The Call

In the words of Marianne Williamson: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Great Gold Adventure 2009

Saturday Morning, August 22, 2009
Tofte Ranch
Chicago Park, CA

We have now been at Tofte Ranch for 18 days. We are near Colfax, CA working on a small ranch. Our big project since arriving has been painting the barn. Actually, getting the barn ready to paint was the big job; power washing, scraping, wire brushing and then caulking. We are happy to report that the barn is almost done. We only have about 30 minutes of trim painting on the barn and we will be finished!!!! Yahoo! We'll do that tomorrow morning, when it is cooler. It has been a long go to get it done, especially in all of this heat but then we knew it would be hot when we agreed to come down and work. It is still morning and already 91 in Colfax right now. Add to the barn, dealing with a pig dying - pig hospice, harvesting crops 3 times a week for the Grower's market, moving sprinklers in the pasture, weeding, weeding and weeding. At least we know that we are in pretty good shape for our trip now. The pasture out front is a beautiful emerald green and when we arrived it was brown. Larry has done a wonderful job with the watering program. He's been running about 12 - 15 sprinkler heads a day plus watering in the garden and he moves all of those lines every day. He has also prepared and planted a huge raised bed of chard for fall harvest. Oh, 3 calves were born since we arrived; Panda, Bear and Black Jack. We are now calling them the 3 musketeers. They are a frisky fun group. We have put in some long hard hours and know for certain we could not have done this without our Ambrotose, Sport, Bounce Back and Firm....... had to throw in some Advil from time to time.

We just got back from Auburn where we picked up the last of our gear for the great Gold Adventure 2009. We purchased 2 garden kneeling pads ( a great tip from Jay and MaryAnn from their kayaking adventures). They'll soften those gravel bars and rocks where we'll be sitting. They were laughing at us at K-mart because we tried all the pads to see how they sit. We picked up a couple of blue graniteware cups for water and tea (yep, we are leaving the coffee behind and wine). We picked up some great treking poles at Big 5. I got a great windup LED flashlight - very light and compact for those late night trips to the potty.

Larry's pack is all loaded up except for a few small incidentals. It weighs in at 70 pounds with the raft and wet suits. My gear is almost packed up. I am carrying the food and clothes, first aid, supplements, etc. Thanks to MaryAnn's suggestion, everything is in zip lock bags and neatly packed and organized. Everything that we want to keep dry will go into the dry bags at the river, once we start floating. We are taking journals but no reading material and there will be no computer, email or cell phone. That's quite a few changes to our daily routine.

Our friend, Arlene, will drop us at the Stevens Trail in Colfax about 8 AM Monday morning and then pick us up the following Saturday at about 4 PM at the Iowa Hill Bridge at Mineral Bar. It is 4 1/2 miles down to the North Fork of the American. The trail ends at Secret Ravine. The good news is that we think we were given the wrong information about the distance we will be traveling down the river. We were told it was 7 miles and we now believe that we will only be floating about 4 miles. That means we won't have to break camp every day. We thought about going down to the next bridge but that would add on another 5 miles to the float trip. We want to spend most of the day sniping on the river. Extending our trip would require we move camp almost every day. We agree this shorter trip is better. We have never traveled this section of the river so every day will be something new. I'm one of those folks who likes to have everything planned out but we have no idea where we will camp, etc. It'll be nice if we only have to break camp and move a couple of times - more time for sniping.

Well, that's about all I know tonight. It feels good to know that we are almost to departure time. I wish I had taken photos of all of our gear and supplies layed out because I can't believe it is all packed away. We are glad we have tomorrow to rest up a bit before we leave. We will take photos on Monday before we head down the trail. Well have a still camera and a video camera and will document our adventure. We are already planning our next backpack/float trip.

Why are we going on this journey?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

American River Adventure 2009 ~ Day 1

Monday, August 24, 2009 North Fork of the American River, California - Wild and Scenic Area

Charlotte: Monday Evening - TIRED, TIRED, TIRED. Our friend Mo came over about 6:30 AM to make sure that we had a ride to the Stevens Trail in Colfax. She helped us finish packing; including pain pills (in case we break something) and Imodium D (good thinking, just in case). She made a quick trip home to grab more dehydrated food for us. We left the house by 7:15 with our friend, Arlene. Happy and excited good-bys at the trail head. "See you in 5 days".

It was a long hike in with Larry carrying 70 pounds and me carrying 40 pounds. The gear for prospecting is pretty heavy, including wet suits and tools. Larry has all of that gear in his pack. I have the food and toiletries.

