Friday, December 30, 2011

Totals for the year 2011

2011-  16  hikes     85 miles      13,825 feet
2010-  28  hikes    269 miles     55,953 feet
2009-  28   hikes   273 miles     69,821 feet
2008-  19   hikes   130 miles     28,155 feet
2007-  34   hikes   339 miles     72,401 feet
2006-  18   hikes   158 miles     22,440 feet

no correlation

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Soaked on the Skok near Ralph's Old Cave.. 3.6 inches of rain

3.63 inches of rain fell on me, I just happened to pick one of the wettest hikes in the state on this day

 9 miles 1,700 feet elevation gain
Soaked on the Skok
Today I hike up Forest Service Road 2451 to the point where Ralph the bear is said to have lived.

The late Robert  L. Wood mentions the building of this road in his book Olympic Mountains Trail Guide: National Park & National Forest 3rd Edition : 

"During the late 1950's the National Park Service permitted the Forest Service to build FS Road 2451 Across this corner of the park in order to tap stands of timber on the upper reaches of Elk Creek and Four Stream, an area that would (and logically should) have been included in the park had the boundaries been drawn on topographic lines.  Without regard to the effect it would have upon the beautiful groves along Shady Lane, the road builders blasted tons of rock from the mountain side in order that the road could climb above Fishers Bluff.  The rocks tumbled down the slope, destroying the trees and leaving ugly scars that spoiled the beauty of the forest backdrop.  Worse still was the loss of solitude.  On weekdays logging trucks roar up and down the road, kicking up dust and breaking the silence that the hiker should experience when walking among the big trees.  One can look away from the destruction but cannot ignore the noise.  Before this road was built, the only sounds to be heard were he sighing of the wind in the trees and the distant murmur of the rivers”

Well the forest was leveled and hauled away and the log trucks are long gone and the road is now washed out in several places.  This is a quiet place other than the loud noise made by the power generator down at Staircase Ranger station.  And one individual dare not pick a mushroom in the car campground these days, but corporations logging the slopes above the park was just fine and dandy back in the day.  I was tempted to stand up there on the cliff above Staircase and scream "fuck you Ranger Davis", but of course I did not. 
I was happy to find that work on the causeway is done and it is now open to pedestrian traffic again.  I sure hope they re-open it to car traffic so folks can actually park at the trail heads.  You can’t park overnight on the road by the causeway, so that means that no one can go backpacking on any of the trails that are accessed from there.  I know people used to like to camp on the Dry Creek trail before the bridge troubles.
Today I decided to hike up the opposite bank of the North Fork Skokomish on an old logging road.  I picked today because one of the forecasts I read called for only a 20% chance of rain.  Rain is predicted for as long as the long term forecasts go out, so today seemed to be the best day.   It rained all day and the rain kept getting harder and colder.  Well, it’s not entirely true that it rained all day, is snowed some too, but it was mixed rain and snow.  I had lunch at the spot of my geocache but only brewed tea there.  It was too cold to actually stay and eat lunch at my lunch spot.
Crossing Elk creek was tricky and I did not know how I was going to cross it on the way back.  The way I crossed it on the way in could not be done going the other direction.  I worried about this a bit during my hike, knowing full well that the creek was going to be running even faster on the way out, with the constant rain.  But on the way out I found an easy place to cross compared to the way I crossed on the way in.  Still I could not have crossed in that same easy spot on the way in because the hand holds were on the other side.  
  Patches was a bit scared crossing the creek and she froze on a rock in the middle of the creek, but with some coaxing she made it across.  She’s a great hiking dog, she loves to run and she loves to swim.  Too bad she spends so much of every hike whining and begging!  Almost every time I stop for any reason Patches starts whining at me to keep going.
How I crossed on the way back
Patches crossed Elk creek slightly below where I crossed:

