Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Gossamer Gear is having growing pains

I got this form letter in my email box today and I am very disappointed.

Dear [Mossy Mom],

I’m writing to thank you for all of the contributions you have made to Gossamer Gear and our customers in your role as a Trail Ambassador. Last year was pivotal for us and marked our transition from being a small cottage manufacturer to a mid-sized company with higher quality products and significantly more manufacturing capacity. Your sponsorship of the Gossamer Gear brand during this transition played an important role in the helping us achieve record growth last year.

Unfortunately we will not be renewing your membership in the Trail Ambassador Program this year in order to give some fresh faces a chance to get involved and to give back to their local communities. With the growth of our customer base, the interests and types of recreational activities our customer are involved with has diversified considerably, and we feel it’s important to add them to the Trail Ambassador Program and incorporate their needs into our product development process.

This change in your status does not affect the regard we have for you and our desire to keep you as an active member of our Trail Ambassador Alumni. While we can’t offer you all of the benefits of our active Trail Ambassadors, we'd like provide you with an extension of your Trail Ambassador 25% prodeal discount on Gossamer Gear products with the following discount code: RETIRED2014, good through 2014.

Best regards,

Grant Sible
President, Gossamer Gear
You are receiving this email because you are a Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador.


2013 Hiking Stat's

It's time for my once a year Excel refresher course.  2013 was a record breaking year for me, but just barely.  I'm glad that it was just barely, that gives me a better chance of being able to break my record again next year.

All my hikes compared by mileage but with most duplicates deleted

My steepest hike was Wagon Wheel but if the road to Snow
Lake was open then Snow Lake would have been the Steepest

A low R squared value means that one variable does not predict the other.  A low
P value means that the odds of this happening by chance are low.  So in other words
my going on a long hike does not cause me to gain more elevation but chances are
that if I go on a longer  hike I will gain more elevation.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Wynoochee Lakeshore Trail with river ford and infected tooth

Still lake in the morning ISO set way to high

I slept restlessly and woke up with a pounding headache just over my left temple. The left side of my nose was swollen completely shut. Having just finished a 24 day course of antibiotics for a sinus infection and an abscessed tooth, I knew that my sinus infection was gone. It was just that the tissues in my dried out nostril were swollen up and closed. This closure was the cause of my headache.

 This was the third time in four days that I had woke up in such a sad state. I used over the counter nasal spray to open my sinus and nostril and hopefully relieve my headache.

 The only way to get the spray up my nose was to lay in bed, with my head propped back on a pillow and let a drop of spray trickle down to the back of my left nostril. I did not wait long enough for the first drop to work and I put in another drop. The second drop worked after about five minutes and finally I could get a tiny bit of air through my left nostril.  But my nostril was on fire from using too many drops.

It had been over three weeks since my last hike and I felt very anxious about going so long without hiking, but at the same time I had almost zero motivation to go. I decided to get up and have some coffee and at least see if being upright would make me feel better.  All I really wanted to do was go back to sleep.

  I staggered out to my kitchen with one hand over my left temple and my eyes half closed. My husband took one look at me and discouraged me from going hiking.   That annoyed me, my motivation level was so low, what I needed was encouragement to get out there.

My abscessed tooth did not respond to the antibiotics at all and it was probably making me feel feverish.

  I was too dizzy and in too much pain to search for my coffee press so I settled for a quick cup of black tea, even though a nice strong coffee would have done me more good than a PJ tips Christmas tea.  I also took some Ibuprofen.

After about ten minutes I did not feel much better but I was still going to go hiking. But where should I go? Nothing excited me. I needed to take Patches since it had been just as long since she had been hiking. So the National Park was ruled out.

  I also did not want to hike anywhere that I could reach by bus because that would be a waste of gas. But it was Sunday so I would have to drive myself somewhere.

  Where to go? Maybe Wynoochee, no bus will take me there and it’s not too far from home and I've only hiked it twice before, but the days are so short, the solstice was just 8 days ago, was there time to go to Wynoochee?

