NYHETSBREV

By Heidi Tiura 12 Oct, 2017
Some of you have wondered what happened to our newsletter and as I considered all that's gone on even in the past several months, I found it daunting to attempt an explanation complete with solely a roundup of the more germane items, let alone my typical roundabout way of telling one story that includes several more and ultimately takes a very long time. But this story is a good one and I can tackle it fairly succinctly, so here goes:

What kid doesn't dream of catching a big fish? Make the kid someone whose grandfather is quite a fisherman and a man the kid is very fond of and you have the goal of a childhood and maybe a lifetime. That was the position Noah Telford found himself in last week when he and his brother and their parents arrived for several days at Sow's Ear. Noah is the fisher of the family and he got right to it while his younger brother Ari, the social director, set about meeting the locals. Ari takes his job seriously; on just their first morning here, he trotted up to Steph, whom he had met earlier, and exclaimed, "I STILL haven't met Heidi!"

Noah had no luck fishing that day so I told him how guests from Holland had located a productive spot on our bank and brought fresh trout up to Sow's Ear for their breakfasts. It was worth checking out and that's what Noah did the next morning. Long before we actually saw Noah's fish, Ari came barreling past our place, announcing Noah had caught a huge fish. "Probably a salmon!" he yelled out breathlessly as he ran up to their cabin.

Things happened pretty fast, but I think Ari then ran back to his brother next, grabbed the fish on its leader, and came to show us. He was so sweetly and genuinely excited for Noah and still maintained fishing was not for him, but when it comes to PR work, Ari is a natural. 

Neither Steph nor I knew what kind of fish Noah had caught, other than enormous. It makes people, especially those up here fishing, laugh when we tell them we don't fish because we don't have time for it. We have fished, but mostly ocean. We will fish again, but I'm pretty sure we'll get into fly fishing here when we clear our calendars enough to pursue it. As we already know, it is an all-consuming sport that mixes passion and skill with entomology. We'll have a steep learning curve except for the passion part.

We figured Noah's fish was a trout and guessed it could be a German brown even though they are often described as ugly. Compared with a rainbow trout, or a coho or king salmon, maybe they are ugly, but look at the deep greens and black spots, each surrounded by a halo.  I'd say it's an attractive fish, but at the time, my main question was whether it was dead. The boys said yes but when I lifted it, I felt a solid jolt. Noah, Steph and I joined forces to dispatch the living fish and I began a gutting and packaging for travel lesson with Noah soon after because the family planned to BBQ it that night after they got home.

I showed Noah the slow version of cleaning his fish. He slit it starting at the anal opening, working up to the gills. Next, he cut up and out from the base of the gills. We pulled out and examined the guts rather than tearing out the gills and guts in one move. That's faster, but our way stretched out the job and allowed him to see how things were attached. As we worked, Noah told me about his grandfather's love of fishing and how he couldn't wait to tell him what had just happened on the Trinity. I was impressed by the boy's thoughtful nature and obvious affection for his grandfather. 

Meanwhile, Noah's parents and Steph did some searches and discovered this was a German brown trout. Browns started arriving  to the US through stocking programs as early as 1893; they came from Europe, North Africa and western Asia. (They're aggressive fish and we've been told biologists would like to see them removed from the rivers, so I guess Noah did his part.)

I posted the picture above on our Trinity River Adventure Inn  Cabins's Facebook site and Scott Dias, a fishing guide and owned of Old Bridge Rafting who knows this river well, was quite impressed. He noted, "Wow; there's not too many browns like that in the river anymore. That's a nice one." What kid wouldn't love to hear that about his catch?

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife,  "brown trout are known to be wary and targeting larger fish is widely considered a challenging, yet rewarding fishing opportunity."  Ari surely has included this line in his press release (along with Scott's, above) following their Trinity adventure and I know Noah would agree.
By Heidi Tiura 04 Sep, 2016
I was giving a SUP lesson to a guest when I saw the dragonfly. We have an eddy on our side of the river and the beautiful creature was slowly being transported upstream. I had my student gently push it toward me so I could carefully lift it. Although it was motionless, I thought maybe since its mouth was above water it hadn't drowned, but who knows how long it had been stuck that way, its gold filigree wings serving as shackles binding it to the current?