For lunch patches had chicken scraps and bones from Christmas dinner and I had some warmed up lamb spaghetti and a few pieces of chocolate.  I never felt like eating the two cliff bars I brought with me.
Someone built an interesting shelter on the road about one mile from the causeway bridge and that is where I finally had my hot lunch.  My camera got a bit wet today; I sure hope I did not damage it.  I’ve never gotten it quite this wet before.  I took the lens off the body to help it dry.  I hope no water go inside of it!
The only thing that stayed dry was my feet.  My new water proof boots work great! I paid $70 for them at Big 5.   Never again am I going to be conned into buying expensive gortex lined boots that always fail after one season.   My feet really don’t sweat much and they stay dry even in non gortex waterproof boots.    I don’t need gortex.   I really planted my left foot in copper creek the first time I crossed it, I was very surprised to see that my socks were still dry after that.  No more expensive REI shoes or boots for me!
I ran into some snow and that made the going slow on the way up.  I went ahead and put on my gaiters to help keep my feet dry, but for the most part the snow was not deep enough for gaiters.   My gaiter does not fit very well over my right boot due to my ankle brace making my boot larger.  It won’t completely close at the bottom, but so far that has not been a problem. I’m not sure what to do about it other than maybe get larger gaiters, but will larger gaiters fit snugly enough at the top?
I felt energetic at the end of my hike, so I know I'm getting back into shape.  I think it will be several hours before I am warm though.  I got chilled to the bone like I always do when I hike in the rain for 7 hours.

Wow it's the end of December!  I guess this was my last hike of the year. It's time to add up my totals, but not tonight.

I like to always finish my hikes in this area in the dark so I don't see a gauntlet of no tresspassing signs at the end of my hike.  In the dark I can't see the signs so I forget about them and just enjoy my hike down the road.

Bryoria spp lichen is easy to spot in the snow

Placospis spp lichens and Pilophorus acicularis

Probably a Clitocybe spp mushroom

Creek in a culvert

Not an easy place to cross

Fork in the road

My geocache safe and dry

A long snowy walk

Causeway with new bridge sign

Pano from the causeway of Lake Cushman

Colorful rocks in the snow

View from lunch spot

No point in closing this gate, no one could drive through all the washouts
Fort, I think it was built by hunters

cooking lunch in the fort

Patches whines every time I stop, it's very annoying:

Patches rolling in the... um snow.. yeah that's the ticket:

Monday, December 26, 2011

Bike around town

I finally got both of my panniers (novara around town) and got to test them out on a grocery run. They worked well, I transported home a dozen eggs without cracking any of them.   I also brought home 5 pounds of sugar, 5 pounds of flour, 1/2 gallon of milk, a huge bag of oatmeal and a box of powdered milk.  It all fit nicely in my two panniers, but they could not have held too much more. 

I needed to put air in my back tire before loading up my bike, but the gas station air compressor cost $1.00.  Screw that! I remember when those were free too use, and I was prepared to pay up to fifty cents but not $1.00!  I have a pump duct taped to my bike frame for emergency use, it's been there for two years without being used. Today I took the pump off and used it.  It's a PITA to use but it will work in a back country emergency.  Now I will store it in my pannier.  These panniers are meant for grocery shopping but I intend to use them to haul my gear to the trail head too.  I better get out there quick the winter rains have started and there is sure to be snow in some of my spots.

My bike is a 15 inch women's bike, there is no room on the frame to attach most accessories.  My last bike was 14 inches and that was just small enough to make my camera lens hit the handle bar from time to time so I went with a 15 inch bike when my 14 inch bike got stolen.

While out I checked on a geocache of mine that was near some recent logging. I thought the cache area had been logged but I found that the cache was actually quite safe. The cache is now located on the post of the New St. Edwards Church. The church was not there when I placed the cache.

It looks like Miles Sand and Gravel is responsible for the horrible ugly clear cut on the hill just north of town. It looks like a landslide waiting to happen. The hillside was too steep to log and think the hill will give way in a few years when the roots have rotted.  It's just as steep as the wooded hill above Loop Field. I sure hope they don't ever log that hill. I hope it's too steep to log.

