Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mount Rose on an overcast day

View From Summit

Same view last year.

I woke up at 5 am but just did not feel enthusiastic about hiking so I went back to sleep. I finally got out of bed at about 8:30 and still did not feel like hiking. Then I had my morning cup of tea and suddenly BLAM!     Hiking seemed  prudent and with my energy level Mount Rose sounded good. 3,400 feet in elevation gain in just 2.9 miles should slow me down a bit.

I somehow managed to drive to the trail head without getting into wreck. I noticed a lot of log trucks coming in of the Department of Nothing Remaining (DNR) land north of Lake Cushman and fresh clear cut forest on the other side of Lake Cushman. Have I ever mentioned that I hate what logging does to the forest? Shortly after turning left at the "T" near Big Creek my beloved Mount Rose came into view. She is scarred but beautiful and I'm always happy to see her.

I was on the trail within one minute of parking and Up Up UP I went, up the mountain that is. My legs hurt; they just could not keep up with my brain. After I had gained 800 feet in elevation I calmed down a bit and was able to enjoy my hike.

I actually had a very pleasant hike today, the sky was overcast but that is good for picture taking. I took the left fork at the top and had fun taking pictures of wild flowers on the ridgeline. As I neared the summit looked over towards Mount Ellinor and saw clouds starting to cover it so I did not take my usual lunch break on the ridge but headed right for the summit rock to get a view before the clouds moved in. The view at the summit was very good for such an overcast day but it was windy and very cold. I only paused a few moments on the summit before I headed down. In the short amount of time that I was on the summit my fingers started to go numb.

I'm really in to saphrophytic plants and Mount Rose is an ideal place to observe them. These plants are kind of rare and all of them get their chlorophyll from other plants. Today I found the largest clump of Ghost pipe plant I have ever seen. I also spotted two Vancouver Ground Cones and plenty of my favorite mycoheterotroph.

On the way down I traveled through the area that was most scarred by the fire and I saw a lot of fresh windfall but I also saw a lot of evidence of recent trail work. My heroes the “Mount Rose Trail Crew” must have been busy up here. I suspect that a lot more of Mount Rose is going to slide onto the road below as the roots of the burned trees begin to rot and loose the ability to hold the soil in place.

When I was about half way back down it started raining and by the time I made it to the bottom rain was falling hard. I saw 9 other people on the Mountain today, 4 were just taking a stroll close the trail head, 2 were coming down from the summit and 3 were going up. The last two hikers I saw were just leaving the trailhead at 5:45; they must have had one cold wet hike. I wonder what the summit was like for them.

I feel pretty darn good for such a brutal hike. Mount Rose is my fitness Gauge, if I'm not sore for the next three days I'll know I'm in ok shape. I really won't know until tomorrow what kind of shape I'm in but my legs feel pretty good now 2 hours after my hike. Just sitting my knees ache but nothing hurts too bad and when I got home I was able to hop right out of my car with out staggering. Normally I stagger a bit when I first get out of my car after a tough hike. I admit though I did stagger some when I got out at the Hoodsport Grocery store.

I used to always stop at the Lake Cushman store to grab an after hike coffee and call my husband but that place has changed. They are not as friendly anymore and they have cameras everywhere.

3,400 feet elevation gain 6.2 miles RT
Beauty: 3 mushrooms
Difficulty: 4 mushrooms
Gas cost $6.08 at $4.00 a gallon

Lightening Peak

Largest clump of Ghost pipe plant I've ever seen

Looking East

Looking East from the Summit. A fresh Clear-cut soils the view.