As my paddleboard student worked up and down along the shoreline, getting a feel for the board while kneeling, I took the dragonfly to our pumphouse roof and gently turned it right side up, leaving it there after studying its body. It was magnificent. A truly breathtakingly stunning insect in full bloom. It was about 5" across, its body the color of celestial marvels, but the wings were what held my eye longest. I've studied them and drawn their distinctive curves and veins for our embroidered clothing, always captivated by the beauty and mystery. How can something that weighs no more than a whisper and appears so fragile jettison the dragonfly at such dizzying speeds?  

The dragonfly's life span is brief. After crawling up from the river bottom, they break out of their fierce-looking carapace. It served them so well over winter in the murky world where they were one of the tiniest but toughest predators, but the next stage is airborne and the heavy exterior is left behind.
By Heidi Tiura 21 Jul, 2016
This is the briefest of newsletters because July is our busiest month and I am lucky if I get to half of my outside and office chores before hitting the river or lake with guests.  Here are some important highlights:

  • Bucktail access to put in or take out river craft is now limited to weekends only into September. Trinity River Restoration Project is increasing wetlands above us and will be changing the entrance road to the river. In the meantime, they're adding an alcove just above the Bucktail bridge so we can launch rafts on weekdays. The river's flow may preclude retrievals there, but the main run we do is from our place to Steel Bridge Road, so this works for us. 
  • La Grange Cafe in Weaverville is open again! New owners took over earlier this year and we just had a delightful dinner there. Our server was Casey, who was professional, efficient and friendly. Perfect combination. Call them at 530.623.5325 for reservations, or go to their Facebook page. Ignore the sites that say La Grange is closed.
  • Our cabins are pretty solidly booked, but there are some openings. Your best shot is to call us for availability, or wait until the middle of August. The Miner's just got a beautiful new river porch railing with stainless steel horizontal wires below the handrail and custom-framed lattice at both ends. It's the same design as Alpen Glow's deck and it's fantastic. I'd love to put a photo of it in here, but my porch shots are all safely in a new phone I can't decipher and the river's calling; I am nothing if not subservient to the river gods.
We are currently taking the Cowells--some of our favorite people--on yet another river trip, which will make 4 in as many days. A few times, I have taken a double kayak so our dogs can join us (they are way too good at guilt-tripping me with scowls as I grab my gear and promise we'll do something fun soon,  just not right now). But on the trip when this picture was taken, one and then both dogs hopped on Steph's SUP and he then took on some exciting water. These conditions would be an enormous challenge for anyone on a SUP, but for a leg amputee who has many additional challenges balancing on a SUP and with dogs?! It is such an incredible sight that even as I took pictures, I was agog. They stayed up and dry throughout the run.

Bisco and Scupper are experienced river kayakers, though, and their lake SUPs have taught them to respect the reduced stability of a SUP compared to a kayak. So when Steph bravely put them on his board and headed downriver, it was impressive to see how relaxed, yet poised, they were.  
See you up here! heidi, Steph and the gang
By Heidi Tiura 18 May, 2016
Happy Spring!
SKIING & SNOWBALLS (not the good kind): Since we had a ski season and have gone without for several years, after the holidays Steph announced it was finally our time to play. We had pretty big work plans at our Trinity River cabins after the Ski Park closed in early spring, so I agreed with him. We moved our menagerie north to our Fish & Ski Haus in Dunsmuir and skied almost all of the days we were there. It was a pure kick in the pants and then it was time to tackle our spring projects. Everything was more or less set when we experienced the well-known snowball effect, as you will see.

THE BIG SPRING PROJECTS COLLIDE WITH THE BIG RELEASE FROM THE DAM (and how it grew):   We still really want to sell the Thistle Lane cabins and semi-retire, running just 3 vacation rentals: Sow's Ear by us, the Birdhouse on Steel Bridge Road and the Haus in Dunsmuir. However, Alpen Glow's old deck was proving too much for prospective buyers to contemplate replacing. We did get an offer and went it into escrow, but the buyer backed out for this very reason, so we decided to do the job ourselves  (I use this term loosely), as well as removing a smaller deck upstairs that nobody used and replacing it with a window. But just as Steph had set up a carpenter he likes to work with, we got the news we'd have a very large river release, right about at the start of the deck job. Every spring, there is a release of water from Trinity dam to flush the river of accumulated debris (which it definitely accomplishes) and to improve fish habitat, along with various projects carried out with this goal in mind (ask any 10 people whether this is successful or not and you'll get 10 different answers). A major concern centers around how much water should be released and this year, following a severe, multi-year drought, the opinions have more heat than usual.

