Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Evergreen State College to host "Fungal Expo"

When:  Thursday, December 8, 2011.
Time:   11:00am until 2:00pm..
Where: Library Hallway on the Evergreen State College Campus

Description We will be showcasing a variety of interesting projects related to fungal kingdom.

What kind of creature can be used as medicine, dye for yarn, for edible culinary delights, can break down plastics, grows year round in alpine areas, can be used as biomonitors for airpollution, and more? Fungi of course!

The students of The Evergreen State College's 2011 Fungal Kingdom class are bringing these shining star roles of fungi to the community on December 8, at the TESC campus. It will be located in the lobby adjacent to the library.

The 2011 Fungal Expo will feature culinary delights, info on how to cultivate edible and medicinal mushrooms, a fungi cookbook, fungal bioremediation of plastics, fungi-orchid symbiosis, lichen that are used as biomonitors, a mushroom dye workshop, and much more!

Invite your friends! Make the journey! It's free and you will be sure to learn a lot!

(P.S. If you have been "trespassed" from TESC by Larry Savage and  have been told by a judge to leave me the hell alone, don't even think about coming..)

Friday, November 25, 2011

I burned the turkey at Fir Lake

Wow did I burn off the turkey today.  I went to my secret lake that I don't want to turn into the crowded horrible nightmare that is Lena Lake.   It think this area is on it's way to getting wilderness protection.
I'm selfish, I want it all to myself.. unless I break my ankle out there.. :)

Anyway, I think it's not just my muscles that are out of shape, I'm hauling all this extra fat around too.   For maybe the first time ever I'm going to go to bed before I blog about my hike.  I'm that tired.  I was staggering like a drunk for the last 1/2 mile; I had to use my trekking poles so I could walk in a straight line. 

9.5 miles 925 feet elevation gain.. sounds easy.. but it was not..
"You burn 2917.18 calories during 300 minutes of Snowshoeing"

  Sheesh, no wonder I'm so wiped out.  My body is wiped out anyway.. now if only my mind would slow down...
snowy mushrooms

Bunny Tracks

Cougar Warning

Deer Tracks

Me n Patches ready to hike, snowshoes on my back
The day after Thanksgiving my alarm clock went off at 7am. Stupid alarm clock, it had no idea that I was on break. On break from getting my little one off to school, on break from driving to Olympia to attend class, on break from the morning ritual of fighting over what shoes my little one will wear to school.

I turned the alarm clock off and went back to sleep. I knew it was hiking day but even that could not get me out of bed. I slept until about 8:15, then I got up made my tea had a piece of pumpkin pie and then threw my pack, snowshoes and lunch into my Jeep.

I made it to the trail head at 10:30am.. now that really is a late start when the days are so short, but what the heck, I have a good headlamp and a dog to help me hike in the dark. I was hoping to avoid using my snowshoes on this hike but I threw them in the Jeep just in case. My first glance at Mount Ellinor from highway 101 told me there was no doubt that I was going to run into snow today. The snow line was well below the lookout that I like to eat lunch at.  But would I really need my snow shoes today?

The Skokomish valley just flooded out but on this day the road was mostly free of water and what water there was I could drive around. My kids absolutely love it when I plow through the water as fast as I can, but my kids were not with me so I drove around the water. From there I headed up FS 23, it did not take long at all before I was into the snow. A forest service truck passed me going the opposite direction in the snow. I was glad that the snow had forced me to drive slow, I normally speed on that road.

I reached the wildlife gate that marked the start of my hike and found myself in a winter wonderland. When I got out of my Jeep I found about 2 inches of nice crusty snow on the ground.. soooo would I need my snowshoes? I was only going to gain 1,000 feet on this hike, maybe I would not need them? Ah but I was going to head up a cold little river valley to an ice covered lake. I strapped my snowshoes to my pack and started down the road with Patches.

