Monday, September 24, 2018

Mount Zion and Port Townsend State Park and Holly Near

Deer Mushroom at Port Townsend State Park

The only thing on my bucket list was to see Holly Near.  I don’t like bucket lists, I don’t like to think about death anymore than I have to.  I knew the only way to force myself to go do this though, was to put in on my non-existent bucket list. 

I was introduced to women’s music when I lived at Seattle Children’s Home in the late 80’s.  The staff there ripped me cassette tapes of  Holly Near, Meg Christian and Chris Williamson.  I’m so glad that they did that for me.  They turned me into a lifelong fan.

What does this have to do with  Mount Zion?  

Holly Near was playing in Port Townsend at 7pm and
I had a ticket but I really did not want to drive all the way back home down twisty 101 or dangerous highway 3 in the dark.  I decided to camp at Fort Worden and do a new to me hike on the way back while I was up there.

Fort Worden was full when I arrived.  It took me some time to find the office where they tell you it is full.  I got pretty frustrated while I was there.  I was directed to the fairgrounds camping and told that the camping at Old Fort Townsend would all be taken since they are on the same reservation system as Fort Worden.  

The fairgrounds camping was gross.   The campsites are just patches of grass back up against a fence along a line of condos, there were no picnic tables and the entire place smelled funny.   It smelled like an old campground with a failing sewer system or a very moldy bathroom.  To make matters worse, camping there would have been more expensive than a state park for me,  with my ½ price camping pass.

I decided that I would rather drive home than stay there for the night. Even  if it meant unpacking all my car camping gear that I had just packed.  My last hope was Fort Townsend State park.  I hoped against hope that there would be an opening there.

Fort Townsend was wide open!  Tons of camping sites.  I found myself a really nice private spot in the woods and set up my car camp.  Whew, I had dodged the bullet, now all I had to do was eat dinner, have a beer and relax while waiting to drive back to the concert just 4 miles away in Port Townsend.  Fort Townsend does not have reserved camping after September 15th, it is all first come first served.

The drive to the concert did not work out too well.  My phone decided to run out of data just as I was navigating my way up there and there is no way for me to buy more data unless I can find some wireless Internet.  I found a church on the right street that said “unity” on the front of it, so I thought I was there, but the church was tiny and no one was around.  Clearly it was the wrong “Unitarian” church on San Juan ave.  I had to remember how we found places before cell phones.  I did not have a map of Port Townsend in my car and I did not have the address to the place other than “Unitarian Church on San Juan ave”.  Back in the day before smart phones,  you could pull over at the nearest pay phone and look up an address in the phone book .  But Pay phones are a thing of the past now . 
I ended up asking people on the street where the church was.  People were kind to me.  A man told me the way and his directions almost worked for me.   Then I found a woman who pulled out her cell phone for me and gave me directions.  Thank you so much!  I was beginning to fear that I was going to miss the concert because I could not find it!

Holly Near was okay, she did not play any of the old songs that I recognized and I don't like some of here newer stuff.  I bought her CD titled  "2018" anyway.  It was not signed and it would have cost less to buy it from Amazon.  The audience could sing along to some of her newer stuff, but I could not.  I had really wanted to hear some of her classics like "Started out fine" or "A lady don't go out alone at night" or Ella's song.  I would have loved to hear and sing along to Ella's song.  

Laura Love opened for Holly Near and she was amazing.  I need to get one of her CD's!

After the concert I camped at Port Townsend State park for two nights.  The park is really nice, but such a shame that it is near the stinky and noisy pulp mill.  If not for the pulp mill, I would for sure go back to camp there again.  I next day walked 5 miles on the trails in the state park.

 The day after that,  I packed up and ate breakfast.  It took me two hours to pack up my went camp and eat.  I guess that is pretty good time considering I cooked grits and had to pack up everything all by myself.  Camping alone is a lot of work!  I don’t have a ton of car camping gear, but enough to make it work to pack it all back up.   Also, there is nothing worse than packing up a dirty wet tent.  
It rained just little every night and my tent sprung a leak in a spot that I guess I did not put enough seam sealer on.