Jagged Mount Washington

Hemlock Close Up

It is not Fall, these trees are dead from the fire

Zoomed in on some paintbrush

This is the Rare ground cone plant (Boschniakia hookeri)one of two I saw today.
It is said to be parasitic on Salal

Over 80 Miles on these now


Varigated something

Zoomed in on a meadow on distant Mount Wasington

The flowers are black maybe from pushing up through the soot

This one even has the candycane twist

A daisy

This burl always catches my eye

I Love Mount Rose!
(does this picture make my butt look fat?)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Upper Skokomish to Riley Camp

Trailhead sign

I was spending too much of my time at home engaging in activities with a high possibility of leading to painful consequences and I was half expecting a legal process server to come visiting. So my husband got me out of town. We went to a Shelter for the week and being in the woods camping did calm me down quite a bit.

This is a lovely free to use shelter on the Skokomish River. People always leave a little tribute to the place when they leave so it is rather well supplied. Our tribute was this pot holder that I made and a couple of ½ full propane canisters.

Shelter Toilet

My pot holder

I got up at about 7:30 am and tip toed around the campsite making tea and getting ready without waking up my family. For a few years now I’ve wanted to make the trip to Sundown pass so I could see the pass and see the headwaters of the South Fork Skokomish. But I did not make it that far on this day. I started my hike at about 8:00 and by 8:20 I had made it out to the trail head where my vehicle was parked, ate the pop tarts I had stored in my glove box for this occasion, and started my hike. I picked 1pm as my turn around time, that would give me 5 hours to hike in and 5 hours to hike out with a one hour lunch break and would have me back in camp by 7pm.

The Upper Skokomish trail is only available to hikers 6 months out of the year and I think that is a real shame. I try to take of advantage of it when this trail is actually open. The Skokomish river trail used to be 25 miles long but the first 15 mile of it have been destroyed by logging and an additional ½ mile long section in the middle was destroyed. At the start of this hike one has to walk ½ mile down a logging road where this middle section was destroyed. They recently thinned 80 acres of tree (on the Pine Lake trail) just to come up with enough money to decommission this last half mile of road. To me this seems like a waste of time and not particularly good for the forest and it also makes the first ½ mile of this hike pretty awful.

My plan had been to hike to camp Riley and then decide if I had the energy to go another 1000 fee up to Sundown pass. I arrived at camp Riley at ten minutes before my turn around time and I felt too tired to go on. So I stopped at Camp Riley, lit a very small very smoky fire to chase off the bugs and took a ¾ hour long nap. The last time I was at Camp Riley I spent my entire time there scanning for bears or cougars that I just knew were going to come out of the woods at attack me at any moment. This time I took a nap, so yes I am getting more comfortable with to being out in the woods alone.

There is a really pretty meadow at Camp Riley but it is full of horseflies and mosquitoes, my fire kept them away. With 15 minutes of my lunch break left I boiled up some water for tea over the fire and consumed my lunch of sunflower seeds. I was not in the right headspace to pack a decent lunch for the trail so I grabbed a huge bag of sunflower seeds off the rack at Twin Totems and that was my only food for this hike. It had plenty of calories in it but was not particularly enticing.

At 2pm I when I turned around it was starting to get hot. About 1 mile from camp Riley I startled by another hiker. Whenever I am surprised by another hiker I scream but this time I was more startled then usual. This hiker turned out to be Cye Laramie and I chatted with him for a while. Cye is looking for an airplane that may have crashed nearby many years ago and he has a base camp set up somewhere near the pass. He had a really interesting story to tell but I could not chat for long because I was expected back in camp at 7.

I coule tell that passing Cye riled me up a little bit because ½ mile later when I ran into another solo male my scrambled up mind told me that this solo male was a member of my city police department who had come all the way up the trail to look for me. The guy was wearing camouflage pants and had a short haircut and a frown on his face. He said to me “It’s not a good after noon to be hiking is it?” So I knew he was not really there to hike and was actually questioning my as to why I was hiking because he knew I was not really hiking but was on the run from the police. So I asked him “Why?” He said because it is too hot to hike. Then POOF went my cloud of paranoia and I came back to my senses. I was not really hiding from the police anyway. This guy was frowning because he was hot and tired and he wanted to know how close he was to the pass. I showed him where we were on the topo map and he cheered up quite a bit but I bet his frown returned when he started that 1000 foot climb to the pass after Camp Riley.