God I hate carrying snowshoes on my back, my neck instantly started hurting. I only went 1.5 miles before I put the snow shoes on. It felt like less work the carry them on my feet than to carry them on my back. Snow shoes on headed up the hill feeling good, now I remember why I love hiking in the winter. There was a cougar warning sign at the fork in the road.. hmmm should I really worry about that? I mean, it was just a sign made by a human, it was not an actual cougar sign like the fresh bones that I run across up there from time to time. I continued on but stayed a bit more alert than usual.

About 4 miles into my hike the snow finally got deep enough to warrant the use of snowshoes. So I was glad that I brought my shoes along. The trail was covered with overgrown low hanging alder again. The nice church group that went out there a few years ago and cleared the brush made this passage much easier. I’m thankful that they did that. But the going was still tough in a few spots.. Figures that now that I want to thank them I can not remember what church they were from, but when I wanted to bitch about them I figured it out easy enough. Oh well maybe they will still be able to Google this.  It think it was the Shelton Valley Christian School..

On the way up I saw a rabbit, also saw lots of rabbit tracks, some fox tracks and some raccoon tracks. I also followed some deer tracks for at least a mile.

Right before I reached the lake I saw a beautiful scene, pure white sparkly snow all around me and snow covered mountains above me. I almost felt God, I was sure I was going to feel god when I reached the lake. But by the time I got to the lake the sun had slid behind chapel peak and snow lost It’s sparkle.  If only I had gotten there 1/2 hour earlier I could have taken some beautiful pictures of the lake. 

The forest service has been to the lake and they flagged the trail the leads down it. I was very glad for that, as the trail is hard to find in the snow, once you’re on the trail it’s easy but the start of the trail is not at all clear.  The forest service is also removing an invaside weed on the lake shore and laying plastic and hay down.  It might be really ugly to look at when the snow melts.  I only noticed the edge of the plastic because Patches exposed it when she tried to go icebreaking.   I ate my lunch next to a sign that asks folks not to  disturb the area.  Since everything was covered in snow,I could not actually see the area I was supposed to avoid, but I assume I avoided disturbing it by staying above the sign.

Invasive weed management area?

Lunch above the sign

Not a good place to walk
The lake was covered with soft ice and slushy snow. Stupid Patches tried to walk on the ice but I called her back and scolded her. I told her there was no way I was going to rescue her if she fell through here. She fell through at Lake West once and I had to wade out and get her. This lake is too far out into the back country, it would have been way to risky to get chilled to the bone rescuing a water dog here.

I made patches lay down and then I took off my snowshoes, and boiled a pot of water for tea and ate my second turkey sandwich at the lake. Patches refused to eat her parson’s nose (the part that went over the fence last) or meaty turkey bone. She only had eyes for my sandwich. Stupid dog! So I packed up her food for later. But I threw the bone back down right before I left the lake and then she ate it. I used one of those fish smelling tablets to boil my water, I forgot how slow they are. I need to go buy more denatured alcohol. I had to drink my tea as I hiked out since it took so long to boil the water and it was going to get dark soon. I left the lake at 2:30 pm and the sun was going to set at 4:30 and my Jeep was five snow covered miles away. There was no doubt at all that I would be hiking out in the dark.

I kind of wanted to get past the man made cougar sign before darkness set in, so I beat feet down the trail but my ankle went over twice, both times to the inside. I guess I should have tightened up my brace after lunch. I stopped to tighten up my brace after the second time my ankle went over. But to reach my brace I had to take off my snowshoe and my gator and untie my boot.. Wow, so many layers of stuff. I need to develop a habit of tightening my brace at the end of every lunch stop. After I tightened up my brace my ankle was just fine.

