From Turtle on the Trail, Day 13

September 3rd, 2015

Our campsite is an outdoor school project. A cat from the neighboring house chose to sleep curled up in my sleeping bag. Then it was trying to paw at my face to wake me up. It started using its claws, so lifting it up and pushing it through the flap that I had left open for the little bugger to get out whenever it got bored; I dropped it on the ground.

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From Turtle on the Trail, Day 12

September 2nd, 2015

Amy rolls up in her cart, "Good luck on your hike!"
The walk to the town is uphill and difficult and I fall behind on the hike. I delve into being aware of how much my feet are yelling at me. It was fine while carrying the pack because they number all out and then I could massage them at night.

Now the edges ring and the balls of my feet throb. A singing pain between my front two toes harmonizes with the baritone of the pinky on my other foot.  It is a relief when we reach the town and even though I've been alone for most of the last couple hours, I still wish to be away from the others.

I lay down in front of a picnic table in Logger Park. I can already tell this is a place I should be wary of. Like the downtown of a city, or the front of a farmhouse with a broken window. I put my feet up on the seat of the bench and Dana is eating her lunch watching the passersby on the street. The kids are playing kickball and I struggle between the relief of never having to do that again with the urge to find a red ball and start a game with everyone.

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From "Properly Chill" Meg on the Trail

September 11th, 2015

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This morning we walked through the town of Tiller, where the residents have experienced up close the effects of extreme wildfires this summer. They told us about seeing burned branches float down from the sky during the Stout’s Creek Fire this summer. That fire scorched 17 miles of the proposed pipeline route, burning so hot it not only destroyed all the plant life but the soil as well. Just down the road from here, the fire chief of Tiller stopped to speak with us, adamantly expressing his opposition to the pipeline. He has concerns not only about its potential to amplify forest fires but also about the energy policy implications. Smokey the Bear is wondering too: why are we massively increasing the potential for more dangerous fires just so a Canadian company can profit off selling gas overseas? I think Smokey says no to LNG pipelines.


From Turtle on the Trail, Day 11

September 1st, 2015: Day 11

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Carrie from the next camp over visits us with a gift of grapes. We tell her about what we are doing and she tells us about her hike up to Fish Lake. When we camp tonight someone will tell us about how that lake is all dried up. And where we will be, will be the only lake at this time of year that has any water.

"You seeing those cones is like mythology, " Grace had said the night before, arguing that that's different then disbelief, "Like a bear with antlers."

My first thought is of that poor bear trying to climb through the trees, his antlers getting caught in all of the branches on his way up.

We are on a road now, headed for Butte Falls by tomorrow. It is the first town since Keno. The sun is strong in some sections and Emmalyn is having lots of trouble with her footwear. We take our time, and lots of breaks. But our opportunity to leave the road finally comes.

There is a gravel road that leads over Juniper Ridge. It is a wonderful walk with some random ATV roads no longer traveled so they are overgrown with vines, wildflowers, and grasses. Serious things can be talked about when surrounded in the green. There is a cushion and a trust that what can be said will be received by another human, with trust for the best. That any idea can be added on to, commented on and criticized without lack of care.

After the final bushwack of this section, we lay our eyes upon the water of the lake.  All the way over there past the siltbank and tree stumps. We stalk down another road leading to the otherside of the lake. If the lake could be described as a blooper, with the top of its eyes being the dam, we are on the lower outside portion of its third tencle, and the campsite for tonight is over at the first tentacle.

Emmalyn's feet are not cooperating. She stashes her pack and I GPS tag the stash while Maria ties a piece of flagging in the area where it is located.

The water is low, it seems very low, a mineral border on the rocks, and exposed shore show the water is really low. We cross the damn, and I hear the rush of running water, but I can't see it. Little grasses and daisies poke up out of the gravel road with truck tracks in it.

Alex, Dana and Barry ride up in Wes and I highfive Barry as he drives up to us. We drop excess weight out of our packs and we walk into camp.

She sits chopping vegetables at a picnic table. Her manner is of ease and of long walking that has come before. She is joining us for the rest of the hike as a break from the PCT.
Hiking something else as a break from hiking. It could work. "Properly Chill" has joined the party.

 

Turtle 
   Josh Eng
            writes


From Turtle on the Trail, Day 10

August 31st, 2015: Day 10

Which is better? Anticipation or hindsight? Action or communication? I have been awake for a while now. A bombardment of pinecones woke me in my tent. I wait for the smacking against the shockcord framing to stop and poke my head out of the tent. There is a woosh and a thump about a foot from my head. I wonder if a squirrel bounty has been taken out on me as I wrap my tent up quickly, jumping out of the way everytime I hear the whistle of a falling pinecone.

Alex is not used to the fluidity of the waking ceremonies that forest defenders value over schedules and time commitments and he is antsy to leave. I play "Colors of the Wind" on my trumpet to wake everyone up.

An hour and a half of bushwacking later we reach one of the waterways that the pipeline is supposed to cross. It is a tiny stream with delicate flowers growing from a vine submerged under the water. They bouce joyfully in the current.

More bushwacking and me and Grace have split from the others. We talk about the past for a bit and look at more plants. Grace finds the last Thimbleberry I think I will see for the season.

