Friday, October 30, 2009


I'm just not very excited about mushrooms this year. Maybe it's because I'm so busy with school and my kids and the flu. Not getting into the mushroom class I have been waiting three years to take has not helped.

I still have not been to my chanty spot or my king bolete spot. I think next weekend will be about my last chance to go for kings this year. I have checked three of my matsutake sites but I have not found any.

A nice crop of honey mushrooms came up in my back yard and we devoured them. I did not even see them or think to look for them out there, but my daughter found them and picked them.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mount Muller aborted

My class went to La Push to share a meal and take part in a drum circle with the Quileute nation. It was a very enjoyable trip. I was very impressed by the wolf and raven dace. After the trip was over I went camping at Mora and I planned on doing to Mount Muller trail the next day.

Mora is a nice campground in Olympic National Park, but due to fishermen on the Quileute River, it's not very peaceful this time of year. Fishermen run their motor boats all day and all night, driving salmon into nets. I'm amazed they have any salmon run left on that river. I did not sleep very well with all the boat noise and when I woke up I felt ill. Then later in the morning loud fighter jets added to the noise. What a shame, Mora is a beautiful place but the all the noise detracts from the beauty.

If I stay there again in the fall I'm going to stay in the loop that is away from the river even though I like being able to look out of the river.

I really wanted to go hiking on Mount Muller, but I listened to my body and drove home instead. I made the right choice. I had to stop and rest twice on the way home because I was too ill to drive. I have the flu. I have a high fever and a sore throat.

When I got home I found out that my husband and my youngest daughter also had the flu. My house was an absolute pig style, but I was too sick to do anything about it. Luckily my oldest daughter is well so she helped me to clean up the house.

I had to skip class today. I've been at Evergreen for six quarters and this is the first day of class that I have ever skipped. I hope that I will be well enough to go to class on Thursday.

I talked to a Quileute elder who knew of the woman who used to travel across the Olympic Mountains with her family every summer. Recently basket work has been found under permanent snow fields near hurricane ridge. O’Neil and the Press expedition were not the first to explore the Olympics. The Skokomish tribe would travel to sundown pass each fall to have marriages and potlatches. It’s just plain wrong to say the Europeans were the first people to explore the Olympic Mountains.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mount Ellinor Sunrise

From near the trailhead in the dark

Shelton, airport, prison, Lake Cushman, Hood Canal

Sunrise over Mountains Ranier and Washington

(crazy camera angles are due to using various rocks as tripods. I could fix that with photo deluxe but I kind of like the weird angles)

This week I decided to take it a bit easier. I’m really busy with school now and last Monday’s hike up Mount Buckhorn left me very tired in class on Tuesday. I decided to hike up Mount Ellinor in the dark and hopefully arrive on the summit at sunrise.

I set my alarm for 3am but I did not need my alarm to wake up because I was tossing and turning in bed. I got up at 3 and I was headed down the road by 3:30am. I arrived at the trailhead at 4:30am and I started my hike at 4:50am.

I saw a Coyote on the road up Mount Ellinor and it ran straight up the road trying to get away from my Jeep. I don’t know why coyotes don’t just dive into the bushes. I slowed down and hoped the silly thing would quit running up the road. I did not want to make it burn too many calories. It took ¼ of a mile of running before the coyote finally went into the bushes.

I was scared as I started up the trail in the dark with my head lamp. I knew that with out my dog I would not have done this hike. But I also knew that dogs can attract cougars. I kept seeing animal eyes glowing in the bushes only to realize they were actually lights from cities below. Several times I saw glowing animal eyes right on the trail and I could tell they belonged to a predator. They were only my dog’s eyes. Yes I was a bit spooked. And then I heard a large animal in the bushes next to the trail. I told myself it was a deer but I threw some rocks in its direction just in case it was a cougar. For the first mile I kept wondering if I had done the right thing by choosing to hike up Ellinor in the dark. But I kept telling myself that all would be well as soon as the sun came up.

It took me less than an hour to reach the half way campsite and I stopped there and took quite a few pictures. I used a media loan camera from the Evergreen State College for all the pictures on this hike. As I was taking pictures my dog kept running around me and chasing something she could smell. I was glad that she was creating such a stir because I had to turn my headlamp off and sit in the dark for 30 seconds every time I took a picture. My fears of something pouncing on me from behind were allayed by the fact that no animals would dare to come near me with the ruckus my dog was making.

ISO 100, 30 second exposure F8(?)