I made it past the man made cougar sign just before twilight ended. Then I hiked out in the dark for the final two miles. I took off my snow shoes about ½ mile from the Jeep. Suddenly the situation had reversed and I knew that it would hurt less to carry them on my back than to carry them on my feet. Yeah, I felt better with those heavy shoes off my feet!   By then my legs hurt so bad that if my back did hurt I would not have noticed it.    I was so damn tired that I was staggering and stumbling and could not even walk in a straight line without my poles. What happened? I love snowshoeing so much that I forgot how much it saps me. Even thought the snow was not deep and I was only sinking about 2 inches with each step, even in the deepest snow, my energy was sapped.

I put my headlamp on my head at about 3:45 but I did not turn it on until 5:30 because I wanted to save my night vision and I did not want to see any animal eyes reflecting in the woods. (If I can't see them, they are not there) I made it back to my Jeep at about 6pm; it was good and dark by then and my camera battery was almost dead so I took a few loooooong exposure pictures of the gate.  Then I pulled my gaitors and boots off and  put my crocks on for the drive home.  I dove back slowly due to all the  ice and snow on the road and the fact that there are no street lights in the wilderness. I only saw 4 other cars on the road all day, I thought there would be more people out there burning the turkey or having campfires and sledding in the snow with their kids.

When I got home I was so tired that I had to summon all off my energy to do my post hike, hike around town. I only made it as far as Safeway, I wandered around aimlessly inside of Safeway for a bit, bought nothing and then staggered back home and took a hot bath. The walk and the bath seemed to help; I’m not in too much pain today. My ankle feels fine. My muscles are sore but not as sore as they could be. My knee hurts though; my knee really did not like this hike.

Patches got worn out too.  Normally she runs about 200 feet in front of me but today she staggered behind me, taking advantage of my tracks in the snow.  She kept stepping on the backs of my snowhoes.  I thnk all the sounds of snow falling off all the trees everywhere all day started getting to her.  She kept startling hope that sound was something fun to chase, but instead it was alway just snow falling off the trees. 

Anyway it felt good to get out there again and I’m thankful for my mobility devices, that is: snowshoes, ankle braces and snow tires. Gosh I love my Jeep. Funky and worn down as it is half the electric stuff does not work, it geysers oil out the fill cap, the paint is peeling off the hood, but it always starts, it never leaves me stranded and it takes me places that no car can go.

The weather was mostly perfect.

9.5 miles 925 feet elevation gain

Patches refusing to eat her lunch

Long walk out in the dark following my footsteps back

Sundowned two miles from the Jeep

Patches says "real dogs don't wear sweaters"

This is not the sweet light

This could explain why I am so tired

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Matsutake Soup

I canned it last year when we had a matsutake glut. Good thing I canned it too, I've not found a single matse this year.   The delicate flavor held up just fine to being pressure canned.  I'm kind of surprised that the flavor held up so well.  Even though I canned it last year, today was the first time we opened a can of it.  It was our starter for Thanksgiving.    I think I have decided where I am gonna burn the turkey, I just hope the road is open and the snow level is high enough.

Home canned matsutake soup

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's gonna rain, it's gonna rain!


I guess I'll wait a few days before I go hiking.  The last two years in a row I was out hiking on the rainiest days of the year.  No amount of gortex will keep you dry on an all day hike in the Olympics with 5 inches of rain falling and rivers to cross.

I'm not Christian but I still like this song.. why not celebrate the rain.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Where to burn the turkey this year?

It's almost finals week so it's almost time to freak out.  No, wait, it's Thanksgiving week and my kids and husband are all home making messes and I have to cook dinner in my disgusting run-down kitchen.  And my kitchen gets more disgusting and run down every year and I'm probably going to die in this house because I can't ever afford to move..  OK, I take it back, I'm freaking out right now. 

Yep, it's freak out time... sigh..  The motor is running.. what to do, what to do?   Clearly I need to hike but don't dare use up too much energy that needs to be saved to study and cook and clean with.   South Mountain is calling me, but I don't dare.  I'm sure I'm not in shape to do a high elevation gain type of hike.  But I bet is beautiful up there right now.  The Olympics have a fresh dusting of snow and are gorgeous.  I want to put my snowshoes on and go play in the snow!

