Mendocino Nat’l Forest: A New Quest!

Center map

The Stonyford Library

The closest thing to “civilization” in these parts is the little hamlet of Stonyford. They have a one-room library that used to be the park ranger’s office (it’s still the Sheriff’s office) and it has the only open WiFi in town, such as it is.

I managed to upload some photos and insert them into earlier posts, if you would like to scroll down and take a look at Mendocino for yourself. The upload speed was only in the Kilobit range so, the video upload will have to wait (it’s 1GB).

There, I met Jeff the curator and former EMT/Ranger/Firefighter. What a great guy! Not only did he welcome me into his little literary corner, he shared some stories of his 28 years of fighting forest fires and being a Ranger (his Texas-starred U.S. Forest Service belt buckle gave him away).

Bear stories!

I told him about my two sonic encounters with bears at the Dixie Glade, with which he was all too familiar, and he suggested I was wrong about some of the sounds. He thought the snarling was a mountain lion, while the growls were, indeed, bears! Oh joy. Nothing like a mountain lion just outside the Sienna to forget all about the bears!

Jeff related a frightening story of his own, once meeting—during the day—a bear on a trail who reared up on its hind legs and towered over him not too far away. Startled, he unsnapped his revolver holster and pulled the weapon, pointing it at the bear—with the intent of firing a warning shot to scare him off.

But, the bear heard the rustle of Jeff’s keys as he drew, went back on all fours—and took off. Great story, yes?

We then talked about my campsite and how deserted it was; he told me it’s usually that way in the winter. He then suggested to me a few “nature” things to do—including hiking a trail that leaves directly from the horse corral I have told you about.

I did wander down that trail—during the day—about a quarter of a mile one afternoon but, thinking it really didn’t go anywhere, I returned to camp to make some dinner.

Oh no, Jeff said, in less than a mile, there’s a beautiful wild creek with trout and plenty of wildlife along the way! And he also told me not to miss Lett’s Lake—about three miles up the road from me—that he says is just beautiful, with badgers playing along the banks and, if the lake is frozen, sliding around on the ice! It very well may be frozen, at least near the banks, as this area was under a frost warning from the National Weather Service overnight.

“As a matter of fact, it was on that trail from your campsite to the creek where I encountered that bear!” Jeff added.

To Lett’s Lake!

Yeah, let’s go to the lake instead. No reason to bother hungry bears in their natural habitat! Right. The lake is a good idea!

I had tried a couple days ago to scope out the area west of me on that road but, as the park receptionist had told me, “when you run out of road, you’ve gone too far,” I did, indeed, run out of road! Oh no, said Jeff. “It’s a good road, even though it’s a dirt road …and there’s only one dip in that road that might have some ice so, just be careful in that one spot and you’ll be fine.”

Careful, buddy!

Oh Jeff, on these mountain roads, I am very careful all of the time! Don’t want to plunge to my blendered death in my Sienna. He consoled me on that point too: “Oh, you wouldn’t fall a thousand feet down into the valley. You’d hit a tree or a big rock on the way down and that would stop you!”

Thank you, Jeff. That calms my nerves considerably!

Yeah, Lett’s Lake

So, let’s go to Lett’s Lake this morning—during the day—after the morning sun has had a little chance at warming certain icy spots in the roadway. I’d like to see this great attraction that no doubt feeds Bear Creek (my name for it, now) and offers the sight of badgers at play. I’m told there’s also a giant eagles nest along the west bank of the lake—and that sounds like a photo op, as well.

I did get some gas in Stonyford.

Not cheap, mind you but, they sort of have me at a disadvantage. I bought 4.7 gallons (almost $20) just to take the edge off my empty indicator. That means, I have enough fuel to stay another night—or two—at the lake, if what Jeff tells me is undeniably the case: “There are campsites at the lake too.”

That also means, I will be not able to, or be very late, posting an update tomorrow as “Cellular Signal Valley” will be a three mile dirt road plus the mountain mile away.

Technology UPDATE: The 3G signal at the valley disappeared yesterday afternoon—replaced by a 4G LTE signal this morning! Wow. Looks like they are making some improvements up here!

Wabbits everywhere!

Yesterday, I saw three more giant wabbits, a gorgeous brown fox and a family of deer! The first two, not fast enough with the camera again; the deer, must have not taken the time to focus before I clicked the shutter and the photo was totally blurred (deleted!).

So, today’s quest—and possibly a one to two night detour—is Lett’s Lake, just past the point where “you’ve gone too far!”

By the way…

In checking my hosting this morning, I found this site—since it was started—has had over forty five thousand views (many of them from all over the world!). Thank you so much for taking the time to read about my adventures in The Minivan Explorer as I discover places I have never before seen with my own eyes in search of “The Great American Adventure: Exploring The West In An Old Toyota Minivan!”

And still, there are no payment envelopes!

Happy trails my friends!

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