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

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