Thursday, October 1, 2015

Tebo Mountain Lookout

Mount Ranier and Adams at sunrise

I decided I needed to get in another hike before the wildlife gates shut.  I pondered where to go, church creek, upper skok, dry creek?  In the end I picked dry creek and Dry Mountain.  My plan was to brush crash up to the top of Dry Mountain and spend one night up there enjoying the views.  On my last overnight trip I was perched high on a ridge, but the forest blocked all of my views.

This was to be a short hike, so I did not get started until 10am.    The actual road to the trail has huge horrible water bars that could cause the rear bumper on my Jeep to drag in the dirt.  I don’t own a Jeep anymore, all I have now is a low clearance car. So now I have to start my hike 1 mile before the trail.

Here is a video of my hike:
As I started hiking up the road I noticed that my pack felt heavier than it was and I was struggling.  I was carrying extra gear for Patches and soon I would have to get water, about 4 liters to carry to the top of the mountain.  I decided I just was not up for such a trip.  I changed my mind and decided to hike to the end of a road on the flanks of Mount Tebo.  I was told it had a nice view, especially at night.  Changing my plans cut a few miles and about 1,500 feet in elevation gain off of my hike.

The road up Mount Tebo is slated to be turned into shit by the forest service, but they have not done it yet so the hike was nice.  

The washout on the road has been repaired and I could have driven my Jeep all the way to the start of my hike, but I don’t have a Jeep anymore.  This could have been a .5 mile hike with a Jeep, but I wanted a longer hike than that.  With my low clearance car this hike turned out to be about 3 miles. 

I veered off of the main road up Tebo and onto a decommissioned spur road to reach the viewpoint.  The going was hell as it always is on the decommissioned roads, brush, slanted terrain and huge ditches are the norm. I nearly poked both of my eyes out several times.  Ticks are the norm too.  Ticks love to live in the brush that grows on the old roads.  Animals use the old roads, so the ticks sit in the brush waiting for an animal to drop on to.

When I finally made it through brush to the viewpoint, I saw that the camping was not so great.  There was just a tiny somewhat bare patch with lots of huge sharp rocks and probably a few ticks. 

However, my topo map showed a nice flat spot in the forest above the trail.  So I thought I would camp there.  But the flat spot never materialized, instead the terrain got so steep that I had to leave my pack behind.  Next the terrain turned into a knife edge ridge!  My topo map had lied to me!  I was out of my comfort zone in this terrain.

I went back down to the road and set up camp there.  I made a bed of Douglas-fir and Hemlock branches, due to all the large sharp rocks on the road bed.  I’ve never done that before, I don’t like to harm the vegetation.  I was sure to not take the tops off of any little trees and just to take branch tips of big trees.

The branch tips made a wonderful soft bed that smelled like a Christmas tree!  I turned the worst possible place to sleep into one of nicest places I have ever slept and helped to clear the road at the same time.  Soothing Christmas tree bed.

There was a steep drop off in front of my tent and Patches decided to run down it to chase a rock I had tossed to the side while clearing a spot for my bed.  

Patches was too long in coming back, I was afraid she had fallen off a cliff.  I called and called for her with no response.  I could hear rocks falling down the hill.  Had Patches fallen to her death?  

I went down the hill as far as I felt safe going and I called for Patches.  Then she started barking the way she does when she is stuck. From the sound of her barks I could tell that she had gone way down the hill. 

I could not go down to help her, the terrain was too steep and I was too tired and clumsy.   Eventually Patches freed herself and I kept her tied up for the rest of the night and the next morning.  She loses all common sense when her prey drive tells her to chase something.

After I was done eating dinner I read from a book called “A Feather on the Breath of God”  by  Sigrid Nunez .   I sobbed and sobbed when the author’s mother died at the end of the first chapter. I knew that was how the chapter was going to end, but still the way the author worded it it really set me off.

Message on my answering machine: Mom fainted again today.  Please call.

Frued says the most important event in a man's life is the death of his father.
          Oh, Mother.

Oh what an ending.  Yes, losing your mother may be the most important event in a woman's life.  I lost my mother three months ago and I still cry nearly every day even though I barely knew her. It turns out that sobbing is a bit like shivering, it really warms you up. 

I picked this book to read because of all my unread books in my book shelf, this was the lightest one. I did not want to carry a big heavy book with me. I carried this same book up Prospect Ridge on my last hike.

When it got dark I kept reading, but paused from time to time to take pictures of the stars and the moonlight.  I think I finally fell asleep at about 10pm.  I woke up a few times in the night to answer the call of nature and to take pictures; I was also hungry in the night. 

I knocked down the pole that holds up my Duomid about half a dozen times.  I had put the pole off to one side and out of the way.  When the pole is to the side it is too short, so I propped it up on a little rock.  The rock was not very stable.  I don't like having a pole in the middle of my living space.


The full moon came up and it was orange.  It stayed in the sky all night and I did not need my headlamp to see.  The moon crossed the sky right in front of my tent. What a magical night!

