Thursday, December 30, 2010

Steel Creek Aborted, Brown Creek Nature Trail

Finally everything came together and after weeks of being homebound, I was able to go hiking today.  Well, almost everything came together; I've come down with a cold, but I was able to get out. Since I'm ill,  I decided to take it easy and just ride my bike instead of hiking.   My goal was the site of the old steel creek shelter near the Skokomish River.  It was to be a 17 mile round trip bike ride down a closed logging road, with only 1,000 feet of elevation gain.  But it was not to be.   There was too much snow on the road, I was glad to have studded snow tires and 4 wheel drive well before I reached my parking area.  Still I attempted to ride my bike a bit, the snow was not slick, but it was too deep and biking was too much work.

So I had to come up with a new plan.  I did not want to hike in my biking shoes, in the snow, without poles and on my weak ankle.   I wished that I had packed my snowshoes and trekking poles so I could go for a hike.  Then I remembered that the nearby Skokomish river trail was open to both hiking and biking, so I decided to bike it for the first time ever.  I've hiked this trail dozens of times but never biked it.    I knew there would be less snow on the trail than there was on the road. As it turned out there was hardly any snow on the trail, but  I only made it about 1 mile down the trail before I decided I was just too ill to go very far today.  I stopped right before going down a long hill that I knew I would have to push my bike up on the way back.  I was not up for pushing my big up that hill, so I took a long break and then rode back to my Jeep and put my bike away.  When I was putting my bike away I discovered that a piece of cloth was wrapped around the crankshaft, that must have made peddling harder than usual.

It was time for a new plan.  It was a beautiful clear day and the air at home was filthy but the air in the mountains was clear and clean, so I decided to stay in the mountians, even if I could not hike.  I drove to the nearby Brown Creek Campground and parked in my favorite campsite and sat by the river to relax.  But I could not relax, I needed my sketch pad (or a beer) if I was going to sit still.  I did not have my sketch pad, but I had my camera.  Sooooo I decided to wander around the campground a bit and take pictures.   Then I remembered that there is a nice little trail in the campground.  It's called the Brown Creek Nature trail, it is level and only one mile long.  The trail is so easy that maybe even my husband could have walked it today.  I took him on this trail about two years ago and I have a geocache hidden on this trail.

It was cold and the days are getting short so I only went around the loop trail one time before I decided to go head back and see if I could get some good pictures of the mountain in the alpenglow.  There is a spot on the 23 line,  that I always want to stop and take pictures from, when I am returning from hiking, but I never do, because I'm either too tired or, it's to late.  I decided to head for that spot and take some pictures of stumps and mountains.  There were many handy stumps to use as tripods while taking pictures of the mountain.  I'm pretty happy with the results, the sky was VERY clear and I had my new polarizing filter;  I really like the polarizer.    Strange, how the sky was so clear while the air was so foul  down below at home. Today was that clear winter day that all landscape photographers long for.  So anyway I did not get to do much hiking, but the day was not a total loss, because I took some pictures that made me happy.
I hope I feel better by Sunday because I have a mega geocaching adventure planned.

I guess I went about 3 miles today, certainly not enough to bother adding to my excel charts.  I'm calling it a year. 

My totals for the year:  I  got out 28 times, hiked 269 miles and gained 55,953 feet in elevation.  My average hike was 9.5 miles with 2,000 feet elevation gain.

My turn around point on the Skok trail

View at turn around point

Patchy snow on the Skokomish River trail

Brown Creek Nature Trail

Frozen Miners Lettuce Brown Creek Nature Trail

Moss covered tree exploding with light

Frozen sword ferns

Moss, Patches and snow on the Brown Creek Nature Trail

The Mountain looms over the Skokomish River Valley

Friday, December 24, 2010

2010 So far graphs

 So far this year I have gotten out 28 times, hiked 269 miles and gained 55,953 feet in elevation
 My average hike was 9.5  miles with 2,000 feet elevation gain.

 The was no correlation between the steepness of the hike and the length of the hike.   My foot is almost healed now and my ankle is relatively stable, so I hope to get out one more time this year.

Last year I got out 28 times hiked 272 miles and gained 70,000 feet in elevation.  I'm surprised that the numbers are so similar between this year and last year. I was injured all summer and all of last month so I feel like I hiked less this year.  One contributing factor is my bike riding.  This years totals have maybe 10-10 miles of bike riding included in them.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Foot burn

I got a bad burn on my foot. I hope to be hiking again in about 5 days. Picture of the burn is here if you really want to see it. I burned it 12 days ago.

