Friday, January 10, 2014
Is it winter yet? Technically, according to the calendar, yes – But I don’t believe it. I’ve been out hiking on the coast in recent weeks in a t-shirt and working up a sweat. Indeed, as you’ve probably heard, this December was the driest on record. According to the forecasts I’ve looked at it looks like we will have some slight precipitation this weekend, then it will continue to be dry until the last week or so of January.
So, if you’re hoping that conditions hold a little longer while you hastily pack your gear and head over here, keep in mind the following to help reduce fire danger and other impacts to the wilderness.
1. Currently, campfires are allowed.
Please take care to Minimize Campfire Impacts – especially with the dry conditions. Already this year, Humboldt County has had at least 10 wildfires (yes, since January 1st).
In the North CoastJournal, Paul Duncan, battalion chief with CalFire’s Humboldt-Del Norte Unit explains, “Extremely low humidity, winds and very dry fuels contributed to these unseasonable sparks.”
If you do decide to have a campfire, please:
Assess the scene and decide if it is safe. Is it windy? Are there dry grasses or piles of driftwood near-by? If so, it is a good idea not to have a campfire or find a safer location.
Be sure to always have someone present to watch over/tend the fire and have plenty of water nearby to extinguish any rogue flames.
Use existing fire rings whenever possible and keep the fire small by using only dead and down wood no bigger around than your wrist and no longer than the diameter of your fire ring (this doesn’t mean build a giant ring). This will help keep everything contained, keeps the campsites clean and reduces fire danger. Larger pieces of wood tend to break down the perimeter of the fire ring and spread ash outside of it. This leads to an eye sore for other visitors and encourages them to build another fire ring - multiplying the impacts.
Also, when choosing your site, please, don’t put your fire up against a large piece of driftwood. This selfish act will remind every other visitor for years to come that someone decided to have a large campfire at this location. This is a major eye sore and completely unnecessary.
When you are done with the fire put it out using the soak and stir method: Soak with lots of water, stir around the mess and make sure everything is cool to the touch. Do not leave anything burning when you depart – even if it is calm and foggy out and you feel there is little danger an hour later it may be sunny and windy.
Additionally, glass, cans and plastic don’t burn. Please pack out all trash! The campfire ring is not a trashcan. Ranger Tip: To avoid getting my bear can messy I bring a small trash bag to dispose of trash from food items – I then put that back into my bear canister (because, of course, it still has a strong scent and bears and other critters – i.e. raccoons - will tear it to shreds).
2. Creeks are low. Expect that if current conditions (low rainfall) continue that these conditions will persist – until we get seriously dumped on (for a week straight, for example).
It looks like we will get some rain Friday night/Saturday, But I doubt this will raise the level of the creeks to a level that can’t be crossed safely.
Always check the local weather forecasts leading up to your trip
3. Large waves are forecasted through this weekend.
Also, check the marine conditions before your journey on the Lost Coast.
See my previous post (Rescue on the Lost Coast) for more details about what the above numbers mean.
When you see conditions such as this you may want to consider rescheduling your trip.
Hazardous marine condition(s):
Small Craft Advisory
...SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 3 PM PST THIS AFTERNOON THROUGH SATURDAY AFTERNOON......
Synopsis...UPPER LEVEL DISTURBANCES MOVING ACROSS THE REGION WILL MAINTAIN A RELAXED PRESSURE GRADIENT WITH LIGHT TO MODERATE WINDS PREVAILING THROUGH FRIDAY. A LONG PERIOD SWELL WILL MOVE INTO THE WATERS TODAY WITH SEAS AROUND 10 FT INTO FRI. ANOTHER LARGE LONG PERIOD SWELL WILL IMPACT THE WATERS THIS WEEKEND.
Today: NW winds 5 to 10 kt. Waves W 9 ft at 13 seconds. Isolated showers.
Tonight: N winds 5 to 10 kt. Waves W 10 ft at 13 seconds. Scattered showers.
Fri: W winds up to 5 kt. Waves NW 11 ft at 15 seconds.
Fri Night: SW winds 5 to 15 kt. Waves SW 3 ft at 7 seconds... And NW 11 ft at 15 seconds.
Sat: S winds 10 to 20 kt...becoming NW 5 to 10 kt. Waves S 5 ft at 8 seconds...and NW 18 ft at 17 seconds.
Sun: N winds 5 to 15 kt. Waves N 3 ft at 6 seconds...and NW 16 ft at 15 seconds.
Mon: N winds 5 to 15 kt. Waves N 3 ft at 7 seconds...and NW 11 ft at 13 seconds.
4. Conversely, know that on calm days there is the potential for sneaker waves. Here is a story to illustrate what a sneaker wave does: Once, I was at a popular beach in Humboldt County, perched up on a rock watching well over 100 people recreate in the warm winter weather. The ocean and the waves crashing on shore were far away. Suddenly, without warning, a wave broke that sent a mound of water rushing up the beach knocking people to the ground left and right. People were yelling and running, grabbing backpacks, blankets, and babies – chaos. The entire time I was there (well over an hour) the water never got close to reaching as far as it had in this instance. Thankfully no one got pulled in.
Read these two articles in the North Coast Journal about sneaker waves in Humboldt County.
As winter progresses and conditions change I will keep you updated.
Until then, enjoy this picture of a river otter having a snack near one of the creeks on the Lost Coast.