 The other pressing questions was what camera to bring. I felt sick so the idea of ditching my big heavy camera and just taking my point and shoot sounded great. But what if I went somewhere really pretty? I knew I would miss my good camera if there was anything at all worth taking pictures of.

 So much indecision made it even more difficult to get out the door. In the end I decided on a short out and back hike on the Wynoochee and I ended up with both of my cameras and a tripod.

When I started my Jeep I saw that the radio was working!!  The radio had not worked in over six months.  So I went back into my house and got my MP3 player so I could hook it up to my tape deck and listen to some music.
The radio quit working before I even made it to Matlock.

One reason that Wynoochee appealed was that the Matlock store was on the way and I could stop there and get a coffee for my head ache that the tea and ibuprofen and nose spray was barely even taking the edge off of. When I got to the Matlock store it was closed. Well I thought, I could make a cup of tea at the trail head or have two cups of tea on my hike to make up for my lack of coffee.

I made good time and reached the trail and started my hike at 9:10 am.
 When I got to the trail head I ditched the tripod, but I did take both cameras hiking with me.

  I was still feeling rough and feverish and the idea of an out and back hike was just not inspiring me. The idea of doing a loop around the lake was motivating though and the lake level looked really low, so maybe I could ford the river and do a 13 mile loop.

  I knew there was not time to walk all the way up to the bridge and do a 16 mile loop. I only had 7 hours before sunset. I trudged up the trail with my husband’s warnings ringing in my ears “you don’t look fit to hike” “I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to go hiking”. But I answered back with sometimes hiking makes me feel better and I need to hike for my mental health.

 I had been plagued with insomnia for the entire three weeks that I was unable to hike. I hoped I was making the right choice to decide to do a 13 mile hike and an icy river ford.

Even if if the river ford was too much and I had to turn back, I was still looking at a 12 mile hike. The trail is fairly level and I made good time. I think that some of the blow downs had been cleared out but the biggest nastiest blow down was still there.

  As I approached the upper end of the lake I noticed that the lake level was so low that the lake was actually a river at this point and the river was braided and wide. This looked like the best place to cross. Should I walk all the way down to the lake bed and see if I could cross the river there?

Time was running out, if I could not cross the river there I might have to turn back without ever even making it to the official ford. What to do?

 I kept walking down the trail hoping that there would be a better view of the river just around the next corner. Finally I decided that to go for it, I left the trail and headed straight for the river only to find that the river was too deep and too fast to cross.

  But upstream just a bit the river was much wider and looked shallow. So, I headed up stream on the muddy river bank wading across several side feeder streams. The rocks were sharp and the water was cold and my feet hurt. But for every feeder stream I crossed I knew the river would have less water in it and my chances of fording the river would get better.

  My headache was gone but I still felt a bit feverish and shaky. Would I be steady enough to cross the river on slippery algae covered rocks with the rollicking fast current and my dizzy head? I picked up a stout stick to help keep me steady and that made Patches bark because she thought the stick was for fetching.

One thing I knew for sure was that I was not going to risk hypothermia and get my pants soaked like I did the last time I tried to ford this river!
 Once I finally settled on a spot to cross I completely stripped from the waist down and then put on my rain pants. It would not matter if my rain pants got wet and having something covering my naughty bits would give me the peace of mind to be able to pick my way across the river slowly and safely.

 To protect my feet I put on my spare socks, the river was just too cold and the rocks were just too sharp to cross with bare feet, especially after already crossing so many feeder streams with bare feet.

I made it across but it was a little bit scary and that’s great! The adrenaline made me feel good and I forgot about my fever and lethargy during the excitement of the crossing.

 Once I made it across I took off my rain pants and put my long underwear and hiking pants back on while standing on my rain pants.  With my pants back on,  I sat down on a muddy log and stripped off my wet socks and put my dry socks and my dry boots back on. I stashed my wet pants and socks in the mesh panel outside of my pack.