I had read a description of the Steven's Trail that said, "It was not for the faint of heart." Boy, that was more true than I could imagine. The first 1 1/2 miles were pretty easy going. We found our first resting spot in an open area. There was a speed boat parked in the middle of the woods - how did it get here?!?! It proved a great spot to take off our packs and rest awhile. Once we reached the North Fork canyon the trail became fairly narrow and dropped straight down to the river below. I am guessing about 1000 feet. Since I have a terrible fear of heights, the sight of the the trail along the canyon wall was scary, to say the least. Larry turned and said, "OK, this is the deal. You keep your eyes on the trail at all times and only on the trail. If there is a wide place to stop and rest I'll tell you but otherwise just keep your eyes down and concentrate on the next step."
I never once looked away from the trail unless we stopped at a wide spot. Our next resting spot was back in the trees at a small spring trickling out of the hillside. It was nice to find some shade and there was a small ledge where we could remove our packs. When we headed out again it was a long, hard, hot trek to the river. As the morning wore on the temperatures climbed into the 90's. We thought we were in good shape but the heavy loads proved to be more than we realized. We were bone weary tired and hurting by the time we reached the river around 11:30. We were tuckered out. Our legs were shakey and weak and my back was screaming at me for the last 2 miles of travel. We rested for awhile on the bedrock in the shade of a small bush. It felt good to sit down without a pack on. Larry wound up with a blister on his big toe and I have one on the edge of my foot.

There was a miner at the foot of the trail. He lives down here! He finds some gold - not really sure how much. Apparently, he walks out about once a week or so unless people on the trail give him food. Amazing! He says he has been living down here a couple of years. Oh, my! We gave him some fruit and trail mix.

After resting and talking to Chuck we repacked all of our gear into the dry packs for our trip down river. Larry unpacked the raft and blew it up with the pump. We suited up in our wetsuits, packed the raft with our gear and tied it down and headed down river about 1 PM. We had a shallow set of rapids to navigate firt - HARD - lots of slipping down and banging of ankles and knees. After that there was a deep pool. It looked inviting but proved to be very strenuous going. The wind was blowing us upriver so swimming our raft through was almost impossible - really hard work. Larry was on the front and I was on the back. The pool was deep and only once in awhile, on the edge, could we get a foothold. We tried to hang on to the rocks and rest when we could. Our trekking poles proved to be the handiest last minute purchase we made. When we extend them to their full length they are about 6 feet long. They helped up keep our footing in the river and sometimes we could find bottom with the poles and push our way through the pools. Larry's pole broke as we made our last crossing of the river to what looked like a possible campsight. He really needs a stick.
We decided to pull out of the river about 3:00 because we were bone weary tired and Larry's treking pole broke into in the last pool. Our bodies were worn out and hurting. It was hot! We could see that there was another deep pool up ahead and now Larry has no pole. I spotted a sandy area down river just alittle ways so I hiked down to scout it out. There is a large pine tree so we'll have some shade. After a rest we portage our gear down to that spot. We get out our bedrolls so we can lay down and strip down to T-shirts and shorts. It feels good to just lay flat and be still. The air is hot but there is a slight breeze. It is interesting how aware of my body I am, the aches and pains, throbbing, perspiration, how the breeze cools me because of the sweat and how hot it feels when the breeze doesn't blow.

After resting for awhile Larry gets up to go look at something at the river's edge. When I ask what he is looking at, he announces "3 of the biggest piles of bear poop I have ever seen"!. I get up and pull our bedrolls up higher on the bank.
Later in the day Larry strips off and announces that he is going to hike back upriver and dive down in the last pool we crossed to retrieve the other end of his trekking pole. He thinks maybe it just came unscrewed. I get up and go with him. I have to see this! The water is very cold. Remember, we have had wetsuits on all day? His pole is black and silver. I do not see how he will ever find it. He jumps in the cold water and down he goes. He has to dive several times but finally he comes up with pole in hand. Unfortunately, it is broken. We decide to keep it and take it back to Big 5.

Larry: Monday Evening ~ Arlene dropped us off at the top of the Steven's Trail on the Colfax side just before 8 AM. Little did we know what lay ahead for us. The trek down to the river really stretched our physical endurance to the max. Our trip into the Grand Canyon comes to mind. Our legs shook from the exertion. My new hip/thigh held up pretty well though but both buttocks ached. I got a blister on my big toe. It took us about 3 1/2 hours to hike the 4 1/2 miles down to Secret Ravine. We collapsed on the bank of the river in total exhaustion. I don't think we could have gone another 100 feet! We just concentrated on our feet and our next step. It was far more frightening for C but bless her heart, she sucked it up and followed me along the narrow ledges that dropped off into space.

After resting awhile we slowly assembed our gear and inflated the raft. We loaded it up, tied everything down and headed immediately for our first rapids. Slowly, we inched our way through the rushing water until we reached the deep pool below. The deep pools are our hardest, as we can't touch the bottom so we just have to hang on to the raft and kick our feet. Very aerobic! We finally spied a decent looking camp spot and quit the river about 2:30. We were totally exhausted and decided to rest the remainder of the day. It was fairly hot so we had to follow the shade. Blessedly, the sun findly went behind the far ridge and it began to cool down. The water is very clear, the hillsides are dry and brown and the canyon walls soar to the sky.

It feels alien to be out here on the river bank, miles from civilization. It's been many years since we've slept beneath the stars beside the river. Our only concern is the 3 piles of bear poop in our camp - one pile being fairly fresh!

