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At the news of Coho redds and salmonids in Lagunitas Creek last week (14 adult Coho and 5 redds), my draw to get out on the trails overtook my ability to finish my office work and I was at Devil’s Gulch within two hours of the report. Megan, being unable to resist the call either, met me there and we began our hike following the creek upstream on the North Creek Trail to Camp Taylor. Once we began hiking, I was quickly reminded how essential it is for me to take the time to connect with and explore this beautiful watershed up close and personal. I get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of work and life that it is easy to take for granted all that we have in our backyard (this is literal for some folks): the majestic Redwoods, fog and mist essential for life in the watershed, kingfishers swooping through the trees, salamanders curled up under logs, mushrooms popping out of the soils, and, of course, the mighty salmon in our waters. How lucky to have this and still be within an hour of the city!

In my career and free time, I have been lucky enough to live or visit (up close and personal) some of the most majestic and wild lands this great state has to offer: the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains, the Marble Mountains, the Trinity Alps, the Coastal Range of Humboldt and Del Norte counties, the Eastern and Southern Sierra Mountains, the Mojave Desert, and Death Valley. With these places, miles away from the nearest town or even village, you cannot help but be absorbed by the tranquility and wonder and beauty they so possess and freely exude. This feeling that these wild lands give to me, ignites my soul and warms my heart, and I have realized I am as much a part of those wild places as they are of me…”holy” connected. Or, as John Muir said: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”

Now, let us come back to West Marin. And yes, beauty is everywhere, and there are things here within the watershed that are just as breathtaking as standing 12000ft in the air looking into a treeless Sierra basin. One of those wild beauties is the salmon. This is a species that reminds us again and again how everything is “hitched” to everything else. And the Lagunitas watershed, yet perilously close to human’s ever encroaching arm on wild places, remains to support the Coho salmon. So rejoice salmon lovers! The fish are back. At least 14 adults in the system and several made it up and over Inkwells yesterday! They return from the wildest of wild places, the depths of the ocean, to end and begin their cycle of life here in the watershed. And, although my extensive hiking of the creek this weekend did not end up in spotting an adult salmon (yet), I was still humbled by the all the other wild beauties that remain in this watershed. So, go connect yourselves to those wild beauties, you will feel better because of it.