Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Rose, Dry Creek, Copper Creek, Ralph's Cave Road

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Glowing moss on the Copper Creek Trail

Last night I had a hard time deciding where I would hike today.  There is a lot of snow and I’m getting a bit bored with Dry Creek and the Lower South Fork Skokomish.   I wanted to do South Mountain but it was too cloudy for a view up there today.  I also wanted to do the Dosewallips today, but frankly I’m a bit frightened by the behavior of a man I’ve seen on the trail out there.  I think he does that trail on his bike pretty much every day, he’s a big guy, and he's made it clear that he wants to have sex with me. It just does not feel safe for me to be there anymore.

So in the end I decided to combine hiking and geocaching and hit more than one trail.  I started out on Mount Rose.  I hiked one mile up (900 feet) up Mount Rose to 1,900 feet and got a find on a geocache there.  After I found the cache I really wanted to hike further up Rose.  I knew that I would not want to try to summit Rose in the snow alone but I like the idea of hiking up high enough to get into the nice snow.  But when I found the snow at 2,000 feet the snow was patchy and slippery and nasty.  Also it was getting cold, ice pellets were falling out of the sky.  I knew I would be very miserable if I kept going up Rose, so I headed back down to my warm dry jeep. 

There was a brush picker on Rose, he was working his way straight up the mountain and he was up quite high for a brush picker.  There was no car at the trail head so I thought I had the trail to myself.  The brush picker surprised me.  It’s always a bit awkward when I run into brush pickers because a few of them are undocumented workers and they are scared.  I always holler out “hola” and that seems to calm them down a bit.  I’ve actually had the experience of having brush pickers run away crashing into the woods when they saw me.

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My route up and down Rose

After I got back down to my Jeep I tried to find a geocache on the road near the trail head but my GPS wanted me 100 feet up a cliff so I gave up on finding that cache.   But I did enjoy looking at all the bryophytes growing on the rock wall next to the road.

Next I went for a geocache just ½ mile down the same road.  This cache was in a dry cave and the cave faces water so I was tempted to go back to my Jeep and look for my flashlight so I could search for a certain type of moss.  But the rock was not very mossy and my hand lens was covered with fog and rain.  Perhaps I will return one day to look at that spot in the dark and see if anything glows in there.

After that I parked at the causeway and hiked in one mile so I could hide a geocache on ONF end of the Shady Lane nature trail.  I got a note from a ranger saying that it was OK back in 2007 but never got around to actually placing a cache there.  I had to cross a high creek to get there and I did not even try to keep my feet dry, it was easier just to wade through it.  Once the cache was placed I decided to head up the road but the snow got deep so I had to put on my snow shoes.  That would have been fine except for all the fallen logs on the trail.  It’s not real easy to climb over twisted tangles of fallen logs in snowshoes.  On this road I found the most interesting rock that was covered will all sorts of lichens, liverworts and mosses.  I could not get a good picture of it due to the rain.

I did not want to traverse over all the stuff in snowshoes so  I turned back and decided to head up the Copper Creek trail.  I left my snowshoes on and re crossed the creek while wearing them.  Wow snowshoes don’t just float on the snow, they float in creeks too, and that’s not such a good thing.

I headed up the Copper Creek trail and stopped where the trail diverges from the creek.  At that point the trail turns into a staircase and it’s not easy to walk up a staircase in snow shoes when the snow is just patchy and not solid.  So I stopped there and brewed up my tea and shared a candy bar with my dog.  I took off my snowshoes before I headed back down the trail. 

One the way back down the trail the light was hitting the moss in a way that made it glow, it was beautiful but hard to capture with my water covered lens.
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Dry Creek, Copper Creek, Shady Lane Road loop hike

After I left the Copper Creek trail I was still not ready to end my hike so I headed up the Dry Creek trail.  I walked down that trail about 3/4th of mile and then cut down to the lake bed  where I turned around and walked back among the stumps until I reached the bridge.  I found the elk heard was hanging out in the stumpy valley and walking on the moss.  Moss is about all that grows in the stumpy valley, so I’m not sure what the elk eat there.   Patches is a good smart dog, she stays well away from the elk and so do I.  She did however almost run away after she flushed two geese.  She is a bird dog after all.

  When I got up on the causeway bridge I could see that the park ranger was watching me again, but not from bear gulch, this time he was parked about ¼ of a mile past bear gulch.  I gave him the bird a few times, but it seems that he was not using binoculars so I got away with it. 

The last time I hiked here the watched me until I was done crossing the bridge and then he drove past my Jeep while I was getting in it and then he turned around and parked to watch me and glare at me on my drive out.   He recognized my Jeep because he called it in during his mushroom stomping tantrum last fall.  This time he stayed parked, hopefully he's getting bored with me.

