Sunday, February 25, 2007

Lower Lena Lake in the Snow with Geocachers

I was well enough to hike yesterday. I joined a group of geocachers who were hoping to go snowshoing at Lower Lena Lake whilst looking for geocaches. The morning of the hike I woke up to discover 1/4 of and inch of snow in my front yard, it was looking like a good day for shoeing! At 8:15 am two of geocachers picked me up at the park and ride and off we went.

The snow was gone by the time we got to Hoodsport but as we approaced the trailhead on Hamma Hamma road slush started to appear.

The group hiked at a fairly relaxed pace stopping frequently to catch their breath and chat. This worked out well for me since I was still weak from the flu and three weeks of no hiking.

The first Geocache of the day was the one I hid at the trailhead on December 20th, I watched the others look for it. One of my pop can stoves was in the cache and I saw one of the group members examine it quizically but he did not ask what it was.

The Second geocache was at the funny bridge that has no water under it. I had looked for that cache before and failed to find it. This time the four of us failed to find it. We think the cache is missing. Snow really started dumping on us while we were hunting for it.

The third cache we went for was near lunch rock and was placed by a man who had severly injured himself whilst repelling down lunch rock about three years ago. We found that cache with a bit of effort.

The fourth cache is one I have looked for 3 times and I was in no mood to look for it again. The three men I was hiking and geocaching with wanted to look for it anyway so I waited on lunch rock while they looked for the cache. Lunch rock had several inches of snow on it. After about 1/2 hour they came back to lunch rock empty handed. I am certain that this cache is missing.

The lake was mostly covered with ice and the ice had interesting patterns in it. The second image I altered to bring out the patterns the first is natural. Clicking any of the images on this page will enlarge them.

I think the black round spots that have cracks raidiating out from them may be caused by stumps and trees under the water. Lena Lake was formed by a natural land slide and the lake filled in where there used to be a forest.

There was not enough snow on the trail so we all carried our snowshoes for the entire hike. Snow was falling but it was melting almost as fast as it fell and the trees kept bombing us with snowballs. By the time we hiked out the snow was all turning to slush.

My hands and feet were soaking wet. As long as I was moving I was warm enough but once the hike ended and I had to sit in a car I got cold and did not warm up until I got home and had a hot cup of tea. I normally leave a hot thermos full of something in the car on a winter day but not this time.

I did have a nice hot cup of tea on lunch rock and my new stove worked great. It only needed 1/2 of the fuel I put in it. Too bad the others wandered off to look for a cache while my tea was brewing. My cuppa at the turn around point was not as relaxing as usual but it was hot and tasty.

I am quite stiff and sore this morning even though the hike was only 8.7 miles. I blame the flu. It seems like everytime I get into really good shape I get ill and then then have to work at getting in shape again. I'd really like to go long enough between illnesses to be able to lose weight. I was starting to hike twice a week and I was losing weight but now the lost weight is back and I have to start over again.

This is the first hike I have taken my new GPS on that I have also taken my old GPS on. My old GPS could only hold a signal for about 1/4 of this hike. My daughter and I would play guessing games to see who could correctly guess how many switchbacks we had to walk to reach the trail head and the nice warm car. With my new GPS with breadcrumbs turned on there is no guessing!

Total mileage 8.7, elevation gain 1,300 feet. This is advertised as a 6 mile rt hike but we made it an 8.7 mile hike. we did some off trail wandering but surly not 2 miles worth! I think the official mileage for this trail may be off a bit.

I had a good time hiking with the geocachers and I hope I can hike with them again next month but that is almost the same thing as hoping that my SO will still be unemployed next month. He works in the hospitality industry and usually has to work on the weekends when the geocachers (and almost all others) go hiking.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Work Begins to Open Staircase Road


The U.S. Forest Service announced that work will begin this week to reopen Forest Service Road 24. It has been closed by order since the Bear Gulch II Fire began in July of 2006.

This precaution was necessary to prevent injury to the public from rock and debris slides, which have been triggered mainly by freeze/thaw weather cycles and fire damaged trees failing during storms. The road is the main access point for the popular Staircase area and the several summer homes located on the west-side of Lake Cushman.

According to Dean Yoshina, District Ranger for the Hood Canal district of the Olympic National Forest, the road will remain closed to the public while workers remove hazard trees and clear the road.

Trees that are imminent hazards, many over 400 feet above the road will be directionally felled across the slope contour. Debris barriers will be placed in areas of greatest concern such as the area known as the Bowling Alley which is located up-lake from Party Rock where the fire started. Yoshina said this area may also require a single lane roadway.

The road work should be completed by mid March, but the road won't open then. Bill Shelmerdine, Olympic National Forest Geotechnical Specialist, anticipates that to be early May but cautioned that the road may still require periodic seasonal closures as conditions warrant.

Homeowners will be granted access to their property prior to the road being open to the public, if they first obtain a road use permit from the Forest Service. The permit will require them to carry $1 million dollars of liability insurance. They must also sign a waiver that would hold the government harmless if property damage or injury were to occur while they are using the road during the closure period.

I found some new pictures of the fire here

Friday, February 16, 2007


I've not been hiking since the 7th, I've got a cold or a flu and it's really dragging me down. My head feels like it is full of cotton wool. My entire family is ill but I seem to be the most ill. My oldest missed one day of school and is feeling better. My youngest still has a fever and is driving me up the walls. My SO is grumpy and ill but he is usually grumpy and ill. My SO feels well enough go to the store everyday so he must be feeling better then I am. I have a fever right now.

I hope to be well enough to hike on the 24th, that's a full week away.

From time to time I feel well enough to stumble out to my shed and work on my pop can stoves.

These are ultralight alcohol stoves for backpacking. I have a large beer can for my cook pot. with this set up my entire Kitchen (stove, pot, windscreen, reflector) weighs 4.5 ounces. Using two ounces of HEET this will boil two cups of water in about ten minutes.

I've not taken this cook pot hiking with me yet. My normal cookpot a Wal-Mart Grease saver is heavier it weighs 4.5 ounces all by it's self. But it has the advantage of having a handle and lower more stable profile .

In the middle of being so ill my oldest daughter's sperm donor, a middle aged Bachelor with 4 children by three women, has decided that I should provide all the transportation for his twice monthly visitation and is dragging us all in to court yet again. He won't get his way, he never does but still what a PITA.

On a lighter note: Thanks to Geocaching I've learned of well in Olympia. People line up to fill their water bottles at this well. I tasted the water and it had an aftertaste. At first it tasted like water from a mountain stream but there was a metalic aftertaste. Maybe the taste was from the pipe it comes out if.

Maybe the water is clean and over 2000 years old, or maybe the water has been poisoned by one of the 14 nearby toxic waste sites.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Dungeness Spit

I joined up with the PWC to hike out to the lighthouse and back on Dungeness Spit. I've not hiked with the PWC since before my almost three year old was conceived. Maybe I will join the PWC again but maybe not. They tend to focus on the Northern Olympics and I live closer to the Southern Olympics. Also the membership fee is now $25.00.

I should join the Olympia Mountaineers but they are way out of my price range. I could feed my family of four for two weeks on what they charge for a new membership.

(Speaking of feeding my family we are getting a free veggie garden installed in our back yard by the folks at GRUB)

Yesterdays hike was 10.5 miles with 160 feet of elevation gain. I don't know how that rates on the hike difficulty calculator. It was difficult coming back because we had to walk on rocks and slippery gravel.

I'm feeling good today anyway. I'm really starting to get into shape again. There is a vitual Terracache near the lighthouse, I bagged it today and got to be the first finder.