Friday, September 26, 2008

No more mountains

This little friend was always hopping around the native plant garden at the station, gorging himself on tasty treats.

I am no longer in the White Mountains. Which is sort of sad, because I fell in love with the area, and I haven't fallen in love with a place in a while. Sense of place, will you?. I will be back, and I think I can convince Zac we should eventually move to that vicinity. I missed Zac a ton, of course, and hadn't been away from him for more than 2 hours since March, so that was a little weird. He greeted me with 7 dozen roses when I got back to Arcata - cause he's the best :)

I was there for about 2 weeks and got to see some great stuff, went hiking every day I was there except once. At first I was a little annoyed because there were a handful of people there and a couple bigger groups for a day or two, and I thought - hmm, I just don't care about meeting new people anymore, make them go away.

But! Some of them turned out to be genuinely good people and I enjoyed their company. I was pleasantly surprised. As I left, Tim, one of the cooks, gave me a big hug and handed me an enevelope. It was some of his old journal writings from when he was a Forest Service Ranger. He's a bit of an Ed Abbey type, loner, quiet and at first I thought he didn't want me around. But I realized he's great person and I appreciated the journal entries and his naturalist abilities. Lisa, the other cook, offered for me to stay at her house the next week (I was supposed to stay in Bishop for another site), I thought that was awfully kind of her. (She is also a kick -ass climber, though extremely humble about it, and I found out she's been on the cover of Climbing magazine. Nice!). The grad student, Adelia, studying Bristlecones, was great also, and invited Zac and me down to Santa Cruz for her family's annual harvest - they have a winery. She and her boyfriend basically built their own yurt, so she's pretty freaking cool.

There was a photo workshop there the last few days before I left, led by someone who has been doing it for almost 30 years. One of the photographers/leaders of the group asked to take took a look at my stuff and was very encouraging and helpful, and I thought that was pretty nice of him to do that - especially since there was a group of 'real' photographers there and he probably gets asked that kind of stuff often.

My point is that I went into the research station just wanting to hike and take it all in alone, closed off to meeting new people, etc. My social ineteraction has pretty much just been Zac since mid June, and before that Zac and Melissa since March. And sine November, basically no one. (Ardath was definitely no one) So...maybe you understand - especially those who do field work in the middle of nowhere, with limited people. It was reassuring to me to meet good-hearted souls and people who care about similar things, people who give a damn.

When I left, I drove up to Yosemite through Tioga Pass - AHHH! terrifying in the jeep! avoiding the cliche areas. Tim had given me some secret places to check out, and I somehow managed to find them. I was a little weirded out about walking off trail in bear country, along creeks, alone, but it was pretty liberating.

In fact, the past two weeks, I have just been wandering around in the White Mountains by myself, with the GPS, exploring. Not to sound too cheesified, but it really was somewhat empowering. I did pass two guys working on my way to one of the secret spots. I had to cross over a tiny little dam, and they were doing something with that. I said hi as i went by, and on my way back, they kept saying how they couldn't believe I was going up there by myself, not knowing what I could get into. Apparently, there is a bear den where I was (thanks for telling me). Eh, I just shrugged and said I had a big knife, a GPS, and some bear spray.

I didn't backpack in, just camped at a site. It was 21 degrees that night! I'm sort of surprised I survived. I was happy when my camping neighbors invited me to their fire and dinner - heat! Here I was pleasantly surprised also. The people camping on the other side of me were at the fire also - a couple my age from France. Very nice people, but their English wasn't fantastic. The others were three married guy friends from San Jose who ended up being completely normal and not scary. Yeah! One of them told me that if Zac and I were in Tahoe, let him know and he'll leave a key out and we can have his house for the weekend - sweet!

One of the hikes I went on in Yosemite was along a gorgeous little creek. I hike up the side of a giant rock face to this crazy impressive juniper hanging on a rock. It was a great hike - not quite as grandeur as some of the Yosemite hikes, but I've done some of those and the place was still packed. I was so glad i avoided all the crowds and didn't pass any one on my hikes. Whew, very nice. And the area I was in was beautiful.

Anyway, I'm adjusting being back in Arcata, with cars and stuff. This is always a transition for me and takes me a while to adapt. We're going to Seattle next week for my brother's wedding, so I am off to find suitable clothes to wear. All iI have are field clothes, hiking stuff, capeline- which, isn't really appropriate since they are having all these events before the wedding. I need to look like I bathe on a regular basis. ..which..I don't , so...mahah!

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