Keeping the Wild in the Wilderness
By Chuck Graham   |   September 24, 2020

I had to admit it. I was lost and feeling a little meager, the grandeur of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), the largest refuge in North America, was swallowing me whole. Located in northeastern Alaska, the braiding Canning River was a maze of channels that separated me from the rest of my group. I […]

Nameless No More
By Chuck Graham   |   September 10, 2020

The barks and bellows from raucous California sea lions wafted skyward from their seaside rookery just beyond wave-battered Potato Harbor. Ascending the newly named Montanon Ridge Loop Trail, I loped across a craggy, rolling marine terrace, that cacophonous marine mammal serenade gradually drifting away, aided by wispy northwest winds above Coche Point on Santa Cruz […]

Bugle Call
By Chuck Graham   |   August 27, 2020

The pea soup fog hung over Tomales Point at Point Reyes National Seashore like a wet, cold blanket in Northern California. We could hear the surf thundering below, but Holly Lohuis and I couldn’t determine how big the waves were, the fog concealing just about everything except the narrow, rolling route out to the wave-battered […]

Digging In
By Chuck Graham   |   August 20, 2020

The nameless dirt road turned out to be a nighttime buffet for a squadron of opportunistic burrowing owls. It was all about the crickets and grasshoppers, a menagerie of entomology living in the tall grasses and the cunning eight-inch-tall owls gobbling down as many as they could before taking a break. As I inched forward […]

The Nesting Ground
By Chuck Graham   |   August 6, 2020

The Santa Clara River Estuary was a graveyard of tattered driftwood, tangled kelp balls, a rotting sea lion carcass that was so putrid it could only attract a pair of turkey vultures. A high ceiling of overcast kept the early morning comfortably cool. The sand was coarse and gritty, perfect for breeding and nesting western […]

Fox and Friends
By Chuck Graham   |   July 30, 2020

The ears were a dead giveaway. As the morning sun warmed the grasslands of California’s Central Valley, it was the large, backlit ears of a San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica) that caught my eye. Red blood vessels braiding like a red river lit up each of the fox’s ears, allowing the smallest canid […]

California’s Car Camping Possibilities
By Chuck Graham   |   July 2, 2020

It’s the mobile basecamp transporting you to hidden natural wonders, where time slows down and the only set schedule moves along on its own course. You’re just along for the ride because you chose to be there, making the drive with enough provisions to see you through on your car camping excursion. All you need […]

Newtified
By Chuck Graham   |   June 18, 2020

The creeks were flowing, spilling over a configuration of cobble that snaked their way to the Santa Clara River. As water pooled up and calmed California newts (Taricha torosa) gathered, the only endemic salamander species in the Golden State. As I rock-hopped upstream, I found one of the orange-bellied newts out of the water, out […]

Through and Through: One day through-hike from the coast to the Matilija Wilderness
By Chuck Graham   |   June 4, 2020

Straddling the coastal spine of the Transverse Range, I hiked (and sometimes ran) the sandstone sea serpent that rises and falls east to west all the way from the idyllic Gaviota Coast to the stunningly breathtaking Matilija Wilderness, a stone’s throw away from Carpinteria. The chaparral-choked Santa Ynez Mountains are one of the main gateways […]

No Expectations
By Chuck Graham   |   January 16, 2020

It was nearly dark on the Carrizo Plain National Monument. I pulled up in my truck on a plateau of dry, crunchy grass overlooking the Temblor Range on the Elkhorn Plain in the southeast corner of the monument, coyotes yelping in unison in some nameless canyon. I was tired from five full days of guiding […]