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:

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