Saturday, October 27, 2012

2012 is a record breaking year and the year is not over!

About this time of year I start adding up my hiking totals.  I do this by going back over my blog posts and putting all my numbers into an excel spreadsheet.  This is part of why I always log miles and elevation gain on my blog entries. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Snowed out at Snow Lake

Elk Creek culvert washed out already

Okay I drove my car across the causeway, Yay the gate is open up.gifup.gif
and was able to drive all the way up to the wild life gate at 1,700 feet. It felt so strange to drive down a road that I had walked down so many times in the past few years. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

It's mushroom season!

We found lots of white chanterelles today and a few yellows.  I also found a huge reshi conk and left a few others behind.  I also found a few lobsters and some white mushrooms that look like oysters but are growing in conifer wood.  I need to research the white ones.  I've heard differing opinions on their edibility.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Radical Mycology Convergence

Just a few photos to get started.. maybe not even the best ones.. more to come..

Click read more to see more photos

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Copper mountain via Wagonwheel attempt

Wagon Wheel Ridge
(I saw a small plane buzz this ridge today)

This was the only clear day this week and maybe my last chance to try to get up Copper Mountain before the snows hits the high country. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mushroom season has started

Meadow mushrooms (Agaricus campestris)  have arrived just three days after the first rain.  Here is a picture of a basidia with one spore attached... On second thought, this meadow gets watered so maybe they were already popping here before the rain..

Basidia with one spore.  This looks like a two pronged basidia.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Kitsap Mushroom Show

Here are some pictures from the Kitsap mushroom show.  They put on a nice show inspite of the dry weather.  I did not see Ranger Davis at the show.    I'll see you all at the radical mycology convergence next weekend!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mount Washington

This was not a hike, this was a climb. It rates 35 on the hike difficulty calculator

I finally got my big mountain for the summer.  This makes up for not making it up the Brothers.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

4,700 feet up the Brothers

What's that sound in the woods?

My tent in the moonlight

I drove my little one to school and then went home and got the last of my gear together.  I reached the Lena Lake trail head at 10:30 and started my hike.  There were only two other cars at the trailhead.  I borrowed my friend’s NWforest pass since the last time I parked here the forest service ranger,   for whatever reason, chose not to honor my interagency card and when the ticket came it came in the name of my spouse who also owns my vehicle.  My spouse could not afford to miss a day of work to fight the ticket, so I had to pay $55 just to hike up to Lena lake in the rain and snow on a Monday in the winter.  Yes, I’m still upset about that. Thanks a lot Ranger Summers!

Lena mud puddle


tea at Lena mud puddle
I reached the lake at 12:30 and I stopped at the far side of the Lena Lake to brew up a cup of tea before I started up the Brother’s trail.  Lena Lake was the lowest I have ever seen it.   I made it to the Brother’s base campground at about 5pm.   I was the only person to camp there that night.  I thought about camping further up the trail in a more open area, but my knee thought better of it.  I had a pretty easy time hiking in.  My pack weighed about 25 pounds because most of my gear is light or ultralight.  I cooked dinner at 6, but for some reason I could not eat all of it.  I normally have a good appetite when I am backpacking.
I was a little unhappy about being all alone in the campground.  At least it was not the first time I’ve been alone in a back country campground, so I was not as spooked as I could have been.  But this is a dark and gloomy campground and I was seven miles from my car and probably 3.5 miles from the next closest human being.   

My home for two nights
As soon as I went to bed it started.  This is a noisy forest!  Branches falling from trees, critters runing around my campsige and all kinds of unidentified noises.  As my head hit the pillow I heard an animal really close to me and without thinking I screamed.  Then it happened two more times just as I was drifting off to sleep and I screamed again.  Before I could scream a fourth time I told myself to wait for that noise again and find out what it was instead of automatically screaming.  It worked, a few minutes later the noise started again so I quietly reached for my headlamp and scanned my campsite for my tormentor,  it turned out to be a vole.   Voles don't eat people, in fact they are kind of cute.  That settled, I figured I would be able to sleep. 

I adore this little pond in base camp
 But noooo.. the sound of the river kept changing as if something was walking across it.  Was I imagining things?  Oh well, daylight would come soon and then it would be bright and sunny and cheerful and wait, isn’t the moon going to be pretty big tonight too?  So I fell asleep and then was startled awake by car headlights on my tent wall.  No silly.. it was just the moon.. ok time to go back to sleep. 