But still I wondered if evil old one horn, the she mountain goat was waiting for me at the summit. What if she wanted to play chicken with me in the dark? What if my dog chased after a baby goat? (A kid) Would one horn or one of her herd attack me? I decided to keep my camera in the auto mode while I was hiking, so I could dazzle one horn with the flash if she gave me trouble. I was sure that a huge heard of trouble making goats were waiting for me at the top, but I did not see any goats today. Well not counting the ones at the trail head.. :)

While I was hiking up summit area looked dark and ominous, it seemed like a scary place to be in the dark. Did I really want to up there on loose rocks in the dark? I reminded myself that it was actually lighter on the summit than where I was in the woods.

Then it started snowing and I instantly thought about the SAR rescue that occurred on Mount Ellinor at about this time a few years ago when a man got lost up there in the fog. But I had my GPS with me and I knew the route pretty darn well.

In spite of all my worries and fears I pushed on and I made it to the top 24 minutes before sunrise, at 7am. (Well my GPS said sunrise was at 7:24 but I suspect it came a bit earlier because it was starting brighten up when I reached the top.) I was surprised that I was able to hike up so fast in the dark while taking multiple long photography breaks. I was lucky I did not lose my way and accidentally take the chute route. The intersection did not seem to be marked anymore.

As I summited the view blew me away. A beautiful pink light was coming up behind Mount Rainer. Or was that Mount Ranier? I though Ranier was further south. It took me a long time to get a satisfactory picture of the amazing first view. Using my camera in the auto mode and set to "landscape" did not work. I had to use the full manual mode including manual focus to get the picture I wanted.

Up there in the dark I could easily identify the lights of the prison, the airport and Shelton. Part of me wanted to be tucked in my cozy warm bed down there.

At first I could not take very many pictures because snow kept getting on my lens. But eventually the snow stopped and I was able to take a lot of pictures. It was cold up there so I put on my full rain gear and I brewed the vilest cup of tea I have ever brewed. The tea was 10 times too strong and I stewed it. Oh well, it kept my hands nice and warm and enabled me to stay and take more pictures. When the tea got cold I dumped it out.

While I was on the summit a red truck arrived at the trail head. Also the entire time I was on the summit I could hear some type of industrial noises coming from somewhere in the woods below.

At about 8am I decided my hands were too numb for picture taking so I headed down. I passed the guy in the red truck about half way down. He said he was 70 years old and this was the 80th time he had been up Mount Ellinor. He also gave me some beta on climbing Mount Washington.

When I had almost reached the trail head I met the Monday hiker Mountain Goats coming up the trail. I had totally forgotten that they were doing Ellinor today. Previously I thought about and decided not to do Ellinor with the Monday hikers because I wanted to do a tougher hike than that. Still, I’m sure hiking up Ellinor with them would have been really hard. They hike faster than I can. The Monday hikers are a group of affluent retired folks some of whom are in their 60’s and 70’s and late 70's. They hike every Monday all year round and have not missed a hike in many years of Mondays. I’ve hiked with them three times and each time they left me in the dust.

I got back down to my vehicle at about 9:30 and on the way back home I made a couple of stops to hunt for mushrooms. All I found was a few hedgehogs.

Sadly I have to return the college camera today. After this trip I am convinced that I want a digital SLR but even if I get a digital SLR I might still bring along my point and shoot zoom camera for it's 12X optical zoom. My zoom camera probably weighs less than 420mm zoom lens for a SLR.

3.4 miles RT
2100 feet elevation gain

192 miles on my shoes and I think the tread is getting worn and causing me to slip a lot.

Sunrise over Hood Canal

Snow on the Summit

Summit snow dog

Hot tea on the summit in the snow

Lake fed by permanent snow field below Ellinor

Permanent snow field below Ellinor

Saddle between Ellinor and Washington

Mount Rose,Lake Cushman, Lightning Peak

Mount Washington

Mount Washington, Hood Canal, Sinclair inlet, Mount Ranier

Shoe shot from the summit block

Cascades coming into view with more light

Summit, snow, Mount Washington, Hood Canal, snag

Mount Rose is so cute!

Big Rocks and Lake Cushman

Dog on Switchbacks in the woods

Pistol Butted Trees

Friday, October 9, 2009

Swine flu seems to be the 'new terrorism'

Swine flu seems to be the 'new terrorism' allowing the state to impose 'fear based' measures that would otherwise seem unthinkable" – Christian Thompson, Yorkshire

Monday, October 5, 2009

Buckhorn, Marmot Pass, Upper Big Quilcene

Ying and Yang on the Mountain Top

First a little background on me and this Mountain. When I was in my early 20’s I lived in 16 story building in downtown Seattle. From the other side of the building I could look across the Puget Sound and Green and Gold Mountain to the Olympics. Even though I was born and raised in Western Washington and my family was outdoors oriented I had never been to the Olympic’s. I did not know they were called the Olympics and I did not know the names of Green and Gold Mountains.