I was not sure where the Mount Zion trail head was but I did drive straight to it after stopping a few times to look at the map on my GPS.   Yes, my damn GPS.  I could have used it to find the concert if I had not been so panicked about running out of time.  When I parked to look at my map,  I noticed that my car smelled a little hot so I drove slowly.

I arrived and parked my old Lincoln Town car next to a row of 4x4  Subaru wagons and Toyota trucks.  My old Towncar looks so out of place, but it sure is a comfortable ride.  I inherited the old car when my mother died.   I love the trunk on my Towncar.   It can hold all of my car camping gear other than my day pack and a few blankets.  I felt safe leaving my cell phone in the trunk.  Who’s going to go to the effort to break into the trunk when they can just smash the glass out of all the Subaru station wagons with windows that can be used to peer into any part of the car to check for valuables first?

The trail head was noisy mostly thanks to a  very loud family with young children.  There were also two motorcycle riders in the parking lot.  They were standing next to their parked bikes and having a loud conversation about mutual funds.  Interesting topic for the woods.

The hike up was noisy with the loud family,  but soon they stopped to eat and perhaps turn around.  When I reached the summit there were two older men up there.  One asked me if I had a coat.  Would he have asked me that if I was a man?  Maybe.   I assured him that I had a sweater, a down vest a rain coat and a hat and gloves and I was about to sit down and have a hot cup of coffee.

There was no view at all,  and then the loud,  I mean VERY loud family could be heard coming up the trail. I opted to have lunch away from the summit and the loud, I mean very LOUD family. 
I walked a little trail along the ridgeline and had my coffee and a snack there.  I could still hear the EXTREMELY loud family but the sound was muffled a bit.  When the family went back down the trail they were even louder!  Little kids almost small enough to be toddlers screaming with joy as they ran down the trail.  I’m so glad that they took their kids to the woods and let them be loud, let them feel joy, let them be little kids.  But did the adults have to be equally as loud?  I was impressed that such little kids made it up to the summit too.

Once they were gone the summit was quiet so I went back up to the summit and the view opened up a little bit.  It was such a relief that all the noise was gone but I could still hear it echoing in my head for a good 15 minutes.   The nice thing about all that noise was that it really made me appreciate the quiet.

Back at the trail head I had a snack from my cooler worked on the Tetris puzzle of loading everything but my day pack into my car.  My trunk was harder to close and I don’t know why.  People stared at me as I slammed it shut several times before it actually latched.

After the hike I drove ten miles back down  to the 101.  Once I was back on the pavement  I started thinking about how nice the dirt roads had been.  I was not sure if my towncar could go up the road to the trail but the road was in very good shape and there were plenty of spots to pull over to let other cars go by.

 I also thought about  how nice it was to have a truck big enough to hold all of my car camping gear, too bad it could not also hold my  daypack.   I would have to hide my daypack under a blanket on the front seat if I wanted to stop at the store in Quilcene to get a coffee.

 OH SHIT!  My daypack.  I did not recall putting my daypack into my car.  I pulled over and did a frantic search through my car and trunk for my daypack.  My daypack was not there.  I had forgotten to put it in the car.  I had been distracted by trying to get my trunk shut and all the people staring at me when I was attempting to slam it shut 3-4 times in a row. 

I drove back up to the trail head as fast I could safely go.  I flagged down two cars on the way out to ask if they had seen my pack, they said no.  I hoped that my pack was still were I left it, hoped that no good Samaritan and taken it home with the plan of attempting to track down the owner.  What would I do if I saw a pack on the trail?  Leave it for the owner to find or take it home so no one would steal it?
It was a long ten miles back up that mountain on that dirt road, would my old car overheat?  It had smelled kind of hot on the way up there the first time.  I rolled down my window and put the heater on full blast to help the car stay cool.  