Surrounded by acres of Climacium

  I should have had a hot tea at this point, but I was worried about the time and I was worried about finding the trail again. The trail runs near the shore in some places and up to a ¼ of a miles away from the shore in other places.

Climacium dendroides moss, some of it had
sporophytes I think it is a pluerocarp, no way
 it's and acrocarp like my key says
  I could have up to a quarter of a mile of really nasty steep uphill bushwhacking ahead of me, so I needed to get moving. Using my topo map on my GPS I found that the trail seem to be near the shore in about ¼ of a mile.

I walked up edges of the lake bed on carpet of Climacium dendroides moss until I reached the spot where I needed to head back into the woods. If not for the side rivers running into the lake I could have just walked all the way around on the lake shore. Some of the rivers are too big to cross, so I needed to be up on the trail in the woods with its bridges.

Amazingly the trail was right next to the lake and I only had to do about 20 feet of bushwhacking to find that trail. That was a great relief and I knew I would have time to stop for a short lunch and a cup of tea and still be able to get off the trail before dark.

Pseudocyphellaria crocata lichen on an ornamental hardwood tree
that was planted near the dam.  P. anomala was there too
I never did have that cup of tea though; I just kept plowing on until I reached the lake front picnic tables at the end of the trail near my car.

 I stopped there just long enough to use the bathroom and admire the lichens on some ornamental hard woods.
  I spotted the yellow speckle belly lichen (Pseudocyphellaria crocata)  for the very first time. 

A Nephroma lichen on
the same tree
I thought I would make tea at one of the picnic tables on the lake shore,  but then I realized that if I just got in my Jeep and drove home as fast as I could I would make it home before dark and I could stop at the Matlock store for coffee.

 So I headed to my Jeep and drove home as fast as I could, instead of having a break. The only thing resembling a break I had during my entire ten mile hike was when I stopped to put my clothes on after fording the river.

I reached the Matlock store about 20 minutes before sunset and I staggered inside with my coffee mug.  When nearly I fell out of  my Jeep I realized I was really stiff from my hike. The store clerk was outside having a smoke break, but he gruffly said he would be in shortly. I looked and looked for coffee but could see none. The pots were empty the carafes were empty; it looked like I was going to go all day without getting my cup of coffee.

But then the gruff looking clerk came in from his smoke break and seeing my predicament, he  took my cup and poured me a cup of coffee from behind the counter, it was from his own personal stash of coffee I think.

Lake Wynoochee was formed by this ugly dam the Original
Wyhnoochee trail was destroyed in the process of damming and logging

  The coffee only cost me 75 cents, so I will be back again with my own cup. Also the clerk was not so gruff after he had finished his cigarette.  I bring my own cup because so many gas stations use the horrible tasting Styrofoam cups that make me feel sick.

  Coffee in hand (since my Jeep does not have cup holder) I drove home and made it in my back gate just 3 minutes after sunset.

  I was surprised to have been able to do that drive and that hike and make it home before dark.

 Looking at my track log I saved 3 miles by crossing where I did. The 12 mile loop around the river is actually 13 miles thanks to a new detour. But I had shaved off that extra mile plus two more miles by crossing where I did.

 Also I managed to stay on the trail in the campground rather than walking out to the road like I did last time. This entire hike went much better than my last punishing trip around the lake.

  I was very tired when I got home but I was very happy to finally have made it out hiking again before the end of the year. I had been hoping to break through the 500 mile mark this year but with so much sickness in December I only come close, but I did break my all time annual record and I’ve left myself something to shoot for next year.

After all that fuss about what camera to bring it turned out that I had my camera on a really funky setting all day so many of my picture did not turn out. In my feverish state I had forgotten to hit the reset button at the start of my hike and it was set to ISO 6,400.

Happy New Year!

I have a root canal scheduled for next Monday.

10 miles with 800 feet total elevation gain on this up and down route.

In 2013 I hiked 63 times, went 452 miles and gained 106,750 feet, breaking my all time mileage, elevation gain and trips out records. 