As usual I had a huge hikers high on the causeway bridge. Why do I always get afflicted with hikers high when I am on the bridge?  Maybe I’m just happy to see my Jeep?  I don’t know... I could not possibly be seeing/feeling God among all those stumps could I?   Sometimes I like to play the "drums" on the bridge's metal guard rail with my trekking poles as I walk by it.  I’m always wearing my noise reducing headphones when I do that, so I don’t know, but I bet the sound is very, very, loud and probably carries throughout the valley.   I hope I did not startle the poor elk with my guard rail drum playing today.  Maybe I startled the ranger though.

My stitched up finger hurt from the cold and I was not able to keep my bandage clean or dry.  But I think no harm was done since if it was not a joint wound I could have taken the stitches out today.  Since it is near the joint the Doctor told me to leave my stitches in for ten days instead of the usual seven.

7.5 miles with 2,000 feet elevation gain

Everytime I edit this page more of those diamond shapes things show up.  Oh well, they are kind of decorative.
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Copper Creek

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Huge stump, picture can not do it justice

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More elk in the stumps on a carpet of Climacium dendroides

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Moss is covering this new bridge already!

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Setting down my pack poles and GPS (r) to look for the geocache

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My hiking buddy

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Patches has suddenly become afraid of these bridges.  But a sign says new bridges will be coming in soon.

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Dry Creek register has been too wet to sign for months now..

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Tea time on the Copper Creek Trail

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This stump was used as a diving board, but the lake level has changed.  All the green stuff on the ground is
Climacium dendroides moss.  Mount Rose and Copper Mountian are in the background

Friday, March 23, 2012

Green Mountain Geocache

4 miles, 500 feet elevation gain:

Had some geocaching adventures on Green Mountain and in the Tahuya area today. I was a bit worn out from the previous two hikes so I packed light and only brought my point and shoot camera.  The weather has been great  for my last three outdoor adventures.  I'm glad I ignored the forecasts.

  I found what I think is Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus down in a shady boggy area, I've not found it in the wild before.  I've only seen it in the lab.  I'm forcing myself not to bring home any moss samples, but I could not resist and I did bring home Niphotrichum elongata to look at. I'll have plenty of time to look at moss next quarter and I don't want to burn myself out.

There are some nice woods on Green Mountain, I fear that most of them will be gone soon.  Lumber prices are up and there was a guy from Pope and Talbot surveying the nice woods today.  Simpson has gone into over time running trains, burning shit in town and logging pecker poles on Dayton Peak.

Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus

Signs in the woods

old coffee maker converted into a geocache

The Olympics from Green Mountain with my point and shoot camera

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Grisdale Hill

Just a quick jog up and down Grisdale
4 miles
1,000 feet

Carried my snow snoes all the way up and back.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Misadventures on lower Ellinor

A botched pano

I left my house at about 10 and got to the trailhead at about noon, but first I stopped in Hoodsport to buy a dog leash and some dog food.  I had to park across the street from the campground because the parking area was plowed shut.  As I was getting ready to go; putting on my boots and  gaiters and such,  I  cut the dog leash package open and managed to cut my finger too.  I knew without looking, just from the feel of it, that I was going to need stitches.  But I was not going to let that keep me from hiking.  So I taped the cut shut and started my hike.   I was able to tape it shut quite well with just one bandage from my first aid kit.  I left a puddle of blood in the snow next to my car but the bandaid stopped the bleeding almost instantly, so I figured I was still good to go.

My finger a day later

 There was a guy who parked at the trailhead with two unleashed dogs that he turned loose just as my leashed dog was eating.  Patches fought them both off.  The guy had no leashes for his dogs and I had to take Patches off her leash so I could deal with his dogs.  What irony.
My goal was the overlook,  but I missed the turn from the logging road section of the trail.   There is a sign there and I expected to be able to see at least the top of it, but it was completely buried in snow so I missed it and had to climb a steep slope.. a really steep snow covered slope to get to the road.  I was not even sure that I could climb up that slope.  I had to push Patches up the slope a head of me.  One we made it up the slope to the road we hiked up the road to the lower Ellinor TH.  The road hike was well out of my comfort zone. Snow too deep sinking and taking off my pack to get leverage to get back up because the snow was too deep for me to push against.  Patches stopped and refused to hike several times due to huge snow balls stuck to her hair.  I had to cut her hair to get them off.  Did not like cutting after cutting myself.. Got blood on patches but it was just my blood from the trailhead. I had not cut patches.   I was scared that I had cut her.    Patches normally runs a head of me but she followed my snowshoe tracks down the road as the snow was too deep for her to break trail.