The rest of the trip down was uneventful and it was so good to be back in the old growth forest. There is a lovely climax forest on this trail and it is as wild as any trail in the Olympics. I had to ford two rivers on the way back and I chose to cross barefoot both times. The cold water of the Skokomish hurt my feet while I was crossing because it was a bit longer and deeper crossing then the other ford at Start Up creek. The WTA is apparently going to fix the bridge at the Skokomish River sometime this summer.

I was surprised to see this trail in such good condition. Sure there are plenty of blow downs and a major bridge is out but the trail is in good shape considering the lack of recent maintenance and the harsh floods and windstorms of the last three winters.

I made it back to camp one hour before my expected return time of 7 pm and my family was pleased to see me back early. A pair of horse flies followed me about two miles down the trail and then all the way into camp! They only seemed to be only interested in me as they left the rest of my family alone. After I crossed the river to get some fire wood the horse flies went away but when I recrossed to get more wood they came back. Then when I crossed a third time they left for good.

I saw a human skull on the hillside above Camp Harps but I did not investigate because it was hopefully just a hallucination and if it was not hallucination I did not want to have anything to do with it. After returning to camp I was haunted by the sound of chainsaws in the distance, my husband could not hear the chainsaws and people do not normally run chainsaws in the dark so it must have just been my imagination. I started hearing them 2 miles before the end of my hike and then heard them until well after dark, then they went away but came back again in the morning. When people hallucinate they tend to hallucinate that things they hate or fear the most so it makes perfect sense that I would be hearing chainsaws. I love the forest, hate to see it get cut down and spent a hell of a lot of my teenage years hauling fire wood out of the forest for my dad as he bucked it up with a chainsaws.

This hike was 12 miles round trip with 3000 feet elevation gain.



75 miles on my new shoes
Cost of gas $0.00 since I was camped near the trail head anyway.

Log jam in middle of the trail, the water that left this is long gone.

Meadow at Camp Riley


This is a view from Camp Riley and might be Sundown peak

An elephant

Devils Club

False Soloman's Seal

One way elevation profile


I've been told these are Northwestern Salamander eggs, Very cool even though they look like a giant turd! There was another round blob of eggs in the pool. The beautiful reflectons in the pool made it hard to get a clear photo of the eggs and I did not want to risk damaging the eggs by taking them out for a photo. I love frog and now salamander eggs! I saw a dead Northwestern salamander about 1/4 of a mile from where I took this photo.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mount Rose on Fire Again???

Just now several people are reporting a brush fire on Mount Rose near party rock. There is a burn ban in place for the entire Olympic National Forest except for in developed campsites so this should not have happened! It is official fire department says that 1/2 acre is on fire and the fire is growing. The fire department is also calling it arson and says that tree crowns are burning.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Church Creek Trail

The Church Creek trail winds through a climax Hemlock forest then over the divide between the Skokomish and Satsop Rivers and then ends at Satsop Lakes. Like most trails in the area parts of it have been destroyed by logging but good parts still remain.

The wild man of the Wynoochie is said to have lived up here and the shootout was up here somewhere too.

This trail is in need of a little TLC after the December 3rd windstorm and it is getting overgrown from lack of use. I would like to see more people using this trail so I will reveal a secret about it. I have found Matsutake Mushrooms on this trail.

I started my hike at about 1l:00 am and finished up a little after 6pm. The trail starts out climbing right away. This trail used to start a the Skokomish river and went all the way to the Wynoochiee River, but logging destroyed the middle section and now the trail is divided in two. One section is just 1/2 mile long and leads to the Church Creek Shelter on the Skokomish river. The upper section is about 3.5 miles long, it starts at a switch back on a logging road and ends at Satsop Lakes.

This trail is rarely level but the giant trees will take your mind off the hike. On this trail you will find what forest ecologists call the Climactic Climax. That is the climax forest for this region. This is pure undisturbed old growth, this type of forest only happens after an area has been undisturbed by both humans and nature for many hundreds of years. There are not many place any where on earth that are in this condition. This forest is a rare jewel and it deserves protection.

