hunker down

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Head on into the wind, brown pelicans sit out yesterdays high wind and waves on a comfy sea-grass bank at Port Orford, Oregon. Occasionally a few individuals would spread wing, instantly levitate straight upwards with nary a beat and head off on a brief reconnoiter of the surf before returning to the company of their fellows.

portpelican 007For the brief time I was able to stand in the horizontal rain and salt spray the pelicans chose to sit tight, only after I got back into the car did they decide to do any more aerobatics. This first really good wind and rain storm of the fall churned up beaches, blew out rivers and clocked 90 mile per hour gusts up on Cape Blanco.

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fishpedition

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After a couple of excursions on the Coquille River estuary at Bandon, Oregon I wearied of big water, big boats and sketchy fish and wandered south to Cape Blanco and the Sixes River. Following a day of long anticipated rain, and expecting more I climbed along the bluff at the Cape to view the mouth of the Sixes where it opens to the ocean. Sure enough the rains had swelled the river channel and breached the sand bar, allowing the salmon to begin their upstream run.

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The lagoon to the right of the beach is the Sixes River, the channel across the sand to the ocean is just visible in the above photos. After an overnight at the state park, it was a short drive the following morning down to the river launch, rains gave way to playing rainbow tag as I paddled down stream.

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By now having had a few trips out, and catching one 8 pound salmon on the open waters of the Coquille River; I’m starting to feel competent about going after some seriously big fish, 15 and 20 pounders seen leaping and being caught by other fisher-persons.

???????????????????????????????The kayak has significant advantages for fishing, the ability to maneuver in shallow water and slip into tight river bends where the fish are. Once hooking into a strong and feisty salmon I’ve got the ability to follow them and/or try to keep them out of the numerous sunken trees along the river banks. The most significant drawback is that there’s no place in such a small boat to put a landed fish other than in the lap. 15 pounds of flopping wet slime still entangled in hook, line and net makes for challenging photography. As far as getting any action shots it’s nearly impossible, there’s way too much going on what with river current, obstacles, fishing rod, paddle and a big fish going up, down and around the boat.

???????????????????????????????Going ashore to get everything squared away and stretch the legs and hey, it’s only 9:30; what the heck, see if I can get another one…

sixessalmon 022That’s it for me, two salmon per day is the limit… time to go home and put them in the freezer!

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Grateful for being able to catch such fine fare; a total of four salmon this season is enough for home use and share a few fillets with others. I’m hanging up the fishing rod and dismantling the kayak for a few months, it needs a good wash and rinse. Salt water has begun to cause minor corrosion on some of the aluminum parts of the kayak frame and there’s a slight rime along the seams of the hull fabric. Oh, and; there’s another customizing project already in the shop…

downside up

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davishosmercanon 265Viewed from below, a water-bird feather floats in a mat of vegetation among the tule reeds of Davis Lake in the Oregon Cascades. Slipping the camera gently underneath the following encounters gave a fish eye view of the world above…

???????????????????????????????Loosed from its branch to alight upon the water an autumn leaf joins moss hair and fine detritus in the surface tension, firmly fixed, unable to rise again into the air. Below, a grasshopper found itself in the same predicament; and salvation in the form of a kayak paddle which deposited it upon the deck, eventually drying out enough to be unceremoniously flipped into the lakeside bushes for another go at whatever grasshoppers tend to in September mountains.

clearmckenzieCanon 236Coming up for a breath met a downy duck feather, sailing downwind from its preening parent and drawn into the lee of the kayak hull; mutual attraction upon the crystal pane of a Clear Lake afternoon.

clearmckenzieCanon 200 - CopyThe wavering image of my watercraft seen from below set me to pondering just how big the trout in the depths of Clear Lake might grow… red and white are popular colors for fishing lures…

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bubble bath

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Late afternoon on an icy cold stream in the Wallowa Mountains of eastern Oregon… the trout weren’t being fooled by my flailing fly line and with feet already soaked from slips and trips I slid the camera below the rushing waters to get another view…

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On the downstream edge of a rock trapped air briefly holds itself together before being burst into a myriad of buffeting bubbles.

