Sunday, April 14, 2013

In the lowlands

Oh I’ve been in the lowlands too long
Oh, I know, I know that I should go
And I’ve been in the lowlands too long  (Gillian Welch)

In many of the eleven other states where I have lived, I wished to be able to easily untangle myself from the same ecosystem, stretching out for miles and needing expensive plane rides or long road trips to change into something else. Happily, I now live in a strange little corner of the world where if you get a hankering for something different, it's not too far away. 

In a snowy April, the lowland trails are always a good place to go. They melt out before the mountains, and are one of the few places that are a slow rollercoaster instead of a straight shot to the sky. The cows barge in soon and it becomes a place that only those who love them should go, but for a brief moment between that (sad for the riparian area) event and winter, Davis and Swamp Creek trails rule.

The two creeks are separated by a ridge that I am in love with, Starvation Ridge. I don't know what it is about high, open ridges, but I love them with a passion. A person can make an excellent, long, long hike (or run) by connecting the two in a big loop, but they will have to cross both creeks, which are pretty high right now.

Davis Creek

I can't believe I neglected to take a picture of the creek. This photo is from The creek runs through woods and occasional sweet meadow openings. Because I'm like that, I kept commenting on perfect camp sites.

We weren't there to camp, though, but to hike, and hike we did.

We had our sites on getting to the Swamp and Davis confluence, but at 5.5 miles and facing a climb out without headlamps, we admitted defeat.

I think these are wild onions?

There's Starvation Ridge again. Love.

This simple eleven mile hike, with perhaps a thousand foot elevation gain and loss, gave me a Hiking Hangover the next day. Don't know what that is? It's when you think that the terrain and pace are so easy that you neglect to drink and eat enough. Dehydration and lack of calories conspire to make you feel like you went on a bender the night before. "Eleven miles?" J asked. "Don't you have to hike farther than that every day on your PCT hike?"

"Yes," I sniveled. But then I realized that a handful of crackers and cheese and a few snacks cadged from  my more prepared hiking partner were not enough for five hours of sustained effort, as easy as it may have seemed. Because my body does not seem to warn me in advance of a bonk, I need to be more prepared. It is a lesson I relearn every year. 


  1. "Like" for Starvation Ridge! Know the history of that naming? Suppose J. the botanist knows the wild onions...and wonder if they are cousins to our leeks here, which are avidly watched for each spring/early summer?

  2. OOPS! Not wild onions...witch's grass instead. A much better name.

  3. Witch's grass? I'm not finding a plant that looks like that with that common name (and the USDA search function failed me with an eAuthentication error!) - any chance you can coax the Scientific name out of J.?
    I agree with you completely about Starvation Ridge. I spend most of my summer there - Love indeed.

  4. Could be wrong about the name..he just looked at it briefly.


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