This has been deemed a wet year and so more water will be released than on a regular or dry year, even if it leaves places at the northern end of Trinity Lake high and dry. But the quantity of the release is decided by the feds and they said let her rip, so she is. But the forecasted maximum was quite big and in previous years, they've even released more than was planned, which does little to ease one's concerns. The picture above was our view just a few days ago. It shows the Trinity River at over 10,000 CFS (cubic feet per second from the dam; I think it got up to 10,400). Can you imagine the force of that water spewing out at the dam? It could cut you in half.

We had two of these high pulses  and in between it's still been high enough to jump our bank and climb some of our stairs. The faster and higher river loosens logs that were wedged in somewhere upriver over the past three years, if not more. It's not uncommon to look out the window and see an entire large tree go zipping by. 

Many things just downriver of us and above our bridge out of Bucktail (several hundred yards from our place) have changed since we had a 10K CFS or higher release. An overflow area that was built to channel water away from the bridge and back into the river below the bridge was sabotaged by a detour pipe that was way too small for the job, so instead of easing the pressure above the bridge, it made it worse. The river came to within 6" of the surface of our patio and we had a moat worthy of a Scottish castle around our pump house. Inside the moat were two sump pumps. Those pumps ran 24 hours a day for many days, and every few hours around the clock, Steph or I would fire up the fire pump and drain the interior.

Following that year, the engineers redesigned the bypass and after that project was done, we didn't have another wet year or big release. This meant we couldn't count on how high the same amount of water would come. Even though we thought it wouldn't impact our pump house, we couldn't be sure, so it was sandbagging time instead of construction time on Alpen Glow's projects, which have to be finished before Memorial Day weekend. Steph filled a bunch of sandbags and arranged them around our pump house. That is heavy and tiring work; again, I was of no help. Then he set up sump pumps and staged our fire pump nearby, but we hoped the pumps wouldn't be needed.
By Heidi Tiura 18 Mar, 2016
This is a terrific time of year even though it gives one a sort of sensory whiplash as we jolt from massive rains to warm and sunny days and then back to very chilly throughout Trinity and Siskiyou counties. We have a couple of really cold days when clothing has to be layered and up on Shasta, the snowfall coats everything in glistening white. But then you notice rioting daffodils sprinkle the countryside and tiny violets are in bloom.

Our Trinity guests the past month or so have caught some of the wild steelhead that are fresh from the sea and prolific well into April; celebrated milestones such as a 40th birthday; and escaped from cities to spend some quiet time by the river.  

It is an odd contradiction that the wild steelhead come later in the season on the Trinity and are the most exciting to catch, but a lot of fishers don't know about this timing and miss out on them, having come up in the more popular months of November-January. The picture of Phil above was taken in the middle of February when he and his buddy Brian Miller fished with guide Greg Hector. Since the hatchery just released their smolt and German brown trout go crazy for them, it's also a very good time for German browns.

Dunsmuir guests have gotten the chance to ski Shasta and there have been many epic days, some of which Steph and I were lucky enough to catch. Having not had a ski season for 2 years, we felt we deserved longer stays up north and yet the Fish & Ski Haus is a vacation rental, so we worked out a cool bunkhouse option. Guests can rent the downstairs with its 2 bedrooms and 4 beds; full bath and laundry; and kitchen privileges upstairs for a mere fraction of the cost of renting the whole Haus ($35 per person per night if you bring a sleeping bag!).  Last week, we hosted coaches for the Auburn ski and board teams. They were up there for the regional championships and had a grand time both on and off the mountain. (One reason they wanted to stay in Dunsmuir was because they discovered the Dunsmuir Brewery Works on their last visit and loved it.)
By Heidi Tiura 01 Feb, 2016
Guests such as the ones we recently hosted at our Trinity River cabins as well as Dunsmuir's Alpine Fish & Ski Haus have reminded us how rewarding it can be to provide cool places and special touches one might not expect. Here is what one couple had to say:

"We enjoyed your beautiful cozy cabin & gorgeous nature surroundings. We especially loved walking up Browns Mountain Road with our dog! 