Green was my intended route, Red was my actual route.  I took a big detour thanks to missing that sign.
 Once at the lower trail head I hiked it to the cut off trail that goes back down to big creek.  I found the sign for the cutt off  but I could not find the trail under the snow, so I just tried to stay on the same contour line as overlook I was headed for.  My GPS is loaded with a topo map and I had a waypoint for the overlook, with out my GPS and that waypoint I probably would have to of turned around and followed my tracks back down the road.   I made it, but it was unnerving with hidden hazards under the snow and the potential of falling into a tree well, since I was not on the trail but I I had my lunch at the over look but but had no tea, just hot milk with sugar since I forgot to pack tea bags.   I was worried about the hike out since there were no tracks and the guy with the dogs told me he was going to the overlook and he should have made it there before I did unless he took the same wrong turn.  The guy said he had been to the overlook last week but his tracks from last week were not there either.   Would I have any tracks to follow out?

 Then I headed down the trail proper and old foot tracks made it easy to find.   The guy with the dogs had never been to the overlook the week before, he had only been to the dirt road before the overlook.  I could see his old tracks headed down that dirt road, I used to turn around there too before I learned about the bench and over look just 20 feet above the road.

It turns out that today The dude with the dogs took the same wrong turn that I took but then turned back and found the trail sign but he could not find the trail  even with the sign so he turned around there and never made it close to the look out.  

Most of this hike was unervering, the next time I go for the over look in snow this deep I will make sure I have the turn I missed waypointed in my GPS. 

All in all this hike was unnerving and not very much fun.   Patches kept needing help and I felt bad for her, routefinding was difficult, I hiked an extra mile in scary deep snow due to a wrong turn and I nearly  filleted my index finger at the trail head.
 When I got home my husband took one look at my finger and drove me to the ER where I was given three stitches.   They sure did treat me good at Mason general and we got in and out real fast, that's about the best thing I have to say about this hike.   Well that and I've found a way to reach my medical insurance deductibe for the year.  I am glad that Mason General never asked me how old my cut was, I guess they just assumed it was fresh.   It has been a long time  since I needed stitches, so I knew I was well over due, I had even mentioned that fact to my husband about two weeks ago.

  I often get in a big hurry and often find a way to get cut  or injured as the result, hiking is the only cure.  The last time I did this hike in deep snow I went home and poured a full thermos of boiling water over my foot and still have scars from it.    I've never been injured to the point of needing medical attention while hiking. I seem to be safer in the backcountry than I am in the front country.

Lower Trail Head Register

The sign I missed due to it being covered with snow.  The hiker behind me cleared it off just enough to see the top of it
and I cleared it off enough to show the arrow for this photo.  Notice my dogs feet on the upper left
Snowballs on Patches not far from where I missed my turn

The road I hiked to the lower trail head

The view was OK today, it was too hazy to see the Cascades

Found this sign OK, but could not find the trail

Lower Mount Ellinor Trail Head

Patches on strike

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dry Creek from the North snowshoe

    Yay!  The quarter is over and I somehow managed to hold it (mostly) together until the end.  I’ve got two weeks off now and I intend to do some hiking.  I got off to a late start due to issues with my children.   I finally hit the road at 11am and made it to the trail head at noon.  It was snowing at the trail head but I was not worried because I was in my Jeep and I had my new snowshoes.  Today was the first day that I got to test out my new snowshoes in the woods.   I bought them as a solstice present to myself, but I did not get to use them in the woods until today, and today is nearly the equinox.   I was sure that I would be hiking out in the dark due to my late start but after I turned around I checked my GPS (to see for how many miles I would be in the dark) and I got a pleasant surprise.  The sun was not due to set until 7:30!  Yay again!  It seems like just the other day the sun was setting at 4:30.  

I turned around and saw this, it lasted for just a few seconds, I was lucky to see it

I chose Dry Creek from the north because there was too much snow to reach Dry Creek from the south when I checked it out yesterday with my family.   I'd like to hike at stair case but I'm afraid of being harassed by Ranger Davis, and dogs are not allowed in the park.

There was a car parked at the bridge where I park so I thought I might have some company on the trail today.  As I crossed the bridge I saw some snowshoe tracks but the tracks disappeared before the start of the trail and that puzzled me a bit.  There were some old boot tracks on the trail though and I followed those until about 1 mile before the creek where they suddenly stopped.   Only when those tracked ended did I know for sure that I had the trail all to myself.  I like having the trail all to myself.

