Thursday, January 9, 2014

Kicking off 2014 North Fork Skok (Staircase) to Big Log

wet, dark, cold and fun
On Monday I went to the dentist and got all the filth and rot drilled and hammered and sucked out of my tooth. (tooth number seven in dental parlance)  Getting rid of all that infection did the trick!  After suffering since late November with a tooth infection concurrent with  the worst sinus infection I have ever had in my life, I am finally well again.  Wow,  a rotten tooth can make a person feel sick, even when it's not causing any pain.

I got that tooth filled six months ago and within a week of it being filled, I noticed it was turning brown.  Dental work leads to more dental work.  This is the second time in my life that I have lost a tooth right after it was filled.  I believe that my dentist damaged my tooth when he filled it.  This time around I'm getting it fixed.

 Last time I was just a kid and my Dad, even though he was a GS 13 in the federal government was too cheap to pay for a root canal (tooth number 3).  He had the dentist pull my tooth.

 Anyway, to the hike, for this hike I got a rather alpine start at 10:45 am.. okay that's not an alpine start at all. I woke up late because I was so groggy from all the pills I had to take in order to sleep.  Hiking cures my sleeping troubles, but I had not been hiking much at all recently so the only way I could sleep was with a good dose of alprasolam.  Oh also I'm being harassed by Social Security to cough up all of my pay stubs from 1998 to 2002 . As if I would actually have those!  I dont' know about you, but being harassed by the Feds always gives me insomnia.

So I woke up groggy and got off to a late start. I decided to stop for coffee in Hoodsport and Marcus just happened to be on duty.  He told me he got banned from northwest hikers net and an unrelated facebook page.  Poor Marcus, he's a good person and both his parents just died. 

So what if he is a bit irritating at times.  I'd be way more that just a bit irritating if I had good supportive parents in my life and then they suddenly both died within two months of each other.  Northwest hikers net used to be a busy interesting place, then it got slow and boring.  Then Marcus came along and spiced it up a bit.  Now it's boring again.

So anyway, I hit the trail at 10:45 am and Big Log camp was my goal.  I used to hike to Big Log all the time before I got Patches.  It's not a very exciting hike, but I missed seeing the sheltering hallowed out cedar tree that is in the campsite there.  I decide to start out on the four stream trail so I could walk over the new bridge.  The bridge was replaced about 8 months ago, but I still had not crossed it.  I tend to avoid staircase for many reasons, including crowds, rangers and that Patches is not allowed to hike there.

I thought I had 10 miles to hike and 5 hours to do it, so 2mph would be a good pace if I wanted to get out before dark.  I got to Big Log and had my tarp set up and was ready for lunch about 3 hours into my hike.  I was behind schedule, if I wanted a one hour lunch break and I did.  So, I stayed and had lunch in the pouring rain for about and hour knowing that the cost would be hiking out in the dark.

It was cold and my hands got cold while I was setting up my tarp so I cooked up a hot lunch to go with my usual hot tea.  I was comfortable sitting under my tarp drinking hot tea and eating hot lunch. Hot lunch was a home dehydrated meal of rice, lentils some veggies, some wild mushrooms and a tiny bit of unidentifiable meat.  I also ate three pepperoni sticks, some mixed nuts and two expired Titan brand protein cookies.

I'm not sure why I ate so much, perhaps because I did not eat anything on a the way in.  Eating that much for lunch gave me a slight tummy ache and my tummy was already upset from taking fourt rounds of antibiotics for my tooth and my sinuses.

At about 3pm I started my hike back out knowing that was about 6 miles from my car and the sun was going to set in an hour and a half.  I opted not to cross the bridge on the way out and instead made a little loop by taking the NOFO Skok trail back to my car.

When I got back to my car it was very dark and I could not see any lights coming from any of the Ranger buildings.  Perhaps the entire place was vacant on this night, but I thought that someone lived out there in the winter now.  There was a giant roll of toilet paper in the out house. It was too big to fit on the square roller and was rather difficult to use.  Maybe a ranger had left the gaint roll there before they went on vacation?

It rained all day and my arms, legs and shoulders got wet, but my feet were perfectly dry in my newish waterproof hiking boots.  I thought that my jacket leaked and that really disappointed me, but now I think it was just water coming in from around my head since I did not wear the rain jacket hood.

 Instead of wearing the rain jacket hood I wore my Seattle Sombrero.  The Sombrero is much more comfortable to wear as it does not block my vision or cover up my ears.  There was a price to pay for that comfort, the price was wet shoulders and arms after 6 hours of hiking in the rain.

Inside one of my favorite trees with my Seattle Sombrero on

I stopped at Hoodsport on the way home, this time for a hot chocolate.  I started shivering when I was in the store, but I warmed up again when I got back into my car.   That hot chocolate sure when down easy..

I did not bring my big camera with so much rain in the forecast and my lens was never dry, so my pictures are not very good.

11.75 miles with about 800 feet elevation gain.
1,400 calories burned (roughly)

The start

North Fork Skok

New Staircase Rapids Loop Bridge

Tiny mushroom with Rhytidiadelphus loreus moss

My refuge at lunch time

Hot lunch under the tarp
The SPOT message I sent from here
never did send even though the unit said
that it did get sent and it had a satellite lock

My view at lunch time

"devils matchstick" Philoporus acicularis lichen

It tasted bitter, I think it's agarikon

Now that I'm off antibiotics, my next hike should go better.

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