Thanks for lending your own wading boots - it was Nina's first time fly fishing and we had a blast! We also loved relaxing in the hot tub. Thanks for the immunity powder.  [We gave them some spa salts that are supposed to improve immunity, which may or may not work, but they are very pretty purple crystals and they smell great!]
Once again, thanks for everything. We hope to be back soon! Best, Ben & Nina"

Then there is Anouk, a French-Canadian who just left our Dunsmuir Haus. She and her party were there to ski and they had a wonderful time. We carried on an email conversation during their stay and here are highlights:

"Great day of skiing!"
"We have been to Shasta before, a few years back, and this past Christmas. I just love it here!"
"I want to come back this summer for some fishing;  I have yet to see this area in the summer."
"Loved having the fire pit last night." 
"You both have been amazing hosts, thank you so much for the kindness and hospitality! By the way, we love the fleece sheets!"

All of our Dunsmuir guests have been there to ski and board now that we have an excellent snow season. Those who had not been to the Ski Park before were utterly amazed at the low rates, friendly staff and wildly diverse mountain that has everything from a cute little bunny hill to steep and exciting black diamond runs.  

Aouk was sorry dogs aren't welcomed up on the slopes at the Ski Park, and while we'd love to bring them up to the outdoor bar and patios, we understand dogs and novice skiers and boarders don't mix. Our dogs love the social aspects of taking a tour around the parking lots during our ski breaks. They have other dog friends from previous years, so they get to catch up on the news and then there is the occasional runaway hot dog that rolls off a tailgater's BBQ and under a truck. Our dogs have perfected the one shoulder slide and grab. 

Anouk's group, having stayed over the weekend, only paid about $165 per night, plus lodging taxes and the cleaning fee. Between our rates and the Ski Park's, it is easily the best deal all round. The Haus' kitchen is so well-equipped, you won't want to dine out, but if you do, there are several outstanding options within walking distance of our place.

Our Trinity cabins start at $125 a night and while our biggest cabin, Alpen Glow, easily sleeps 7 guests, we have special rates for smaller parties.  We are already a bit over halfway booked for Valentine's Weekend (Alpen Glow and the Birdhouse are still available), but as is usually the case prior to a three-day weekend, the weekend before is kind of quiet. So if you're interested in a ski trip to Dunsmuir or a fishing or general re-charging trip to the Trinity River, give us a call or email us. Mention this newsletter and we will throw in a 20% lodging discount!
See you up here somewhere! heidi & Steph

By Heidi Tiura 04 Jan, 2016
We ended 2015 with several snowfalls throughout Northern California, which made a lot of us very happy. Guests were able to easily get to their Trinity cabins and our Alpine Fish & Ski Haus in Dunsmuir and they made the most of it.  Reports range from romantic getaways where they barely left their nest of a cabin to fishing the icy Trinity to skiing in that most wondrous substance: fresh powder, on Mt. Shasta. 

Long-time return guests and friends Taylor & Laurie Santo brought their three dogs, Rosie, Kodi & Jaxson, to celebrate Laurie's 50th birthday, as well as to further Jaxson's Trinity adventures. Last summer, he joined me on my kayak on Lewiston Lake, then he tried out lake stand-up paddle boarding (SUP pup) and he even ran some gentle rapids with me on the river on my kayak.  This time, dressed in his red Ruffwear down coat, Jax took a short spin on my SUP up on the lake before Steph, Laurie and I headed out for a very cold but refreshing trip up the lake. It was the perfect antidote for too little exerciseso much food and let's not forget that eggnog!
By Heidi Tiura 11 Dec, 2015
Regardless of age, people should keep taking up new challenges. In fact, the older you are and the more secure your position, the higher the need to be a beginner again. Stumbling, not always knowing what to do next, and occasionally flopping spectacularly are all good for the body and brain. Mostly.

Steph and I wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving with a paddle down the river and there was only one option for people who might join us. They would need to be experienced warm weather paddlers ready to make the move to a far less hospitable environment, where a dump into the frigid river couldn't be quickly ameliorated by hopping back on the board and warming up in the hot sun. This time, falling into the cold river would be followed by getting back on the SUP and chilling even further in the wintry air.