There is a fairly permanent looking homestead set up not far from my cache, I've noticed it from railroad ave. I got a good close look at it today. I wonder if it belongs to my neighbor's son who just got hauled off to the mental hospital?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Dosewallips on Christmas Eve

11 miles 1,100 feet elevation gain 6.25 hours (one hour for lunch)

My spouse was not very pleased when I told him that I wanted to go hiking in Christmas Eve, so I promised him that I would get home early.   I went to bed with the plan to get up and go the first time I woke up at a reasonable hour to hike.  I’m a very light sleeper, so I knew this plan would work.   Well I woke up at 12:30, that was too early, and then I woke up again at 1:30 that was still too early.  Then I woke up at 6:20 and it was time to go.  6:30 is what time the Simpson trains start running, so that is probably what woke me up. 
On my way to the Dosewallips I had a good startle.  I was just outside of Brinnon when good sized herd of elk decided to cross the road in front of me.  I had to slam on the brakes and for a second I did not think I was going to be able to stop on time.  It looked like I was going to hit three elk at once!  But I managed to stop on time and I did not even skid my studded snow tires in the rain.    But there I was, stopped on a blind curve on highway 101 in the dark.  I turned on my hazard lights and hoped that no one would come up behind me before the elk had finished crossing.  What I think was the Bull elk stood in the middle of the road giving me the stink eye while waiting for his herd to cross.  I wish I that gotten out my camera sooner to take a picture of him.   But I did get my camera out in time to take a few pictures of the other elk from the middle of the road.  It was dark and I had my prime lens so the view was narrow and the F-stop was very high. Once I thought all the elk had crossed I started to pull away, but my starting up made several more elk jump out of the bushes.  Finally after the last of the elk had crossed I pulled up to a pull out and hooked up my external flash so I could take a few more pictures at F4 instead of F2.8.  The whole incident was both exciting and scary.  It certainly woke me up!

The dirt road to the trail was icy and I had to shift into 4-wheel drive because my tires were spinning.  I'm really glad that I took my Subaru and not my Escort station wagon.  I hit the trail at 8:20 and hoped to be back to my Jeep uh I mean Subaru by 2:30 so I would have two hours to drive back before the sun set.  I came close to my goal.  I finished up at 2:45 and got home before dark.  My spouse was glad that I got home so early and he does not seem to be upset that I went hiking today.
Hiking in the morning light made a pleasant change, I must start forcing myself to get up earlier. As I hiked in I could hear rocks falling into the river from a washout on the opposite bank.  On the way out I could hear that the rocks were still falling at a steady clip so I took a video of them falling.

For lunch I had stuffed grape leaves, homemade fettuccini alfredo and jasmine tea.  Not a bad lunch at all!  I warmed up the alfredo in my cook pot and was glad I did.  Having a warm tummy full of food felt very nice!
The weather was almost perfect, there was no rain but it was a bit overcast and gloomy.  It felt quite gloomy and cold at the campground where I had my lunch.  I had the trail all to myself today.  Patches started limping on the way out; I hope her knee problem has not come back.
Upon getting home and looking at my photos I noticed that one of the elk had a collar on it. Maybe they were not elk at all; maybe they were Santa’s reindeer!

These sword ferns died in the fire but the moss survived

Dog or cougar?



reindeer in Brinnon


Hot noodles

Cladonia lichen


Fall oyster mushroom Panellus serotinus


lichens and fungi and moss,  oh my!

The only other car at the trail head

Not very accurate, no way I hiked over 3MPH but nice clear picture anyway

Lunch break

dosewallips washout

Now entering the police state of ONP, watch out for
fungi stomping jobsworth rangers

This is a nice trail now, I hope they never find the money
to re-open this as a road

Sounds of rockfall on the far shore