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A magical water horse appeared, or maybe it’s the Great White Bubble-O…

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gem of the Cascades

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clearmckenzieCanon 090Below the keel in Clear Lake, the headwaters of the McKenzie River. An astoundingly pristine natural lake formed by a lava flow, I chanced upon this small lake almost by accident as I wandered along the Cascade Lakes Highway. Words can hardly describe my delight to float upon this gem…

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???????????????????????????????A ghostly forest of trees inundated when the lake was filled still remain, their trunks nearly petrified in the cold waters.

clearmckenzieCanon 243Unable to resist mine own baptism, I took the plunge…

clearmckenzieCanon 346Tethered to the kayak by means of a bow line, I managed a few yards in the shockingly cold water, even with a full wetsuit my time immersed in the crystal realm was limited.

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over pass

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clearmckenziePentax 028After dropping off the east side of the Cascades and down into Bend, Oregon for supplies I took the seasonal road up to McKenzie Pass and was simply astounded. Black lava stretches north to south in the pass, the road cutting through and running over the extensive flow. Atop a fantastic stone observatory built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935 is this bronze compass rose embossed with directional arrows and distances to the surrounding mountain peaks.

clearmckenziePentax 015Looking like something Frodo and Samwise might have encountered on their way to Mordor, The Dee Wright Observatory commands the top of the massive lava pile, an iron chain bordered walkway winds up the mount. In addition to the open gothic arch windows; view ports were incorporated into the 3 foot thick walls to align with the major peaks in view. Likely covered entirely by winter snows, the observatory and it’s numerous green patina-ed plaques give names and distances to the ancient volcanoes.  Having served as a fire lookout for the Forest Service back in New Mexico; I had special appreciation for this unique and somehow mystical structure.

clearmckenzieCanon 017 clearmckenzieCanon 024A cup o’ joe and a last lingering view of the Sisters before heading down the west side of the range to find another place to paddle, this late afternoon delight along the way made my day…

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dawn treader

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Wandering north up the east side of the Cascade Range brought me to Hosmer Lake and an early morning launch to see if I can catch some lunch. South Sister Peak was catching the sun’s first rays on glaciers of the 10,358 foot dormant volcano.

davishosmercanon 374Not quite dormant it seems…

???????????????????????????????davishosmerPentax 020A ring-necked duck passed by, showing little concern for my presence and diving for its breakfast; blue-wing teal drowsing in the reeds apparently had already had theirs.

davishosmerPentax 068Passing through a long narrow channel brought me into the upper end of this beautiful gem of a mountain lake, and I found the fish… Very plump and very wary brook trout schooled over gravel bars of an ancient stream bed, disinterestedly moving away from the kayak and the Screaming Sheila streamer I tossed their way.

davishosmerPentax 233Underwater, their grace and flow was even more absorbing and I quickly lost interest in trying to catch any of them. The leisurely school moved away, their forms mirrored in the surface above.

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wet feet

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Davis Lake was naturally formed by a lava flow that blocked water draining into the Deschutes River watershed on the East side of the Oregon Cascades. Water still percolates through the jumbled blocks of porous lava to reach Wickiup Reservoir and the Deschutes River. Other than a half mile or so of rocky lava shoreline, the rest of the lake is bounded by tule [too-lee] reeds; habitat for fish, bugs and birds. Below, a pair of sandhill cranes keep their eye on me as I ease past.

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Out of necessity I desperately needed to come ashore after morning coffee and a couple of hours in the kayak, and was fortunate to find this moderately solid bit of beach and an old steel fence post to moor to.

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The tule reeds are a wilderness all unto their own… abundant large-mouth bass lurk at the edges to wait for passing prey, ready to lunge back under cover when the numerous ospreys and bald eagles cruise by overhead.

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Feeling comfortable now with the boat I began to have some fun with the underwater photography. Using a small Canon D-20 ‘point and shoot’, the best I can do is hold the camera at arms length below the surface and click away, hoping something turns out.