I put my snow shoes on just as the trail diverged from the lake and left them on until I got back to the same spot.  About ½ way between the trail head and the creek crossing there was an old avalanche.  I had no idea that this trail could be avalanche prone!  The avalanche took out a small cedar tree and the trail and it was about 20 feet wide.  The size of the snowballs was quite large and I’m glad I was not on the trail when that happened.   Although if I heard it I could probably have avoided it because it was only 20 feet wide.
Recent avalanche damage to trail
I reached the creek crossing at some point in time.  I did not look at my watch so I don’t know what that time was.  But I stopped there and brewed a double tea that I shared with my dog and I ate a can of grape leaves (again shared with my dog) and some banana chips, also shared with my dog.  My dog Patches did not whine at all during the lunch break and she was not shivering, so in spite of the snow it was not very cold today.  After lunch I headed back down the trial until the trail got really close to the lake, there I climbed over a log jam to get to the lake shore.  Log jams are never easy to climb over, but when they are covered in snow and you can see what’s in them it’s really tough going.  Patches had hard time with one old growth log that she could not climb over.  Eventually Patches found a way around the log.  Dogs almost always find a way to catch up to you if you just ignore the whining and them figure it out for themselves.
The lake bed was coved with snow and the usual stumps and the carpet of Climacium dendroides moss.  I really wanted to get a picture of the old road under the lake all covered with snow, but I could not find the road.  Well I was pretty tired after doing so many miles in snow shoes..  I got some good pictures today because I accidentally brought my  DSLR.  I’ve lost my purple pentax point and shoot camera, so I was going to bring my old malfunctioning bridge camera because it was too wet to bring my DSLR.  Then I went and left my bridge camera on the charger, so I thought I had no camera with me.  But I was pleasantly surprised to find my DSLR in my back pack when I parked at the trail head and I managed to keep it pretty dry by wearing it under my raincoat all day and not taking it out much.
I could see a park ranger watching me from the bathrooms at bear gulch while I was on the lake shore and the bridge.  I really hoped it was not Ranger Davis, but I knew it could be.  Sure enough they were watching me, because they timed it just right to meet me at my Jeep but they did not stop.  I frowned when I saw the ranger truck and then felt bad about frowning because it might not have been Ranger Davis.  A red Jeep Wrangler was right behind the Ranger’s truck.   On the way out I drove up to stair case to see if the gate was closed and it was.  I don’t know why we are paying for Rangers to guard a closed campground!  

 On my way out about 3 miles down the road I saw the Ranger truck parked and pointed in the direction of Staircase, so the Ranger had turned around and was headed back in the direction of staircase.  The red Jeep Wrangler was also parked there but pointed way from stair case.  The owner of the Wrangler was a male bodied person who looked to be in his mid to late 50’s.  When I drove past I looked really close and I saw the Ranger was Davis so I felt good about frowning at him.  I accidentally splashed some pothole water onto his truck and I felt good about that too.
It was not fun to end my hike by seeing that Jerk but at least he did not stop me and harass me this time.  But I’m nearly certain he was spying on me from Bear Gulch.

I’m very happy with my new snow shoes, they float quite well and they are more nimble.  But they have slightly less traction than my old shoes.   I was only sinking about 4 inches into the snow at most and then I fell down and my right hand plunged in all the way to my shoulder, so I knew that the snow was deep and my shoe were really helping me float.  I probably could not have made it to the creek in just boots.   I fell quite a few times today and one time my right foot sunk all the way to my crotch and forced me down onto my left knee.  I struggled a bit to get up with my shoe buried and nothing to press again with my hand but soft snow.  But I got out of that hole, took one step and fell into another hole.  It took even more of a struggle to get out of the second hole.  But I was able to get out of it by pulling my shoe out with my hand and pressing against the snow.  If it had been any worse I would have needed to take my pack off, set it in front of me and use it to press against to get out of the hole.  

Right leg sunk to my crotch left ( right snowshoe is buried) leg fell to me knee, struggled a bit to get out of this hole

 I fell one time due to my shoes having less traction than I am used to but all the other times I fell it was because I post holed or was tired and not paying attention.  At least is does not hurt when you fall in the snow.  But at one point I felt into a root was and I managed to mildly sprain my right thumb.   I wish I could teach myself to only fall on to my left hand as it is my good hand and it hurts less when I land on that hand.
I got really tired about two miles before I finished my hike, I think that was when my double tea had burned off.   I perked up again after another mile and had a good case of hikers high on the way out.

9 miles with 800 feet elevation gain.

Vine maple with Isothecium spp moss

Gate on causeway bridge road

Porella navicularis liverwort on a Red Alder

old growth stump rootball hangs upside down from another stump, Mount Rose in background

Old growth stump on trail

Moss with 2 ranked leaves but no keels, inside of an old growth stump

Tea time, one shoe off, one shoe on

I keep trying the take the perfect picture of this little water fall.. this time I caught snow falling next to it

This moss on a Red Alder has an interesting growth habit, it might be Homalothecium