Dec. 20 Update:

It's now been nearly 21 days since my injury.  The burnt skin has finally fallen off and been replaced with new skin.  I'm ready to hike again but now my puppy has a broken leg and the kids are home on winter break and my husband is quite ill so I'm still homebound.  I hope to be back out on the trail next week.

New skin just in time for the solar new year

Monday, December 6, 2010

New hiking buddy

I guess two dogs are better than one, especially in the dark.  Or I can leave one dog at home to play with the kids and take one dog hiking. Like patches, this springer came to me from a neighbor who did not have time for a puppy.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Big Creek to retrieve my game cam in the snow


First time strapping on snowshoes this season

Sending an Ok message with my spot at lunch time

On last mushroom blast

Big Creek Trail to big rock. I hit the trail at about 10pm; I was later than usual because I had been waiting for my hair to dry a bit before leaving the house. There was snow in the parking area so I decided to pack my snowshoes. The main goal of this hike, other than fun in the snow was to retrieve my game camera. I did not feel the need for snowshoes until I got to the Ellinor connector trail. Even then I did not need them for floatation; I needed them for traction for my bad ankle. It’s hard to sprain your ankle on level ground with snowshoes on. It felt really good to get my heavy snowshoes off my back and onto my feet.

The seasonal stream that I normally depend on for water was dry, but I’ve learned not to trust that stream so I tanked up at a rivulet just past Big Creek instead. I really thought my seasonal stream would be running with all the rain and snow, but I did not take any chances. I think something about that streambed has changed and I am now writing it off as a water source.

I passed my off trail game camera at about 11:30, but left it for the trip back. I made it to the over look by noon. There was a couple of feet of snow on the ground behind the bench but the snow all around the bench was well packed so I was safe taking off my snowshoes for my lunch break. At the over look I brewed tea and ate a turkey sandwich. Just as I settled down to drink my tea, I heard the voices of two hikers headed for the over look so I leashed up Patches the pound dog. But the hikers did not come to the overlook. Later their footprints showed that they had bypassed the over look both on the way up and on the way back.

After I left the over looked I started heading up again. In the winter I like to have my lunch before I have finished my elevation gain. Hiking uphill after lunch warms me up, where hiking downhill after lunch can leave me cold for the rest of the hike. That said, I had two sweaters and arctic gloves that I never put on.

I hiked up to the big rock near the upper Ellinor trail head. There was a nice thick layer of snow up there, it was really beautiful. I had a blast hiking in the snow and breathing in the clean air. I wanted to go all the way to the upper trailhead and I was not worried about hiking out in the dark, until I remembered that I needed to retrieve my game camera on the way down. I did not want to be searching for my camera in the dark so I turned around at the big rock.

I got back down to my camera at about 3:45. When I found my camera I saw that the lens and the sensor were covered with snow and the flash did not seem to be activating. Those made me think that the batteries were dead. But when I got the camera home I found that it was working fine and it had taken 22 pictures of me and my dog and nothing else. Oh well, better luck next time I guess.

I finished my hike at about 4pm and it was getting dark in the woods at that point, even though the sun did not set until 4:30. 9.5 miles with 2,400 feet elevation gain

The inside of my left ankle hurts a little bit, I managed to stress it some with my snow shoes on but I never actually sprained it. Well maybe I sprained it to the inside a bit on unlevel ground. Physical therapy helped a lot but I still think I might need surgery on that ankle.

I had to wear my raingear for the entire hike. It either rained or snowed on me all day long. My hair never got a chance to dry.  I wished I had packed my Seattle Sombrerro.

 I kept my DSLR camera slung around my neck and over my shoulder but under my rain coat for the entire hike. I brought my 18-105 vr lens and kept the UV filter on. I never bothered with the polarizer. I also left my big external flash at home.

The trail was so well packed that I did not need snowshoes but was glad to have them for the extra stability and traction.  

9.5 miles with 2,400 feet elevation gain
travelled about 6 miles with snowshoes on

Pistol butted tree

Snow arch

This nice new bridge STINKS from 1/10th of a mile away

In my element

frozen deer cam lens covered with snow, no good pictures

Fall oyster mushrooms

What a difference a few weeks makes
Two weeks earlier

Snow in the parking area

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Matsutake and the king in the same place??

