Part II of our hike up Cook and Green Creek to the Pacific Crest Trail through the Rogue River National Forest.
Our goal for the day was No-see-um Camp, which seems like a very poor place to set up your tent. If you have spent much time outdoors, you will recognize no-see-ums as particularly nasty little bugs. I first encountered them when backpacking on the Appalachian Trail in Maine. It had rained for a solid week and every biting bug in existence had considered us fair game. While mosquitoes had treated our bug repellant as an hors d’oeuvre, no-see-ums had come after us with knives and forks. Later, I watched a moose in Alaska dash wildly about and roll in a snow bank to escape the tiny, nefarious fiends. Fortunately, we didn’t find any no-see-ums in No-see-um camp. It was quite the opposite. I decided we had arrived in a sacred grove.
Sacred groves go almost as far back as humanity. Think of the Druids and their oaks. In West Africa, where I served in the Peace Corps, huge cottonwoods were thought to contain living spirits and I often found offerings at their bases. It’s important to keep the forest spirits happy.
No-see-um camp had more species of trees than I have ever found in a single location, many of them were giants. From our camp, I could see Douglas fir, sugar pine, white fir, blue spruce, chinquapin, big leaf maple, and yew. Just up the trail I found a ponderosa pine. Cook and Green Creek with its cool, refreshing water bubbled and burbled and roared its way down the canyon just behind our tent. I figured it was an excellent place to commune with nature spirits and Peggy found a camp guardian up in the trees, which I thought was quite pagan of her.
We used our layover day as an opportunity to do a nine mile hike up to the pass and back. Going up, we entertained ourselves by enjoying flowers and other plant life while looking for signs of wildlife. And yes, I have more animal poop, scat, to share with you. I’ll bet you’re excited.
On top, we met Rambo, Dogondo, and Double D: three PCT through hikers. Their names are their trail names. They had started at the Mexican border and been backpacking since April, covering close to 1000 miles. They were skinny and ever so eager to reach Oregon, which was just up the trail. One of them told me that Sasquatch (Big Foot) had been rooting around outside his tent the night before.
We raced on our way back down from the pass. I was careful to keep Peggy behind me. She thinks that she is a greyhound when she gets out in front going down a hill. I once sprained my ankle trying to keep up with her coming off of Muir Pass on the John Muir Trail and had to hobble another 80 miles before we finally climbed up and over Mt. Whitney and out. Taught me.
33 thoughts on “No-see-um Camp, a Sacred Grove, and Cougar Poop”
No-see-ums, oooooph. On my many trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, I’ve gotten to know many of them well, so well that they look forward to my return.
Yes! I’ve also donated blood up around that area… They are hungry buggers, indeed. –Curt
Great blog 🙂
Now, if only there was a melting clock by Peggy’s dragon, I’d say it was a Dali creation!!
Dali would probably like your comparison, G. 🙂
How beautiful! And thank goodness the camp’s name didn’t end up to be true! Thanks for the ‘animal signs’ bit too- we love new things to look for 🙂
Thanks, Anne. Looking for animal signs is a great way to entertain kids out in the woods. Sounds like you get yours out. Peggy and I are taking our grandkids on their first backpacking trip next week. It should be a blast. –Curt
We try to 😉 They’re finally getting old enough that we can leave the ‘stroller-friendly’ trails. Have a great time with the grandkids!
The grandkids arrive tomorrow and we hit the trail on Thursday. It’s the first backpacking trip for both boys. They are quite excited (and a bit nervous) to be backpacking with Grandpa. 🙂 –Curt
How exciting! Here’s hoping it all goes smoothly 🙂
Thanks, Anne. Our packs are packed! 🙂
I love Peggy’s T-shirt. That is all.
Peggy is laughing. We picked it up in Boston at one of buildings that was the center of the American Revolution. –Curt
It is intriguing to see up close the symbiotic relationships in nature!
Always, Suan. That and how things are kept in balance in a stabilized forest environment. –Curt
Some interesting oddities on that trail. Those through hikers look like they’ve got sore feet…
Which was what made the trail fun, Dave. As for the PCTers, I don’t know about sore, but definitely tough after 1000 miles. It usually took me a couple of weeks for my feet to toughen up. (My feet have been known to blister at the sight of a boot.) After 2-3 hundred miles, my feet stopped whining, however.
Good to see Mother Nature alive and, er, as well as can be expected! Your well-illustrated account makes for a fine tribute, Curt.
I was surprised to find as much virgin forest as I did, Dave. Much of Oregon has been clearcut for timber. Trees are replanted, but they are basically the same species. The diversity that helps keep the forest healthy is lost.
Points well made, Curt. Our love of wild nature is tinged with sadness – perhaps making it the more precious. Let’s hope that generates something …
I commented on the wrong post. Not sure what happened. That was for here. Ha ha ha. Love to Peggy. xoxoxoxo
Peggy sends it back. 🙂
I’m so thrilled. xoxoxo
I ❤ Peggy's T-shirt… 🙂
Peggy says, thanks. 🙂 –Curt
Peggy? Love your shirt!!!!
And the poop shots are great since they matter when we hike. Really. It’s good to know who your neighbors are.
Your photos are stunning. As always.
Peggy is quite proud of her shirt. We bought it shortly after the last election. 🙂 Poop/scat on the trail always tells a story. Who stopped by, how long ago it was, whether you should be worried, and even what the animal has been eating: fir, feathers, berries, backpackers food! Finger bones are a sure sign that someone has been trying to feed a bear hot dogs again. (Just kidding.) –Curt
Ha ha! 🙂
I think I must have missed something. What’s a PCT hiker? I have no questions at all about no-see-ums. In some ways, they’re worse than fire ants — or at least far more annoying. They can be thick even out on the water. There’s nothing more annoying than anchoring out, and then discovering the little devils have followed you out!
I dont’ see much scat when I’m out and about — mostly deer, raccoon, and wild hog. But prints? Oh, yes. I’ve learned to look very closely at alligator prints, especially. As you mentioned: dry is good. Wet prints on a mudflat? That’s me, going the other direction.
“Wet prints on a mudflat? That’s me, going the other direction.” Laughing. Like my reaction to steaming fresh bear scat in grizzly country.
Peggy and I are always checking out prints and scat. They always have interesting stories to tell.
A PCT through hiker, is a person who is backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. It is normally a 5-7 month effort. –Curt