Saturday, October 17, 2009


big bad bear

four point black tail buck

the list of critter sightings is endless. the photos are pretty limited but here are a few. as for the complete list..... ok lets try.... black (and cinnamon black) bears, coyotes, black tailed deer, ring tail cats, raccoons, gray foxes, mountain lion, beaver, river otters, mink, ground squirrels, gray tree squirrels, california king snakes, gopher snakes. ring neck snakes, garter snakes, river turtles, tree frogs, wood frogs, toads, giant pacific salamanders, western newts, alligator lizards, fence lizards, western skinks, scorpions, bald eagles, golden eagles, red tailed hawks, red shouldered hawks, sharp shinned hawks, goshawk, spotted owls, barred owls, barn owls, saw whet owls, pygmy owls, wood ducks, canada geese, common mergansers, mallard ducks, ruffed grouse, wild turkey, great blue herons, ravens, turkey vultures, flickers, pileated wood peckers, downy wood peckers, western tanangers, too many song birds to mention, coho salmon, chinook salmon, steelhead trout, brown trout, crayfish, lamprey eel, and holy smokes! that's enough creatures for now. keep in mind these are all real sightings, there are a few other remarkable creatures to see that we have not yet encountered. i remember wondering what our cabin would look like if every creepy crawly on the ranch was stuffed in there at the same time..... yikes!


wild turkey with chicks

ruffed grouse

barred owl

a friendly gopher snake

a pair of canada geese

a turtle on a cross country hike


tools of the trade

katie is ready for some work!

yes folks, it's not all pretty scenery, wild animals and great fishing...... we got bills to pay and firewood is a big part of how we do it. it is a truly sustainable way to work the land as we only cut what falls down over the winter and what we get from brush thinning. over time the harvest of all that wood has actually improved the forest by removing wild fire fuel and opening old meadows that have been filling in over the last century. the first two years were brutal as we tried to get some semblance of control over our land payments by digging into the overwhelming backlog of firewood that had accumulated for generations. we cut trails, dragged logs bucked them to rounds and split them at a pace i hope to never repeat. two cords a day, seven days a week for the better part of a year. rain AND shine. i could bitch about the quad wrecks, back spasms, dislocated shoulder, 500 pound logs to the side of the head and the hot water on the hands to get them open in the morning. i had a couple of very close calls. but what i like to think of most are the 365 days of the year i spent working outdoors. there is nothing so satisfying as hanging up the saw at the end of the day as a shimmering fall sunset takes control of all your spent senses and breathes purpose into your life like nothing else ever could. the smell of a hot chain blade sizzling through a half cured oak log is pure nostalgia. looking over to see my mother and my wife to be both pouring a heavy sweat right along side me all in the name of trying to make this dream a reality gives a feeling that really can't fully be explained.

a @#$% load of firewood

mom tears into the money tree

Saturday, October 3, 2009

trinity river fishing

a nice little salmon

katie with the biggest steelhead of her life!

the river fishing in our back yard is truely world class. and the fact that it occurs in the state of california makes it all the more miraculous. it is not "sit by the lake with a beer in hand while soaking a worm" type of fishing, it is white knuckle white water punctuated by rod rippin', reel strippin', line burnin', cartwheelin',backflippin' steelhead madness. it is mainly a fall affair and while salmon and sea run brown trout are caught too, it is the steelhead fishery that really gets the blood pumping. the upper run is shorter but the white water and wild scenery is off the chart. the lower run is mellower and has more good fishing water but is not quite as private.

ron with a dandy summer run steelhead

jerry and tom with a BIG summer run steelhead

ken and kevin with one of the nine fish we hooked that day

terry and katie with a sea run brown trout

even forrest likes to get in on the action!

a fat salmon from the super riffle. we don't call it super for nuthin'

running the "Q"

the swirlpool is always good for a few seconds of "heart in mouth"!! that wall down yonder comes up pretty quick!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

sharber creek

although sharber creek is not on the property it is very close and a sister stream to quimby creek. the biggest difference between the two is that sharber has a slow meandering lower section that is prime habitat for endangered coho salmon. they are a real treat to watch in the fall when they return to spawn.

like quimby creek, the upper sections of sharber creek are very steep and have some dramatic waterfalls that you will not find on any map. this is very remote country where mountain lions far out number human visitors.

these streams can get quite high in the wintertime and are really more like small rivers when they are at full flow. in 2005 they reached flood height and sharber blew out our road. we had to hike about a mile through the woods for a few days to get to our cabin. when the the water went down we realized it had taken a good bit of the road with it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

quimby creek

this picture and the one below are of the same spot in june and in january.

quimby creek is a sizable creek that flows through one corner of the ranch. it is very steep and gets very high and turbid during big winter rains. the lower mile or so is a black slate gorge that is so steep that one nearly needs a rope to get anywhere. the combination of the inaccessibility of this creek and its old growth forests make it one of the wildest areas around here. the bears and mountain lions like to call it home.

the slate gorge

upper quimby creek in winter.

this is the grandfather tree. it is an old growth doug fir that is at the upper end of the slate gorge.

quimby creek lookout

although it is not technically on the property the quimby creek lookout can really only be reached from our ranch. it is a stiff hike up a steep mountain through thick brush but it is always worth it. the view is spectacular. lower quimby creek is truly remote and the lower end is full of old growth trees. the eagles love this spot and when one is sighted one is usually looking down at it as it flys by.

the bird perch



there are two mountains on the property one is called the oak knob and is lower and more of a hill that separates the two lower fields. the other we call the high knob and is much higher and on top is the best look out point of the ranch that we have. it is a rock outcrop that has a birds eye view of the entire valley. every other high vantage point has such thick tree cover that not much of a view can be found. like the river view the seasons just jump out at you from this high vista.