So of our growing list of adventurous river SUP cohorts, there was only one family hardy enough to join us and that was the Cowells, the Brit transplants who introduced us to stand-up paddleboarding.

There was a pall over our expectations for their visit and it was a big one. Gillian, the mom, has myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disease that can cause weakness and rapid fatigue of muscles under voluntary control. It is serious and unpredictable, coming and going, but never gone. Gillian hadn't had much in the way of symptoms until fall, in fact, we had no idea she even had MG until it resurfaced then. Her doctor increased the medications and she reported she was able to swallow easier than in recent weeks, this being a big part of the troubles MG can cause. So what could we expect in the way of paddling? We all agreed to keep options open and take it as it came; no expectations.


The Cowells came up for several days and we shared a very fun Thanksgiving dinner that was highlighted by a turkey that I had no clue on for cooking time because I chose this of all days to cook a bird using a technique new to me. Rather than brining the bird for a day or more in salt water (revered by some and vilified by others), I did a dry rub and let the bird sit uncovered and splayed   in the refrigerator for about a day.

The rub was my own creation after the requisite salt, pepper and bit of brown sugar. I added lots of fresh herbs growing around here (rosemary, thyme, sage) plus a bunch of turmeric, some smoked paprika, garlic and onion powder and more. The guide I read on dry rub turkey said
 start it high (500 degrees for 30 minutes), then turn down to 350 and absolutely do not tent it early or late in the cooking (death to a crispy skin). So as the turkey darkened and passed its ETA on the table by about an hour, we weren't sure where we were headed.

Luckily, we had a good amount of wine to tide us over and let's not forget laced eggnog. Brits may not care about Thanksgiving (I suspect even ex-pats view this as the holiday for the country that got away), but they are fond of their holiday spirits. By the time the bird's little timer popped out, we were ready for anything, which was good. We had a few surprises.

The sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows were covered and warming in the brand new gas stove at Sow's Ear, where the Cowells were staying. They amazed us all when the marshmallows, which had not touched the lid, rose and stuck to the lid as though spray painted. (I think it was a condensation rising thing, enhanced by the long wait for the turkey.)

Then there was daughter Laura's dinner. She eats none of the traditional meal and was served curry and rice by her mother. Laura is off to college next year and it's anyone's guess whether she will starve or find herself lodging behind an Indian restaurant. No fan of cold weather, Laura spent the weekend cuddled up with her laptop, working on college entrance material.

Ashley and her mom, the avid SUPers of the family, had been counting the days until they could get back up here and on the water. With her typical cheery optimism, Gillian had us order her an NRS inflatable SUP just like the one we got for Ashley, and she got to try it out for the first time
Friday,  when we went up to Lewiston Lake for a paddle.

It was sunny and while not warm, certainly not cold. We donned variations on wetsuits, plus gloves and booties and paddled quite a distance up the lake before turning around.
As always, Duncan canoed, providing photography services as well as transporting the eggnog. Gillian said she felt fine, which supports my theory we can do far more than one might think, as long it's what we want or have to do. In this case, it was want, and she wanted to SUP, but there was no commitment to a river run the next day.

Ashley, our Go For It, Damn the Torpedoes Girl who is game for everything, helped me clean up a bunch of tree limbs we'd stowed under the blue spruce on our patio. As I cut, she stacked them for the fire pit and then transported a bunch to the wood shed for Sow's Ear. Without looking, I knew what I'd find up there. Precisely stacked wood climbing to the ceiling. She is as tall as she is energetic. She is also a young woman of few words. We knew she'd do anything to get on the river again, but she was mute on the subject, hoping to make it, but respecting her mom's needs.

Saturday was also sunny and we started our day by taking the dogs across the river for a good run.
Duncan, Gillian and Ashley joined us and we detoured to the spot just below Bucktail Hole so I could show  them where Steph and I had cleared out a bunch of brush extending into the narrow slot where we had enough water to clear the way- too-close rocks. We figured with such low water, which is our winter normal until rains beef up the flow, who needed more challenges?

