Oh the places we have been

I wanted to take a moment before I wrote about my adventure today to tell you about where I came from. I am not talking my the womb of my mother but the place my mind was soul was born, Arizona (AZ). Most people when I tell them that I come from AZ exclaim how dreadful that must have been or something like how they just cant stand that there is just rocks and dirt. The first thing I ask is if they just visited Phoenix or the surrounding valley on their visit, the answer is typically “No, we went to Scottsdale” or something like that, well that’s just the rich side of Phoenix. Regardless of the answer I respond again by telling them if you drive north about an hour and a half and get off the freeway your idea of AZ should change.

I come from a place called Prescott (pronounced pres-scitt) which is called the mile high city and is amazing for lack of a better word. The scrub land mixed with large expansive ponderosa pines that smell of vanilla in the summertime when you scratch the bark.  The place is 70 is degrees most of the year, with a few months of heat (not near as bad as the valley) and a couple months of cold (colder then here in the PNW, with snow!). The town of Prescott has growth and changed like any desirable spot in the US the most common person moving in is the upper middle class/rich retired couple. They like it because its cooler then their home in Scottsdale and come up for the weekends most often. In my opinion the worst group of people to increase in the area, they require costcos/malls/olive gardens and typically have NO knowledge of what conservation is (see shopping at costco). There are other semi large groups such as; the college student (Embry-Riddle, Prescott college, yavapai), the outdoor folks (mountain biking love is here) and the random groups in between.

This place is magical, and a gateway to many of the wonders of Arizona. I have hiked, backpacked and climbed across some of it but haven’t come close to seeing all of them. From the redrock canyons with tranquil turquoise waters, to the high scrublands where the burrowing owls live in prairie dog holes and endangered black footed ferrets roam and to the iconic grand canyon and the mythical colorado river that runs through her. When people tell me they are to visit the grand canyon I tell them not to even try to go to the south rim but to take the long journey to the north rim where you can camp in the national forest, and hike the many trails seeing the canyon in your own time with out thousands of people swarming you drink tiny single use water bottles before throwing them and all their garbage on the ground where the crows and chipmunks take to feeding. The south rim is like cancer, to quote mr. Abbey again “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of a cancer cell” this place gets bigger and bigger allowing no one to have any idea was conservation is, for example the IRONY of the misters on the shade structures to keep people cool and refreshed while they take in the sights. Why is that ironic you might ask? Well the colorado is the most diverted river in the US, its waters feed New mexico, Colorado, Arizona and California, it even once fed Mexico, but we didn’t care about cutting those people off from the river long ago.The Colorado river is held above the grand canyon in what once was marble canyon but now is Lake Powell, filled in with water to create a hydroelectric dam to feed the needs of Phoenix. This river day to day, hour to hour has discharge rates that change as it reflects how much water needs to be flowing through the dam to create the power in consumption via Phoenix. As one could expect the river is very high in the middle of the day when it is toasty outside and the AC units are whirling away, with waters tragically low at night. The overall water loss through evaporation at lake Powell is staggering in an already water deficit area. There is simply not enough water for anyone, not even the great Grand Canyon.

So you see the misting is ironic because there isn’t enough water to feed peoples needs even most basic but the people have not discovered that. They haven’t discovered that their pools, dishwashers, 3 ACs used to cool one house, golf courses and water parks are the reason, next to the over population increase in the world, that the southwest will some day be a ghost town where everything is dead and empty cities sit with their empty pools collected dust as it is blow by. I long for that day to be honest, the desert will die, but it will come back with time and some many years later it will be what it once was, nature always takes herself back.

Okay so that got very serious, but the take away is that you should visit the southwest, respectfully and dutifully. How do you know what is being lost or at stake if you have never seen it for all its glory! I suggest Sycamore canyon near Clarksdale.

Good luck and get sustaining!

-Leah

dr seuss quote steer yourself

The Importance of Being Outside

When we think of ADVENTURE and EXPLORING, we have to remember that not only is this a trip far away from your home but in your own back yard maybe by yourself seeking solitude or maybe with friends who seek what you seek, to be more connected to something to anything. I often seek grand goals and forget the ones that are so close, not only are they really awesome but also they don’t cost me petrol/money/emissions to get there, they are most certainly more conservative and what I mean by that is CONSERVING. I often rant to my friends and family that environmental conservation is not about wearing Birkenstocks (but wait those are totally in now…) or driving a bio-fuel vehicle or even about wearing patchouli (again that is in now too…) what I mean is using/buying/unwrapping/driving/consuming/throwing away LESS. Going “green” means actually just spending less money, not putting fuel in the machine of CONSUME-rism. I am sorry I really went off on a tangent there, so lets return to the original thought, go explore YOUR backyard. You may not have the same backyard as me or as the person next to you but there is always something to see, someone to connect to in some meaningful way. Talk to someone you may have never met before, discover something new about your neighborhood, or maybe do my favorite thing and bring a bag and pick up trash its a small task but it is very meaningful, to your neighbors and to the animals that may have tried to eat that garbage and maybe died. So get your friends/family/dog/cat? unplug from your electronics (no headphones either!) leave them at home, and get the hell out there. I will quote someone who is NOT Edward Abbey now…. weird I know.

“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history. No purpose or place. We have no Great War, No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars, but we won’t”

“This is your life, and its ending one minute at a time.”

