Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Zim Zim falls trip report – 4-10-2006.

Wet. Really wet. Soooo wet.

We met at the usual 9am time in Winters. Sam was the designated leader for this one, so I didn’t do my usual head count. I think there were about 13 to 15 people. Not bad, considering it was raining. I suspect the promise of a 100-foot waterfall in our own watershed was just the motivation people needed to brave the weather. We carpooled up to the trailhead, dodging the landslides and fallen rocks on the road. These storms have done a number on the slopes, and erosion was everywhere.

We finally made it up to the trailhead, parked, and got ready to slog up the trail to the falls. Eticuera creek had been extremely high recently, as was evidenced by the debris line, which was the highest I’ve ever seen it. Walking up the trail, we passed the small grove of (currently dormant) Osage orange trees. They are a remnant of the old hotel and ranch grounds, now long gone. After crossing Zim Zim creek the first time, we could smell the sulphur from Zim Zim spring.

The valley looked really nice, and the wildflowers are trying, desperately, to get going. Just too wet, cold and overcast to really start the show, but if we get a break, they are sure to just go nuts, and for quite a while with all that soil moisture. We meandered, talking, up to the final split, where we began the ascent toward the vista of the falls. Slowly they came into view, as well as becoming audible. The falls were spectacular, given the volume of water pouring through the narrow gap between the mountains.

After lunch on a nice rock outcropping, located about halfway down the slope, directly across from the falls, we headed up to look at the valley above. Feeling adventurous, I talked most of the group into making this hike a loop, by passing into the Nevada openings, following Nevada creek, then looping back to Zim Zim. I’d never taken this route before, but given that I’d studied the maps beforehand, and had my GPS (with the car’s location entered) I felt confident we’d have no problems.

The loop added a hair over a mile to our trip, but was well worth it. The lands along Nevada creek are pretty stunning. Jagged rocks rise up to cap small knolls, hidden waterfalls drop down side-canyons, and blue oaks dot the grasslands that mix between the brush-covered mountains. One other hiker and I described the place as having a really good ‘vibe’. Hard to describe, but some places just feel nice, and this was one of those places. I’d love to do an overnight here sometime.

We followed the creek downstream, then wound a bit up the side of the hill, eventually finding our way back down to the creek and around the mountains that separate Nevada creek from Zim Zim creek. Along the way, several small waterfalls were visible in side canyons. I’m going to have to explore these one day.

Once back at Zim Zim, we walked the half-mile back to the cars where Sam was waiting. Huge kudos to Sam for waiting the hour and ten minutes longer it took us to do the loop. Sam had headed back with Carol and Andrea, from the falls, and since he had carpooled with several in my group, he had to wait. Yet, he was just as enthusiastic about the trip as our group, since this was the first time he had seen the falls!

Overall, another fabulous and beautiful trip in our local watershed.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Alcohol stove

When I started getting into lightweight backpacking, one of the first items I researched was how to lighten my stove. This was a little hard, since I really love my Coleman Peak 1 Multi-fuel. It's a great design, has fabulous simmer control, and few parts. It also weighs a ton.

So then I read online about all these alcohol stoves people make themselves. If you know me, you know I love to make my own stuff, so this seemed interesting. Plus you get to play with fire, so, you know, even better, right?

The best design I found was at this link. It works fabulously. I used it on an overnighter last year with Mark Abildgaard, up on Cortina Ridge. It boiled water real quick, and the thing is super lightweight. It's become my new backpacking stove for all my trips. It's even light enough for day hiking use, if you want a hot lunch. When you buy the JB Weld and aluminum tape, you'll have enough for at least a dozen stoves. Gifts, perhaps?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Kids in Nature

I love bringing my kids outdoors. One of the best trips you can make with small kids is to go to Cold Canyon, find a path to the creek, and just let them spend a few hours splashing in the water and climbing rocks. In fact, on the main page of Yolohiker you'll see a link to a series of hikes at Cold Canyon, sponsored by UC Davis. Several are for parents and kids. Check it out!

Also, bring your kids on some of the Capay Valley Hiking Club hikes.


Last month a Cornell University study reported that childhood wild-nature play -- unstructured time in nature like camping, hiking and playing in the woods -- has a profound influence on environmental attitudes and actions later in life.

But most kids these days are brought up in over-manicured suburbs with an abundance of electronic playthings and an ever diminishing exposure to nature.

According to Richard Louv, author of "Last Child in the Woods," they are suffering from "nature deficit disorder." In his book, Louv describes a cycle of alienation: Kids who don't go out into nature aren't familiar enough with nature to want to go into nature and don't feel comfortable when they're there. And that's bad news for their future capacity to steward the environment.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Headlamps - not as useful as you'd think

I'd bought a headlamp, thinking it would be useful for two reasons. First, I love having my hands free when hiking, and second, I needed something for use when I'm doing construction work. For example, when fixing plumbing, it's great to be able to shine your headlamp on the work area and keep your hands free.

However, I discovered that when camping on Cache Creek, a headlamp does more than you'd think....Starting out on a night hike, I fitted the headlamp, turned it on, and was immediately surrounded by all manner of bugs which were attracted to the light. Turns out a handheld flashlight is the much better option when outdoors.

So now my headlamp sits in my tool bucket...
But my headlamp did come with a bonus micro LED light that uses coin cell batteries, so I use that when backpacking....

Monday, April 03, 2006

Lightweight (free) Walking Stick

Everyone is using walking sticks these days. Lots of the hikers have them on our hikes, and they do make it easier to cross creeks. Especially those with moss-covered rocks.

I've been looking at them, but quite frankly, can't find it to spend $150 on a pair of sticks. I know, they are useful...But come on....It's $150.

So I went looking for an alternative. Some people use bamboo, but again, you either have to have a source, or you have to buy it.

So, what's like bamboo, infests all our local rivers, and is just begging for you to cut it down? That's right, arundo donax, the giant reed. It's evil, infests streams, and it's about time it got put to a beneficial use.

So, I cut off some nice stalks, let them dry, and now I have walking sticks that are extremely lightweight, flexible, but still strong, and great for walking. Even better, if they break or split, you can get some more for free.