Patches stayed warm all night and she did not need the sleeping bag that I packed for her.

Sunrise came first thing in the morning like it always does.  I was not very impressed with the sunrise, but a lot of people like the pictures I took.  Am I getting jaded?

After my sunrise photo session I went back to sleep for a bit.  Then I got up and did some sunbathing on my sleep pad.  

 I could see a bank of clouds moving in and smothering the cities below me and I was in no hurry to down there and be smothered.

I sunbathed and read my book until the book was finished.  It was a good book and with a name like “A Feather on the Breath of God” I felt like tossing it off the cliff to float back down to my car, but I packed it out instead.  I want to read other books by this author. 

When my book was done and I felt I had procured enough vitamin D to get me through the winter, I got dressed and packed up. My trip out was easier, my load was lighter with most of my water and food gone and the route was down hill.

I took my time picking my way through the brush so I would not risk poking my eyes out.  I really need to start wearing goggles on these road hikes.

Just before I reached the main road I heard the voices of several men who were standing around a couple of trucks.  I paused and listened to them.  I want to assess how safe I would be revealing myself to them as a lone female backpacker.  Finally I realized that one of the men might be forest service worker so I came out of the bushes while yelling “Don’t shoot, I’m a human.”  It is almost hunting season and I was wearing a bright orange shirt for that reason.

One man was a forest worker, another worked for the tribe and the third was “Pyrites” from  Pyrites had been looking for the Dry Creek trail and he was way off course.  The forest worker he was talking too also had no idea where the trail was! 

 All they do these days is destroy roads?  

I showed Pyrites where the trail was as I hiked out.  It was nice to meet you Pyrites! I made it back down to my car at some unknown time in the afternoon.

I really enjoyed this trip, the view point was very nice, the full moon was great, and the solitude was welcome.  Thanks to the bright full moon and thanks to my reading a book until I could not keep my eyes open, I did not get scared at all in the night.  

 I’m getting better and better at staying calm while sleeping alone in the woods.  Still, I would not dream of doing a trip like this without my 12 year old dog Patches.

I might repeat this hike next year when the gates open up.  I left a geocache where I camped.

About 6 miles with 1,400 feet elevation gain.

just before moon rise


Patches keeping warm, city lights below

My teepee

My teepee


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Prospect Ridge Solo Backpack Hike

This text is probably full of errors and I'm too tired to care.

There were trails on Prospect Ridge and trails that led to Prospect Ridge, but the  hike up to the top of Prospect Ridge is not on a trail anymore, it is now on an old logging road that has been decommissioned.
But, you can still find traces of the old trail up there where they have not logged.

Decommissioned roads are difficult to hike on as they are at a slant and have tree thrown across them and huge ravines dug out of them.  There is also  broom and other invasive weeds to deal with.  So it’s been a while since I’ve gone up to visit the old growth forest on the ridge.

When I do hike up there I never get much time in the forest because I have to turn around and get back to the car before dark.  I decided that a backpacking trip was in order so I could spend some time enjoying the forest.

I was very worried about ticks, crashing through brush on old roads is the best way that I know of to pick up ticks in the Olympics.  The day before this hike I went to a feed store and bought pyrethrum to treat my clothes with.  I also treated Patches fur and her coat.   Right at the start of the hike I applied pyrethrum powder to Patches and to my backpack and I put Deet on myself and Patches.

This hike is best done before the wild life gate shuts and adds about 2-4 miles to the hike.  I started my hike at about 10:30.  The hike up was long and hard but I broke up the work by stopping to place a geocache every few miles.  I encountered horrible Scots broom and alder jungles.

The last sure water was just 2 miles into my 6.3 mile hike, so I had to carry a lot of water.  I figured that I would need 3 liters of water for overnight for both of us in my dry camp on the ridge.  But my water stores ran low.  I left one liter of water about 4 miles into the hike for me to pick up on the way down.  There was no point in my carrying all that water up and down.  I had just 2 liters of water for my overnighter and I was not at all happy about that.

The closer I got to the top the more tired I got and the more worried I was about water.  We were just going to have to be a bit thirsty, that’s all there was to it.  Two liters would get us through the night but it was not as much as we really wanted.

Them magically just one mile before the end of the road I found a spring of some sort.  The terrain above the spring was not enough to support a creek, so I think the water must have been pumped up hill somehow.  I was very happy to find this water.  I filled up my three liter platypus plus another one liter bottle that I had planned on using as a geocache.  With four liters of water I knew we were good for the night.
I left the road to head up the ridge at about 5pm and I was very tired from carrying water and brush crashing and from being out of backpacking condition.  I staggered up the top of the ridge at about 6pm.  I had just enough time to try to find a level spot to pitch my tarp and to cook dinner.

I struggled to pitch my duomid.  My trekking poles are not long enough even with a pole jack and I was too fatigued to mess around trying to tie my trekking poles together.  I used my hand saw to cut a fallen log to the right size but I cut it too short.  Finally I managed to get my poles tied together to hold my tarp up.

