Monday, March 21, 2011

Haven Lake in Simpson / Green Diamond Wasteland

Skokomish Valley

Haven Lake is on Simpson / Solomon / Green Diamond land.  I’ve been wondering how to get to Haven Lake for a while now, and I’ve tried to drive to it twice with no luck. Today I finally decided to really figure out where this lake was. I was feeling a bit out of sorts this morning, and I was not in much of a mood to hike today, but I had to go today if I was going to go at all this week, because my kids are on half days for the rest of the week.
I started my hike at the end of a dead end road off of the Simpson 800 line, outside of Matlock. I had been down this road before and I remembered that something on this road had abruptly turned me around. I forgot exactly what it was though.

Old railroad tracks

abandoned train bridge

This road is an old rail line, some rails are still there, with trees growing up between them and a well preserved rail bridge is still in place on this road.  

As I approached what I knew was going to be the end of the road, I wondered what I would find. What was it that had forced me to turn around in that spot before? There was dirt mound blocking my view of what ever was at the end of the road.  What was on the other side of this, I wondered to myself? Was it a sheer drop off? Was it a wall of forest?

What is at the end of this road?
Nope, it was neither of those things . So what did I find there? 

I found helicopter landing pad. Yep, a helicopter landing pad. What a thing to find out in the middle of nowhere!  The pad has not yet been used, I assume that when it is used it will be used to fly in a new bridge and then when the new bridge is installed the entire area will be clear-cut.   Too bad, its a pretty forest here.

The helicopter pad was at an intersection with a big logging road, upon seeing that road I remembered, it was logging trucks rumbling up and down that road that turned me back at this spot before. There were no logging trucks out today, and the hills were silent other than the sounds of rain and gunfire, so I kept going down the road where I had been turned back before.

After a bit I realized I was not on the road that the GPS wanted me to be on, I was actually 700 feet (in elevation) below where the GPS thought I should be. I did not want to bushwhack up 700 feet of thick second growth forest, so I was not sure if I was going to make it to the lake on this route. But I kept going, because the road I was on was going the right direction, even if it was too low. In about ½ mile I found an intersection that headed straight up in the direction I needed to go to get to the lake.

A snow plow has been here

It was 3 miles to the lake and I was feeling a bit out of sorts,  it was foggy and raining, I was surrounded by stumps , there were no views, and I kept thinking about the time my Jeep got hit by a logging truck not far from where I was parked today.

 I knew I was on a main road and maybe another logging truck would come down the road, so I did not wear my MP3 player, because I needed to hear if any trucks were coming. So why didn’t I just drive down this gargantuan logging road?  Because it’s locked off, like most of the other roads in the area. I don’t think that Simpson wants people out there playing at Haven Lake or on the South end of the Vance creek bridge. But it’s ok to hike out there.

After a few miles of slogging down the logging road in the fog, I reached the lake. Yay! I found the lake. The lake is pretty and it even has a couple of old growth trees on its shores. But, Bubba and friends have been to the lake so there was a lakeside campsite filled with broken glass, toilet paper and empty beer cans. Oh well, it was still a pretty lake. I sat near the lake and nibbled on my lunch while brewing a cup of tea. While I was eating the sun came out and I cheered up a little bit.

Tree Grows out of Log in Middle of Lake.  Carbon goes into tree, not air!
Dual culverts for the outlet stream
Campsite with Bubba signs

After about 20 minutes, I headed back home without doing much exploring of the lake. The lakeshore was too steep to walk around.. On the way back the clouds started to part and I was startled by the views that I had missed on the way up. I found a really good view of the Vance Creek Bridge, the surrounding hills and the Skokomish Valley. Seeing this view cheered me up and made me want to come back and explore this area again. I sat at the view point for about 15 minutes, soaking up the views and taking pictures. As soon as I got up my right ankle flopped over fairly hard, and it still hurts.

Looking down on the Vance Creek Bridge
Vance Creek Bridge, Clear-cut hill and Skokomish Valley
I got back to my car at about 2:30 and I made it home before the kids. All in all not too bad of a day, I hope my ankle feels better tomorrow.

