In 2018, outdoor recreation is more popular than ever, which has led to innumerable subjective rankings of locations, and of the fifty-nine National Park units. While various social media users and webpages debate whether Yellowstone or Yosemite are the best parks, under the surface, many park units escape the public consciousness. Quietly, however, some of the online and in person discussion has turned to 2017’s eighth most visited National Park, Olympic, and its surrounding wild areas. This is a change in that for many years, Washington’s most popular park was Mount Rainier, and many outdoor purists both in and out of Washington sought to keep the trails of the Olympic peninsula secret. But, with greater information available on the internet, popular media, and word of mouth, many visitors are now seeking out Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest to enjoy some of the jewels of the Pacific Northwest and national public land system as a whole.
While there are many amazing trails in the Mount Shasta region that lead to a number of super fantastic places, including lakes, summits, trees, animals and more, the absolute best trail in the region leads to a location that is even better than these mundane things. The Bunny Flat Trail to Lemuria is without question, the best trail in the Mount Shasta Region, the best trail in Northern California, and perhaps, the best trail in the world. The reason for this is that while most trails merely take you to a physical location, this trail takes you to a location that is beyond space and beyond time. While it may seem hard to believe, this trail takes you to a metaphysical location that lies somewhere in the imagination and heart of every person, irrespective of whether they know it exists or not – and that location is Lemuria.
The second favorite thing that I like about being an outdoor blogger and sometimes internet personality is helping people. The first thing, naturally, is exploring and being outside. But as for that second thing – I truly believe that, as Plato says, “Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others”. For me, blogging started out as a good action – a way to give back and share my knowledge of the wilderness. Since blogging is an imprecise art at best, I’ve also continued to do what I always had done – namely, real life good actions. To me, one of the many positive things about doing good actions is that you find more of them to participate in, which leads me to my current good action, a charity climb of the Shorty’s Well Route with a fellow mountaineer and blogger, David Wherry.
As you’ve seen above, #preservethegood could mean anything – it could mean helping someone in a time of need; it could be picking up trash on a trail, or a wilderness area; it could be educating people on leave no trace principles; it could be making a difference in any way you want; and it could be just about anything you want as long as you are focused in keeping the magic and the unique positive things in this world and this life. In terms of tangible things, I encourage you, my readers and followers to use the hashtag when you post a photo of something amazing; or when you’re talking about something exceptional you – or someone else has done to improve the world. I look forward to seeing how all of you end up preserving the good in 2015, and you can rest assured that as always, I will keep preserving the good where I find it as well, because as Plato says, “Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others.”
To me, Halloween is the best time to celebrate this danger – and risk with stories that deal with any of the topics above – or any wilderness danger topic that I failed to mention. For the last two years, I’ve covered some of the dangers I’ve seen in the wild with Tales of Terror from the Yosemite Backcountry in 2012, which is a story about me facing an unknown problem on a trail patrol in 1998; and Freedom of the Open Road in 2013, which is a story about me facing problems from my fellow man while camping in Colorado. I’ve also been lucky enough to get a story from Melissa Avery about her experiences with the unknown in Peru (More Than Myth), and will have a great post from Missouri Howell later this month about the unknown in Missouri.
To put it in wilderness terms, the end of the year is a time to check your bearings, and see where you’re headed by scanning the horizon; or to use another tired cliché, view the entire forest, and not just the individual trees. That, I think is the nature of the holiday season: seeing what you are grateful for in your life; appreciating such people (or things that you are grateful for); and finding out where you will want to go (and perhaps how those people will help you get there).
Today I’d like to talk about the myth and legend of the “Devils Punchbowl” in San Diego County. If you’ve like me, and you’ve lived in San Diego, or spent enough time in San Diego, and you’re interested in the backcountry, chances are you’ve heard of “The Devils Punchbowl” after you heard about Cowles Mountain, Iron Mountain, and Woodson Mountain (a/k/a “Potato Chip Rock”). Here’s the interesting thing though: unlike the above peaks, “The Devils Punchbowl” is a more nebulous concept. There’s no doubt that it exists – it’s definitely a location that exists. But, it exists in about ten or eleven different locations, depending on who you are talking to, and who is giving you directions to the “actual” site.