-Chuck Palahniuk , Fight Club

Boardman and Evan Lake, WA

50% Cloud cover

70 ish degrees F

Pretty windy

This was a super easy hike and find. So going East past the Verlot center on mountain loop highway you will find forest road 4020, not easy to spot so keep your eye out. There is “Wileys” camp ground I think it was on the left right before the right turn onto 4020. Its a rough road at times but most sedans could make it just fine. There is a y and at the y stay left onto 4020 rather than 4021 which is the right. Big parking lot pretty trashy though. A very short distance from the parking lot you will find Lake evan, its a small lake and relatively shallow with a deeper south end. At the time of my visit it was may 27th (last wed) and a large mayfly hatch was taking place, the adults moving up and down through the air, like a somber dance. I didnt linger here long, seems like the place is very popular and trash was often seen. I moved on a short less than a mile hike from Evan to Boardman. The hike was very serene and beautiful with old growth cedars along the way. At Boardman there was no one else but me. On the north side of the lake there is a small area where the rocks jut out into the lake, perfect fly fishing spot.  The fish were even rising too, although I could not decipher on what , some small white flying insect and there were not many of them (the insects). I had to wade out a bit and found a large salamander I think was a coastal giant salamander (Dicamptodon tenebrosus) that was on a log in the water that quickly moved to the bottom as I approached. Throughout my day at the lake a saw a few of these aquatic dwelling adults (gills observed). Anyway I was totally skunked on the fishing part but I did procure some small white dry flies in various patterns to prevent this in the future. There was no trash at this lake either which was nice. The large conifers all around the lake were marvelous and there were many birds all around singing loudly all day including some stuntman like flycatchers diving and bombing all over the lake. There was also a very nice trail system and small camping ground area if one was so inclined. I would recommend this hike for all, just bypass the first lake or look for a minute and keep on the trail. The ease of use definitely makes the lower part of this hike well, trashy in general. Go on a weekday too, I bet its gnarly on a weekend. Good luck and get out there, but be good to nature; pick up your trash (like the monofiliment that I had the pleasure of unwinding from a poor ole cedar by the lake) and leave not a trace you were there.

-Leah

“I understand and sympathize with the reasonable needs of a reasonable number of people on a finite continent. All life depends upon other life. But what is happening today, in North America, is not rational use but irrational massacre. Man the Pest, multiplied to the swarming stage, is attacking the remaining forests like a plague of locusts on a field of grain.”-Edward Abbey

For more information go to this site∇

http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/boardman-lake

Coal Lake, WA

20% Cloud cover

65 ish Degrees F

Getting pretty windy toward the end of the day

So maybe I should have included this with Independence Lake because I visited them the same day and Coal lake is right on the road on the way the Independence/North Lake trail head. It just seemed special enough for its own mention. So same directions out NF road #4060 almost to the top opposite from restroom facility. The lake is just feet next to the road. Sadly I met a more then a few people here, although mostly rich Seattle yuppies who were mostly mad that that the road wasn’t kept enough to make it easy on their Mercedes. The lake is beautiful and mostly clear and wonderful. I brought the rod this time and the Brook trout did not discriminate on any dry fly you threw out there. The trick was getting them to keep the hook. My suggestion, a very small adult mayfly or caddi. Great views on the way out too a very beautiful place and really easy to get to, perfect for little kiddies or if you don’t have enough daylight to go on a longer hike.  Good luck and get out there! – Leah

“A man on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle will see more, feel more, enjoy more in one mile than the motorized tourists can in a hundred miles.” -Edward Abbey

Independence Lake, WA

 

20% Cloud cover

65 ish Degrees F

Little wind but mostly protected by forest

If you travel out past Granite Falls (Sketchy-ville) on mountain loop hwy, past the Verlot center to NF road #4060 travel all the way till it ends at the tippy top. There is a parking lot here and when I was here there was no one else which was nice, another positive about taking weekends in the week. Anyway travel up the well marked trail head only about one mile and you will come upon a breath taking sight, crystal clear waters so blue you would think its a dream. There is a camp site too if you so desired. Peering into the lake you can see little caddies busy making their shells and moving around like rush hour. There were fish rising here and there but I had not brought the rod so next time. There were these logs that jutted out into the lake and I found myself laying on them for hours looking into the clear blue waters until the sun it seemed had lost interest in this side of the world. I would deeply suggest it, the hike was lovely and serene crossing a few small brooks and pretty darn easy too!

Heres more info! Get out there! Get off your couch and do something outside.

http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/independence-and-north-lakes

Marblemount, WA- river access HWY 20 “River walk”

 

25% cloud cover

light easterly wind

67 degrees f

This is one of my most favorite easy places to visit, here you visit the Skagit River and the Cascade river at once and it is amazing and very easy. Also this place has a port o potty so there is that too I suggest bringing your own tp as there was none. A short less then a mile hike leads you to wonderful quiet shores that you mainly share with the bald eagles, ravens and turkey vultures. I came out today to mainly work on some technique I was out there for about 3 hours and didn’t see another soul, course it was Wednesday. There were a few terrestrial insects around including mainly black ants, butterflies, caterpillars and tons of spiddle bugs. Also there was a hummingbird nest nearby obviously as the female was relentless about bombing my head.  The water levels were good and high still with banks to fish and walk on. There were also fish fry in the rivers. Was a lovely walk and a picnic and sitting on the banks and enjoying all that the cascade river has to offer. This is an easy trip and often abused with litter around the parking lot especially so be kind and maybe if you are feeling generous do as I do, bring a spare garbage bag in your backpack and pick up some of wonderful litter to take home and throw away properly. So good luck and get out there! -Leah Lambert

“The love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyong reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only paradise we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need, if only we had the eyes to see.” -Edward Abbey