Monday, October 26, 2009

What we did on our summer vacation!

Greetings from Sutherlin, Oregon. Here is an album we have set up for our 2009 Gold Adventures. We will be adding more photos very soon. You can view our photos by clicking on PHOTO ALBUM

Sunday, October 25, 2009

American River Adventure 2009 ~ Day 2

Tuesday, August 25, 2009
North Fork American River ~ Sunny

Charlotte: Tuesday Morning ~ This trip has been more difficult than I expected!!! Far more difficult! We are sitting here on our little garden kneeling pads facing the river. We have had our first cup of tea. It was a LONG night. I kept listening for the bear or bears. Each time we were both awake, I banged on our cooking pot a few times with the lid. Larry had the pot the first part of the night but I took over pot duty about 11 because he wasn't banging it often enough. By 1 AM the ground had grown hard and my body was aching. Actually, I should say really aching since it was pretty much aching since about half way down the trail. I had taken Sport before bed but I finally gave in and took some Advil.

On the positive side..... the stars were unbelievable. I saw at least 6 shooting stars. We were awake several times together during the night (Larry confessed in the night that he was also having some apprehensive thoughts about the bear). We even had one long conversation during the night ~ partly to discuss our sanity with regard to this trip. We agreed that we are glad we are doing it. We are just not sure why yet.

I am very thankful for the 4 pound porta potty that I hauled down here, even though I took some kidding about it. This old body doesn't squat quite as easily as it once did.

We layed down on our pads on the gravel bar about 7:30. We won't do that tonight. The old body only wants to lay on that hard ground for so long. Today we will start looking for gold. We have some great sniping tools that our friend Steve made.

Our dry packs are a bit of a challenge. Everything we need seems to always be in the bottom. We had a supper of Annie's Mac & Cheese with tuna. It was pretty darn good. We had to keep moving, to stay away from the meat bees, while we ate. We only had cheese and crackers for lunch, a small piece of pork and a protein bar for breakfast. We are sore, sore, sore this morning.

Later in the morning: I am sitting on the bank in my wetsuit waiting for Larry to find an interesting area to prospect. It is quiet and peaceful here ...... sitting with my feet in the water. Wow, that is a really deep hole in front of me! First thing this morning we went in search of another pole for Larry. He finds what is left of a dead alder at the waterline. He sawed it down with the saw in our swiss army knife and whittled it and now has a dandy 8 foot staff.

Mid-day: I hiked down the river in my wetsuit to where Larry was sniping to find out how he was doing. It was getting hot so I hiked our dry bags up in the trees, to keep them in the shade, before I left. We have some chocolate bars, cheese, etc. that we would like to keep out of the hot summer sun. We decide that it's time to think about moving down river. Larry isn't finding many colors and we now feel we must keep on the move to make the bridge by Saturday. We are marking our progress on the topo map but we won't know if we are correct until we arrive at the bridge. I came back to camp to gather everything together to load the raft. As I approach our campspot I hear the familiar chirp of a ground squirrel, signaling. I see ground squirrels at our dry packs - demon squirrels! When I get to the packs I find that they have torn holes in the food pack. They didn't actually get into the pack but 15 more minutes and they would have.Thank goodness or we might now be down in this canyon minus our food. They managed to pull out part of one of the ziplock bags with trail mix and scatter some on the ground. Thank you God that I came back when I did.

Later in the afternoon: We floated our gear down the river. It was pretty easy going. First there was a long pool, mostly knee deep with small saucer size rocks. Then we decided to hike everything down a long gravel bar/boulder pile . Then it's back in the river. It was pretty easy going after the overland trek because it was mostly gravel on the bottom. We come to an area that could be a good camp but it's early and there is no decent looking bedrock here for sniping. We keep going. We made it down a series of rapids before we quit.

At our new camp: It's been another hard day. Larry is off looking for gold. He seems driven to find something. I mean isn't that what this trip is all about? I hope he is finding gobs. I am sitting in the shade of the blue tarp that he put up before he left. We are in a new campspot. I am trying to stay out of the blistering sun. We are on the wrong side of the river for shade.

Larry sniped around camp most of this morning and found a few bits. The areas that were accessible had been worked pretty hard and in the other areas the bedrock was simply too deep. The camping part isn't hard. If we had a nice campspot with a little shade ~ fish a little, snipe a little. The really hard part is moving and hauling our gear. I will be so glad when I have some real shade. This new campsight has absolutely no shade. The shade is all across the river but there is no place to camp over there.

Like I have said several times, "Who would hike down the Steven's Trail for fun?"

Evening: Poor gold showing today. Day 2 ~ HARD ~ not much gold

Larry: Tuesday: Early morning ~ Sun hasn't hit our camp yet. Got out of our bed and made a cup of tea. We had a restless night, what with our aches and pains from yesterday and our trepidation over the bears. We hung our food bag and trash bag in a tree and took our cooking pot to bed with us. At odd hours throughout the night, we banged on the pot.