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Battle For The Net

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What follows is information provided through WordPress regarding the battle for net neutrality and what we all can do to fight for our Freedom of Speech. Before you get there I’m going to stick my oar in…

The juggernaut of Consumer Capitalism is on the fast track to squander, waste, deplete and exploit our fragile planet’s resources, whether it be energy, soil, water, air, life and/or all of the above. There is a clear evil afoot in the “profit above all else” mentality, and its spreading darkness brings suffering to all. The long term consequences are horrifying to imagine. Consumer Culture, particularly in the United States of America, is breeding fear, greed, violence and a loathing for meaningful work among the upcoming generations. The future is not a pretty picture for any Earthling and those who continue to be exploited and dismissed as irrelevant will only take so much before rising up. There’s a line from an old song: “The revolution will not be televised…” Corporate Media is attempting to make sure it isn’t talked about on the internet either. The current undermining of free speech and a free internet fostered by Corporate Culture is based upon dumbing down and enslaving those who will get in line, keep their heads down and most importantly $PAY$. This is not the first skirmish of an ongoing battle, nor will it be the last. The mindless greed of wanting to have it all before others can even have enough is not going away quietly. Sorry to be the gloomy voice of doom, but if we don’t collectively put aside the petty differences of the past, life as we know it will soon be gone. Let’s hope that together we can achieve a change of course so that at least things won’t be catastrophic…

If you woke up tomorrow, and your internet looked like this, what would you do? Imagine all your favorite websites taking forever to load, while you get annoying notifications from your ISP suggesting you switch to one of their approved “Fast Lane” sites.Think about what we would lose: all the weird, alternative, interesting, and enlightening stuff that makes the Internet so much cooler than mainstream Cable TV. What if the only news sites you could reliably connect to were the ones that had deals with companies like Comcast and Verizon?On September 10th, just a few days before the FCC’s comment deadline, public interest organizations are issuing an open, international call for websites and internet users to unite for an “Internet Slowdown” to show the world what the web would be like if Team Cable gets their way and trashes net neutrality. Net neutrality is hard to explain, so our hope is that this action will help SHOW the world what’s really at stake if we lose the open Internet.If you’ve got a website, blog or tumblr, get the code to join the #InternetSlowdown here: https://battleforthenet.com/sept10thEveryone else, here’s a quick list of things you can do to help spread the word about the slowdown: http://tumblr.fightforthefuture.org/post/96020972118/be-a-part-of-the-great-internet-slowdown Get creative! Don’t let us tell you what to do. See you on the net September 10th!

via Battle For The Net.

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baptism

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davishosmerPentax 078Daybreak on Davis Lake in the Oregon Cascades, and the long anticipated launch of the dream boat…

???????????????????????????????A nicely stable boat and I’ve got good balance, holding the camera square to the scene will take a bit of practice…

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On an even keel by now, the afternoon breeze picked up and a chance to try out the home design square-rig sail. It worked better than I had hoped for, the ability to actually tack into the wind saves a lot of paddle effort. Not so large a sail area as to be risky without a leeboard, a top speed of 5 knots was achieved crossing the lake with the wind on the beam.

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geological deposit

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splash 015One of the most intriguing traditions of the First Peoples of the Pacific Northwest coast is the Potlatch. Otherwise known throughout Native American traditions as the Giveaway, a prosperous member of the village would put on a feast for all, and give away everything he owned. Dwelling, canoe, tools, goods… everything considered personal property, all was given away to sit around in sackcloth and ashes for a few days, then start all over again. Prominent chieftains of the Pacific Northwest did this 3 and 4 times in their lifetimes, each Potlatch earning another circular ring on their ceremonial hats.

My first direct encounter with this tradition was with a Haida family in the Queen Charlotte Islands of British Columbia. Emerging out of the fog on a dreary morning and facing a seemingly uncrossable tidal estuary, a number of people appeared out of a shoreline cabin and began gesturing in my direction. A little uneasy, I sat down on a driftwood log to eat a few smoked alewives and see what would happen. A young man purposely strode in my direction, got into a small skiff and, standing up as he rowed, came across the river. Still unsure of exactly what might be happening, I shouldered my pack and came down to the waters edge. “Get in” he said with no emotion, “Grandfather wants to talk to you.”

As he ferried me across the river my mind whirled… ‘Oh no’ I thought, ‘I’m done for..trespassing on tribal turf, poaching minnows, who knows’. The Haida had an old tradition that suggested some form of “cannibalism”, this only added  further dread.

Alighting on the other side there were several other men and women who looked me over intently without saying anything to me directly, only speaking amongst themselves in their own tongue as I was led by the boatman up the weathered beach steps to the cabin. Entering, I am confronted by an elderly jet-black haired man seated on a large wooden chair upon a low dais at the far wall of the cabin. Staring intently at me, he suddenly broke into a wide toothy grin and said “Sit down, I want to hear all about it”.

