hanging around

The weekend started out on a down note. I went into San Francisco to attend my friend Brian’s grandmother’s funeral and be a pallbearer. Interestingly enough, I’ve been a pallbearer as many times as I’ve been a groomsman now. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of being either– I’m mostly opposed to wearing suits and I’m not a huge fan of ceremonial stuff in general. But whenever I’m asked to be a pallbearer or groomsman, I gladly say yes, because that means they’re obviously good friends, and those are hard to come by.


After the funeral I drove home to Davis, hastily packed for an overnight backpacking trip, then drove out to the Mendocino National Forest. My plan was to catch up with the rest of the group before dark. Google maps navigation was not making it easy though, it took me on this weird scenic route and actually wanted to take me on a dirt road.


It was ok scenery I guess, but the real cool thing was I didn’t see another car during the entire stretch of road. In the foreground you can see the narrow paved road that I ended up driving on, and in the background you can see the dirt road that Google maps originally wanted me to drive on.


I finally arrived at the trailhead a little after 5 o’clock, which left a little over three hours to catch up with the rest of the group at a campsite about five miles up the trail. It was hot, and the trail looked like it didn’t have much shade, so the first order of business was to filter some water. Luckily there was a stream nearby.


Just as I started filtering, this dirt bike came crashing through. A couple of years ago I went backpacking and saw mountain bikers crossing a stream and thought it looked fun. I bought a mountain bike not too long after. The dirt bike looks ten times more fun. Let’s hope I don’t buy a dirt bike, I can’t really afford another expensive hobby…


The trail was much more rugged and steep than I had anticipated, and some parts were eroded away pretty badly which slowed my progress.


Early on in the hike I heard a rustle and saw a snake. I remembered from my boy scout days that there were two colored snakes that looked pretty similar– one’s very poisonous and the other one actually makes a good pet, but I couldn’t remember how to tell them apart. When I got home I looked it up on Wikipedia and found this little rhyme. “Red next to black, you can pat him on the back; red next to yellow, he can kill a fellow.” So apparently this is the safe kind.


I caught up with the rest of the group after about an hour and a half. They had setup camp at a clearing next to the trail at about the 2.5 mile mark, around half the planned distance. It ended up being a nice spot, since it was relatively flat for being on the side of a hill and there was a stream nearby to filter water from.

It was fun just hanging out and toasting marshmallows with the kids. The kid in front is actually a missionary kid whose family is on home assignment for the next couple of years. He actually kind of reminds me of myself when I was a kid, overall a good kid with some mischievous tendencies. Ironically his name’s Michael as well…


Since this was a short overnight trip, it was a good opportunity to test out some new gear. Recently I had bought a hammock and a new air mattress. I bought them because they pack down really small compared to my current tent + foam pad setup, which would allow me to pack them in the bicycle panniers. I was anxious to see if a hammock and air pad would be comfortable enough. I also wanted to test if bug spray eliminated the need for bug netting, since my cheap hammock didn’t come with bug netting.


I was pretty happy with the setup. It was a little cold because there was no shelter from the wind, but with the draft collar on my sleeping bag tucked around my face I was able to sleep through the night. The bug spray kept the bugs away pretty well. So it looks like the tent is staying home during next month’s epic bike ride.


The scenery was pretty enjoyable on the way back. Well technically it’s the same scenery as the night before, I just didn’t get to enjoy it because I was trying to hike uphill as fast as possible to catch up with the group. I probably wouldn’t come back here again though. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice place, just not amazing. And there are so many amazing places in California that I still want to visit.

Anyways, going back to the funeral. I said the weekend started on a down note. But now that I think about it, Brian’s grandmother lived a long life and apparently was happy and cheerful in her old age. She was loved by her kids and grand-kids. She knew God. So although her life on earth came to an end, her family lives on with the hope of being reunited in the future. And so maybe it’s not really a down note or a sad ending but rather a celebration and memory of her life.

That got me thinking about my life. If I were to die today, what sort of memories would I leave? Would they be happy and cheerful memories?

Things I am thankful for:

  • Water filters
  • Hammocks and bug spray
  • The ability to sleep pretty much anywhere
  • Friends and brothers and sisters in Christ
  • The reminder that life on earth is finite

Rest of the pictures are here:
http://picasaweb.google.com/mikehong81/2011061718MendocinoNationalForestBackpacking

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