With a crescent moon that set early, we had the starry heavens for entertainment during our waking hours. I was reminded of all our carefree years sleeping out under the stars down at Shirttail and up on Duncan Creek. I tried to get in touch with the spirit of those people and realized that I was actually trying to recreate that adventurous quality in us. We had lost our fearlessness over the years, rather I should speak for myself - I had become old and fearful. I resist that aspect of myself mightely. I want to go out full of vigor and adventure, doing fun, challenging things in the time that I have. In that respect, I have an ideal partner in Charlotte. Not only does she love me enough to go along, she can also lead the way, as she embraces the same adventurous spirit.

I must admit that last evening, I had misgivings about this trip - in our ability to pull it off. The trek was approaching our physical limits and the trip down river was tough. Walking in the river was difficult but the deep pools were the hardest. But, after a night of rest, my spirits are restored and I'm looking forward to a day of sniping. I plan to work my way down one bank so far and then work the other side up past camp a ways before returning to camp.

In our new campspot - Evening ~ Two more portages today. Lots of difficult terrain. Plus, the crevices seem to all be cleaned out. I'm working hard to just get some color. We camped on a very narrow strip of sand. I carried more sand in my gold pan to build it up to accomodate our bed. Charlotte, bless her heart is bearing up under the strain but it's taking a toll. Falling and bruising her ankles and shins while walking the boat through rapids we didn't portage.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

American River Adventure ~ Day 3

Wednesday Morning, August 26, 2009
North Fork American River ~ More Sun

Charlotte: Early Wednesday Morning: LONG night last night! Our bodies have really taken a beating. We are sore beyond belief. Even with 4 Advil I didn't sleep much because my whole body is sore and every time I moved the pain woke me up. I can't believe I didn't bring any Bounce Back. I thought this was going to be an easy stroll down the middle of the river. Instead, it is an experience in torture. The river is strewn with boulders most of the way - platter size to banana box size, slippery, laying at different angles. We made our way slowly with the raft trying to keep our footing but we have both fallen repeatedly. We are bruised and sore. Add to that, walking a mile or more each day in water that varies from knee deep to chest deep or even deeper. It doesn't seem far unless you are in the water. The deep pools are the hardest. The river is low and there is very little current, so we hang on to the raft and try to paddle our way through. Often there is a stiff wind that blows us in the opposite direction.

We learned the first day to stay near the bank so that we can find some footing on the bedrock once in awhile, when it's shallow enough to reach with our feet. It is very strenuous going through the deepest pools. Then there are the rapids - boulder fields with swifter moving water, pushing you along and you can't see where you are stepping. We portaged around a long series of rapids yesterday and a long pool on Monday. We made it through 2 areas of rapids and that was enough yesterday. We stopped at a less than ideal camp spot. We were exhausted. The sand was just wide enough for our bed and even that required more sand. Larry hauled several loads of sand in the gold pan. There was absolutely no shade of any kind. We didn't have any shade until after 6 PM. I am guessing that it was up in the 90's. There were no flat rocks to put our gear on. The night before we had some nice flat bedrock. Last night our bedroom was a long narrow area of sand, maybe 3 feet across and then a straight up rock wall that retained the heat of the sun long into the night. We were about 6 feet from the water. We learned not to put our bedrolls down until just before bed. The sand retains heat long into the night. This has been the most difficult and strenuous undertaking of my life. Larry says the same is true for him.

There is great looking bedrock all around. Larry spent 2 hours sniping after we made camp and only came up with a few colors. He says the area has been worked hard. It seems impossible since we are so far from a road or trailhead.

Later in the morning: We've had our tea and protein bars and have decided to move out as soon as there is sun on the water. We want to get our next move over with and hopefully we'll find a better camp with some shade this afternoon. We are hoping for a nice camp spot tonight ~ shade, sandy area for sleeping, flat bedrock for gear and sitting AND some gold would be nice. We figure we are about 1/3 of the way to the bridge at Mineral Bar. I think we would stay put a couple of days if we could find a good spot.

We can see up ahead and there is another rapids and then a big bend in the river. We are going to cross the river and portage around the rapids. We are praying for an easy trek today ~ sandy bottom, even cobbles would be OK. We saw a hiker way up on the trail just after 7 this morning and amazingly, 2 runners right at nightfall last night. We feel certain they were training for the Western States 100 mile run.

Pain and agony. We're not eating much. We took our first bath in the river last evening after the sun went behind the ridge ~ COLD water! We must remember to bathe while it is still sunny. We are in the water most of the day but shampooing and cleaning up with soap felt good ...... after we got out of the river and warmed up in the summer air.

Early afternoon ~ Thank you God! Finally, we have a wonderful camping spot. We are on a long expanse of cobble beach with nice sandy areas for our bed. We are on the south side of the river but there are several shade trees on the rocky ridge above us. There is even flat bedrock for our gear. Now, if there is just some gold. Larry is off sniping.