6.5 miles with 700 feet elevation gain

Old Growth Stump

Simpson Wasteland

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Big Creek Snowshoe

Just a quick trip up to the overlook and back.  Made it home before the kids!   100% chance of precip today but I saw none of it.  I did get a bit wet from melting snow falling off trees.  My ankle did not flop at all but my knee is sore.  My knee does not like pounding, too many trips up and down Mount Rose I guess.

I put my snowshoes on at the start of the Ellinor connector trail, and I was very glad to have packed them.  They might not have been needed but they certainly made the hike easier.

7 miles
1,700 feet elevation gain

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Copper Creek Trail Attempt

Nice new handrails on the Copper Creek trail thanks to the Mount Rose Trail crew

I wanted to get up high enough to get into the snow and out of the rain. Well I succeeded on getting into the snow.  Wow, there was so much snow!   I had to turn around before I reached the loop because route finding was getting to difficult and the snow was getting too icy.  My GPS does not work well in the valley this trail goes through, so it was no help; in fact I think it misled me a bit!    I reached about 2,600 feet, but I never did get out of the rain.  Patches and I both got soaked today!  It never stopped raining.  I only took a five minute lunch break because Patches was shivering.  Maybe I need to get her a coat to wear on these hikes.  I did not realize how cold I was until I got home.  Every layer I had on was soaked!  I even managed to soak my spare "dry" socks inside of my pack!

Ah well, at least I kept my camera dry.  Silly me, I packed my heavy DSLR and external flash all the way up there with me.  I really was hoping to reach some dry snow, where I could take pictures.   There were lots of little waterfalls on the road next to Lake Cushman and the Skokomish river is flooding nicely.

It feels good to be home and dry!  My legs are aching so I know I got a good work out.

It was about 6 miles with about 2,000 feet elevation gain.    Four of those six miles were on snowshoes in sloppy snow.    The snow ate one of my snow-baskets and I had to do some digging to get it out.  Note to self: carry and extra snow basket.  I had to do a lot of tricky foot work today and  I fell to my knees several times. I  also tweaked my right ankle in every possible direction.  Three of the times that I tweaked my ankle were painful, but my ankle does not hurt now.  I hope that I built up some ankle strength and did not do any permanent damage.

When I first got to the trail head I was surprised to find two trucks parked there.  No one can park at the trail head without a key. It turned out that the Mount Rose Trail crew was up there hard and work making handrails.   Those guys are my hero's!   One of the crew members recognized me as Mossy Mom.  Another member warned me of a steep snow bank where I dare not slip unless I wanted to fall into the river.

I found that snow bank all right, plus several other hazards.   Then on the drive home the wind started howling and a stick came down and hit my windshield. Yep, me and Patches had quite an adventure today.

The GPS said I went nine miles, but it was not working well in the valley with the barometric pressure changing fast.  So I'm guessing on my mileage. My legs felt like they went closer to 14 miles, but I think I only went 6 miles.

I've been home about an hour and a half and I'm still cold!

6 miles
2,000 feet elevation gain

Today's track log is in red, it's not very accurate, the track points that are way off the trail have nothing to do with where I went.  The blue track is the real trail.  It looks like I missed the turn to start going up.

Where oh where, is the trail?

I don't normally have to duck to go under this tree

Snow hat on a tree

My snowshoe tracks

Cold and wet dog ready to go home

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Nirada Falls

My class ended with a field trip to Mount Rainier.  Hiking with other people was really different for me.  The hike was tediously slow, but that gave me ample time to take pictures and the company was good.    The camp robber jays up there were much more aggressive than I am accustomed to.

The snow conditions were very nice. I enjoyed hiking in such dry snow.  I might go up there again on my own, but it's a long drive.

It was  a bit cloudy, but we got a good view of Pinnacle Peak and some other local views.

 We did a fun glissade at the end of the hike.

4 miles
600 feet elevation gain

Poles and shoes



Camprobber Jay

Pinnacle Peak
pretty pointy tree