2013 62 452 106750

The starting elevation was about 800 feet my GPS got confused

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Update on my health and pictures of lichens and moss in town

Syntrichia ruralis moss a model species for dessication tolerance

My dentist confirmed my worst fear today, that boil on my gum that just won't go away, is an infection in the root of my tooth and I need a root canal. At least he is not trying to sell me a crown. I'm still not feeling great even after 7 days of Amoxicillain treatment followed by 7 days of Augmentin treatment for a sinus infection. I suspect this tooth infection is the cause of my general malaise now. My dentist prescribed another 7 days of Augmentin and increased it from 2 to 3 pills per day. Hopefully this mega dose will clear up the gum boil so he can go in and do a root canal on January 16. 

(this post is broken up by pictures of moss and lichens I found in town one day last week when I was not feeling too dizzy to go for a walk)

Cladonia lichen
 I swore to myself that I was going to go hiking the day before yesterday no matter what, but my enthusiasm just was not there, so I did not go. I know I have to be really sick to not want to go hiking. I'm hoping that after another week of Augmentin I'll be ready to hike again. Three weeks of no hiking could interfere with my conditioning. But I've been hiking for enough years that I should be able to bounce back pretty quick.

Water drop on Didymodon vinealis "fencepost" moss

I am going hiking next week no matter what, maybe on Monday as that will give me on day in between to recover from my Seattle trip.

Speckle belly lichen (Pseudocyphellaria anomala)  in town

I am going hiking next week no matter what, maybe on Monday.

Ceratodon (red roof moss) on my car

I am going hiking next week no matter what, maybe on Monday.

Nephroma respinatum lichen in town on my block
I must live in a little pocket of clean air

I'm going to Seattle on Saturday and I'm taking public transportation the entire way and it's going to be a very long day. I sure hope I am feeling better by then! I look forward to showing my youngest daughter the sights and sounds of Seattle. She actually thought that Seattle was inside of Olympia!  I'm going to take her to Rainier square to see the lights and fancy shops and the the Ye Olde Curiosity shop to see the mummies and  to the Pike Place Market to watch the fish fly.   And if she's really lucky I'll show her all the places where I sprained my ankles while skateboarding in Seattle. I'm also hoping that the big nursery across from pike place market is still there so I can buy her a Venus fly trap.

Sticta limbata lichen in town

Stay tuned, maybe I will post a trip report from Seattle with pictures of the places where I destroyed my ankles skateboarding all those years ago, in another lifetime.  I'm so lucky to be able to walk at all after what I did to my ankles.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Lichens and liverworts and moss, oh my..

I am recovering from a terrible sinus infection and a possible tooth infection. Seven days of treatment with Amoxicillin were just a waste of time. Now I've been on Augmentin for 3 days and I am starting to recover. My sinus condition is better but I still have a good sized boil just over the root of one of my teeth. I suspect that I am going to lose that tooth. At least the tooth does not hurt much anymore as most of the nerves in it are probably dead now. The tooth has been discolored for a while. My PA suggested that I wait to see if the Augmentin stops the boil before I see the dentist.

Anyway I am finally feeling well enough to take little walks around town and admire the moss and lichens and liverworts. It is easy to see where the pollution is in this town just by looking at the lichens. Near the sawmill and the freeway I can only find pollution tolerant lichens and even some of them look pollution stressed. But just 11 blocks away and upwind, I can find lichens that require clean air. Here is a wonderful example on a sugar maple tree. When I was admiring this wonderful little patch of diversity a neighbor walked up to me and asked me if I was tripping.. perhaps I was. I can actually name almost everything in this picture by sight, how trippy is that? The white lichen is Parmelia sulcata, it is pollution tolerant but is very stressed out living on this tree, perhaps the air is too clean for it here and it is not getting the nitrogen it needs. The big black lichen is Sticta fuliginosa, the small black lichen is Nephroma resupinatum, the large green lichen is Lobaria pulmonaria all pollution sensitive species. There is an Orthotrichum moss in the picture as well as the Porella navicularis liverwort. I can not ID the tiny mushroom in the dead center but I suspect it is a basidio lichen. Yes, I could probably spend hours tripping on just the little patch, but it's right next to the main road and it raises eyebrows when I linger here for too long.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Below freezing temperatures and alcohol stoves

Yes, alcohol stoves do work in below freezing temperatures.   Here is a video to demonstrate.  The stove in the video was made out of one pop can.  It is called a YACC stove.  YACC stands for Yet Another Coke Cane stove.

