Archive for the ‘rivers’ Category
I’m on my way back to Ontario now. It won’t be long and I’ll be meeting the new-old house in Nova Scotia. However, I’m still a few thousand miles away from that space. I’ve taken a lot of photos, but it will take some time for me to sort through them, so they will keep for awhile. Today’s photos are from different points in time — not from this trip, but from others of the past. Don’s birthday was yesterday – he would now be 58 if he had not died on September 6, 2008.
In a recent post, I mentioned that my autumn 2009 trip ended with a long, strange loop. After running ahead of the bad weather pushing me further and further south to the Mojave, I circled back through the Sierras and ended up on the Oregon-California area of the coast. My purpose in revisiting that location was that I felt compelled to go to some of the places that, for me, have strong associations with Don.
One of my first stops was to see if the giant redwood stump was still lodged in the sand at McVay Beach. Sure enough, it was. It felt odd to see it sitting there, unchanged, roughly three years from the day when I photographed Don sitting on a section of root. How is it possible that a seemingly lifeless stump still persists, while Don is no longer here with me? Since the day that I photographed him at the beach, so much has happened.
The above photo of Don was taken on October 12, 2006 when he came west to travel with me for a week. It gave me such pleasure to take him around to my favourite places such as this shoal on a river in southern Oregon. I photographed him as we talked about the colorful riverstones. The photo of me was taken moments later.
Now he is gone and I am alone. I see these photos from a happier time and realize how much has changed – and how much the experience of the past three years has altered my life, mind, and appearance.
The last pair of photos are perhaps the most important to me. In November, I returned to the secluded river where Don and I watched ouzels singing and diving into the torrent between water-sculpted rock formations. I photographed Don’s hand resting upon the thick moss that carpeted one of the larger formations.
Upon my return, I photographed my own hand on the same little patch of moss. It felt good to place my hand in this spot – almost as though placing my hand on his – with only time between us — and of what importance is time anyhow?
Although we covered great distances on this trip, I tried to break things up so that we were traveling only short hops between campsites. However, that wasn’t always possible, so we did occasionally put in a long day of driving. Even then, I’d try to pull off the highway and go for at least one or two walks at some point during the day to give us all a break – me from driving, and Sabrina and Sage from being cooped up in the van for too many hours.
One of our longer hops took us from the Siskiyou region of southwest Oregon, east through Grants Pass and Medford, and then into California, south past Mount Shasta to the Redding area. About midday, we turned off of I-5 to wander west up the Klamath River in the direction of Happy Camp. We stopped at a couple of spots to spend time by the river.
During the mid to late 1800s, a stagecoach road followed the river north from Yreka (see #3), and west along the Klamath River toward Eureka . Remnants of the old road can be seen along Rte. 96. In those days, stagecoach and wagon roads traversed some of the most rugged areas of California (see map). When you’re traveling along older highways, especially along rivers, over bridges, and through passes, it’s still possible to find ssections of the stagecoach roads and cart tracks – now not much more than overgrown paths. Many of them make great places to get out and stretch your legs and study the landscape.
One of our stops was at the Forest Services “Tree of Heaven” campsite. The campground was supposedly closed for the season, but the gates were still open. The park is named for a large Tree of Heaven planted by Chinese workers who farmed on the flats by the river and sold produce to miners in that area (see #4).
The river stones along sections of the Klamath are beautiful – many soft colours. I photographed a feather atop of one of them. This region is known for its diversity of migratory birds and the park features a short wheelchair accessible interpretive trail emphasizing birds and their habitat.
A plant we were to encounter quite often while traveling through this region is Yellow Starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis). It’s an invasive species introduced around the 1850s. It’s quite a nasty plant, as you can see from the spines on the flowerhead in the above photo. The flowers are bright yellow, but once they are dried and have gone to seed, they blend in with other dry vegetation making them difficult to spot. They aren’t something you want to stumble into, especially with dogs. These are among a group of plants that I and a lot of other people refer to as “stickers” because they have seed heads, or other plant parts, that break off and stick onto your shoes, clothes, and more importantly, into dogs’ paws or the underside of their bodies. When you’re traveling through the more arid regions of California and in Arizona, it’s important to take the time (often!) to check your dogs for spiny plant parts that may be wrapped in fur, or stuck between dog toes. The presence of plants like these are a pretty good reason to stay on trails or walk in areas where such plants don’t grow.
Another annoyance that we ran into several times in the Siskiyou, Klamath, and all through the Sierras, were ticks. In a couple of places, we found ourselves inundated, which was a major gross-out for me as I absolutely hate the little buggers. Luckily, before leaving home, I had packed something for ticks in my “dog box”. I don’t routinely use topical treatments for ticks as we rarely encounter them in eastern Ontario, but there’s obviously a need in these regions.
After our side trip along the Klamath, we continued south past Redding to visit with friends. Due to weather, my plans underwent yet another revision, but more about that in my next post.