across the highway from the museum, a small flea market right next to the museum, a fundraiser in town next to the VFW, and a lot of friendly people around having a good time.
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Those rivers are filled by the rains, a common source of jokes about the area.
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This is a small museum and what I liked about it is the human stories.
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There are some great artifacts, like this camp stove. The docent told us that the surface would fit 50 plate sized flapjacks on it. The “bullcook” must have been a very adept man to work with a wood stove like this monster and keep those huge appetites well fed and happy.
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Some of the first chain saws look complicated and were dangerous to use. Some early saws were steam driven, some gas driven. Seems impossible that two mean could lift and run this saw.
Which made me think, how did the Indians cut those huge red cedars down to make their boats. Here is the answer below:
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The people who settled here were resourceful and hard-working. They had to be strong and tough. This is Ole Boe and his family.
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John Huelsdonk doesn’t look like a big man. His story reminds me of our own “Mountain man” Monte Wolfe, who packed a stove down into the canyons of Calaveras County. Monte was not a big man but he had legs like fence posts. John is older in this photo but look at the size of his left hand.
Women were no stranger to hard work, either.  Sarah ?, (I missed her picture)  raised her six children and when they left home, she started a pack train of horses and took people into the depths of the rain forest through mud and snow and showed them the beauty of the country. She started this business in her 50’s.
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I love the stories of the  loggers, trappers, hunters, farmers, homesteaders. This old logging truck carrying a full load, no jake brakes, no massive chains to hold the load.
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It had to take guts to drive this thing across this log bridge over a river canyon. I quail at the thought.
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A tree damaged by a hungry bear. They would come out of hibernation and damage trees, so hunters were employed to kill bears, and paid by the pelt.. They were successful and no bear range their former lands. Wolves too, have been obliterated. Re-introducing predators has been very successful and healthy in other states. I wonder if Washington will ever try?
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Early homesteaders made water pipes out of bound and tarred cedar boards.
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I enjoyed this museum, the people it represents, some of the fun lingo of the loggers and the equipment used to fall the huge red cedar that provided everyone a living. The area at one time was the logging capital of the world. Logging practices today, clear cutting in particular, are to me offensive.