The temperature outside was -7C or 19F, that is well below freezing.  There was no wind so I was able to leave the windscreen open for this video.

In general alcohol stoves are not the best if you need to melt snow, it takes too long to melt snow with an alcohol stove.  If you just want to boil water and alcohol stove works just fine.  In the video it took 4.5 minutes to bring one cup of water to a boil and in continued to boil for 2 more minutes. 

The boil was a good strong boil, but not as strong of a boil as I have seen this stove get in warm weather.  Only about two tablespoons of alcohol were used.

By all means take your ultralight alcohol stove with you on cold weather camping trips as long as you know you won't have to melt snow to get water.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

TurboPATCHES! Patches is the TurboPUP of the month.


Big Creek loop in the cold while sick

Hympnum (circinale?) moss on a stump

I felt a little ill when I woke up, but not ill enough to cancel my hike.  Patches got so excited when she saw the bus arrive, she already had her leash on, so she knew she was going hiking with me, but when the bus came she went crazy; she's a smart dog.

I had hoped that ibupropean and coffee and getting out and moving would make me feel better, but they did not.  Since I was still not feeling well when the bus dropped me off, I decided to take it easy.  I only did the 4 mile loop around the campground and did not head up Mount Ellinor like I normally do.

I brought my tripod on this hike, I don't think I have ever taken a tripod hiking before.  I spent a lot of time taking pictures while sipping hot tea.  I can't decide what picture is my favorite, so I 'm just going to toss them all up here even though a lot of them look the same.

More trees have fallen down near the newly logged area, it's sad to see.  Two are good sized and one is smaller, they are all right together.

Big Creek campground is going to get some major upgrades and I think it will be an improvment but some trees will die in the process.

5 miles with 1,000 feet elevation gain

walking to and from the bus and doing one of the campground loops
made for a 5 mile hike rather than just a 4 mile loop.  Also the 4 mile
loop got longer when they moved the bridge.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thrashing around at Lena Lake

My view at lunch time

I had to catch my bus at 6:45 and I was not thrilled about that, but I was happy to be able to catch some pretty morning light on the canal and at the Lake.  I only stopped briefly at lunch rock because the sun was glaring both in the sky and off the water.
I had lunch in the rocks on the far shore.  I cooked a hot lunch and had hot tea.  I was unsure if I had enough time to circle the lake, but I was already too far around the lake to go back, so I made the circle.
The last bit of the circle was rough going and I was really worried about time, but I made it back to the trail with two hours to go before my pick up time.
I made it down in just 1.5 hours and had plenty of time to relax and have tea at the trail head pic nic table.  I was unsure about timing becuase I kinda quit going to Lena Lake after I got the parking ticket.  I had my pass displayed on my dash just like I was supposed to, but for some reason the ranger gave me a ticket anyway.  I've only been back one time since and even then I was worried about getting another unwarranted parking ticket.
No worries about getting parking tickets this time since I rode the bus!
I have a cold, so I only hiked one time this week.  It sure was nice to get out of the foul city air.
About 7.5 miles with 1,200 feet elevation gain

I lost my:

while thrashing around in the brush.. :(   If you follow the Amazon link and do some shopping it will raise funds so I can buy a new one.

Video trip report, it might have an advertisment since I used some 3rd party content (music)


Patches photobombs my trail head picture

Aquatic moss

My ride

Peltigera venosa

My morning bus ride up the Hood Canal