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I packed up the camper on the old blue and white Ford, loaded the trailer and hit the road for Montana last Thursday.

We made it with ease.
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We’ve been unpacking and piling empty boxes high ever since.  Had one phone call on the land line since we landed here 5 days ago.  Cells don’t work in the canyon.  Yesterday we finally decided to make the big trek to the dump.  ???????????????????????????????We loaded the truck down with old mattress, recycling, trash, boxes etc.  Town is about 25 miles;  half of which is on a gravel road and half on pavement over a low pass.  Takes about 45 minutes.  Philipsburg.  800 souls.  County seat.
And…   that’s right, it turned out the dump is closed on Mondays.  I’m sure the neighbors were amused.  only a handful of farmers and cabins between here and town.  But hard to miss the truck full of trash going to town, coming back and going to town again the next day.
Even the moose looked up from their munching to check out the old blue truck. The drive was nice and we stopped to look back at the wildlife along the way.???????????????????????????????
Well, I need to rest up for the trip into town again today.
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The day was cool at 7:30 am.  The trail head was quiet.   2500 vertical ft above us, on a steep scree slope above timberline, we could see our destination.  This trail had intrigued me since I first noticed it.  At that time, I was hiking through Maloney Basin in the Anaconda Pintler Wilderness.  The trail ran from left to right, high above me on an open mountainside.  It seemed incredibley HIGH. But that’s Montana; everything’s big.  The mountains match the sky in that regard.

We started walking and 3 hours later, at 9500 ft, we would look down to see the truck waiting for our return.

It never ceases to amaze me what putting one foot in front of the other can achieve.  This day hike delivered alpine beauty beyond our expectations.  

Macro views of the high peaks of the Pintler Range.

Micro wonders of lichen and flowers fresh from recent rains.

Also a spring so cold that our hot feet could stand only a few minutes of submersion.  We sucked down long swallows of the pristine water; unfiltered and full of elemental energy.  Restored, we sprinted back up 1000 ft to retrieve a trekking pole forgotten in our dreamy alpine distraction.  

Another day in Montana.

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Yesterday we opened the door and walked outside.  And we just kept walking.  Ended up going about 2 miles down the Rock Creek canyon.  One slow car passed us as we walked along the narrow creek-side country road.  There we found an old homestead originally settled by an African american woman in 1894!  It has recently been restored by the forest service.

While wandering around the 300+ acres of the old homestead we experienced a Trifecta of Wildlife Viewing
1.  A fox came trotting toward us casually headed to the creek.  Once we were seen, the casual pace changed to a swift dash in the other direction.
 
2.  About 20 minutes later, walking along the creek, we spotted a black bear grazing on the other side.  We watched it bumble along for a time, before we were spotted.  The bear became very alert and scampered straight up the slope away from the creek and the unexpected humans.
3.  Then, when heading back toward the old homestead cabin, we spotted an eagle’s nest in one of the clusters of tall cottonwood trees.  With at least 2 babies.
It was a delightful day in the sun.
On the walk back we looked up at the cliffs and noticed the bighorn sheep were watching us.  I didn’t count them in the Trifecta since we see them all the time. (and I didn’t know what to call a 4 x viewing.  Quadra-fecta sounds a little forced.)

It was quite a rich wildlife day, even by Montana standards.  I returned later in the day to do some fly fishing.  After all, it is Rock Creek.

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I’m always amazed by their grandeur.  Their presence. Their fullness of being.  The Redwoods are all that.

We had perfect weather for camper camping and hiking all day.  The beach campground, Gold Bluff, was closed.  Bad because we love to camp there.  Good because we could camp at the meadow 5 miles from the beach and hike through old growth redwoods to a relatively deserted coastline.  More deserted than usual because the campground was closed.  Lunch on the beach.  Then return by a different route.  Wonderful, as in full of wonder.  Here are a few photos that only hint at the incredible beauty of the place.

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I’ve been distracted by the fish in Montana for the last couple of months.  I’m an avid catch-and-release flyfisher and the East Slope Cutthroats have been keeping me busy.  In addition, roads like these have kept me on my bike.

So those are my excuses for not blogging or backpacking much lately.

Big Duck Lake – Russian Wilderness

However, I did make a couple of quick trips into the Northern California wilderness earlier this month.  Here’s the photos to prove it.  No new gear testing though.

Clark Jungle Hammock Ultralight with JRB No Sniveler

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The redwoods have enchanted me for decades.  This New Years Day hike was no exception. 

No new gear on this one, just old trees and one repaired knee (my knee surgery was a resounding success!).

When it’s cold here in Southern Oregon, I like to go west to the Crescent City area of Northern California.  The temps were pushing 60 and there was rain, wind, sun and fog over the 5 day stint.  We hiked in the fog and biked in the sun.  

We found a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle at a thrift store for a $1 and assembled it on the 50 mph windy, rainy day.

The biking North of town is outstanding for boomers, if you like easy scenic mountain biking.  This road ride goes right along the coast for about 10 miles.  There’s very little traffic and the few cars you see are going 25 mph. 

It ends at a secluded beach looking out to the historic lighthouse at Point St. George.

We also biked an old gravel road in another area just North of Crescent City:  Lake Earl.  It’s a 5500-acre coastal lagoon bracketed by 5000 rolling acres of state park land and another 5000 acres of a Department of Fish and Game preserve.  This area is closed to vehicles and open to many birds.  In the past we’ve also flat water kayaked and fished here.  As you can see in the aerial photo, it’s adjacent to the sea.  There is also a stretch of wild beach that runs for many miles.

A fine way to start the year.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year! Get out there and experience our beautiful world!

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I’ll be giving a free presentation on lightweight backpacking for OLLI in the Campbell Center on the SOU Campus, 655 Frances Lane, Ashland, Oregon on Wednesday Sept 30 from 1-3 PM.

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Although boomer backpackers are my people, the concepts of lightweight backpacking can be applied to many things from motorcycle touring to dayhiking.  All ages and experience levels are welcome from day hikers to hardcore backpackers, bicyclists, RVers, etc.  I’ll do a short PowerPoint slide show and bring some gear for you to check out.  Hope to see you there.

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