My old car did not overheat and my backpack was right where I left it and unmolested.  Whew..  I could replace everything in my pack, but I could not replace my actual pack.  My pack is home made by me.  It took me about 30 hours to sew it and I’m not in the mood for sewing right now and my spouse and his hospice shit show are taking up the entire area where I used to do my sewing.  I can’t sew anything in there until after he dies.

3.8 miles with 1250 feet elevation gain

Ferns at Fort Townsend State Park

Mount Zion trail

Mount Zion

Mount Zion

Bryoria and Usnea lichens Mount Zion

Platismatia gluaca lichen Mount Zion

 Polytrichum moss Mount Zion

Fall colors on vine maple Mount Zion

View from Moun Zion

Moun Zion

Usnea moss

Boletus mirabilus button mount Zion

Russula brevipes Mount Zion, plenty of these at Port Townsend too

Lichen, maybe Hypogymnia sp. Mount Zion

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Mount Ellinor fist time in years and with a dog

The summit

I have not been up to the top of Mount Ellinor in about four years, since the crowds up there really turn me off.  I got an early start, leaving my house by 8.  The mountain was not too crowded, but I did not get to have the summit to myself for long.  Everyone on the trail was polite and friendly .  I’ve had bad experiences up there with other hikers and their dogs and one bad experience on a hike takes away so much from the relaxation I get from that hike.

I was really hoping for a view of Jefferson Ridge and the fire damage, but it was not to be.  The summit was fogged in.  People near the summit were hunting for goats.  These were hunters, not relocation experts.  I don’t know what hunters do with goats since goat meat is not very popular.  I guess they could sell the skulls for a pretty penny.

Two hunters were camped near the summit.  Two others day hiked it and one of them was very out of shape.  The hiking will be good for him if it does not kill him.

I got turned around  on the way down as usual.  I spent a bit of effort looking back as I went up so I would not get turned around on the way back, but that did not help much.   There is one spot where you have to clamber over a rock and it looks much less like the trail than all the little way trails that people and goats have made up there.  Maybe if I was a bit taller I would not have this issue of finding my way down from there every time?  This time was especially bad and I was feeling down on myself for having to struggle so much to figure out the route down.  I tried to not be too hard on myself though.

This was the only time this year that I have made it up into the high country.  It was nice to see the trees and mushrooms, but I wish I could have seen a view to make it really worthwhile.  This was Sage’s first trip up.  I do not normally take a dog up this trail due to the crowds.  Sage is very well behaved though and she always comes back when she is called, unless she sees a grouse.

A forest service working was looking at trees on the lower trail.  He talked to me like I did not know much about trees.  Little did he know.

He was not in a law enforcement truck and I did not see a gun on him, but someone from the forest service left a nasty surprise on two people’s cars at the trail head.   Probably big fat parking tickets probably.

I have a free lifetime pass but I still get miffed when I see tickets on other people’s cars.  I hung my spouse’s disabled parking pass on my mirror and put my own pass on my dash.  I’ve had the forest circus miss seeing my pass and ticket me in the past.  By hanging my husband’s giant pass I hoped that they would look closer and see my dash pass too.  I’m so glad that I did not forget to display my pass.  I remember when these passes were not required.

 I remember when the forest circus had money to invest in trail and road maintenance.  All that money is going elsewhere now and a $30 pass is not going to make up for the loss of funds.

The road up was in  pretty good shape.  I'm still shopping for a reliable used pick up truck.

3 miles with 2,400 feet elevation gain

Hericium that a chipmunk had been working on.  I took some and left some.

Sage on the trail near below campsite about 1/3 of the way up

A very out of shape hunter not wearing orange

Camp belonging to a different set of hunters, one of them was wearing orange

Snow or fog rainbow

View towards Mount Washington

Summit Bonsai

Recent trail work, the bolts are new

Must have been a lot of work to make this staircase
Trees on the summit of Mount Ellinor suffered in the drought and smoke this year. Two here had their
 tops die  this summer. These trees are probably hundreds of years old, but this year was too much 
for them to keep their tops alive.

