Sunday, June 24, 2007

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I met the Mount Rose Trail Crew today

Today I went up Mount Rose yet again. This might be the first time I have done the same hike three times in a row. I went up with a Geocacher from Olympia and I enjoyed the company.

As we were leaving Shelton this morning it was raining and we were worried that there would be no views. But the clouds lifted and we had a nice view from the summit rock.

When we were hiking up a man who was hiking down said that a trail crew was on the Mountain. I did wonder if they were on the Mountain today when I saw so many cars in the parking lot. I've been wanting to meet the amazing "Mount Rose Trail Crew" for some time now.

Right after lunch on the little saddle we met up with the trail crew and we had a nice chat and I took some pictures of them. They were excited about the Copper Creek trail, they had just finished working on it and I think they would like to see some hikers use it.

One of the members of the trail crew recognized me as "mossymom" that was pretty neat.
The crew has been very busy this year cleaning up all the wind storm damage. The forest service asked them to clean up the Lower Lena Lake trail and they did. They have also done a bunch of work on the upper big creek trail.

Thanks to the Mount Rose Trail Crew the old route up Mount Ellinor has been opened up and can be accessed via the Upper Big Creek Loop.

I will go up the Copper Creek trail for my next hike after Camp Muir and I will try to get a nice track log for the trail. I'm also going to put a geocache up there.

Hiking came easy today but I am tired now that I am home.

The Mount Rose Trail Crew hard at work

Summit View

Indian Pipe Plant

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Mount Rose Twice in One Week

I went up Mount Rose again today. 3 hours going up, one hour for lunch and 1.5 hours going down. I feel pretty good, going up it just 4 days ago must have helped. I brought my camera this time but forgot to put the memory card in it. No worries though, my new camera has some internal memory.

I took the longer fork up and the shorter fork down and did not lose the trail much this time and when I did lose the trail my old GPS track log from earlier in the week put me right back on the trail in no time.

I found an old picture of the summit view from Mount Rose that I took the first time I went up it in 2005. You can see the difference now that there has been a fire up there.

Today's Track Log

Today's Profile .4 of a mile shorter since I did not lose the trail

Summit View after Fire

Summit View Before Fire

Not my Picture but it was taken on Mount Rose

Again, not mine but Taken From Mount Rose

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Mount Rose

I want to hike to Camp Muir with a group of geocachers at the end of this month so I need to get into good shape. Camp Muir is 10,000 feet up and I'll have to gain 4,600 feet on foot to get there. The thin air and the large elevation gain will make it a tough hike.

On Saturday with weather front moving in I decided against trying for hiking up Mount Jupiter and settled on Mount Rose instead. I like Mount Rose. My first trip up Mount Rose was right after I had started up hiking again once I had recovered from child-birth. Sitting on the summit that day reminded me of why I like hiking so much and made me really glad that I had started hiking again.

My second attempt at Mount Rose did not take me to the summit because there was too much snow but I had a nice hike anyway because I met a woman on the trail who joined with my for most of the hike.

This Saturday was my third time up Mount Rose and my second time on the summit. I had a hard time getting out of bed for this hike though. First of all I'm dieting and that is making me weak and lethargic second my least favorite aunt decided to come visit today. So I was tired and in a really bitchy mood.

I almost did not go hiking but then I remembered the plan I had made last night. My plan was to get a 12 inch subway sandwich and eat half before the hike and half after the hike. Oh food yes food! The thought of good fattening food got my fat ass out of the house. I knew that the ultra strenuous hike up Mount Rose would more then make up for eating a giant sandwich. So I could eat well today and still lose weight.

I started my hike at noon and was pleasantly surprised with how well my body performed. My backpacking trip must have gotten me into shape. I am only a bit sore this evening and that's saying a lot. The Mount Rose trail gains 3,400 feet in about 3 miles. Today's total mileage was 6.9.

There was a fire on Mount Rose last year and some of it went over the trail. But some plants have come back to the burned areas already. Those plants are bear grass, bracken fern, trailing black berries, and salal and of course fire morels.