We set out early this morning. We rafted everything across the river and then changed into boots and portaged around the rapids. We decided to hike our gear as far as we could. We ran out of bedrock and a place to walk at the bottom of a deep pool ~ maybe 15 feet deep. We were thankful to be able to miss the rapids and having to swim through another deep pool with our gear. We could see another series of rapids farther down the river. We decided to take a rest after hauling all of our gear to this spot. The grotto-like pool with it's clear, deep teal colored water was amazingly beautiful. There are big leafed plants along the far side of the pool. We could see several large bass swimming around. We decided to change back into wetsuits and river shoes so that we could float our gear across the river and then portage our gear down below the next series of rapids. It seems like alot of work but it's much easier than making our way down the rapids in the river.

After we crossed the river we could see that there was actually a series of 3 rapids and then a long riffle so we decided to hike the gear down below the riffle, which was quite a distance.

We went high and up over the bedrock. Easy does it ~ slow and steady. How do we make our way down this river? One day at a time, one stretch at a time, one step at a time. That is what we decided last night when we felt so beaten and exhausted ~ we'll just have to take it one stretch at a time and if that is too much, just one step at a time. This river trip is like a metaphor for life; you never know what is around the next bend.

It took 2 trips each to get our gear below the riffles. One trip with packs and each carrying 2 bags of gear and then one trip with the raft and a light load of gear. Out of our boots and back into wetsuits and river shoes, load the raft and we are off again. First there was a long stretch of boulders. We have discovered that in the deeper water, where we have a foothold, we can lightly push off instead of firmly placing each foot and it is much easier. At the end of the boulders was our longest stretch of deep water yet, maybe 20 feet deep, and we couldn't even see around the bend to know where it ended. Larry decided that we should hang to the right because it looked like there were some handholds in the bedrock. It was hard going for Larry - holding on to the front of the raft, his new wooden 8 foot staff and trying to find handholds on the rocks. All I could really do was hold on to the back of the raft and kick to try to help move us along. Finally, about half way through the pool Larry saw a spot where he thought he could climb up and over and pull the raft along while I stayed in the water to steady the rear of the raft. A good set of flippers would have come in handy.

He was able to finally climb out and go up and over past the first outcropping ~ I had to keep kicking out toward the middle of the river so that he could pull me and the gear downriver. The next manuver was more difficult. Larry had to climb up a fracture in the rock face like a cat, up and way over an outcropping of bedrock. The river shoes helped him with traction. I had to really push out with my legs and kick hard several times to get beyond the outcroppings at the waterline but finally he was able to pull the raft and me down the river. Once I was adrift I felt like Cleopatra on her barge. It was a little scary because I couldn't see Larry most of the time. Thank goodness for our very long rope. Larry climbed over yet another large abuttment of bedrock and I continued kicking away from the edge. Finally, Larry climbed back down to the river and got in the water because he could see that it was shallow enough for walking in the river and it was gravel. For quite a distance I wasn't able to touch the bottom so he pulled me and the raft along, like Humphey Bogart in the African Queen. This deep pool and grotto area were even more beautiful than the one we saw earlier this morning. We headed to the left bank and found our large gravel bar and wonderful campspot for tonight and this is where we have been since about 1:30.

It is very warm and I am so sleepy. I think I'll go cool off in the river and then take a nap.

Larry: Day 3 Early Morning ~ Early morning, having our cup of tea sitting with our backs against the rock wall that we slept against. Watching the sun catch the tops of the high ridges - comparing pain. Our night was semi-restless, more for Charlotte than me. I had much less trepidation about bears last night as our camp was perched right on the river with steep cliffs above.

I woke up around midnight and we had a nice conversation while watching for meteorites. My body is aching and stiff but my spirit is beginning to embrace our challenge. I guess I'd say that mentally, it's getting easier. Monday night I was filled with fear and trepidation as in, "what have I gotten us into?" And thinking whether or not we were up to this adventure. My male ego wants me to be up to any challenge, no matter how extreme .....but time has taken a toll on my body. 28 years ago, we could have waltzed down the Steven's Trail and laughed at our soreness and bruises. But today, at 58 & 68, they take on new meaning. I am going to concentrate more on the trip and less on how much gold I find. Since the gold has been disappointing so far, I'll look for the treasure of time spent well with my love.

Evening - We moved down river once again - portaging several rapids and a deep pool. I finally had to climb up and over a wall of bedrock and tow the raft through a very deep pool. The problem with those deep holes is the up river wind is much stronger than the current and our feeble kicks, without any purchase on the bank or the bottom, you go upstream! We had literally prayed for an easier day with a nice camp spot and what do you know?! Around the corner appeared an ideal sandy, gravel bar with ample shade (until the late afternoon). We rejoiced over our fairly easy move and our sweet camp.

I rested for an hour or so and then went sniping. Same story - little to no gold. But, we had a marvelous day and now a super camp, time to rest and recuperate. Our water filter is a gem. With it, I can fill a 2 gallon jar in about 10 minutes and our little one liter bottle in 3. Each afternoon I fill the liter bottle with cool river water and we add lemonade powder for an afternoon treat. Do we know how to live or what!?!?