Two fly fishing guides were about to pass by so we watched them. I longed to be headed downriver too, but was content knowing Steph and I would run the river again soon, and we were completely good with however Gillian wanted to play it. Maybe another lake trip? I doubted Duncan would want to take his precious Bell canoe down the river, and of course he'd have Gillian's welfare in mind. But then he announced he was OK with a river run and we were off to the races! We hurried back to our cabins to suit up.

We've expanded our gear to include nice knee and elbow pads for ourselves and guests. Add them to the helmets, gloves and booties and you have a team of frog gladiators or maybe Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Steph, Gillian and Ashley's SUPs have assorted fin sizes. They opted for the 2" size. Steph carved my Ironhide's fin down to a nub no more than 2" and for all of us, our initial experience with such limited tracking support came as we hopped aboard, made a few runs up and down the river in front of our cabin. and then took off with Duncan canoeing and the four of us on our SUPs. It was great having Duncan and his canoe as a safety net, especially if Gillian had trouble.

The joys and dangers of running the river on a SUP include the fact there is no way to stop and examine each bit as you go.
Steph insisted on leading and guiding, generously offering to be the crash test dummy as he picked his way along the narrow, deeper channels of the river. (Unfortunately, this resulted in no face-on photos of him. I plan to set that straight next trip we make.) For the first time in our 11 years here, there was one point where he chose an entirely different course, one that would never have panned out in previous years, and it proved to be a wise decision.

By Heidi Tiura 18 Nov, 2015
This is the time of year when we have steelhead fishers who have been staying with us for so many years that it's as though we're hosting a long string of family members. Jeremy Wright and his dad, Lee, are two of those special people. Although Lee is retired, he was a school teacher, as is Jeremy. They are kind, friendly and they make time for this father/son trip, as do others in their party of dear friends.  You just feel better being around these guys.

All of our cabins, as well as our Dunsmuir place, Alpine Fish & Ski Haus, have lots of trees in common and many are deciduous, so the task of raking, mulching and moving leaves seems never-ending. It's great exercise, though, and the smell of leaves shredded for mulch is heavenly, especially the walnuts.' The patio at the Dunsmuir place has a metal shed in one corner and the acorns dropping on the roof seem to have given our dog Scupper PTSD. He loves the Haus, the town, the park along the river where we take them to run and the restaurants that welcome dogs on their patios, but the acorns falling on the metal roof? Nope. On numerous occasions, he has wiggled his way out of the garden and patio areas and sought refuge under our truck.

Steph completed the ski fence along the lower garden and it's a kick! People walk by, stop, take a picture with their phones and post it on their Facebook pages all the time. But this has slowed, and possibly stopped, Scupper's escapes.

With more of a normal winter predicted, the Haus will become our ski place for Mt. Shasta, as well as guests. Just 20 minutes from the ski park, it's perfect for skiers, and we often host parties that meet from the north and south since it's just a few minutes off I-5. You can see the Haus and ski fence on our Dunsmuir page. 

This Thanksgiving, we will have the Cowell family from Morgan Hill staying at Sow's Ear, our vacation cabin next to us. They got us into stand-up paddle boards (SUPs) and we all graduated to running the river on SUPs this year. We're hoping to winter SUP by bundling up and strapping on protective gear more commonly seen on skaters and soccer players, because the usual low winter water means our fins can catch a rock and send us flying. I did this on a particularly fast and rocky spot a month and a half ago and the evidence is just now fading, hence the elbow pads, knee pads and wrist guards, along with custom-fitted helmets!

It will be crazy cold, but there is something really special about cheating the seasons and doing something one might not expect. We're testing out using our SUPs without fins at all, but if that fails and common sense kicks in, we may just paddle Lewiston lake. It's gorgeous in winter and the bird watching is spectacular. We were up there a few days ago and had a golden eagle soaring over our heads the closest we have ever seen one. There are also bald eagles, osprey, egrets, cormorants and more.

We will have a very nice improvement in Sow's Ear when the Cowells come this time, but I can't blow the surprise. I'll just leave it with this: it took Steph a week of hard labor and made a huge improvement in a major part of the cabin that all of our guests will appreciate!

