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

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