The mushrooms I saw on this hike included Panther Amanita’s, lots of them, rotten chicken of the woods, a mystery mushroom and one giant fire morel. I saw two salamanders, several banana slugs and two dead baby birds. I guess the baby birds fell or were plucked out of their nests. Just as I finished up my lunch I saw a soaking wet gray jay. I felt bad that I had nothing left to give it.

I took the shorter summit route up and the longer ridge route down. I lost the trail on the summit route for a good 15 minutes and at the worst time; my GPS was reading that I was just ten minutes from the summit. I would have turned around and hiked the summit on the longer Ridge if I had to. I was not going to give up on bagging this peak today. Finally I did regain the trail but only after putting my GPS in my pocket and following my instincts. One problem with using my GPS there was that it was right at a spot where the actual trail diverges from the trail on my GPS map by a whole bunch.

Once I made it to the top it felt really good to sit on the summit of Mount Rose but there was no view. As predicted a big weather front had moved in and I hiked in the rain all day. But one nice thing I noticed is that when it rains in June the sky is much brighter then it is when it rains in December. I was in a cheerful mood for the entire hike (except when I lost the trail) in spite of the constant rain.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Enchanted Valley Backpack

For my birthday my husband gave me a solo backpacking trip. This was my first solo backpacking trip in nearly four years. My last solo was when I was 8 weeks pregnant and I had to be airlifted out. That child is now 3 and this was the fist time we spent the night apart.

Day one I got up at about 8:30 and opened my birthday presents and got some good stuff from my family. My mother gave me a neat long handled titanium spoon (for eating out of my can pot) and an ultralight fire starter. Then my husband started yelling at me, perhaps his way of saying he was going to miss me, so I left.

Two plus hour later I arrived in the town of Quinualt.
When I went to turn on my GPS I realized that I had forgotten to put batteries in it. I knew that the South Shore store would be an expensive place to buy batteries but there was no place else nearby to shop. Still was not prepared to pay the $12.99 that they wanted for batteries. I decided that I just might not be able to use my GPS for the entire trip.

After I left the store I stopped by the Forest Service office to pick up my trip permit and while I was there I mentioned the price of batteries next door. A very kind older gentleman over heard me and offered me four fresh batteries for free.

I reached the trail head at about noon and started my hike. My starting pack weight was 27 pounds. Heavier then normal because I brought my bear can (2.5 pounds) and binoculars (about 1 pound).

At first hiking came easy I was fresh and I was excited to be on the trail. But as the miles dragged on I got pretty tired. My first campsite was to be O'neil Camp 6.5 miles down the trail. Well the park service is wrong here, the actually distance is 8.5 miles plus another .10 of a mile once you reach the spur trail to the campsite.

I had the campsite all to myself. It was a bit creepy to be all alone so I kept a fire going all night long.

I hope that someday I will be more comfortable with camping alone. I will have to get over that fear if I am ever going to hike the PCT.

Luckily for me there was a full moon and moon rise was just 1/2 hour after sunset so it never got very dark.

My cook pot tipped over when I was cooking dinner but my dinner did not spill out. I'm going to have to come up with a new stove to use with my can pot. The ion stove is too small.

My long handled titanium spoon was wonderful to use.

The sun came up at 4:30 am and everything was bright and cheerful again, including me. I did not feel sore from the previous days hike.

Day 2

I left my campsite at about 9:30 and trudged up the hill to the trail. By the time I reached my lunch spot at Pyrite Creek I was pretty tired. Three rangers who were hiking back towards the trailhead stopped and talked to me while I rested. They warned me about bears on the trail and told me the bears were not running away from hikers and I might have to walk around them.

After the Rangers were gone I continued my hike out of Pyrite Creek Camp. Pyrite Creek was missing it's bridge and the only way I could see to cross was on a really sketchy log jam. I nearly fell in the river and had to crawl on my hands and knees to get across the jam. That experience left my heart pounding.

1/2 mile after I left Pyrite creek I found a tree that was loaded with Oyster Mushrooms and I stopped to take some pictures and pick a few. Then I noticed something moving in the woods, A BEAR! My first bear of the hike, I took a few pictures but the bear was moving away from me and back in the trees.