The rest of the day drifts on with more knowledge about the trees around then I ever thought to be exposed to except out of a book. But the small arguments and songs about them are something I never could get from just reading the text.

To follow the pipeline more we circle around the butte and then walk to the closest campsite about two miles away from the first. But we've walked maybe seven miles already today.

 

Turtle 
   Josh Eng
            writes


From Turtle on the Trail, Day 9

August 30th, 2015: Day 9

I bring my speaker to the parking lot and listen to some Welcome to Nightvale while I smoke a hand rolled cigarette. Staring at the bottle caps embedded in the wooden posts, Sandy pulls up. She is going to hike with us today. I try to make small talk, but I am still in the process of waking up.

Spending days doing hours and hours of walking has made me appreciate having a slow waking process.  Whether behind or ahead of others, I think I'd like to know I'm going as fast as I need to. A density of people are gathering by the campsite center and Sandy walks off to do her meet and greets.

The community hike was over with the shutter clicking sounds of photographers and words spoken to the opposition of the pipeline. To think that this gorgeous trail that thousands of people have walked through this summer might be interrupted by the slash of an easement.

The deadly trees, in addition to their orange flagging have green spray painted markings on them. I stare at the squiggle of the route on the GPS. Emmalyn makes rustling noises as she glides with ease through the forest. 

It's not really necessary to watch the blue arrow on the tiny animated map over lap the yellow line of the pipeline route.  There is blue flagging tape, tied to branches on either side of us, marking out the approximate boundaries of the easement. Sometimes, in the center of the boundaries, we spy a stake, or a tree with yellow flagging, and white and blue striped tape tied around large trees in the way. I take pictures of them with the GPS, because it can do that.

The evening turns the color of the pale cow into a warm orange creature, scoffing as it daintily steps around the cattle guard blocking the road. It stares at us as we wait for the van to come. Tonight we have new marchers, but they are also friends from past campaigns also willing to see as much of the actual pipeline route that logistics allow.

 

Turtle 
   Josh Eng
            writes


From Turtle on the Trail, Day 8

August 29th, 2015: Day 8

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I wake to the first sound of rain, since, it seems, like the beginning of summer. The chill comes like a switch, that is quickly flicked off again. Autumn is like that awkward new friend that doesn't know when you wake up or not. When the dark grays become dark reds through the other side of my tent it is already warm enough to have just one layer.

Today is a day that is uphill, with full packs. I am burning more energy with muscle growth. It isn't being sapped from the sun. While the energy of the sun is doing it's work to evaporate the irrigation canals. Slow moving water, filled with ag run off but so many potatoes and alfalfa.

The rain this morning was beautiful with the smell of petrichor. The rainfall in this area is similar to the Klamath Basin, but here they might get a little more rain.

When we reach Deb's property she tells us her story. She has the first story I've heard with my own ears about the pipeline.  Barry and Em already walking ahead of us.

Her words filled me with fire, as they always do. I renew my vigor of whatever weaknesses I feel and fill out the day with practicing identification of her favorite tree.

Our campsite is in the Pederson Snowpark, just across the street from the Pacific Crest Trail. You know, the one from that movie?  There has been a lot of traffic on the PCT this year because of it.

I listen to music as I write and the chill is refreshing and subtle. The sun lights the forest with lines of gold as it sets. Pablo cooks dinner, Ratatioulle, the spiced chunks of eggplant are meaty and I massage my aching muscles. The moon is bright enough to see by, up here, at night.

 

Turtle 
   Josh Eng
            writes


From Turtle on the Trail, Day 7

August 28th, 2015: Day 7

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The dinner from last night rests well. The feel of the dirt
The grade of the incline has become steeper. There are blisters starting to stammer their way into the soles of my feet. I stop and take off my boots.

The air is cool in the shade, and I have to remember how precious it is. Taking this for granted would be the worse way to let bad things happen.

The day passes and passes, the ascent has been gradual and patchy. Like the quilt of the forests surrounding us and thinking about the strip of flagging and painting running down it. Is it more like a tear or a zipper?

We reach camp early, and I spend the day, resting as much as I can.

I wake up to food. It's always amazing when cooked food happens, at least for as long as it happens. Our sup is of delicious rice and vegetables. Our bread is loaf of awesome conversation.

 

Turtle 
   Josh Eng
            writes


From Turtle on the Trail, Day 6

August 27th, 2015: Day 6

 

The ride back to Buck road is chipper, as we are excited and reinvigorated by yesterday's rest day.  We have three miles to walk into Keno where we will meet up with Barry and Ron and someone new, a photographer who will be joining with us for the next couple days.

By now, with rest, and under the cover of the trees, three miles is quick and pleasent. The heat of the sun is evenly distributed with breeze in the shade, and the sweet and tart of wild plums. A cowboy on a horse, with a hat, chats on the far side of a pasture with another farmer on a four-wheeler. The cows' voices heave with delight as they eat their breakfast.

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Reflections From the Community: Shady Cove

September 1st, 2015

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Why would a group of school children sue President Obama and governors in many states? (Google "Our Children's Trust). Could it be that they have been doing their science homework (And maybe visiting the law library too!). These young Americans know that climate change/global warming is real and is threatening their future.

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