While hiking the Lost Coast in Northern California, my friends and I received word that the #ValleyFire had started in Cobb, California--the area I live. It was my first overnight backpack trip and four of us trekked into the remote redwood region north of Redway.
I trained for weeks for this event in the neighboring forest (Boggs Demonstration Forest) some 5 minutes from my home. I carried increasingly more weight over a period of a few weeks to ready for the 30 pounds of necessary accouterments I would need for our two night adventure.
Also during that time, my friend and I poured over the map of the area, checking distances and elevation gains. Our second day hiking, though, was more than each of us had foresaw and far more than I intended for my first time out overnight.
The sites were stunning as we crossed rushing creeks and walked painstaking switchbacks up steep embankments. At about six hours in, we crested a hill giving me first time access to cell phone coverage. I read a text from my longtime friend, Vicki Crystal, "How close is the fire to you? Praying big time."
Curious, I texted back, "Huh? Where? I'm hiking Lost Coast."
She responded, "Fire on Cobb evacuating town of Cobb extreme winds. 50 acres & growing fast.started a 1:30. Probably won't have official update until tonight later will keep u posted."
[Note: This entry was drafted on the Saturday evening of the breakout of the #ValleyFire when I was camping the Lost Coast with some girlfriends. We heard about the fire through a text received when cresting the 2,000 ft. elevation gain on our grueling 6 hour hike. Out of concern, my friend, Vicki Crystal, texted: "How close is the fire to you? Praying big time."
Each of us on the hike had something in harms way of the fire, whether it was our home or our vehicle or both. We each exhaustedly tossed and turned that night from our remote campsite with no reception.
A hot dry wind blew through the camp around 1:00AM. We were some 150 miles northwest of the fire, but the eeriness didn't go unnoticed.]
Of course! Of course this sacred spot was spared.
I suddenly felt closer to Walter and Shyla as I exerted myself up the steep hill back to the trail. Each step seemed to carry with it hundreds of memories. How many times had I walked this path? Ten years, though, not every day. The first few years, maybe three or four times a week. The latter years, five to seven.