Friday, September 11, 2015

My Ominously Smoky Bear Trail Hike

Today I got back in the groove of hiking/walking after a two-week hiatus in which I spent eight days in San Diego and never hiked or strenuously walked even once. Then, upon my return didn't do a lick for most of the week following as I was emotionally and spiritually drained. However, today's walk/hike did not go as planned despite it being unambitious in its intent. The two great wildfires in California currently raging in the Sierra Nevada (the Butte Fire and the Rough Fire) darkened our skies locally today to an extreme degree, especially the first half of the day. This pall of smoke cast an ominous pall over the 14th anniversary of 9/11. Adding to the weirdness for me was the fact 14 years ago yesterday I was up in the Gold Country watching the Darby Fire rage in the Stanislaus River Canyon roughly between the two major fires raging in the Sierra Nevada today. I had intended to watch it again today 14 years ago until I became aware of the 9/11 attacks while in Wal-Mart in Sonora, CA, getting more Hi-8 video canisters. All in all, all the elements of today's adventure added up to an odd experience for me. What follows is what I encountered on the outing shown in the order it happened while accompanied by my brother by another mother.

We had intended to hike the Rinconada Trail but this is what we encountered when we pulled off of Pozo Road to head up the short road to the trailhead. This closure went into effect during the recent and nearby Cuesta Fire. The fire is controlled but the closure remains for this part of the Los Padres National Forest.
Weirdly surreal billowing and wispy smoke filled the skies of the North County this morning. This view is looking west from Blinn Ranch Trail near the Salinas River and adjacent to the rock outcroppings.
As we walked westbound on Blinn Ranch Trail we realized we were walking on fresh black bear paw prints.... really big ones, so fresh that the hair on the animal's heal abraided the back of the paw print and crease-lines in the paw were visible. Needless to say, given the ongoing extreme drought and the desperation of such animals stressed by it, we turned around after a little while. Photos by Kim Patrick Noyes (all rights reserved).

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