For those who don’t know, my birthday was on November 23rd. I turned 22, which was quite an odd feeling because now that I am over 21 I am not sure if I have any more birthday’s to look forward to.
I know that sounds a little dark, but aging is a process that is very weird to me. When I was younger, I saw 22 year olds (and college students in general) as people who had their life together, who were driven and knew what they wanted and where they were going in life. As a college student, I can verify that the reality is not quite that simple.
As for the whole ‘life together’ bit, I guess I am on my way. I should earn my B.S. in Communication this spring (with a emphasis on Film, Television and Convergent Media) and then after that is the great beyond – life after college which is both daunting and enticing. The world is opening up to me and I can only hope that I am ready.
As my birthday fell on a Monday, I decided to do the mature thing and claim the whole weekend for my own.
On Friday, I was joined by Celine, Whitney, and Kiva as we went to the Rogue Rock Gym, and indoor climbing gym that is a catch all for the professional climbers, such as the gent who donned his full backpacking backpack and was no doubt training for some great excursion, to the not so professional, such as the four of us who just like to go and have a good time. It’s a bit of a workout, and afterwards we felt we earned a beer for not dying (we would have gone out for beers anyway) and so we found the diviest place in Talent, complete with karaoke, pool tables, and drunk white people. It was quite fun.
The next day, after I had work I decided to venture to Fern Canyon. I had taken Saturday to drive down, and saved Sunday for exploring the canyon itself. On Sunday morning, as I ate breakfast in my favourite diner in Trinidad, I wrote about my excursion thus far:
“I woke up in a fog. Yes, the metaphorical fog that clouds my mind as I try to figure out just who I am today and where I am and why my feet are so damn cold, as well as a literal blanket of fog that limited visibility to about 50 feet. The tent clung to me, as the condensation from my breath combined with the air that was thick with ocean water, and I stayed in my sleeping bag longer, savoring the bit of warmth it offered. Finally I woke up, put on my wet socks and shoes, and ran to the shelter of my car to change into new clothes that were dry and warm. I thought about how lucky I was that I had a car.
I love that tent, but it’s small. It’s meant for backpackers, and it is perfect for backpacking. It’s lightweight and water resistant, and sets up in less than ten minutes. It can only comfortably fit one person, or maybe two lovers if they are the type who cling to each other in malls for fear that not everyone will know they are a couple, and your body heat is somewhat retained inside its little walls. I was in a kind of campground, called Elk Country, where I was the only one in a tent, and I believe the only person who wasn’t a permanent resident. I was approached by a curious cat, and eyed by residents walking by with their little dogs, who looked at me not with aggression, but more of a general curiosity as to who I was and why I had chosen there to stay. To be honest my choice was more of necessity. I had driven from Ashland the day before, after getting an obligatory drink from the Dutch Bros in Grants Pass, had driven until the sun set and I just kept pressing south on 101 through the mountains and the fog. When I finally found a suitable campground, I found that I was short on cash and did not want to find myself with a ticket in the morning. So I drove back to the Pem Mey fuel station/market in Klamath, CA, to get some cash. When I finally found my way back to the campsite, again after speeding on 101 and listening to stories from Garrison Keillor interspersed with a mixed cd of folksy rock, and only knowing where the road leads by the taillights vaguely ahead in the fog, I found that all the spots were full. It was not late yet, but it was dark, and I did not want to get stranded without a campsite, spending the night bundled in a rest area hoping not too many people walk by to go to the bathroom.
Eventually, I found the Elk Country Campground, and someone forgot to turn off the neon ‘open’ sign that blazed in the window. I drove around and found it mostly vacant, and after doing a few loops, found a suitable campsite. set up my little tent, and went for a walk.
I know that I had found my home for the night. Still, as I walked along the empty forested roads, it felt eerie, and the buildings looked like they came straight from a cheesy horror flick set in the New England woods, and I was the innocent, exploring college student who would be the first to fall. Once I got over the fact that the only thing I had to fear was my imagination, I kept walking, toting my Red Tail Ale, courtesy of the good folks from the Mendocino Brewing Company, and found an old 1950’s firetruck, a red, single room schoolhouse, a giant barn filled with locked doors, and all the while had a speckled black and white cat trailing along. It kept its distance, no doubt had cultivated a healthy distrust of strangers, but still followed me along. It was nice to have a feline companion to be honest.
So now, I am sitting in the Beachcomber Cafe in Trinidad, California, having just finished my bean/egg/spinach/avocado breakfast and coffee, and am about to head towards Fern Canyon. Rumour has it the road is closed, but I have to see that for myself. I have to keep exploring.”
The road ended up being open -somewhat. I was able to drive most of the way on the small, gravel road that paralleled the ocean and took me to a parking lot where I had to stop and hike the rest of the way. I took my camera (canon t5, named Camille), waterbottle (white hydroflask, no name), tripod, and some banana chips. It was an easy 2 mile hike in, along the road, however some spots were so muddy I know my car would have sunk instantly and it was a good thing I didn’t drive around the small ‘Road Closed’ sign.
The entrance to Fern Canyon is surprising. As I walked along the trail, it the coastal bluffs that were to my right simply opened up, and I entered the mouth of the canyon. As I walked into the base of the canyon, 20 foot high walls surrounded me, lush and replete with five fingered ferns. A small creek meandered through the bottom of the canyon, but it was small enough that I could navigate around it, jump over it, or simply walk along the many fallen giant redwoods that lined the canyon. It is almost surreal, knowing that you are so close to the ocean and civilization, but the fingers of the ferns give the whole area a feeling of eternity, as if they are lining the walls of some ancient cathedral. The amount of plants packed into the area is astounding, and the air is shrouded in the finest mist, and small springs and miniature waterfalls can be spotted underneath the layer of ferns.
It is a wonder of the pacific northwest. I only saw a few other groups of hikers, and I followed the creek as far as I could until it split and the brush became too thick. I stood at the fork of the creek, ate my banana chips, and just listened to the gentle babbling of the water. The great redwoods that had fallen into the base of the canyon were covered in moss, an interesting juxtaposition of life and death and the inevitability of senescence and the morbid beauty of regeneracy. I felt my own mortality.
That night, I returned to Ashland and met a group of friends for some drinks and food at the local pub. The beer, Deschute’s Chainbreaker White IPA, was the perfect drink for the night. I looked around and saw the collection of people I had assembled, and realized how lucky I was. I’ve built a nice little community here. And I suppose being 22 won’t be so bad. Adulting will be tough, but these people have done it, and so will I. I know I probably shouldn’t cheers myself, but who cares. Here’s to another year filled with adventure, exploration, good food and great beer, testing my limits, new friendships, and beautiful sights.
Until next time, never stop adventuring.