Photo: Gregory McDonald

Shortly after getting on the road for our second day on the California Backcountry Discovery Trail, a tiny CRV carrying a long, thin, rip-stop-nylon-clad load on its roof, came clamoring up the rocky trail behind us. In front of us a Toyota Tacoma made its way up the mountain, similarly equipped. We were way out in the forest in traffic.

Soon we figured out what all of the congestion was about. Besides the opening of deer season, people were heading up to Hull Mountain for a hang glider “fly in.”

Looking down at the grass runaway near Lake Pillsbury, the hang glider pilots' landing spot. Photo: Nik Schulz

Hang gliders prepped for flight. Photo: Gregory McDonald

Looking down to Lake Pillsbury from Hull Mountain. Photo: Nik Schulz

We were going to wait for the hang gliders to take off but found out that it would be another hour. Back on the trail!

Near the Yuki Wilderness we passed through a part of the forest that had burned years before, where the trees looked like ghosts.

Further on we passed two Asian couples in their 60s standing beside their pick-up. Both of the women had rifles slung over their shoulders.

The ghost forest. Photo: Gregory McDonald

Heading up the M1. Photo: Natalie Menacho

Parked on Etsel Ridge, taking in the view and checking the spare fuel cans. Photo: Gregory McDonald

After about four hours on the trail we arrived at the Eel River Work Station and its across-the-street neighbor, the Black Butte BBQ. Just what we needed! A few dogs were lazying around, pretty much ignoring us, until the food arrived that is.

Natalie, voiced the part of a little Pomeranian that had enthusiastically positioned himself between my feet, in the drop zone underneath my jerk chicken sandwich. “Oh, you should have said you were ordering lunch! I would have come by and said hi sooner!”

Another dog, we noticed, had what looked like the key to a Toyota attached to his collar. Not bad idea. Can’t find your car key? Whistle, and it’ll come running.

After lunch I walked out to the truck and saw a couple of guys sawing the head off of a deer laying in the back of their pick-up. “Did you guys get that today?”

“Yeah.” They said. “Nice one,” I offered, trying not to sound too out-of-town. Then I realized that it was, of course, the first day of deer season. When else would they have gotten it? Derp.

Instead of checking into to the nearby campground we headed east on FH7, off the CBDT, and up to a very short spur road labeled 22N63. There we found a nice, good-sized site to pitch our tents for the night.

A shot of our camp at 22N63. Photo: Gregory McDonald

We gave Greg the hard-core camper award for his spare accommodations: a rain fly, sleeping pad, and a blanket. Photo: Gregory McDonald

My Coleman 200A lantern and Greg's military-spec Coleman. Photo: Gregory McDonald

That night, during a game of Settlers of Catan and a round of whiskeys, a deer walked through our camp. “Psst,” we said, “this isn’t a good time of year to be wandering unannounced into people’s camps!”

It seemed totally unconcerned but eventually headed off to bed. And soon enough, so did we.


CBDT Notes:

Boardman Ridge to Eel River Work Station: 36 miles
Travel time: 4 hours

Eel River Work Station to 22N63 campsite: 11 miles
Travel time: 1 hour

Trail difficulty: Mostly 2 of 10, but 3 of 10 climbing Hull Mountain. 1 of 10 from the Eel River Work Station to 22N63


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CBDT, Part 1: Lake Pillsbury
CBDT, Part 2: Dead Deer, Live Deer, Eel River Work Station
CBDT, Part 3: What’s up Watts Lake?
CBDT, Part 4: Ruth Lake, Jewel of the Middle of Nowhere
CBDT, Part 5: Bear Den, Coyote Tracks, Camp Site
CBDT, Part 6: Best Campsite Ever
CBDT, Part 7: Obviously Not Bigfoot