  One corner of my tarp was dipping down too low and the ground was very lumpy, but I was so tired that I did not care.  No rain was in the forecast.  I just wanted my duomid up to keep off the condensation and to cut the wind.

I ate my dinner and I drank a cup of hot water. Coffee or hot chocolate would have been nice, but it was too late for caffeine and I did not pack chocolate.   After my stove was out I had a tiny bottle of wine.  I was so tired that I nearly tipped my cook pot over twice, so I decided not to drink my wine until my stove was out.   I was also so tired that I can’t tell if the wine even affected me.

Patches was shivering in the dark even with two coats on, so I put her inside of the trash compactor bag that I use to keep my stuff dry inside of my pack.  She warmed up in the bag but she kept me awake with plastic bag noises and startled me with the noise a few times.  She even made me scream once when I thought the sound was coming from the woods.   For that reason I did not fight her when she decided she wanted out of her bag.  I let her out and she wandered off about 15 feet away and went to sleep and shiver on the forest floor.  I’ll have to bring her sleeping bag on my next trip.

The ridge was peaceful and cold.  I could see lights to the south but I can’t figure out what they were.  Were there enough gaps in the hills to see over to Montesano?  It was not staircase that was to the West.  The lights that I saw were to the South.  My view from the front of my tarp was looking straight down on the bridge across Lake Cushman near Staircase.

I was up at sunrise and I tried to get some pictures.  From my vantage point up in the trees, I could tell that it was an amazing sunrise.   I could not get good picture of the sunrise though.  In the morning it was a little chilly on the ridge and I wanted to get home in time to drive my daughter to soccer practice, so I started my hike out at about 9am.  I took my time enjoying the forest and I did not make it back down to the road until 10am.

The hike down soon began to feel like a death march.  My feet hurt, my shoulders hurt, my back was tired my legs were sore and I was uncoordinated.  I forced myself to not look at my GPS too often so I would not be too discouraged by how slowly the miles were going by.  I passed a lot of interesting stuff but I was too tired to really care or to take many pictures.

I made it back to my car at about 1:30pm and I was totally exhausted. I could hear people howling near my car but I never saw them.  A brush picker van was parked next to me and I could hear  sticks breaking in the woods near my car just as I paused to use my funnel.  Oh well, I was too tired to care.

When I got home my daughter refused to go do soccer practice.  I wished I had stayed in the woods for another night.  There is so much drama in my home right now with my husband's caregivers coming and going nearly everyday.

I'm not sure if I like my duomid.  It is not easy to pitch unless you have super long trekking poles and I don't want to the extra weight of super long poles.  Also I am not sure if I like having a pole in the middle of my living space.  I also don't like that if I want one side shut it has to be the left side.  I want to choose what side is shut based on where my head it and I choose where my head is based on the tilt of the land.  I want my head uphill.

I like the looks of the Z packs Ataplex tarp:

12.6 miles with 2,600 feet elevation gain

Road overgrown with alder on north face

bear poop art

Yes they do and on the road too

I fell on the slippery alder,  jammed my ankle, cut my finger and bruised my leg

Patches keeping warm with her noisy vapor barrier

Magical glowing moss and the magic water spot

Lumpy camp crooked duomid

An old trail blaze on the ridge

An old trail blaze on the ridge

Old cut log from old trail work on the ridge

Peltergera venosa

Scots broom hell and tick heaven

surprise water source at the top

Tetraplodon mnoides moss

The Mountain

Track and elevation log for the trip out

Constipated bears due to the drought?

Where I slept

Note all of my pictures are copyright protected, if you use them on your website or print them, you are stealing.

Patches cleaning my pot in the morning

From left: Pershing, Ellinor and Washington

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Siltcoos Lake Trail

This trail is just south of Dunes City Oregon.  It is a loop trail and according to the sign it is a 4 mile trek.  My GPS track log put it at 3.8 miles.  I hiked this trail twice last week.

The first time it was later in the day and I did not have my headlamp with me.  I was not sure if I wanted to do the entire trail, but I did and I made it out with plenty of daylight left.  I found a few geocaches and there were a couple of caches that I could not find.  I decided to do the trail again when I was not in such a rush.

Three days later I hiked the trail a second time and I found one of the two geocaches that I did not find in the first trip.  I gave myself plenty of time so I walked slowly taking pictures and hunting mushrooms.

The trail head is right on highway 101 and the trail heads straight to some campsites on Siltcoos Lake.  The campsites have picnic tables, fire pits and pit toilets. Hiking in to camp here would save on campground fees but I might be leery about leaving my car overnight at a trail head that is so close to a major highway.

This is a fun and popular little trail, a good leg stretcher when you're not feeling too ambitious.

Total for two hikes was about 7.5 miles including a side trip to an old look out site.

Nice second growth spruce

At the old look out site not on the trail
Stumps are everywhere to remind you of how majestic
the forest here once was

The trail head sign claims that you can hardly tell this forest was logged

Add caption

A geocache