Then I was woken up by a big thing falling down from a tree and a creature making a thrashing noise.  SHIT.. what is with the campground?  Then something made a noise about 20 feet away from the crashing noise.  Eventually I figured out that the thing must be in the trees, therefore it was not a lion or a bear and it was not a threat.  But still, I startled awake every time it made a noise.  In the end I deduced it was a wood pecker.  It sounded just like a woodpecker.  Hmmm a nocturnal wood pecker??  Strange campground. 
Conks at base camp
 Oh well soon it would be light and then I could snatch an hour of sleep at least before it was time to hike.  The light came, but still I could not sleep because I kept having nightmares about rangers coming and dragging my tent away to write me parking tickets, while I was still in it and I was too paralyzed move or even wake up.  Sheesh.. So I gave up and got up at about 8 and it was still gloomy and not at all cheerful in that forest, but I could see the sun shining up on the mountain.  So off I went, without breakfast and totally exhausted from lack of sleep and my hike in the day before, to seek the sunlight and climb the mountain.

I started hiking up the trail at 8:30.  The trail starts in the forest and then soon breaks into an area that was burned or had a land slide or both.  There were ribbons everywhere so route finding was easy enough.  I kept having the nagging fear that I had not packed enough water.  Next the “trail” left the forest and headed straight up a steep and dry riverbed that was filled with basket ball sized rocks.  Yep that was the route, right up the dry river bed, it reminded me of my route up Lebar creek.

Hiking in the burned area

waterfall below tree line

 It took me 3 long hours to reach the top of the riverbed at 4,700 feet.  I was tired and was travelling slow.  From the top of the river bed I was not certain what to do other than go right.  But going right looked kind of scary.  Soon two strapping young men came up the mountain and chose the hardest possible route because they were rock climbers.  I tried to follow them until I found out they were seeking out the hardest routes just for fun.  I felt out of my element when comparing myself to them.  They said if they got too far ahead of me they would leave me some cairns.  But I felt I was going to hold them up. 
They climbed up on some rock that I could not begin to climb while I went up a scree slope.  The scree was scary for me, I almost fell twice and I knew there was supposed to be 2,000 feet of scree on this climb.  The summit was still 2,000 feet above me somewhere, but I could not yet see it.  Then I looked back and saw that there was going to be no view thanks to all of the haze from forest fires. 

Where I turned around, you can see the other climbers on the rocks
Lonely cairn lost in the Mountains
Next the route turned right and went right up a rock wall.  I knew I could climb the wall, but could I climb back down it could I down climb 2,000 feet of rock walls and scree?  I was tired and I decided this would be a good place to turn around, so I did.  Oh well, maybe next year.  Maybe I can come back and try this when I’m not so tired and I’m not suffering from a cold.

sweater cairn

This ravine is the route

I felt relieved to be heading back down and I knew there would be people in the campground that night so I went ahead and camped in the same spot instead of going all the way back out to the car.   I knew that people were camping there because I ran into two men who were climbing up as I was coming down.  It seemed to me that they were off to a late start.  They had never climbed the Brothers before either and they were doing it as a day hike.  Later I learned that they turned around about half way up to due a route finding issues and time constraints.  They offered to take me up with them but I was too tired.

Sphagnum squarrosum  in the Valley of Silent Humans

Hericium next to Lower Lena Lake
Wild mushroom  near Lower Lena Lake
4 of these were on one log next to Lena Lake

The waterfall on the way to Lower Lena that I always drink from.  I've never seen it dry before
spaghetti with wild mushrooms
  For dinner I had wild mushrooms and spaghetti.  I chatted with my neighbors and showed them a nice wild mushroom and then I went to bed at about 8pm.  Almost immediately that damn vole came back and woke me up several times.  Then at about 4 am something ran across the river and up the bank causing all kinds of rocks to fall down.   I never saw what that something was.

But at least  I only screamed one time that night.  I screamed when that vole woke me up by getting to within inches of my head. It might have even been in my tent with me.  I zipped up the bug screen to keep the vole out of my tent.  Every time I woke up in the night my body hurt.  I was sore from hiking.  I tried to stretch a little but that hurt too.  At least I was warm enough. 
To keep warm I wore my ninja suite with a down coat, thick socks, a hat and a pair of gloves.  I normally sleep cold but with this new system I stayed toasty warm.   It was so nice to be warm at night.
I got up at about 6:45.  I thought the other campers who were heading up the Brothers at 6:30 might have woken me up.  They offered to take me with them the night before but I said I was too tired.  I walked down and saw that they had not yet left at 7am.  I  made a hot cup of tea and cooked my breakfast while slowly packing my gear away.  Breakfast was instant rice with milk, sugar and raspberry fruit leather disolved in it.

                                                            (Dinner and my campsite)
At 8:30 my neighbors headed up the trail and I wished them good luck.  Their goal was to climb up and then go all the way back to the trailhead and drive home to Bremerton.  They got off to a later start then they had planned.

