Saturday, March 31, 2007

Upper Big Creek to Lower Ellinor

Today I started out on the Upper Big Creek Trail and hiked up it to the Ellinor Connector trail and then continued on to the Lower Ellinor trailhead. from he Lower Ellinor Trailhead I walked down the road about 500 feet to an abandoned logging road that joins up with the Ellinor connector trail. I went back down the Ellinor Connector trail to the Upper Big
Creek Loop and instead of hiking right back to my car I completed the Upper Big Creek loop.

The only snow I saw was on the road that goes up to Mount Ellinor. There was no snow in the forest and I was a bit shocked to see so much snow down on the road. There were 4 cars parked at the lower Ellinor trailhead.

Kudos to the Mount Rose Trail Crew, they have been very busy on the Upper Big Creek Loop. I only had to step over one fallen tree (way up near the top of the connector trail) and there was all kinds of evidence of recent work done on this trail.

I took my lunch break at the troll bridge. The troll had a big smile on his face, it seems he found a wife last year. Now there are two trolls at the troll bridge. Normally I take my lunch break at the lake cushman overlook near the top of the Ellinor connector trail but I had no water to cook lunch with. I was very surprised to find that my usual water source was all dried up.

The forest at the Lower Trailhead (the top end of my hike) was shrouded in mist and was rather uninviting. Most people pass by the lower trailhead and start at the upper Ellinor trailhead when they summit Mount Ellinor. They miss a wonderful walk on a forested ridge by passing up the lower trail head. I think the forest on that ridge is climax old growth.

While I was walking on the short section of abandoned logging road I found one of my youngest daughter's beanie babies. It was an elephant and it must have fallen out of her jogging stroller when I took the girls up there last fall. That elephant looked good for having spent the entire winter on Mount Ellinor.

I did not pass anyone else all day long, excluding a couple of groups in the Big Creek Campground. Mileage 7.61 Elevation gain 1,800 feet.

Blogger is doing crazy things when I run the spell check that is why some of the fonts are different.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Colonol Bob

I hiked up to the Mulkey shelter on the Col. Bob trail yesterday. It was my first time on this trail so I was excited to be doing something new. There was a brand new geocache waiting for it's first finder at the shelter too.

This was quite a work out. I had trouble finding the trail in places. A huge blow down near the one mile marker had me searching for the trail for almost an hour. At one point I gave up and started to go back to my car. But I really wanted to complete this hike so back up the trail I went. I found a switchback just 5 feet above me. The blow down really confused me because it covered a switch back.

Over and under trees, the tune "Limbo Rock" got stuck in my head. Hmm to go over or under this one? Some I had to go around, to go above or below? A few times I made the wrong choice. I don't know how many times I had to take off my pack and crawl on my hands and knees.

Easter lilies are in bloom and the old growth here is outstanding. I really enjoyed the forest and I stopped to sit and absorb the atmosphere several times.

Once I reached the shelter it was time to look for the geocache, the first cache I found was not a geocache. I found someone's cache of fuel canisters!
When I found the geocache it was totally exposed. I covered it up with a bit of bark that I think had been used to cover it up before.
The cache and two new geocoins and a travel bug in it. I took one Geocoin and left the other and the travel bug for someone else.
Regarding the Shelter:
According the "Olympic Mountain Trail Guide" by Robert L. Wood:
"The Shelter was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps. in the 1930's to replace a cabin built about 1910 by Mart H and Purl Mulkey. The brothers had a trap line that extended form the Colonel Bob area to Bunch Lake, where they had another cabin.

I don't blame the last person who attemped to find this cache for turning back since they had to deal with bad coordinates and hip deep snow. The only snow I found on the trail was right at the shelter. What a difference a few weeks makes. I was tempted to turn back when my GPS said I was 14 feet away from the shelter but I could not see the shelter. I could see a giant moss covered rock and for a moment I wondered if the shelter had been crushed by the rock. I had to use my geosense to find the shelter, I figured it must be up on the hill-top where there was a flat spot but it was getting very close to the time I needed to turn back if I wanted to reach my car before dark!

I walked 5.27 miles to reach the cache thanks to losing the trail, I walked 4.07 miles to reach my car. Round trip mileage was 9.3 miles with 2,614 feet of elevation gain.
Took me 4 hours to hike up and only 2 hours to hike down. I spent 45 minutes at the shelter cooking lunch and brewing tea but I did not eat my lunch until I was about 1 mile back down the trail. I started just after 11am and finished just after 6pm.

Unfortunately I packed my camera all the way up there and back without a memory card in it. Boo hoo I have no pictures.
This hike only ranks a 21 on the hike difficulty calculator
But with climbing over and under so much dead fall it was a pretty tough hike.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Cooking Rice with a Can Stove and Pot

Using a YACC stove and an Ion stove I can cook rice. I start with the YACC stove with two tablespoons of fuel, 2/3 cup of dry rice 2 1/3 cup of water. I use so much water because some of it boils off.