Did you happen to see the video of a great white shark attacking what I believe was a sea lion at Alcatraz on the San Francisco Bay? Scroll down to the video. The footage was taken from our catamaran, known as Princess of Whales during her time with us. Now she's Hornblower Hybrid, one of the greenest vessels in the world, and she runs some of the Alcatraz trips. This is our first time to appear in Al Jazeera's news, albeit by proxy:  http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/america-tonight/articles/2015/11/16/what-california-wildlife-tells-us-about-godzilla-el-nino.html
 
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the year and give thanks for the good things that have happened. The terrorist attacks in Paris were gut-wrenching and we were saddened at the lives lost, or changed forever by injuries and losses of those dear to them. We had several Paris dwellers stay at Sow's Ear over Christmas 3 years ago and they joined us for hikes with our dogs, kayaking on Lewiston Lake and the free Christmas dinner Sharron at La Grange Cafe' put on, which Steph and I did volunteer duty for. We've stayed in touch with the frogs, as I called them (I explained to them it was a term of endearment, but it took a while for them to accept it). There have been two attacks in Paris since they were here that have prompted us to fire off anxious emails asking if they were OK. 

This time, I was writing the first email seconds after reading the headline in the news last week and we learned one of them was only 3 walking minutes from one of the mass shootings. Three minutes. And your life can change in a second. We are grateful all of our frogs, not just those in Paris, are all right. And we hope you and yours are as well.

Happy Thanksgiving, heidi, Steph, Bisco, Scupper, Chigger, Possum, Squid and Alvin Coolidge
By Heidi Tiura 12 Oct, 2017
Some of you have wondered what happened to our newsletter and as I considered all that's gone on even in the past several months, I found it daunting to attempt an explanation complete with solely a roundup of the more germane items, let alone my typical roundabout way of telling one story that includes several more and ultimately takes a very long time. But this story is a good one and I can tackle it fairly succinctly, so here goes:

What kid doesn't dream of catching a big fish? Make the kid someone whose grandfather is quite a fisherman and a man the kid is very fond of and you have the goal of a childhood and maybe a lifetime. That was the position Noah Telford found himself in last week when he and his brother and their parents arrived for several days at Sow's Ear. Noah is the fisher of the family and he got right to it while his younger brother Ari, the social director, set about meeting the locals. Ari takes his job seriously; on just their first morning here, he trotted up to Steph, whom he had met earlier, and exclaimed, "I STILL haven't met Heidi!"

Noah had no luck fishing that day so I told him how guests from Holland had located a productive spot on our bank and brought fresh trout up to Sow's Ear for their breakfasts. It was worth checking out and that's what Noah did the next morning. Long before we actually saw Noah's fish, Ari came barreling past our place, announcing Noah had caught a huge fish. "Probably a salmon!" he yelled out breathlessly as he ran up to their cabin.

Things happened pretty fast, but I think Ari then ran back to his brother next, grabbed the fish on its leader, and came to show us. He was so sweetly and genuinely excited for Noah and still maintained fishing was not for him, but when it comes to PR work, Ari is a natural. 

Neither Steph nor I knew what kind of fish Noah had caught, other than enormous. It makes people, especially those up here fishing, laugh when we tell them we don't fish because we don't have time for it. We have fished, but mostly ocean. We will fish again, but I'm pretty sure we'll get into fly fishing here when we clear our calendars enough to pursue it. As we already know, it is an all-consuming sport that mixes passion and skill with entomology. We'll have a steep learning curve except for the passion part.

We figured Noah's fish was a trout and guessed it could be a German brown even though they are often described as ugly. Compared with a rainbow trout, or a coho or king salmon, maybe they are ugly, but look at the deep greens and black spots, each surrounded by a halo.  I'd say it's an attractive fish, but at the time, my main question was whether it was dead. The boys said yes but when I lifted it, I felt a solid jolt. Noah, Steph and I joined forces to dispatch the living fish and I began a gutting and packaging for travel lesson with Noah soon after because the family planned to BBQ it that night after they got home.

I showed Noah the slow version of cleaning his fish. He slit it starting at the anal opening, working up to the gills. Next, he cut up and out from the base of the gills. We pulled out and examined the guts rather than tearing out the gills and guts in one move. That's faster, but our way stretched out the job and allowed him to see how things were attached. As we worked, Noah told me about his grandfather's love of fishing and how he couldn't wait to tell him what had just happened on the Trinity. I was impressed by the boy's thoughtful nature and obvious affection for his grandfather. 