About a mile later as I came around a sharp bend in the trail I let out a gasp, there was Bear two and s/he was only ten feet away. Bear two was startled by my gasp and s/he made a run for it.

The trail continued on through a Beautiful Valley. I was getting very tired, the trail was going up hill and my pack was getting heavier by the mile. Then 1/2 mile before the Enchanted Valley I saw bears three and four. They were a mama and a cub and they were walking down the trail. The mama saw me but tried to ignore me, she did not want to leave the trail. But her baby said to her

"Mama look at that scary thing!"

So the mama bear propped her front feet on a rock to take a better look at me and then said "

"Oh alright we'll get off the trail if we must"

They only went 15 feet off the trail and expected me to pass them. I was nervous about getting that close to a mama and a cub so I hesitated a bit and made some noise with my trekking poles. Eventually the bears moved off out of site and I passed by but I could still hear them moving in the bushes.

Finally I made it to the Enchanted Valley at about 5:00 PM. I fixed a small fire to cook dinner over since my cook pot had already tipped over twice by this point. Dinner was cheesy broccoli soup with several different kinds of dried mushrooms that we picked last fall plus two fresh oyster mushrooms.

I woke up in the night because I was cold and I had to put my rain pants on in order to keep warm. I should have brought my cold weather sleeping back after all.

Day 3

I really did not want to leave the Enchanted Valley but I had to if I was going to make it home by Sunday night. I left the Valley around 9:30 and recrossed on the scary log jab at Pyrite creek around noon. At Pyrite creek camp I rested up for three full hours. A nosey "jobs worth" type ranger came by and demanded to see my trail permit, I was glad when he was gone.

I saw one hiker pass by so I decided to watch him cross the creek. He found a much easier way to cross then I did and I felt a bit foolish for crossing the way I did.

At 3:00 pm I dragged myself up and headed back to O'neil camp. I saw the last bear of the trip as I left.

I hoped that I would not have to camp alone but was pretty sure I'd sleep well even if the campground was empty. As I approached the actual camp spot that I had used on my Birthday I saw that it was occupied by a one person tent.

The owner had been down at the river and she came up and said hello when she saw me. She apologized for taking up such a huge campsite all for herself. She told me she had been with a group but got hurt and had to say behind. I guessed what group she must have been in and she confirmed that I was right. (one of the people in her group was also with the Mountain Goats and we recognized each other as we passed) She asked me if I was alone and when I said yes she invited me to camp with her so I did.

Her name was Ginny and she was 76 years old. She had been backpacking for 50 years. She had a lot of good stories to tell and I really enjoyed her company and would gladly camp with her again but she could have talked the hind legs off a donkey.

I had no choice but to cook with my stove because Ginny's tent was too close to the fire pit and she did not like camp fires. My can pot did not tip over so maybe I'm getting better at using it but I'm still going to toss that small ion stove.

I was cold again that night and had to put my rain pants on in order to stay warm. I woke up with a back ache that forced me to get out of bed. Ginny go up shortly after I did, we both ate break fast and packed up.

Ginny left but I stayed behind to reminisce and take pictures of the campsite that I spent my 40th birthday in.

About one mile down the trail I caught up with Ginny and we said our final goodbyes.

The hike out was a real struggle, I was tired and my back and shoulders hurt. To make things worse there was a long uphill climb right before the final descent to the trailhead. I finished my hike about noon and was back home by 4:00 PM.

I'm glad that I got to see the Enchanted Valley and all those bears but I really wish I had time to take a break from hiking on one of the days I was out. I got home yesterday and I'm stiff, sore and tired today and probably will be the same way tomorrow.

If I ever hope to through hike the PCT I'm going to have to be in much better shape, but that is still years away so I have time.

The Enchanted Chalet

Roots from two fused cedar trees

Camp O'Neal on the last day

Sign at Pony Bridge

Camp on my Birthday

Both track logs from this day show the distance from the trail head
to Camp O'Neil to be over 8 miles and NOT 6.5 miles. The Park service advertises this as 6.5 miles.

One way track log showing a 16 mile hike instead of a 13.5 mile hike.

Banana Slug

A big Douglas Fir


Enchanted Valley

Bear Valley