Saturday, January 28, 2012

Road 2353

I almost go off the road at 3:25 in this vid.. Don't try this at home kids!

Last night I decided that I would fix the locks on my jeep and ride my bike today.  But when I woke up I changed my mind and decided to go hiking instead.  So I packed up real quick and told my husband I was going.  He very cheerfully said OK.  Yes!  Not telling him I am going hiking until I am headed out the door is working out very well for me. He’s cheerful about me heading out when I don’t tell him ahead of time.   But if I tell him a day or two before he starts strange..

I took my Jeep broken locks and all, because there was sure to be lots of snow in the Mountains.   I was not sure where to hike, I had several ideas but I ended up going up FS road 2353.  The kind of strange thing is that I parked at the Lower South Fork Skokomish trailhead but completely ignored the trail and headed up the locked logging road instead.   I guess I wanted to be out in the open and not in the claustrophobic forest today.  Also I was worried about keeping my footing on the trail in the snow.  I’ve hiked that trail in the snow but it was not real easy to tell where the trail was.

Winter has become my favorite hiking season.  All the roads that are behind wildlife gate become trails in the winter.  It is also much easier to find solitude in the winter.    Getting to the trail head was a bit tricky, the snow on the road was not too deep but it was wet and icy.  I stopped and let a hummer pass me in the hopes that it would flatten the snow that was hitting my front differential.   I know I dragged my front differential in the snow a few times.  I wonder how much dragging a differential can tolerate?

I parked my Jeep at about 11am and I  brought my snow shoes with me but I could tell that I was not going to need them so I left them in my Jeep.  The snow was very crusty and easy to walk on until I reached about 1,800 feet.  I wish I had thought to bring my gaiters.

My goal was an over look that I had seen only once before when I was headed down this road after doing a big loop.  I was not sure where the over look was.  I passed a couple overlooks and went about 4 miles and reached 2,000 feet before I decided to turn back.  The snow was starting to get into my boots and the going was getting tough and a big switch back loomed above me.

I was happy to find a thalliod liverwort on this hike.  This is my first discovery of  the “great scented liverwort”.  I had it pointed out to me last week, but this time I found it on my own.  I was keeping a sharp eye out for such a thing and had an idea of where to look for them.  I also found a new to me leafy liverwort and a semi aquatic moss.  The only fungal thing I found was a sneaky little lichen.

I thought I had found black moss then I looked at it under my hand lens and discovered that whatever it was looked rather fungal.  Was it a tiny complex thalloid liverwort or was it a fungus?  I looked around for more and soon found a well grown rosette of the same stuff and it looked a lot like lichen.  I took a micro photograph of it and in the photograph I saw apothecia.  Ah ha!  It was tiny lichen growing in the moss.   
 I took a bit home to key out and the key took me to Massalongia.  If this is massalongia I guess it is very well grown.  But that would not be surprising since fungi do grow very well in this area.
Massalongia with apothecia?


Look at the nearby moss, this is a very small fungus... Massalongia?

At my turn around spot I brewed a cup of tea and that is all I had to eat on my hike so I was pretty hungry on the hike back.  I had not packed an instant food and I did not feel like sitting and cooking in the cold.   But on the way back I got quite a surprise!  A cougar had crossed our tracks and walked down the road along side our tracks (but going in the opposite direction) for about 1/10th of a mile while Patches and I were out hiking!  Oh my, this meant that there was a cougar on the road ahead of us.  Would we catch up to it or would it hide?  I’ve never seen a cougar in the Olympics but I often seen their tracks.   It was not surprising to see cougar tracks here as there were deer tracks ever where and we even saw a deer today.   Cougars eat deer so where there are deer, there are cougars.

I also saw some small canine track and some rabbit tracks.  Hiking in the snow is fun because I get to see  the tracks of all the animals that have passed the same way.

When I got back to my Jeep I cooked my lunch on the hood.  Maybe not the smartest thing to do but it did not hurt the paint and the hood was just warm to the touch when I moved my stove.  My lunch was dehydrated chicken soup with parsnips and onions.  Yes you can dehydrate soup.  It was actually more of a stew than a soup when I put it in the dehydrator. I finished my hike at about 4:30
On the drive out I saw all kinds of activity.  The guy who had been cutting fire wood near where I parked was parked down the road with his truck so full that I wonder if his springs broke. 

I saw a pickup truck that had been hauling snowmobiles blocking the road.  The driver had to get in his truck and move for me.  He had chains on his truck but his tires were spinning like crazy.  He looked angry as I passed him.  I wonder if he was angry at having to move or angry with his truck and jealous of my snow tires? 

Further down the road I saw two men in orange ball caps, one with a Christmas tree in his hand.  As I got closer I saw he was actually carrying a load of brush.  He was Guatemalan and he seemed really surprised when I gave him a friendly wave.  Guatemalans are at the very bottom of the pecking order, despised by both rednecks and Mexicans they have to spend the day in knee deep snow cutting salal for a living.  They are tribal people who have been pushed off their ancestral lands by the force of capitalism.  It must be really bad in Guatemala for them to want to come here to pick brush in the snow from dawn until dusk.  They are mostly Mayan Indians and they don't speak much Spanish but everyone but the Mexicans call them "Mexicans".  The Mexicans have a special racial slur for them, Mexicans derisively call them "Guats".  They are a very long way from home…  Last year a Guatemalan brush picked was shot and killed by a bear hunter and the bear hunter fled the scene.  He was later caught and no charges were pressed against him.  I guess it’s ok to murder Guatemalans.   The only repercussion of the entire ordeal was that Guatemalan brush pickers now wear orange hats so they won’t be mistaken for bears.
Even further down the road I had to pass a van that was going way to slow and sliding all over the place.  I also saw two cars parked at the road that goes to the high steel bridge. Then when I got down to the fish hatchery I saw a big convoy of 4 wheelers.  One of them had a Jeep like mine except that it was lifted way up.

While I was gone my husband worried about me because there was a scanner call on the 23 line for someone in a red jeep that was having a medical emergency.  I sent my husband lots of SPOT messages today but that seemed to worry him even more…. Or so he said.  When I got home he was sound asleep and the house was a mess.  I woke him up by putting the dog in the bedroom after I had given her a bath.

I guess he did not understand the maps well enough to see that I was not even in the search area.  The search area was the pass betweent the Skok and the Wynoochee.  That spot just past spider lake is a bit scary in the snow.  I've never drove over the pass in the winter.

I only brought my point and shoot camera today so I don’t having any stunning landscape photos but I took some nice Macros and an underwater shot.  My pack felt so light without my DSLR in it that I thought I must have forgotten something at home.

7 miles with 1,600 feet elevation gain left the house at about 9:45 and got home at about 5:30, just before it got dark.

Lobaria oregana

Cougar Track

Cougar tracks

This is an underwater picture of moss.  I put my hand underwater, the surface of the water
is at the top of the picture.  This was the first time I put my camera underwater.

Great scented liverwort

Conocephalum conicum

Patches surpirsed my by laying down and playing king of the hill  while I
was trying to decide if I wanted to turn around or not.  Clearly she was ready for a rest

I think this is a leafy liverwort, it seems to have 3 ranks of leaves,
 one on each side and one on top of the stem

Maybe this was the view point, I think the backside of Grisdale hill and the Oxbow are in view

After hike lunch cooked on hood

Fire wood harvest from trees that fell in the windstorm

Same possible leafy liverwort

Very pretty moss

Pilophorus acicularis

Deer in the distance

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