Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mildred Lakes Marathon in the Dark

Fall colors in the highcountry

We started our hike at 10:05 and we expected to be done before dark.  I've been to the lakes once before and I got lost so many times on that hike.  Today I figured well , it's just 9 miles with 2,000 feet elevation gain and a few ups and downs  and  I would not get lost since I knew the way this time.  So we should be able to do this hike in 9 hours time.

Well I guess we only moved at a rate of about 1 mph the entire way.  Sheesh!  We did not get really lost but we did get a little bit off trail and we took 12.5 hours to do this hike.  We ended up hiking in the dark for 3.5 hours.  Then the drive home was extended greatly by the worlds longest detour off highway 101. The detour forced us to drive all the way to Union.  I think that's a bit much.  I did not get home until midnight.

On the way up I found some Matsutake, so I picked them and then stashed my bag.  I waypointed my bag with my GPS and set a proximity alert.  I saw a ton of chanterelles on the way up and I had hoped to pick them on the way down.   Near the high point of the hike and at the lakes I found King boletes but most of them were wormy.  I did find one that was nice enough to take home though and I just ate it for breakfast.  I also found a ton of hericium on the way in that I waypointed for later.

On the way out I picked all the hericium in the fading light.  With the first killer frost coming any day now there is no reason not to pick every hericium I see.  One the hike out in the dark I managed to find two more mastutake.   I was excited to be able to find mastutake in the dark!

We did not have time to hike to that largest lake and that really disappointed me, but we made the right call to turn around when we did.  It was important to cross Huckleberry creek and get through the ravine before dark.  The trail is hard to find even in day light on the far side of the creek.

We reached Huckleberry Creek at sundown and then we stopped for tea.  When night hiking I think it is important to stop and regroup right before darkness sets.  While I waited for the tea water to boil I went off to go to the bathroom while my hiking partner sat on the bank of the creek.   This was only day two of my cycle, so  I bled a lot during this hike and I know that sucks some of the energy out of me. 

When I came back to where my hiking partner was sitting he told me that he had lost his GPS.   We frantically went through his pack in the quickly fading light and could not find his GPS.  He was very upset.  We figured he probably left it up at the lake.  He says he's not going to hike back up there to look for it, the days are too short and the hike is too hard.  He is offering a $50 reward for the return of his GPS.

Caught a small trout and put it back, look at that halo!
So, after tea we began our night hike, spirits were a bit low with the loss of the GPS and the thoughts of many miles of night hiking on such a tough trail.  We did a good job hiking out and did not get lost on the section of the trail where I've gotten lost during the day in the past. 

We had to stop couple of times to look for the trail, but we really did well.  This is one of the last trails I would ever want to night hike on.  The trail is hard to follow and the forest is very dark and closed in a creepy.  I would have been very frightened if I had to hike through that alone.  I would have been seeing mountain lions everywhere.

At the end of our hike my friend fell on some slick rocks that Patches had just walked across and dripped water onto after crossing a stream.  He injured his shoulder when he fell, so then spirits dropped even lower.  We finally made it back to the trail head at 10:30 and then for the long drive home with the insane 16 mile detour through Union.  That's a gallon of gas and a cup of oil in my Jeep.

9 miles with 3,000 feet total elevation gain on this up and down route

crazy up and down route

Start of hike 10:05

Soft and hard

Crossing huckleberry creek on a log

Down climbing into the ravine

Climbing up a ladder of roots

Big hedgehog mushrooms

Fall colors on the top

Fall colors in the fading light

Turbinata fluccosus in front, Tricholoma zellerii in the back

Lower Mildred Lake  a bit tilted, I Skokomish is in the background

Colorful tarn in the fading light

Amanita muscaria  Fungi with the Rytidiopsus robustus moss aka "pipe cleaner moss"

King Bolete that I did not pick
Hericium jackpot

conks look kewl in the dark! (Fomitopis pinacola)
headlamp hiking

Lichens are more colorful in the dark

Creepy trail in the dark

Pile of rocks marks the trail
difficult enough to find in the day
End of the hike 10:30

back at the car, Patches has scary animal eyes

Yesterday's mushroom haul


Dr. Lalita Calabria said...

Awesome photos. Still following your blog! Love it!

Dr. Lalita Calabria said...

Love your fall photos on this post. Still following your blog-love it!

Mossy Mom said...

Hi Lalita,

I'm glad you still follow the blog.. I'll keep posting pictures of lichens and moss... I'm a little distracted by mushrooms right now though.. Wow, what a mushroom year.. I have enough Matsutake now to warrant breaking out the pressure canner.

Midge said...

Really enjoyed, your blog on this hike, great pics, and gps tracks. I saw your puppywuppy went, I, too have a trail mate, but I have been nailed on having him in the park ;( did you not worry about it because you started out, outside of the park ?? Just curious. :) Keep bloggin' !!!

Mossy Mom said...

Hi Midge,

Mildred Lakes are in the National Forest so dogs are okay there.