Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lower South Fork Skokomish Loop

I hit the trail at about 11pm and finished up at some point later in time I did my usual loop, but this time I did it in the opposite direction and started with the road walk.  The first time I did this as a loop including the road was when the trail was so covered with fallen trees that travel was difficult.  Walking out via the road was much easier.   I only do this trail in the six months out of the year that the wildlife gates are shut, that would be most of the winter.  I don’t hike this trail at all in the summer because it is too crowded with people and covered in horse poop.  I might stop doing the road walk but again it was nice to see all the moss growing in the road cut.
I’m glad I ended this with the trail walk.  The start of the trail has some beautiful old-growth, by going out via the trail I got to finish my hike almost in the old growth.  I’ve been wearing my mp3 player on my hikes ever since the winter when I decided to hike in the capitol forest.  Noise cancelling headphones and music with a fast beat made it easier to travel 14 miles amid the sound of gun shots.  Today I took the mp3 player off for the last couple of miles and I’m glad I did.  It was nice to really immerse myself in nature.  Without the music I could hear the woodpeckers, but I could also hear the air planes, so it was a trade off.  There is just no escaping the noise of airplanes anywhere.
I took the last mile really slow and got some good pictures of a banana slug by getting on the ground and using my prime lens and my external flash.  It rained off and on for most of my hike; the hardest rain was at lunch time.  The rain stopped for the last mile of my hike and the sun came out and it was really nice.  Someone was camping in the flats but their tent was blown over.  It think I saw the camper wandering around in the woods behind me, they way he was wandering made me wonder what he was up to until I saw the tent and then I figured he was the camper.
I saw lots of trilliums and banana slugs.  I also saw Apometzgeria pubescens and I saw HUGE sporophyte on Peelia neesiana.  The Conocephalum had some of its cone shaped things sticking up too.  I saw huge brown cup fungi too.
Brush picker vans tailgated me as I drove out, that’s never happened before.  I pulled over and let them by.  I drove my car since my Jeep is still in the shop; my mechanic is having trouble finding the right locks for it.  I forgot that the road is mostly paved and the dirt section is in great shape right now, so there is no need to take my Jeep out there.
Right as I reached the main trail after leaving the road, I ran into a couple who had hand lenses on.   I knew they must be botanists.  I asked about their hand lenses and found out that they are fellow botany students at my college and one of them is taking a class with the professor who I am doing a contract with this quarter.
My legs feel like I did more than ten miles since I took it so slow and spent so much time looking at moss and taking pictures.  I think I finished my hike at what time?  My left knee hurts as much as usual.  My ankle brace did not catch me at all today, so I still think my ankle is getting stronger but doubt I will ever be able to hike without a brace again.
10 miles 500 feet elevation gain

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Apometzgeria pubescens

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Huge cup fungi

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very tall sporophyte on Pellia neesiana

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Pretty moss taken through my 10X hand lens
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Big leaf maple seedling in the middle of the road

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