The other family members all filed in, laughing and chattering now at the minor act of terrorism they had played on the unsuspecting wanderer, they began to ply me with smoked salmon, ‘ghow’ (delicious died kelp encrusted with herring roe) and with more mirth, a jar of clear amber oil with a spoon in it. “Here, try this!” the Grandmother said with a twinkle in her eye.

Not being totally clueless, I was aware this must be the infamous eulachon (candlefish) oil, their most prized condiment and, determined to not grimace I ladled a spoonful onto my ghow. “Oh this is good” I exclaimed, and sincerely… it was. The room burst out laughing, “You’re OK!” they said.

Overwhelmed by their hospitality as I related to all my travels over the past year and how I came to arrive on their desolate ocean beach, I gave the Grandmother a cedar bark basket I had woven a few weeks before. And so it began, for the next three days there was an endless exchange of gifts, neither I nor the Haida willing to be outdone. By the time I left, half of my possessions were new. New sweater, new knife, new pot, bowl and spoon, all sorts of miscellaneous trinkets, and a 30 pound piece of argillite, the black slate stone the Haida carve their signature stone works from.

As I got out of the minivan at the ferry dock to resume my travel, Grandmother got the last one in… “Here”, she laughed, handing me over the front seat a finely engraved silver canoe paddle pendant.

I carved a raven from the argillite and sent it to the grandfather within a year, and got a brief letter back after another year from a son who said Grandfather had received the carving and was pleased. One of Grandfather’s parting comments to me was “Come back when you have a kayak, that’s the way to see the islands”.

30 years have passed since this encounter. The Queen Charlotte Islands are now known as Haida G’waii, a Native Peoples and Marine Ecosystem Preserve, and a mecca for sea-kayakers.

After 3 decades of further perambulations across the continent, I’m now within reach of the ferry docks on Puget Sound that will embark me and my dream boat on it’s travois-poled cart up the inside passages to pay that return visit. When this will happen I know not yet, that doesn’t matter, the intent is there. The Grandfather will not be there in the physical, but somehow his collective spirit will know of my return.

What does any of this have to do with leaving a piece of stone carving under a small waterfall on the beach in Oregon? It’s a giveaway, a token potlatch. Barely beyond reach of the high tides, it will certainly not survive the coming winter storms before being claimed by the beach cobbles and the surf, before then I have hopes that a beachcomber will realize it is there as a gift and give it a space in the rock garden.

Giving away, with no thought of return, is a marvelously empowering act. It lightens the load, in my case about 20 pounds, and it certainly tosses a bit of mystery out into the world. Letting go of possessions has the power of opening up new horizons and new adventures whose magic soon erases all memory of what was left behind.

 

 

split infinity

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splitinfinity 005Splitting wood or splitting waves… either one can be an infinite course. Perhaps keeping it simple is chickenpalacetoo 015best and simply split. A little Kayaking 101 is in order.

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The ‘101’ is the Coast Highway along Oregon’s Pacific shore, and is well worn by water travel enthusiasts of all stripes, colors and hull materials. Parking in a single spot on any given weekend for an hour provides a quick glimpse of the passing flotilla .

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Coming and going looking for the perfect launch spot, either in a sheltered cove or the surging froth of a latte cup.

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The kayak project reached completion precisely at the same moment as my work on the farm, clearly a message from the Universe. Where to go for the dream boat’s first voyage is still unknown, such a well considered and planned endeavor deserves a proper baptism.

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treehugger

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topknot 041Not always apparent at first glance, but yes, I’m a treehugger. Axes, saws, splitting mauls, chisels and the permanence of wood dust in home, vehicle and clothing belie my reverence for trees, shrubs and all woody materials. It’s anyone’s guess which was the first tool our distant ancestors picked up, a stick or a stone, but as it was possibly edible, I’ll go with the stick.

topknot 010In the side yard of a friends place a 70 foot tall Port Orford Cedar had succumbed to a root fungus that is spreading throughout the coastal mountains of California and Oregon, killing many of this specie. Having now become a potential hazard to structures and property, I agreed to take it down. With no clear avenue to drop intact it was necessary to climb, limb, top and cut the trunk section by section till it was safely on the ground. In the following shot my friend dutifully clears below as I cut my way upward, leaving a foot or so of branch still attached to the trunk for hand and footholds. What might first appear to be the trunk sweeping down is actually a branch; there were only so many details I could focus on in the moment and odd perspectives in the viewfinder were way down the totem pole.