Meanwhile, Noah's parents and Steph did some searches and discovered this was a German brown trout. Browns started arriving  to the US through stocking programs as early as 1893; they came from Europe, North Africa and western Asia. (They're aggressive fish and we've been told biologists would like to see them removed from the rivers, so I guess Noah did his part.)

I posted the picture above on our Trinity River Adventure Inn  Cabins's Facebook site and Scott Dias, a fishing guide and owned of Old Bridge Rafting who knows this river well, was quite impressed. He noted, "Wow; there's not too many browns like that in the river anymore. That's a nice one." What kid wouldn't love to hear that about his catch?

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife,  "brown trout are known to be wary and targeting larger fish is widely considered a challenging, yet rewarding fishing opportunity."  Ari surely has included this line in his press release (along with Scott's, above) following their Trinity adventure and I know Noah would agree.
By Heidi Tiura 04 Sep, 2016
I was giving a SUP lesson to a guest when I saw the dragonfly. We have an eddy on our side of the river and the beautiful creature was slowly being transported upstream. I had my student gently push it toward me so I could carefully lift it. Although it was motionless, I thought maybe since its mouth was above water it hadn't drowned, but who knows how long it had been stuck that way, its gold filigree wings serving as shackles binding it to the current?

As my paddleboard student worked up and down along the shoreline, getting a feel for the board while kneeling, I took the dragonfly to our pumphouse roof and gently turned it right side up, leaving it there after studying its body. It was magnificent. A truly breathtakingly stunning insect in full bloom. It was about 5" across, its body the color of celestial marvels, but the wings were what held my eye longest. I've studied them and drawn their distinctive curves and veins for our embroidered clothing, always captivated by the beauty and mystery. How can something that weighs no more than a whisper and appears so fragile jettison the dragonfly at such dizzying speeds?  

The dragonfly's life span is brief. After crawling up from the river bottom, they break out of their fierce-looking carapace. It served them so well over winter in the murky world where they were one of the tiniest but toughest predators, but the next stage is airborne and the heavy exterior is left behind.
By Heidi Tiura 21 Jul, 2016
This is the briefest of newsletters because July is our busiest month and I am lucky if I get to half of my outside and office chores before hitting the river or lake with guests.  Here are some important highlights:

  • Bucktail access to put in or take out river craft is now limited to weekends only into September. Trinity River Restoration Project is increasing wetlands above us and will be changing the entrance road to the river. In the meantime, they're adding an alcove just above the Bucktail bridge so we can launch rafts on weekdays. The river's flow may preclude retrievals there, but the main run we do is from our place to Steel Bridge Road, so this works for us. 
  • La Grange Cafe in Weaverville is open again! New owners took over earlier this year and we just had a delightful dinner there. Our server was Casey, who was professional, efficient and friendly. Perfect combination. Call them at 530.623.5325 for reservations, or go to their Facebook page. Ignore the sites that say La Grange is closed.
  • Our cabins are pretty solidly booked, but there are some openings. Your best shot is to call us for availability, or wait until the middle of August. The Miner's just got a beautiful new river porch railing with stainless steel horizontal wires below the handrail and custom-framed lattice at both ends. It's the same design as Alpen Glow's deck and it's fantastic. I'd love to put a photo of it in here, but my porch shots are all safely in a new phone I can't decipher and the river's calling; I am nothing if not subservient to the river gods.
We are currently taking the Cowells--some of our favorite people--on yet another river trip, which will make 4 in as many days. A few times, I have taken a double kayak so our dogs can join us (they are way too good at guilt-tripping me with scowls as I grab my gear and promise we'll do something fun soon,  just not right now). But on the trip when this picture was taken, one and then both dogs hopped on Steph's SUP and he then took on some exciting water. These conditions would be an enormous challenge for anyone on a SUP, but for a leg amputee who has many additional challenges balancing on a SUP and with dogs?! It is such an incredible sight that even as I took pictures, I was agog. They stayed up and dry throughout the run.

Bisco and Scupper are experienced river kayakers, though, and their lake SUPs have taught them to respect the reduced stability of a SUP compared to a kayak. So when Steph bravely put them on his board and headed downriver, it was impressive to see how relaxed, yet poised, they were.  
See you up here! heidi, Steph and the gang
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