This forest is the star of this hike and the lake at the end is icing on the cake. The lake is filled with newts or water puppies. These are little salamanders that have to come up for air. They have brown backs and orange bellies. The lake is very pretty to look at and you can drive to the lake if you start out on the Wynoochie side.

I saw avalanche lillies, shooting stars, columbines some pretty fuzzy white flowers and solomon's seal. I felt like I was in a sub-alpine meadow for part of the hike.

There were about 10 blow downs on the Skokomish side of the divide and I had to climb over some ice in a gully. On the Satsop side of the divide there are not real blow downs but the trail is getting over grown and I had trouble finding the trail in a few places. Since the trail just follows a creek down to the lakes I was in no danger of getting lost. I did not have much trouble finding the trail on the way up. The trail around the lake is massively overgrown and is basically just a tiny path through the luscious lake-side growth. The lake it self looks to be very deep and muddy.

I was going to hike out the to road near the Satsop lake but I heard people coming my way and was not sure if I was safe out in the middle of no where if these people were not nice people. I listened to their conversation as they got closer to me and I heard one of them talking about his insulated hiking boots and how he had them when he was in jail and how everyone else in the jail wondered how he managed to get such great boots on the “inside”.

Great! I know that in America we have more people in jail then in China, I also know that over 1 in 100 adults is now in jail so for an American to have been in jail is not such a big deal. But why take chances I thought so I turned around and hightailed it to the other side of the lake. Eventually two men appeared back on the far shore where I had been, they both had beer in their hands, clearly you can drive to the lake from the other side. They did not hike down to the lake they just looked at the view from the forest and drank their beer for about ten minutes and then they left. I was probably never in any danger and they were mostly likely nice folks but still I think I did the right thing. I don’t think they actually saw sitting there on the far lake shore watching them. It is this type of thing and my paranoid reaction to it that causes me to look for the most isolated trails. Hiking is only therapeutic for me if I don’t see to many other people on the trail. It was this type of paranoia that caused me to get caught after dark on the Dry Creek Trail

I rate this hike
(out of 5 possible mushrooms)

Beauty :

This up and down hike is about 7 miles round trip with about 2,800 feet total elevation gain. 60 Miles on my new shoes

Cost of gas $1.71 because I was already camping at the Church Creek Shelter!

GPS Coordinates
Trail Head: N47 26.928 W123 29.437
Trail End: N47 25.570 W123 31.083
High Point: N47 26.313 W123 30.019
Lake: N47 25.791 W123 30.862

The road is washed out just AFTER the trail head

The Trail Head

Profile of an up and down and then up and down hike. I wandered off trail a bit so ended up hiking more then 6.5 miles.

Track Logs. White circle show area that is mostly old growth forest

Snow near the pass

Log Bridge over the lazy Satsop inlet stream

Strange Growth on a Blueberry

A Climatic Climax forest of Hemlock and Cedar

Solomon's Seal True or False?

Interesting Varigation on a Trillium leaf.

These flower petals reveal their leaf origins

An interesting tree near the half way point

Satsop Lake possible home of John Turnow the wild man of the Wynoochie

A bananna slug that caught my eye near the trail head

60 Miles on my new shoes but only because I brought my green superfeet insoles. It turns out that my "new" shoes have a paper lining under the removable insoles and there is a piece of steel imbedded in that lining.

  After getting wet several times the paper lining must have been destroyed and out came the metal and the lining leaving only the rubber of the sole inside my shoes. But I had brought my green superfeet liners because I was also backpacking in the area and wanted some extra arch support. So with the liners my shoes were just fine. Without the liners I would have needed to call off my hike. My family camped out at a shelter on the Skokomish and I hiked out from there. We are trying to stay away from home as much as possible because I no longer feel safe in my own home. Hiking and camping are my therapy.