It comes to a full boil in 9 minutes and continues to boil for 3-4 minutes

After the fuel has run out I put 1 teaspoon of fuel in a specially made ion stove. The center hole is smaller then normal and that makes this stove burn very slowly. If I poured the rice and water into a bowl with a cozy I think it would continue cooking until it was done without the use of the second stove.

18 minutes later rice is fully cooked and the fuel is used up. This is faster then the 20 minute method I use at home. I think I could do with with just one stove by tightening the windscreen to cut off air to the boiling stove. Cutting of the air should slow it down to a simmer.

Rice has been transferred to a nice bowl and is ready for butter buds and Parmesan cheese. A bit of dehydrated hamburger and mushrooms or veggies could be added to the rice as it boils to make a nice meal.

Monday, March 26, 2007

South Mountain Drive

I went to hike up South Mountain last week. I was feeling rough and did not want to hike but hoped I would feel better when I got to the gate. When I got to the gate it was open! I cheated, I drove all the way to the top of South Mountain. It was all socked in with fog at the top so I am glad I did not make the effort to hike up. I'm not even sure I would have made it to the top. I might have turned around and gone back without making it the way I felt.

I hid a geocache at the top. I put an alcohol stove (White Box Brand) in the cache that I bought on ebay but did not like because it burned too hot. There was a HAM at the top working on the repeater. Yep that's a HAM radio repeater sitting up there, now I know. He said it was fine for me to drive and be up there but he was going to leave in and hour and lock the gate behind him.

I sat at the top for about 30 seconds and then I headed over to the next logging road. I wandered around some in my Jeep and then got out and searched for and found a geocache but I really was not feeling up to it.

Spring break is coming. Most years I am sick from the start of school in September until the end of Spring Break. Yes I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I could have lost the 20-30 extra pounds that I am packing around if only I were not too sick to hike most of the time.

I was dizzy and had a fever yesterday but I hope to get out and hike again tomorrow. Where I'm going I don't know, but even if I did I would not post it in advance here.


Oh well it is now tomorrow and I am not hiking. My husband went out drinking with a submarine sailor last night and he spent the night at the sailors house so he could avoid driving drunk. He's still not home at 11:34, he must be pretty hung over. So I have no child care again today, I'll hike tomorrow instead.

Yesterday a geocacher went to look for my South Mountain cache and was having trouble finding it because it turns out I posted the coordinates to the summit instead of to the cache at Lukily he was able to call on his cell phone to a friend who then sent me an email. I realized I had put the wrong coordinates in so I called him where he was on the mountain top and gave him good coordinates. I also gave him directions to my South Mountain Terracache.

I made it all up to him by serving him a big plate of pasta, hot chocolate and a beer as he was passing through town on the way back to his house.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Lower South Fork Skokomish

I drug myself out of the house to day and had a nice hike. I did not know if I would feel well enough to do much of a hike. I thought I might only go a mile and turn around but I just had to get out of the house. When all was said and done I had hiked 13 miles. I always feel better when I get out of the house, being home depresses me, too much stress and mess here I guess.

I did not intend to do a loop but that's how it worked out. I walked half the loop on a road and the other half on the trail. It was not a bad way to do it really.

There were a lot of blow downs and this trail really needs some work done on it. In one spot I lost the trail and this is a trail that I know well.

I started out at the trail head near the Le Bar horse camp becuase I was feeling lazy. By starting out at Le Bar a big climb right at the start of the hike is avoided. I took the Le Bar trail to the main trail but then turned of onto something called the "120 access" and it took me back to the road I was parked on, that road is the 2353. I walked about 4 miles up the 2353 and then took a spur trail back down to the Skok and took the Skok trial all the way back to the Le Bar Trail.

Here are a few .avi clips of this hike, I hope they make you feel like you are out hiking!

BTW that sound is not the sound of me breathing it's my rain pants or my foot falls.. I was too lazy to work hard enought to get out of breath today.

Last night I made a new stove just for this hike and it did not work well at all! Also my can pot got dented when I was ducking under all those trees. I need to keep it lower in my pack I think. They dent came out easily enough though.

I cooked lunch and brewed two cups of tea while on this hike. I need a better strategy for cooking my dehydrated food. It might require some simmering on the stove in addition to simmering in a bowl. I put 1/2 cup of water in my meal an hour before I cooked it so it would start rehydrating. Maybe I should have added the water even sooner.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Cyclone Stove

I have three working cyclone stove now.. this shows all of them at once:

Here is all three of them under one tea pot:

Friday, March 9, 2007

My complete six ounce cook set

Here is my complete Heineken can pot six ounce backpacking cook set. This set includes a stove, windscreen, pot stand, bottom reflector, insulated cup and bowl. I will normally pack a lexan spoon too.