Someone's hike ruined

Someone else's hike ruined

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Rain is Back, the Smoke and Tourists are Gone. My Hiking Season has Started.

I woke up and it was hiking day.  Ah shit, I don’t want to hike.  What happened?  The crowds, the smoke, the boredom with local trails, perimenopause and lack of good trail rig.

I need a good trail rig, I think that would really get me back out on the trails.  I hate to take my pretty new car out there.  I’m still shopping.  I want a small 4X4 pickup truck and it has to be reliable.  I have the $$, but I am so put off by what people want for an old truck.

 I sprained my ankle in my yard right before my hike so I knew to wear my ankle brace.  My ankle has been acting up again and I think it is because I have not been hiking much.

I decided to do the Upper Skok, before the gates close.  I wanted to do Church Creek but I did not want to be too wiped out the next day.  Also I don’t like to take my car up there, the road is rough.

  I don’t really like to take my car to the upper Skok either, but today the road was in really good shape.

I parked at the trail head got out and smelled the forest, it was so nice and peaceful and wonderful ahhhh.. Then two Subaru’s arrived and the noisy occupants got out.  They broke the silence, I hoped that they were not going to hike on the same trail.

As I started up the trail I felt groggy and tired.  I decided to stop for coffee and wait and see if the other hikers passed me.  I hike slow, so I always get passed.  I like to let other hikers pass so I don’t have to see or hear them.   But other hikers often use me as a waypoint or something and after I let them pass me they start pacing me and I can never get rid of them! 

The other hikers never arrived, so I think they went down the trail the other way.  I had the trail all to myself all day.   After my coffee I felt better and the miles passed quickly.   Soon I was near my planned turn around point and the rain started coming down.  I only had a rain coat, no rain pants.  

No matter, my legs were already soaked from the wet brush.  The trial gets a bit brushy after the river crossing.  I was wet enough that I would be in trouble if I got hurt and had to spend the night.  I will pack better next time.

I wondered if I should turn back before I got too wet, but decided to push on anyway hoping, that I would get a break for the rain during lunch.  I was so glad that I pushed on.  If I had turned around I would never have seen the elk herd!

Lucky to get this shot with my street style hiking camera.  1/40th, 320, 18mm

I heard a loud noise in the brush on the trail ahead of me and I knew it was an elk.  I did not know that it was an entire herd of elk until I saw and herd them all.  I stopped and stared in awe.
The bull lifted his head up and looked at me.

 It is fall but I don’t know if the rut has started yet.  I hoped the bull would not attack.  Sage started barking and I told her to hush.  The elk soon ran away and I wished I had a different camera on me.  I did my best to try to get some shots with my little street style camera and was surprised to find that I got a few.  The elk went off the trail and out of sight, so I knew it was safe to keep hiking.

Sage tried to follow after them but I told her off.

My planned lunch spot was as pretty as I remembered.     I like to turn around at startup creek when I’m not up for a big hike. Right after startup creek the trail, heads sharply uphill.  The rain eased off near the end of my lunch break and I had a nice hot lunch and hot coffee.  The burn ban has been lifted so my little pop can stove is legal to use again.

I felt pretty good most of the way out.  Just a touch of sciatica but I know how to fix that now with a few simple stretches.  I had fun taking photos with my speelight in my left hand and my camera equipped with a speedlight controller in my right hand. 

Russula Musroom
I got to eat blueberries and huckle berries and I found a few choice edible mushrooms.  It was good to be in the woods again.  I’ll continue my search for a truck.  I’m tempted to go buy a brand new truck since people what so much money for used ones.

8 miles with 300 feet elevation gain and I’m sore today even though I have been doing the same length hikes at the ocean most of the summer.

Hot Coffee

Hypnum moss

Homalothecium moss

Mount Church

River dries up here during dry summers