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topknot 036A final crucial cut, and the top 20 feet begins it’s fall into the target patch of blackberry bramble below.

topknot 037Bullseye… section by section I now worked my way back down, removing 2 to 3 feet at a time.

topknot 045Able to drop the last 14 feet of trunk in one piece, yesterday I finished up work on the project. By specially sharpening a chainsaw it is possible to rip tree trunks lengthwise and  from that last section several broad planks roughly 2 to 3 inches thick were produced, along with numerous bags of highly aromatic shavings and a months worth of gourmet kindling.

I’d like to thank Tony and Carson; two tree toppers working on a Marbled Murrelet habitat improvement project for the U.S.Forest Service who put me to work marking trees for them my first winter here in the coastal mountains of Oregon. Watching as they scampered up 100 and 150 foot giants to create nesting sites for the endangered and threatened murrelets gave me some ideas…

macroworld

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hightide 120The same seaweed here borne on a rib bone of black basalt, plastered tight into every crevice and pocket, streaming down it’s face.

hightide 127 What do we see in patterns? What is it we want to see in patterns? What patterns do we  notice, look closer at and plug into, thus becoming the pattern. The plant splashes every summer upon the ocean’s bath tub ring; rimming the stone basin of it’s cradle, arriving early and now leaving so soon.

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Waves and wind are mild, the sun at it’s zenith in the north. Here be a giant of earth, festooned with the Goddesses verdant tress, a favored son for his position of moment.

hightide 126Ascension to her throne of high achievement was by the fortune of a mild winter’s pass along her kingdom’s shore. The countenance of creation seeking the wind and sun; homage to the winged creatures above whose white blessings nurture and sustain, assuming their image and smelling the same. Once slender bubbly lime light threads of glory are now transformed into airy feathers that fluff the soft wind.

Low at her feet lies a last cradle of life for the season, compact and conserving, in service and autonomous at the same time.

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hightide 172A pair of tiny snails in their catch-pocket ark of stone. An agate’s epochal skin grins with the knowledge of far vaster stretches of time, welcoming the polish and beauty of being weathered away to sand, rejoining its brethren mineral elements in a timeless cycle.

Water is the universal solvent, it can in time dissolve anything. The Earth sloshes it’s life blood around in the great catch pockets of oceans, air and sun play over the seas and lift it over rocks, mountains and plains. All life catches water to it’s ability… drinks it, swims in it, grows with it. To be mindful of waters cycle on the planet is a task looming over the human race like a perfect storm. There are seasons we as humans can comprehend, seasons incomprehensibly greater in scope we can’t. Patterns are mirrors large and small, echoing the cosmic dance of particles and pulsars, green seaweed and galaxies.

 

 

microcosmic

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A shallow pool filled with fresh water from rain and springs in the bluffs above is nowadays rimmed with sea moss, a fleeting summer phenomenon along the upper tidal zones of the Pacific Northwest.

hightide 221Not actually a moss, this is the closest I could get to actual identification:  “Chlorophyta (Green Algae) Previous names: Conferva coalita, Spongomorpha coalita, Codiolum petrocelidis”
“Similar species: There are many similar species that are only distinguishable with a microscope, including Acrosiphonia coalita and Acrosiphonia spinescens.”

I’ll just go with ‘sea moss’.

hightide 240Anchored to the bedrock bottom tiny bladders hold delicate fronds suspended in the sun-warmed water of the catch pool, in a side grotto surreal forms are mirrored in the pool’s surface. Tiny air bubbles held underneath by surface tension are now being joined by micro bits of plant debris stirred by the movement of hand and camera in the near stagnant pool.

???????????????????????????????Only in the first few movements can I get photos clear of the drifting detritus. Embracing the inevitable I decided to have some fun with it…

hightide 253Playing with contrast and color, an interesting cosmos emerges. Further travel encountered even stranger sights.

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The same photo inverted…

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