I'm sitting here looking up at the Steven's Trail. It seems like weeks ago that we were struggling our way along it, looking down on this part of the river. I'm bushed. I think that we hadn't rested enough from our barn labors to really be up for this trip. I have a residual fatigue that catches up with me by mid-afternoon.

*** I want to note here that this adventure was a result of a book that Larry purchased.
By the end of the first day I was ready to hurt the author of the book.
By the end of day 2 I wanted to hurt him and make him eat the book.
By day 3, I knew exactly what I wanted to do to him. I wanted to send him down the Steven's Trail with 70 pounds on his back and have him hike, walk, climb, swim, claw and crawl his way to the Iowa Hill Bridge. The floating part in the book sounded so easy..... "floating your gear down the river". Oh, there was soooo much more to it than that.

Friday, October 23, 2009

American River Adventure ~ Day 4

Thursday, August 27, 2009
North Fork of the American River ~ Lots of sun - already HOT!

Charlotte: Early Morning ~ AM with tea ~ Another long night of pain. My body is crying out for a break but we have 2 more - no, 3 more days on the river. My right hand is so sore that I can hardly use it. I think it is from gripping my stick. I take Advil and 2 Sprot before bed and another 2 Advil 4 hours later. It's hard to sleep when you are in pain. I don't want to take the PM medicine to help me sleep for fear I will sleep through the bear coming into camp. I have to keep one ear open and one eye.

My hot flashes are returning because of no flax seed oil and down here on the warm gravel bar, with no fan, all I can do is notice how my body feels. I am really trying to be present with my body and just be an observer. It is easier than living in my body right now. Does that sound strange?

I tried to focus on enjoying the stars until I got drowsy and sometimes I could drift off for a little while. At least we didn't worry about bears here last night. We had the dehydrated beef stew, Mo gave us, for dinner last night - pretty darn good. It was hot in the evening so we sat with our feet in the river for awhile and that seemed to help. After dinner we sat on our pads - MaryAnn, have you heard us saying "thank you" - all week - for telling us to take these garden kneeling pads to sit on? Larry found very little gold yesterday. We have made a huge shift from focusing on the gold. This section of the river has really been worked and as we get closer to the bridge it will be more so.

The first day we saw 2 people on the upper end of the trail on our way down and then Chuck the miner. The second day we saw another miner working on the river and 2 runners (unbelievable - probably training for the Western States 100 miler) and a hiker on the trail. Day 3 we saw a total of 6 people on the river, 3 areas where people camp and mining gear (although they must be out for supplies or something because their things are stashed).

I have noticed that our environment greatly affects what we think about. I am not thinking about Mannatech or painting Arlene's house or even the housesit up in Sutherlin. I spend time in observation of our surroundings, certainly some thoughts about my aches and pains - my body and how to help it out - GET MORE FIT!

Tuesday night we decided to focus on easy and fun and yesterday was easier and more fun. With nothing to read there is plenty of time for listening and observation, conversations, meditation. A good book would be nice but we are both glad that we didn't bring one. "I went to the woods to confront the essential things of life .... so, if this is our mini versin of Walden's Pond what are we learning AND it's NOT about gold. In fact the gold would have distracted us from the lessons - what are the lessons for us in this odyssey? What is really important? Who are we.... really ..... our spirit ..... our essence at the deepest center of our being, without ego and our 58 and 68 years of influence and programming? What do we want to do with the rest of our lives?

I think the hardest part, for me, about this trip is never knowing what is around the next bend - easy or hard? Deep or shallow? Will there be a place to sleep, some shade? Where will we wind up tonight? I can't make a plan because I don't know what's ahead.

About 8 AM - We have decided to strip down to undies, cross over the river, change into dry clothes and hiking boots and go down river before we move. We saw miner #2 hike out yesterday and back in this morning. We aren't sure whether he came from the bridge or down Burnt Flat Trail. We can see the remnants of a forest fire on the tops of the ridges across the river. Smoke filled the canyon last night and drifted over our heads from the ridge behind us. We discussed a plan in case of fire - There was no wind so we weren't really worried.

A little apple for breakfast (fresh apples were NOT a good idea. They are heavy and they are now very bruised from all of the banging around - dried fruit only for future trips. Also, chocolate bars and cheese - BAD idea. They are melted most of the time. By morning they are solid so we have shared a chocolate bar for breakfast 2 mornings.

Day 4 - Later in the day ~ after our move
We have made our way down to the camp spots at the base of Pennyweight Trail. We are exhausted! It is our hottest day yet. After we arrived here, we were burning up, sitting in our camp so with all of the energy we can muster, we put on our river shoes and crossed to the shadey side, where we are, now, sitting in the shade with our feet and legs in the river. It has made a huge difference in cooling us down. Oh, before sitting down, we took a dunk in a pool just down from our sitting spot. The water is coming out of a spring and is very cold.

Our transit/traversing of the river was fairly easy today.