I could go ride my bike around town and capture the depravity of Shelton with my camera, that's always a good way for me to entertain myself.  But I've also got a freaking migraine or a tension headache.. not sure.. a migraine would be made worse by a bike ride, but a tension headache might be relieved.  All I know for sure is that I don't dare take in any caffeine to cure this headache.

 OK, OK... I'll take some aspirin and grab my camera and go for a bike ride.   I'll figure out how to burn the turkey later.  Maybe Haven Lake.. dunno.. I need a long hike, but not too long and the snow level looks low.   The North Fork Skokomish could be nice, but ranger Fred Davis is there and I don't need and grief from him.  Maybe good old Dry Creek from the North.  The causeway bridge is under construction but I've read that it's open to pedestrains most of the time.  I could go up dry creek to the little camp.. but I'm probably not in shape for that either.  Maybe I'll go check out the washed up logging road that runs next to the Copper Creek and Shady Lane Nature trail trealheads..  I'm sure not in shape for Copper Creek and Shady Lane is too short and in the National Park so don't want to go there.  I'm sure as hell not in shape for Mount Rose or Wagonwheel.    

The wild-life gates are shut so I can't really reach the Upper S Fork Skok or  the Church Creek Trail.. but there is always Pine lake.  If there is not too much snow Pine lake would be good.  But if' there is much snow Pine Lake will be a nightmare with all the bend over snow blanketed alder saplings on the side of the road.  The Capitol Forest is out of the question.. there is no way in hell that I will pay $30 for a discovery pass just to hike on crap DNR land.  I have free life-time federal passes and a free 5 year State parks pass but the freaking DNR wants me to pay to hike up their clear-cuts.. no fking way! Not in this life-time.

Lena Lake might be ok if I do it on a weekday.. it's the off season and the crowds will be down, so it will be ok to take my dog and if I have extra energy I can walk all the way around the lake.  The Hamma Hamm is so close,  I wish there were more trails in the Hamma Hamma..  Mildred lake and Putvin are really hard trails, Lena Lake is easy but too crowded.  Then there is Jefferson Ridge, another hard trail, but not a killer like Putvin and Mildred. And that's it for the Hamma Hamma.

Going on up to the next river valley, there is the Duckabush.  Just one real trail there, the Duckabush trail.   I hate the Duckabush trail, it's creepy and horrible.  It might be nice for backpacking, once you get beyond the logged over areas.  But for day hiking I really don't like the Duck.  Could be interesting to go see the fire damage though.  I think it's just on the other side of Big Hump.  There won't be anyone out there on a week-day... hmm.. I wonder just where the snow level is in the Olympics?  Did I mention that the Duckabush trail is creepy?

I could hike up the closed road to the Upper S. fork Skok trail.  That would not be too boring and it would be peaceful.  No one seems to wander up in there once the wild-life gates are shut, it feels like I own that entire area once the gates are closed.  It's just me and the brush pickers up there and the brush pickers mind their own damn business, so I don't mind them at all.  Hell, they even dug my Jeep out of the snow once.  The only problem with brush pickers is that their presence attracts ICE and I really hate ending my hike by being stopped by ICE out on the 23.  But maybe ICE will stay home in  Tacoma  for the holidays.

It's really cold.  If I'm lucky we will get a nice dump of snow here in town and then I can just strap my snow shoes on and head out the front door.  I hope we get buried in snow at least once this winter so I can go 4-wheeling in town.   I'm hoping for a nice rain on snow event in the middle of next week, one like we had in 2007.  Flush all the turds right out of the Skokomish valley once and for all.  Take out those engineered log jams too just to show them for the boondoggles that they are.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ostrom's and Provisions Mushroom Farm Tours Olympia

Ostrom's in Lacey

Ostrom's in Lacey

Ostrom's in Lacey

Ostrom's in Lacey

Ostrom's in Lacey

Our tour group at Ostrom's

Ostrom's in Lacey


Shitake at Provisions mushroom farm

Provisions Mushroom Farm  near the Capitol Forest


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dosewallips Nov. 12th 2011

The re-wilding of the Dosewallips continues.   Normally I used to feel this wonderful sense of awe when I enter Olympic National Park but today I did not feel that, instead I felt fear and when I left the park I felt relief.  How sad is that?