Moss at basecamp

Moss at 4,700 feet

At about 9 I started hiking back to my car.  The forest was so beautiful in the Valley of Silent men.  I savored my hike out even though I was stiff and my good ankle was acting up.  I packed a second ankle brace, so I went ahead and put it on my good ankle and that helped a lot.  I made it back down to the lake at about 10:30 am.  There were noisy campers at Lena Lake and two people had campfires.  There is a total burn ban, but I guess they did not get the word.  I was a bit annoyed with folks who were sitting on the shore and howling, but that’s Lena Lake for you .  I stopped on lunch rock and drank some water and ate a candy bar.
The interminable descent  down the lower Lena Lake trail was interminable.  I hate those long drawn out switchbacks.  I kept looking at my GPS, I was losing elevation too slowly.  I figured I must be in bad shape to feel so bad at that elevation.  My GPS did not have a lock to show me where I was on the map.  I just knew that I was a lot higher up than I  felt like I was, or was I?  
Actually I was right where I thought I should be for the way I was feeling.  My barometer was off by about 500 feet.  I was soon alerted to this fact by the sound of car door slamming.  When I reached my car I was relieved to find that I did not have a ticket.  Sure I had a forest pass, but that’s no guarantee  of not getting a ticket at Lena Lake.  Since I did not get a ticket I figured it was safe for me to use the bathroom. (A court just ruled that they Forest Service cannot charge you to park if you are just hiking but can charge if you use the bathroom or the picnic table.) 

Lots of dayhikers passed me on the way down.  The trailhead was packed with cars up and down both sides of the road.  Lena must be a cash cow for the forest service!
It felt really good to take my boots off.  I did not know it, but I had developed a big blister on my left heel.  Luckily it did not break.  When I got home I found that the house was an absolute mess and my spouse was sleeping.  I assumed he was sick and I was right.  I let him sleep and about an hour after I got home he woke up and discovered I was home.  In that time I did a load of dishes, vacuumed, swept the floor and some other stuff.  I was tired, but I got it done. 

Now back home my ears are starting to hurt.  The air is really bad thanks to the forest fires.
I’m glad I did this trip even though I was sick .  It was good to get out and I must have looked really cool with my (unused) climbing helmet.  This was my first back packing trip in 5 years and I felt better and hiked better this  trip, in spite of being ill and being five years older.
Pictures later, I'm very tired and just wanted to get this written while it was still fresh in my head.

16 miles with 4,000 feet elevation gain

 13 miles with a fully loaded back pack 4 miles with a day pack.  I deleted all of the wander track points such as when I stopped and when I looked for mushrooms.  I actually hike a bit farther then the track log below says.

A note about my gear:  My backpack is an REI brand Morning star that I have modified to the max in order to cut its weight.  I cut the top and side pockets off.  I sewed on new side top pockets made of light weigh mesh and I added a back mesh pocket.  I cut all the extra straps off except the compression straps.  I tossed the sternum strap because this pack fits me so well that the sternum strap was not needed.  I added shock cord to the back to help hold things on.  I think this pack weights about 1.5 pounds at most.    I love this pack, it's light and it carries weight very well.  I need to sew up the back mesh panel, it has a hole in it.  I might just replace it as it is more narrow than I would like.

I made my cookstove,  is a made of the bottom of a V8 can and the bottom of a small cat food can.  It weights about two ounces and runs on denatured alcohol.  I use a titanium cookpot with a stand made of hardware cloth. (think rabbit cage wire). 

My shelter is a Shires Tarptent.  It sleeps three and weight about 1.5 pounds.  It's an awesome light weight shelter, but I've had some issues with it.  I think it was a beta model.  I've had to sew it up in a few places and I have a hell of a time getting it into its stuff sack.

My sleeping bag is made of down but it's a cheap Campor bag, not an expensive bag at all.  I think it's rated for 20 degrees.  It weighs about two pounds.  

I dehydrate all my  own backpacking food.  I can't afford that Mountain house crap and the one time I did eat it I wanted to throw up.  I dehydrate leftovers all year long and I make my own fruit leather when fruits are in season.

I don't bother with any kind of water filtration or treatment in the Olympics, it's just not needed.

wear on my boot from the scree


East Fork Lena Creek

Mossy rocks

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

32 year old moss mystery solved! Pleurozium schreberi.

Letting a leaf slide dry overnight really makes the structures easier to see. I might have used KOH on this too. I was about to give up on ID of this moss,  I only have tiny scraps of it, don't know what it grew on or even if it is an acrocarp or not.  But bryonet came to the rescue and I now have an ID for this.

Pleurozium schreberi

Leaf: 1.5mm x .5m , mid leaf cells 80um x 5um
stems about 1cm, Springer Lake Bog

Here is a fresh Pleurozium schreberi leaf from my collection