Day 4 - Evening - Before I describe our trip down the river today I must note our change in plans. It is dusk and we have been busy packing - getting ready to head out in the morning. We are in the camp area at the base of the Pennyweight Trail. We have seen lots of people today - lots of folks sniping on the river, young lovers camping (they took our chosen spot before we could pack down river to claim it) and teenagers. A really nice man from Davis, whom we met sniping, hauled an old folding chair up to our camp for us to sit on. It is wonderful! We are taking turns sitting in the chair and it feels great! I never knew a chair could feel so good! We have seen 10 hikers, if you count Chuck, who has been hiking down the river all day looking for cigarettes. We saw the young miner who goes in and out each day and hikes a long distance up river to work. These are hearty souls! We now know that he goes out the Pennyweight Trail because we saw him head out tonight. The man from Davis told us the river below here is really gnarly with 2 drop offs. We have had enough of difficult river transits and portages. We are beat and we will head out very early in the morning and hope to catch a ride to Colfax and call Arlene. We figure if we are up on the road by 7 AM we can catch someone headed into work or school from Iowa Hill.

We are dreaming of an ice cold beer, hot shower and a bed to sleep in. A few clouds are moving in tonight ..... the first clouds we have seen all week.

Larry: Day 4 Early Morning ~ Once again watching the early morning sun light up the tops of the high ridges at yet another camp spot, discussing our plans for the day with our first cup of tea. Saw two kingfishers out early, looking for breakfast, I imagine. The timeless rush of the river and the solid mass of rock around me gives me a sense of transient presence. I look at the water worn masses of bedrock and realize the millions of years that this canyon has been forming. My mere passage is but an insignificant footnote in the life of this canyon. Yet, it is having an enormous impact on me, not only physically but in causing me to examine my priorities, my motives for being here, my limitations. Should we embrace life more like the kingfisher? I doubt they worry about tomorrow or next week. All they care about is eating and shelter - trusting in the fact that they will eat today.

For us, on this, the 4th day, our thoughts are directed more to our progress down river, our sore, stiff muscles and wondering how to put this experience into the context of our lives. Are we meant to take away lessons from this? Does it hold some profound meaning or is it merely another Bacon adventure? I'm feeling very protective of Charlotte but also frustrated at not being able to prevent her suffering. I say I'm responsible for getting us into this but she quickly claims her role in the decision to do this. We have a dilemma this morning - move camp or stay another day. This is such an ideal spot and yet we have at least 2 days of river to get under our belts in order to be on time at the bridge Saturday afternoon. If we stay here another day/night, then we have the added pressure of pressing on Friday and Saturday. But if we opt to head out today, we run the risk of camping at a less than ideal spot.

Day 4 Afternoon - Another move, another camp, another very hot day! I was able to let the raft go down the river on a tether today - much easier than walking it along. There was a long stretch of river, knee deep with plate sized boulders; much easier going. We headed for the camp spot that we had scouted out early in the morning but when we arrived, it had been claimed by a young couple. They had our idylic spot and offered to share but we decided to keep going. So, we pressed overland on down river and found a fairly nice spot under a towering pine. The afternoon sun is unrelenting and shade is scarce so we walked across the river into the shade, where we are sitting with our feet in the water. I was overwhelmed today with the realization that we are going to actually make it through the full week, challenges and all. I felt so proud of us for perservering through it all. But..... actually, what choice did we have?

Day 4 Evening - PS - After spending a scalding afternoon in the hot sun and being beaten up and bruised, the decision has been made to pack it all up and hike out on the Penneyweight Trail. Ironically, the foot of the trail is now 100 yards from our camp. We'll hike out to the road, ride our thumbs into Colfax and call Arlene to come get us. There is no shame in calling this trip over. We did all the hard parts and I'm very proud of both of us.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

American River Adventure ~ Day 5

Friday, August 28, 2009
Chicago Park, CA

Charlotte: Friday Morning ~ Out of the canyon! First I want to write about our extraordinary morning. Here we are at Tofte Ranch at 11.26 AM and showered. First we enjoyed a wonderful cup of coffee on the porch, sitting in chairs. Only 4 days without coffee, has made a huge difference in our appreciation of our morning cup but I think the challenge of our trip played a part in that. We savor the flavor and aroma - we are present with our cup of coffee. Sitting on chairs with cushions on the porch - ahhhh, so comfortable and relaxing. A little snack of coffee cake left over from Arlene's Bunco night - really good coffee cake, I might add, some beef and green olives, also from Arlene's Bunco night. Then, finally a long hot shower - mmmmmmmm. It felt like we needed to scrub everywhere twice to get the camp dirt off and the hot water felt luxurious. All clean again, we took a survey of each other's bodies checking out the scrapes, bruises and bites. Larry has some really large angry bites on his torso. We carry the marks of our trip but mostly we are sore and bone weary tired.

Our trip out was amazing - miraculous in retrospect. After a long painful and agonizing night for both of us, daylight finally arrived. We spent a wakeful night of moans and groans, a few conversations, lots of tossing and turning, checking the time, watching the stars and clouds in the sky and a few short fitful periods of sleep. It never cooled down last night.