I don’t normally hike on the weekends so I'm used to having this "trail" all to myself and I was surprised at the amount of people I saw on the “trail” today. There were two car loads of hikers just starting their hike as I arrived, then there was what looked to be a father with two pre-teen kids all the way back in the Dosewallips campground, then there was a family getting ready to camp at Elkhorn.

There was also a funny guy with a Ukrainian accent; ok really it was the same funny guy with a Cajun accent that I mentioned on my last blog report of  hiking up the Dose. But he reads my blog and he says he’s not Cajun, so I’ve decided he’s Ukrainian. He was biking in just at dusk but he had two powerful lights so he could easily bike out in the dark.  Still, why are cyclists required to wear such goofy outfits? I want to do more cycling but only if I don’t have to wear a goofy outfit. My goofy hiker’s hat and zip off shorts are bad enough!

I started my hike at 9am and finished up at about 5pm.  I took a break at the falls, then I had hot tea and a sandwich at the campground and then I stopped again and had another hot tea and sandwich at Elkhorn camp.
I made it out just in time to avoid hiking in the dark, but I still used my head lamp on the trail over the washout. My drive home was unpleasant as one of my windshield wipers has decided to fall off and it was raining really hard as I got closer to Shelton.

 I hiked rather slowly today since I was not feeling very energetic and I was really noticing lichens for the first time ever. There were very few mushrooms left, but at least lichens can be counted on to always be there. I’m thinking about studying moss next quarter, if I do that, I might have to really hike slowly from now on so I can look at lichens, moss and mushrooms!

The weather for my hike was OK, it never actually rained and I was able to keep my camera out the entire time, but I did cover it with my hand a couple of times when the sky started spitting. I did not enjoy myself as much as I usually do, Aunt flow was threatening to visit, my knee was hurting at the start and I’m probably out of shape after not hiking all summer. Still, I’m glad that I got out and I look forward to getting out many more times now that I have solved my ankle issue. The solution is a brace and I’ve found a brace that does not hurt and actually works. I have many different types of ankle braces, but this new one is the only one I have ever found that both works and does not give me excruciating pain. This brace does not hurt me at all and it saved my ankle several times today!  So far I've hiked in it twice, one ten mile hike and today's 11 mile hike.  The brace was recommended to me by a mountain climber who wears them on both ankles.  Volleyball players wear them on both ankles to prevent injuries.

Yes! I’m so happy to have my hiking life back again.

11 miles with
1,100 feet elevation gain

My GPS(r) went crazy when I spent too much time sitting next to a cliff  and  it decided  that I walked  15 miles.
Lichens on Alder bark and maybe some red spores

Bear or cougar markings?

What's this red stuff in the moss?

Usnea longissima

My second tea break at Elkhorn camp

Sphaerophorus  lichen

Obey that silly sign

Spaerophorus lichen

Pilophorus acicularus and Caldonia gracilis subspecies turbinata

Pilophorus acicularis lichen

A lobaria with apothecia in the same plane as the thallus?  The other lobaria in the picture are a different color and have soredea on the edges.  I don't think this darker lobaria with apothecia is the same species but I don't know

Mystery mushrooms (could these be the dreaded Jack-O-Latern chanterelle look a-likes?)

Huge alder leaf

Lichens: Hypogymnia species, Platismata glauca and Lobaria pulmonaria

Hypogymnia species lichen with interesting apothesia

That's the way I like it!