Thursday, November 7, 2013

Big Creek, Lower Ellinor, first trip with dial-a-ride

My camera was on a bad setting for the first 30 pictures that I took, so I don’t have a lot of photos that I can post from this trip.  But I did make a video.
A side stream
This was my first trip utilizing Mason Transit dial-a-ride.  In Mason County anyone can ride on the dial-a-ride, there are no eligibility requirements.   But I think scheduling priority is given to those with physical disabilities.  Everyone else is just allowed to tag along if a bus happens to be going that way.

Using the regular bus service there are only two trails that I can get to and those are both Jefferson County.  Using dial-a-ride opens up a whole new hiking universe for me!  For my first dial-a-ride I decided to go to the Big Creek Trail.  This trail is right off of a major paved road and it is about 50 miles from home.  I scheduled this ride two weeks in advance and I had to spend about fifeteen minutes on the phone to get it done.
The plan was for me to catch the bus between 8:00 and 8:30 leaving town and between 2:45 and 3:15 going back to town.  My morning bus arrived promptly at 8:00 and the driver (Scott) asked for me by name and then whisked me up to Big Creek, picking up one other passenger along the way.  I was dropped off at Big Creek at 8:40am.  Since bus service within the county is free, the ride cost me nothing.
Just after the bus dropped me off a man arrived in a white truck, at first I thought he might be a forest ranger so I was frightened of him.  But I saw that his truck was not marked and when he got out of his truck he was wearing and orange vest.  Ah, a hunter.. well I was dressed in blaze orange because it’s elk hunting season, so I was not too worried, so I turned my back on the man and started to hike.  
But the man yelled me down, he wanted to know where I was going and what I was doing.   This made me a little nervous because maybe he was just an elk hunter, or maybe he was an armed and dangerous rapist who was going to stalk me!   I told the guy I was hiking up the trail and left it at that. 

But something told me that this guy was probably okay, so I waited for him to catch up to me.  When he caught up he handed me his coffee cup and for some reason, I took it and asked him what it was.  He said it was tea.  Then he started to load giant bullets into his rifle.  It turned out that he simply wanted me to hold his cup so he could load his gun, but it never entered his mind to ask if I actually wanted to hold his cup.  How very odd!
Anyway the man recognized me from my hike to Snow lake and once I knew the guy was a hiker (and he did seem like a reasonable guy at Snow lake) I felt safe enough to tell him my hiking plans.  My plan was to take the Big Creek Loop anti-clockwise, hike up to the look out and then return and finish the loop in the anti-clockwise direction.  Unfortunately he also intended to hike counter clock wise and I like my solitude, so I changed plans and hiked in the clock wise direction.  

 I was a bit discombobulated by my encounter with him and I started to head for the location of the old bridge that washed away years ago rather than heading up the road to the new bridge.  When I realized my mistake I went ahead and crossed the creek on a log jam rather that walk out of my way to the new bridge.  By crossing on the log jam I got about a ¼ of a mile head start and knew I would be well away from the hunter for the rest of the loop.
I had my tea at the overlook as usual and I saw that they are doing a lot of logging on saddle mountain. 
It took me about two hours to hike to the overlook  so  I still  had 4 hours left before my bus would return, with that in mind I headed up into the beautiful forest on the Lower Ellinor trail.  I bushwacked straight up to the trail from the overlook and then I went to about 3,100 feet before I turned around.
  I found Peltigera venosa on the  trail up there, I had never noticed it on all my trips up there in the past,  I must have only developed an eye for it after seeing it on Mount Walker a few weeks ago.
At about 12:30 I turned around and headed back down for the bus stop.  I picked a load of honey mushrooms (caps only) and a few chanterelles on the way down.  It made me happy to think that these were free mushrooms since it did not cost me any gas money to go out there and pick them.   Free mushrooms?!  Dial-a-ride is bomb diggity!
 It turns out that I cut it a bit too close for the trip back down to the bus stop, because I took a wrong turn on the way down.  I ended up on the campground trail instead of on the loop trail and that took me a couple of extra minutes.  Also I had some rather serious intestinal issues right at the end, so I had to run down to the outhouse. 

 I was afraid I would not have time to both use the outhouse and catch the bus on time, and not making it to the outhouse would have been a disaster.  Yeah, so the end of my hike was not very pleasant at all!
I took care of my issue and made it back to the bus stop at 2:42, which was just 3 minutes before the earliest time that my bus might depart.  But my bus did not actually arrive until 3:11 so I did not need to run to catch the bus, I only needed to run to catch the outhouse.
My bus made a stop on Web hill to pick up one other city bound passenger before it dropped me off at my front door at 4:05pm.    
It was so nice to not have to drive myself down the twisty 119 road. I was very pleased with this bus trip and I can see myself utilizing the service quite a bit.   I’m going to make a reservation right now to have them take me out to Staircase next week.  Staircase is in the national park so I won’t have to contend with any hunters out there.  I'll only have the mean rangers to worry about.

Both bus drivers asked if I carry a weapon while I hike and if I have a cell phone.  I guess the idea of my hiking solo made them a bit nervous.  Of course I took my AK-47 on the bus with me.
This was my first trip with my SPOT 3.  I don’t like SPOT, but it’s cheap, so I bought another one anyway.  My camera was on a bad setting for the first 30 pictures that I took, so I don’t have a lot of photos that I can post from this trip.  But did I make a video.

7.5 miles with 2,100 feet elevation gain.



Honey mushrooms that went home with me

Mount Washington

Tea time

Peltigera venosa

Old growth

Bus stop

Tiny cauliflower mushroom

What if you have no vehicle?

Campground will be closed all of
next year for construction

Unknown fungi

Red belted conk Fomitopsis pinacola
Riding the bus home



Midge said...

Great adventure, love the pictures, and video. Wonderful detail, good gps pics too. Thanks for sharing your great hike !!


Mossy Mom said...

Thanks Midge!