I used to sit in the hallway and gaze out the window admiring those amazing pointy black peaks. I wondered if it was possible to sit on top of one of them. I wondered if one could climb up them or if one had to be transported to the top of them like on Star Trek. Then I would dream about sitting on top of those pointy peaks and ruling the world. I would be a benevolent ruler. No one would have gone hungry in my kingdom. I myself was hungry and poor at the time.

Ridge and tarn

420mm zoom on same tarn

Fast forward 15 years and I am living on the Kitsap Peninsula married with one kid. I decided to join a hiking club. I did not know that hiking meant going into the mountains, I just liked the idea of being in the woods. I trained for my first hike with the club by walking around my neighborhood in a big 6 mile loop. Then I went for a hike with the club, it was the Peninsula Wilderness Club. I forget where we hiked but it was in the woods.

On my second hike with the club we went to Marmot Pass and I was amazed at the high country scenery. I had never walked up into the high country before and I had no idea that it could be hot in the mountains. After we had lunch on the pass the hike leader took a group to the top of Mount Buckhorn. I decided to join the half of the group that went up Buckhorn. I did not know that I was going to climb a mountain until I was almost at the top.

When I got to the summit I was amazed at what I could see and was also surpised to look down and see Seattle and my old apartment building. It was then that all my memories of gazing out the hall way window of my apartment building came back to me. I had never thought about being able to see Seattle from the Mountains. I had only thought about what the mountains looked like from Seattle.

That day I learned that it was possible to sit on the top of one of those pointy Olympic peaks. That day I also wondered what it would be like to have the summit all to myself. That was 7 years ago and yesterday I found out.

I’m glad that I finally achieved my goal of making a solo ascent of Buckhorn. I’ve felt driven to do it for the last 7 years. I almost did it a few years ago but my Step-Grandma died and I went to her memorial that day instead. I tried it again in 2006 but I only made it to a spot half way between Marmot Pass and the Summit and then turned around because I was very tired and it was getting foggy and creepy up there.

Yesterday was different, the sky was clear and it was a gorgeous hike! But you can’t ever go back. The scenery was nice but it did not blow me away this time. I’ve sat on the top of Mount Adams since the first time I went up Buckhorn so I’m a bit jaded now I guess. (I ran into a couple from Vermont who were on the way down from Buckhorn and they were blown away by our Olympic Moutains.)

Mount Buckhorn will always occupy a special place in my heart as the first mountain I ever climbed.

13 miles with 4,500 feet elevation gain.
27 on the hike difficulty calculator but it felt more difficult than last weeks hike.


Elevation Profile

I’m in good condition but this was still a tough hike. Once I got to 6,000 I could feel the elevation and I had to take frequent breaks just to breath. I think it took me 3.5 hours to summit. I started my hike at about 10 and finished at about 5. I had to get up early and move fast with the days getting shorter. I’m pretty sore today.


My TR from   Wednesday, August 30, 2006 when I did not make it all the way up:

The area was totally socked in by clouds with no view at all.

I felt really dizzy and weak on the way up and it took me 5 hours to go up but it only 2.5 hours to go down. I felt good at the end of the hike in spite of my troubles going up. My total time on the trail today was 8 hours!!! Wow was I slow. My elevation gain was 4,202 feet.


Wooly Chanterelles

Mystery Mushrooms

Coral Mushrooms

Bears Head that someone had already picked

Huge Honey Mushrooms

Duff Pumpers

Windswept Ridge

12X zoom (420mm)in on Seattle

Patches with patchy snow

My dog eating snow to stay hydrated

Meadow below Marmot Pass

My dog could not make up the summit block so she sat below the summit rock and whined at me. I kept throwing beef jerky down to her to shut her up. If it had not been so icy I might have tried to pull her up there with me.

I was scared enough getting myself up there and wondering how I was going to get down. But I boiled water for a cup of tea once I got up there and I sat and drank my tea on the summit. It was cold and windy and the hot tea helped me to be able to stay up there with out getting too cold.

In this picture you can see my shadow, I am on the summit and the dog is looking up at me.

Near the summit

steep scramble up the summit rock

On the way back down

Neat pointy rock, too bad about the lighting