This was a surprising day. I asked my huband if he wanted to go to the park that we went to early in our relationship and he said yes. This was to be a sentimental trip. I though I could look for mushrooms while there but ddid not really expect to find much. Boy was I surprised, I found Matsutake and a King BBolete! I also found orange earth tounges a witches hat (my first) and lots of dead russula brevipes.

I found the King Bolete first. I was such a surprise to see it there in such a public place. Clearly this place is not frequented by mushroom hunters.

The King??


Matsutake from a different hunt

Dead Duff Pumpers

Matsutake Buttons


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Big Creek Trail

I really wanted to go see the lower big Quilcene trail today, but with the days getting short, I decided to stay closer to home instead. I guess I started my hike at about 9pm and finished at about 4:15. I found a bunch of chanterelles; more then I felt like picking. I also found pigs ears, which I picked some of, because my oldest daughter wanted me to. I think they are far too pretty to pick and they are always filled with maggots.

Pigs Ears

I left a game camera out there today and I hope that I get some wildlife shots. I did not have any luck the last three times I left cameras in the woods. I’ll go back and check it in a couple of weeks.

A new bridge over the north fork of Big Creek has been built, it is just before the connector trail splits off; it looks like a nice bridge. My usual water source is about a half mile past the bridge and I was shocked to find that it was bone dry. With all the rain we have had, I assumed it would be running. I did not have any water and I wanted to have tea at the overlook, so I followed an old logging road out to the main road and was able to get water without losing too much elevation. Then I walked up the road for about ½ a mile before I took a different old logging road back in to the trail.

View from Lunch Spot

The view was pretty good today except it was misty. The clouds were high, but a low mist blocked some of the view. I got peek-a-boo views of the volcanoes. An old growth mountain hemlock tree at my lunch spot is about to fall down. I drew that tree one time and only when I took the time to draw it, did I notice the bullets that had been shot into it. The tree is breaking right where the bullets went in. I'll miss that tree, but it will open up the view a bit with its demise.

After lunch, I wandered up to the beautiful old growth hemlock forest at the start of the lower Ellinor trail. I really love that forest, that was spared from logging due to being above the Douglas-fir line.

Wonderful Old Growth Forest Fringe on the Ridge

This tree is about to fall

I headed back down towards the car at about 2:30, this gave me 2 hours to hike out the last 4 miles before the sunset. It was nice to be able to complete my hike without feeling rushed and without getting sundowned. I took some advice from another hiker and packed my car keys in with my lunch the night before, that way I could not leave without my lunch.

I’m sorer than I expected to be this morning. Compared to my other recent hikes this was a pretty easy hike, but I’m feeling it today. Perhaps it was the extra weight of my game camera and lock box and chain and my big lens for my DSLR that made this hike harder.

My ankle was good until about 2 miles before the end of the hike and then I tweaked it a couple of times. It really hurts when the joint slides forward. Not much I can do about that other than resign myself to wearing clunky boots for the rest of my hiking days. I don’t know if there is a surgery to fix it. The last time I did this trail my ankle was so bad that I went in for physical therapy. The therapy helped a lot. My ankle is now as good as it has ever been since my bilateral modified Watkins-Jones surgery 20 years ago.

What used to be Potlatch State Park has been logged down to near the shore of the Hood Canal. When I first saw it, while driving on my way to my hike, I surprised myself by screaming a bunch of expletives into my empty car. My poor doggie probably thought I was mad at her, so I consoled her and told her she was a good dog, after I calmed down a bit. It’s going to be awful for me to drive past that area for awhile now. Just like it used to be horrible for me to drive though the clear cut outside of Mcleary.

8.5 miles
1,900 feet elevation gain

Mount Washington

Pretty Purple Mushrooms

Earth Tongues

Coral Mushrooms

Old logging road converted to trail lined with alder trees

Close relative to the store "button mushroom" but mildly poison (based on smell and yellow staining stem)

Morning Sun Backlights the Moss near the Lower Bridge


Honey Mushrooms growing on "biomass"

My turn around point 4 miles from Big CR. Camp (the sign is wrong)

Puff Balls growing on woody biomass

Elevation Profile

One way track log going up

Water fall with some sort of oyster (?)  mushroom