This is the insulated bowl with a screw on lid. I will boil two cups of water at a time with this system. When the water reaches a boil I grab the can with a gloved hand or with a bandanna and I pour one cup of it over a dehydrated dinner in the bowl. ( I make all my own dehydrated food) then the bowl screws together and the cozy is put over it. The food simmers in the bowl. Food will stay warm for 30 minutes with this sytem.

After the first cup of water is poured off the pot goes back on the stove til the water is boiling again (about 20 seconds) and then I pop a tea bag into it, take the pot off the stove and put it in a bubble wrap cozy and let the tea simmer for three minutes. After the tea has simmered I remove the tea bag add powdered milk and sugar and drink it right out of the pot. Using the bubble wrap my pot turns into an insulated mug that does not burn my hands. I sip my tea while dinner is simmering.

The pot lid is made out of the bottom of a large catfood can. I used J.B. weld to attach the handle to it. This lid fits so well that I can fill the pot with water put the lid on it and hold the can upside down without the water leaking out!

This is picture shows the system cooking. The stove burns alcohol and is made with a wedding favor tin and a fiberglass wick. The stove is somewhat adjustable. For simmering the wick can be pulled into the tin a bit and for quicker boiling the wick can be pulled out. To fill the stove I open the top half then pour the alcohol in. The post stand it made of hard ware cloth and I'm not sure how well it will stand up to heat over time. This system using two tablespoons of alcohol will boil two cups of cold water in about 13 minutes and then continue to run for another three minutes. With the wick shortened it will run for 21 minutes on two tablespoons of alcohol and reaches a boil in about 16 minutes. This stove works well with a can pot because the flame stays below the pot and barely licks up the sides.

The stove, windscreen, pot stand, fuel bottle and matches all fit inside the pot and give the pot extra durability in my pack.

I slip a pot cozy over the top of the can to hold it all together. This is what the complete system looks like minus the bowl. If I choose to forgo the tea and just eat my meals out of the pot my system will look like this and weigh a bit less.

Still ill

I've got another damn fever. I was ready to go hiking the last two mornings in a row but I woke up with a fever both days. So I'm stuck at home yet again today. It's so frustrating for me to be too ill to hike so often. I wonder if most people get sick this often? I think most of it comes from my grade school aged child. I have another child who has not yet started school so perhaps I have many many years of being ill ahead of me.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

More Stoves

I tried to make a cyclone stove today but I did not measure anything or use a template. The stove boils water but it does not make a cyclone. Maybe I will use the template and try again. I have nothing that I can punch perfect sized holes into steel with though.

Also today I decided to try making a wicking stove. The stove below boiled two cups of water using 1 US fluid ounce = 2 US tablespoons of denatured alcohol in 13 minutes and then continued to burn for another 3 minutes. Testing conditions were

42 °F / 6 °C
Light Rain
Humidity: 89%
Wind: 9 mph / 15 km/h / 4.1 m/s from the SW

I suppose the tap water I used was about 45 degrees F.

The stove stand is not actually part of the stove and can be removed. I've been trying to make a stove that works well with a Heineken can pot. Tea Light "stoves" do not hold enough fuel but they do direct the flame to a small spot. Many stoves send flames shooting up the side of the narrow can pot and do not work well. My new wicking stove holds enough fuel and thanks to the wick directs the flame to a small spot that does not overlap the sides of my narrow can pot.

I fill this stove with fuel by taking the top off pouring in the 2 tablespoons of fuel that it holds and then putting the top back on. I light the top of the wick. The wick is fiberglass. The first several times I ran this stove it got too hot and flames started

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Stove Making

My two favorite home made stoves. The top stove is the first stove I ever made and it has accompanied me on many day hikes. This is a simple stove to make. Directions for making it are here.

The stove on the left I just made today and I'm very happy with it's performance. It is a bit like an ion stove but with an integrated pot stand. The part the pot rests on is made from both can halves and seems to be sturdy enough.

The fuel port is from the unopened top of a small tomato juice can I pressed the bottom of the same can into the fuel port and cut a hole it what used to be the very bottom of the can. I kept adding holes to the pot support part until the stove was getting enough air to burn fairly hot. The flame shoots out of the holes in the pot support. I was hoping that the flame would just come out the center hole.

I wanted to make a good stove to use with a Heineken can pot and this was not it! This stove burned for 17 minutes on about 2.5 Table spoons of alcohol but the water (1.5 cups) in my Heineken can pot never boiled.

When I used this stove with my grease pot (with no windscreen or bottom reflector this time) it ran for for 14 minutes, the water (1.5 cups) boiled in just seven minutes and then continued to boil for another seven minutes.

Both stoves have integrated pot stands. I really don't like having a separate pot stand to have to fiddle with. Both stoves are made from just one can.

I ran these tests outdoors using cold tap water. Air temperature was about 37F or 3C. I know most people start with 70 degree F water but I like to test in real world conditions and I hate measuring things too much. I cut 4 times and never measure, I just eyeball everything.