Sunday, November 18, 2012

North Fork Skokomish

 First hike with my refurbished GPS(r)
I got to leave the house an hour earlier than usual today.  Right before I walked out the door I decided to leave the dog at home and go to Staircase.  It was going to rain all day, so there was no point in climbing any peaks and Dry Creek was probably going to be too high to cross.  I left my DSLR at home and brought my waterproof point and shoot camera.   During the drive in I saw a bald eagle near the causeway.  The causeway bridge is closed again, I assume because both of the new culverts washed out. Oh well, I got to drive across it once in the last 5 years, I guess that’s all I get. 

I started my hike at about 9:30 with Big Log camp as my goal.  When I reached Big Log I knew I wanted a longer hike.  It turns out I had not really reached big log when I thought I had.  I was in a mixed state today and not thinking too clearly.  I decided to head for Camp Pleasant instead.   When I saw the sign for Big Log, I realized I was not where I thought I was but I kept going to Camp Pleasant anyway.  I was worried about getting caught in the dark and  snow but it’s been years since I’ve been to Camp Pleasant, so off I went.   I hoped the falling snow would not get too deep for me to hike back out without snowshoes.

It snowed for most of the way in and there was a few inches of snow on the ground at Camp Pleasant.  I boiled water for a cup of chocolate in my new titanium mug and my new beer can stove.  The set up worked well except for the tree that kept bombing me and my cook pot with snowballs while I cooked.  That was a good field test for sure!

I hiked with several new pieces of gear today.  New trekking poles, they are  oblong poles and are very much like the switchback poles I used to have.  The switch backs were lost and the model was discontinued so I had to go with something different.  Other new gear was a titanium mug and wrist warmers.  The wrist warmers seemed to help a lot when my gloves got wet and cold.  Also new was a can stove I made of the free can of beer that I found when hiking up to Fir Lake with the kids years ago.  I  had saved that can and I used it to make a good sized can stove this week.

I’ve decided not to use my homemade caldera style cone after just one hike because the cone gets too hot and seems dangerous when used with a Heineken can.  Heineken cans do not have handles.  I might make a cone for my titanium pot one day.

I left Camp Pleasant at 1pm and that gave me 3 hours and 30 minutes to hike out 7 miles before it got dark.  I made very good time getting out and was done with my hike at about 3:30.  I must have gone 3 MPH on the hike out when I was not stopped to take pictures.

I ran into Marcus and friend while I was hiking out.  Marcus had gaitors and I told him that I wished I had brought mine.  Without gaitors my feet got wet even in waterproof boots.
It never stopped raining or snowing so I got totally soaked today but I stayed warm.   When I was don hiking, I drove to Bear Gulch to use the bathroom and change out of my wet clothes.  I did not want to hang out at Staircase and risk running into Ranger Davis for a second time this week.  I was lucky earlier this week because he did not seem to recognize me. 

Today I saw many salal leaf faces left by Ranger Bruce.  They were stuck to the ends of logs with sticks, in some places several leaves were on one stick.  Presumably Bruce left them there on different hikes, as they all looked to be different ages the faces ended before Big Log camp.

Construction to replace bridge that went
out in 1999
Work on the new loop trail bridge seems to be going well.  I wonder if any timber will be poached from the Shady Lane Nature trail for its construction.  Last week I saw the forest service poaching timber up there and running a motorized wheel barrel and a chainsaw on the trail.  I was showing the trail to a couple who were visiting the park from New Zealand; they were getting a kick out of watching the elk until the chain saw scared all the elk away.  What hypocrisy on the part of the Park, you can’t pick one mushroom from a nature trail but the park can harvest old growth cedar and run chainsaws on the same trail.
Poaching on Shady Lane Nature trail

At least I got the fiasco with my pass taken care of.  I have a life-time pass to the parks and forest but no hangtag, so I got a parking ticket at Lena Lake when the ranger did not see my pass on the dash in the rain.  After that, the volunteer at the Hoodsport office would not give me a hangtag to go with my pass.  He said he could not issue hang tags without passes.  What?  So two weeks ago I went the Olympia office for the forest service and the woman in there did not hesitate at all to write my pass number on a new hangtag and give it to me.   She could not understand why Hoodsport would not give me a hangtag.   So anyway, I finally I have a hang tag and will be less afraid of getting undeserved parking tickets.

I felt real good for such a long mileage hike, I must still be in good shape.  I listened to music for most of the hike.  I saw three people hiking in as I hiked out, one group of two with overnight gear and one day hiker who was worried about not having a water filter.  I told the day hiker that I have been drinking the water out of the rivers here for years with no ill effects but I don’t think he was convinced it was safe.

14 miles, 800 feet elevation gain
The rest of the world calls that 22 kilometers with 240 meters elevation gain

Camp Pleasant toilet

Scary crossing

1 comment:

Jake Morrison said...

I love walking as the snow falls. Cool stove.