Arlene is NOT home. We forgot she was headed to Sacramento on Friday. I have to say it is so perfect that Arlene isn't home and also perfect that we didn't remember. I have been saying that ever since we lost out on our perfect campspot yesterday "Everything is working out in a perfect way" - even having someone else take the campspot we were drooling over.... while we were hauling our gear down river. I remember the dejected look on Larry's face when he turned to me and said "Someone is in our camp spot." I decided rather than choose the frustration, anger and disappointment, I would claim "Everything is working out in a perfect way."

And now here we are alone at Arlene's with time to clean up, talk, reflect, be quiet, write and rest AND we wouldn't have met our 2 special angels - if Arlene had been home and we hadn't decided to come out of the canyon a day early.

Larry: Up at the first sign of light, rolled up our bed, got it all packed up and we are headed up the PW Trail by 6:30. The trail was lots rougher than our friend intimated but by awakening our tired muscles, we climbed out of the canyon. We waited maybe 20 minutes before our first angel stopped to give us a lift into Colfax. Craig was a typical Iowa Hillian with full mustache and beard, long, shoulder length hair, cut-offs and thongs. We had to hold the seat belts across our bodies because they didn't work and he didn't want to get a ticket. His pick-up was so high off the ground I had to give Charlotte a boost from behind to get her up and in the truck. The truck smelled of cigarettes, diesel and dust and old wet dog, which I suspect usually rides in our area of the seat. Craig shared stories of how he found Iowa Hill before going off to prison and how he had returned as soon as he got out of prison. Everyone has a story to tell if you just ask the right questions. Interesting! Charlotte's first comment after Craig dropped us off and drove away was, "What would my mother say?" and after a chuckle..... "CHARLOTTE, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING????!!!"

Craig dropped us off at the Chevron Station in Colfax, where we had planned on phoning Arlene to come get us. The pay phone was missing from the booth, so we decided to hike around to Hwy. 174 and hold up a Chicago Park sign.

8 AM in Colfax is probably the busiest time of day, what with dropping kids off at school and people heading down to Auburn for work. We got lots of looks from the long lines of cars at the 4 way stop. Us, in our dusty clothers, with packs on our backs, hiking sticks in hand, bandanas and caps on our head. Some folks acted like they didn't see us, others stared us down with grim looks of disapproval on their faces, while others smiled and waved or gave us a thumbs up and some even offered encouraging comments. I wondered what stories they were telling about these 2 middle aged people walking through Colfax, California on a Friday morning with packs on their backs?

We made our way around to 174 and held up our sign. Very quickly our second angel stopped. Suzzette, a hair stylist and her 2 dogs gave us a lift out to the tiny Chicago Park Store, even though she didn't live in that direction! At the CP store, I asked the proprietor if I could use the phone to call our friend, Arlene, but got her answering machine. I left a message thinking she was out feeding cows. In another little bit I asked to use the phone again..... still no answer. After about 45 minutes, our 3rd angel stopped and offered to buy us some breakfast. Kelly thought we were homeless and assumed I was a vet and wanted to help out. I explained our situation. It seems she is an old backpacker and now packs folks in to the backcountry of the Sierras with horses. Kelly gave us a lift all the way to Arlene's! We felt a kinship with Kelly.

We were sitting on the front porch, clean from our hot showers, with a cup of coffee by 10 AM!!! Thanks to our band of angels. We toasted each other with our coffee for a job well done. Thank you God for our week of adventure and discovery and thank You for bringing us safely out of the canyon!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

After the Adventure ~ Day 6

Saturday, August 29, 2009
Tofte Ranch - Sunny & Hot

Charlotte: Day 6 ~ What a wonderful night! No misquitos or bears to think about or contend with. A bed to sleep in, a pillow for our heads and a fan to keep us cool. We sure take our creature comforts for granted.

Just spent about an hour on the phone with Steve comparing notes about our adventures and hearing about their gold below the Mineral Bar Bridge. They are pretty banged up and bruised, too. We are both excited about another trip - maybe even Monday.

Larry: Day 6 ~Finally, a restful night of sleep. We harvested for Arlene yesterday in the PM and then sat on the front porch with a glass of wine to await her surprise at seeing sitting on the porch when she drove up. Felt good that we could get out tonight and harvest the garden for market even with our aches and pains. A little rest really helped. We've seen the pics of Steve's gold that they pulled out of staircase rapids. Wow! We are jazzed up to hike up there - maybe Monday. It's hard to slow down after our trip. It seems like we should still be moving somewhere. Residual adrenalin?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009
Sutherlin, Oregon
Sunny, McD's
Well, here we are at our new house sitting assignment. We are going to be here until next June.... unbelievable! This is another house sitting assignment that we found at housecarers. Spent last evening with the homeowners. Had a wonderful roast beef dinner! We will feel lost for a few days. We must remember that and cut ourselves some slack - let ourselves settle in. We hare having coffee and giving the homeowners time to pack up. This seems like a much better location that Seattle and the house is very comfortable. The bed is great! That is a very important criteria for us AND the bedroom is very dark.... another nice plus. Guess we will spend time unpacking today. It always helps me to nest.