Friday, April 26, 2013

Lower South Fork Skokomish

There was a chance for me to do an overnighter with a meetup group on Mount Ellinor this weekend, but I backed out when I saw there was a chance of rain, since my 3 season tent has a broken zipper.  Also I don't know anyone in the group, so I don't know if I would have had fun.

When I woke up this morning I was really groggy and could not decide where to hike.  I thought of hiking to a viewpoint that overlooks Lake Cushman.  I have never been there, but I can see it on Google earth.   People used to be able to drive to the lookouts and there are pictures on Google Earth.

 I decided the best route would be to take Green Diamond roads most of the way.  My preferred route would have been to take the 400 road that runs next to Brown Creek, but that road has been churned up and turned into a total mess by decommissioning.  They should have left it alone or turned it into a trail, but instead they destroyed it for hiking or biking by logging and then throwing the logs across the road, adding a bunch of gravel, giving the road a weird slope and taking out the bridge.  What a shame, that road was such a lovely place to hike.  I wish there were some trails in the “legacy roads and trails program”.

My planned route to the lookout avoids as much
of the destroyed 400 trail / road as possible
Anyway I decided against that route when I found out the weather was supposed to be unseasonably warm.  In the 70’s the forecast said, so it seemed like a good day to hike in a shady valley.  Around and around I went until I finally decided to take my half tank of gas and go to the Lower South Fork Skokomish.  I only had half a tank because I forgot what side my fuel tank was on when I went to fill up and I was so groggy that I decided to just drive away instead of trying to figure it out.  I’m not sure what came over me, maybe I was ill.

I hit the trail at about 10 and one other hiker was starting out as I was but I never saw him after I left the trial head.    I had a nice light load today since I left my heavy camera and extra jacket behind.  I also packed my lightweight trekking poles.  With such a light load I bounded down the trail.

I decided to make camp comfort my turn around point.  I did not realize that camp comfort is always my turn around point.  The kids I saw at camp at comfort last year told me they were going to camp comfort, well actually, they were already there.   They were confused and they managed to get me confused too!

 I have a spot where I like to have lunch; it is a spot where the river washed out the trail.  On one my hikes a few years ago I had to turn around there or bushwhack up the hill.  Having lunch and turning around in that spot seemed like the best option.   Ever since that hike I’ve taken my lunch in the same spot even though the trail has been rebuilt and the river has moved leaving the spot dry. 

 This time I kept going and then I passed Camp Comfort where I normally turn around and I went a bit further and then I left the trail.  I walked on the river bank for about 1/3 of a mile and then I sat down for lunch.  I had instant coffee,  and the pepperoni, almonds and raisins left over from my last hike.  I also had a Lara bar.  I brewed my coffee in a patch of hair cap moss. (polytrichum juniperinum)  I love having lunch on the banks of the Skok.  It seems to peaceful and remote there in spite of having logging roads on either side of it.
Lunch with the hair cap moss
 I took about an hour for lunch.  Part of me wanted to take a nap, but another part of me was worried about my kids being home alone, so I was not able to sleep.  I headed back for my car at about 1:30 and on the way I bent down to looked at some liverworts I saw on the trail side.  I felt very light headed when I stood up again.  I think it’s anemia but it could be dehydration.  Then I spent too much time worrying about my low iron levels and my lack of access to decent health care and then I guess I had a panic attack.  Suddenly I was faint and had to sit down to keep from falling down.  I realized it was probably all in my head, so I got back up very slowly and continued on until I found a water source.  At the water source I had another cup of coffee and calmed myself down.  My water source was a little water fall coming off a nice flat log.  There was plenty of room for me to sit on the log and watch the waterfall.  What a delightful little spot I had found.

Waterfall for one with a seat

On the way out I passed three heavily loaded backpackers who where heading out for the weekend.  Their packs were huge, I did not envy them.  Also as I hiked out I saw some people had set up camp at Homestead Camp.  They wear wearing a lot of cotton,  but they had a nice big fire going.
Would you sign this log?  This is at camp comfort

After my coffee break I was fine, it probably was mostly all in my head.  As I hiked out I could hear the machine that they use to chop down trees on the side of the road.  I had heard it on the hike in as well, but I figured they would be done by the time I hiked out.  No luck, the machine kept going and going and going and never stopped, not even at 5pm.  The best way I could cope with it was to pretend that I was hiking on Mount Si and the noise was really I-90.  I’ve never actually hiked on Mount Si, but just knowing that such awful sounding hike exists made me feel a little better about my wilderness experiences being shattered by the noise.  As I reached the trail head a helicopter or a really loud airplane or two flew over head.  Sheesh.. is there no where on earth to get a little bit of peace and quiet?
Outing #19
11 miles 300 feet elevation gain

Running total for 2013:

165 miles hiked (265 kilometers)
25,750 elevation gained in feet (7,848 meters)
I'm not competing with anyone other than myself.
So far I'm on track to beat last year's numbers.
Last year I hiked 400 miles and gained 90,160 feet in elevation

I loveed my new backpack before it broke and I could not get it fixed.  I left my good camera at home today so my pictures are not as good, but my load was much lighter.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Airplane Canyon, epic trek to WWII plane crash site Willapa Hills

Learn more at about
 plane wrecks in
 the PNW in this
brand new book published
 last month:
"The Willapa Hills, rising to 3,110 feet above sea level, are part of the Coast Range. They are situated between the Olympic Mountains to the north and the Columbia River to the south. The Willapa Hills physiographic province includes the Black Hills, Doty Hills, and the adjacent broad valleys that open up to the Pacific Ocean. Barrier beaches characterize the low-lying coastline, behind which there are major estuaries such as Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay."

 33.5 miles round trip with about 4,000 feet elevation total gain in the Willapa hills (including false start and backtracking to find my GPS)

For my yearly totals I'll count half of this as hiking miles and I will
count all of the elevtation gain.

Getting started in the wrong spot 11.5 miles from the wreck at about 9:30
My gear not packed very well
Start of our route
Pretty stuff to see
Bridge to cross
******** Uh oh, this route is not going to work! ******

Switching to plan "B"

Plan "B"  New starting point 13 miles from the wreck at 11:20
Two hours lost to bad starting route and my dropping my GPS(r)



Jelly lichen on the road
More pushing but in the rain
More navigating but in the wind and rain and mud

After 20 miles of hiking and biking this turns out to be the easiest route up 4:45

200 feeet below the wreck
Found this mushroom in the clear cut forest on the way up to the wreck

At the crash site at last

Geocache 20,000 "Airplane Canyon"


We were surprised to find so much of the wreckage still up there

Pictures of the wreckage click to enlarge

Learn more at about plane wrecks in the PNW in this brand new book published last month:


Now we have get out of here, it's 5:30pm circle shows location of our bikes
Picking our way back down
Quick coffee break and change into dry socks at Cinabar Creek
Cinabar Creek
Up and down route for 13 miles to get back to the truck
Guess who had a front fender?
Mossy goodness on the way out
A welcome site after a 33.5 mile day 8:10pm

Our route including the false start but not including the 2.5 miles of backtracking to find my GPS after
it fell out of my around town bike basket

My fuel for this hike and bike
My shoes the day after
My bike the day after

Google Earth says we gained and lost over 4,000 feet!