Friday, February 28, 2014

Dosewallips in the Snow and Mr. Velvet Voice in the Traffic

Snow over my boots, time to change my socks

I decided to burn up a whole bunch of gas and take my high clearance gas hog up to the Dosewallips.  Taking the gas hog was a good choice as it turns out.  I was quite surprised to see snow well before the start of my hike.  I had not brought gaiters or snowshoes and was unsure of how far I was going to be able to go when I saw snow at the start!
Snow from the very start
I started my hike at the washout at about 10am.  At first the snow was about 2-4 inches deep but then it got better and there were some bare patches on the road as it climbed up.  By the time I got to Constance Creek the snow was getting deeper.  It was tough going, but I really wanted to make it to old Dosewallips car campground for lunch, so I plodded on.

Luckily someone had broken the trail all the way to the waterfall.  After the waterfall, all the human tracks in the snow were gone and I followed a deer track.  There were cougar tracks on either side of the deer track! 

 Near the campground even the deer track ended and I had to break the trail.  It was very tough going at this point and I was getting snow over the top of my boots.  I thought of turning back, I was worried about how tired I was going to be on the hike out.
Patches post holes

I reached the Ranger Station at about 1pm and it was the only place that was sunny.  The campground was in a deep cold shade.  I decided to take my lunch and make my tea on the porch of the little ranger station rather than sit in the shade by the river.

a lot of snow for just 1,600 feet
I finished lunch at about 2:30 and began my hike out.  I wanted a longer lunch break but I was starting to get cold, so I had to go.  The hike out was uneventful. I stopped at Constance Creek and changed my socks as they were getting damp and I was getting a hot spot on my big toe.   I stopped again and had tea at Elk Horn campground.  That tea was enough to propel me back to my vehicle.  My calves began to cramp up at the end of this hike, so I know I got a really good work out.

On the way home I stopped the Triton cove to photograph the sunset.  Shortly after I left Triton cove I found that my road home was totally closed off.  Oh no! Not again.  The last time that 101 was closed off on my drive home from a hike I had to sit for 2.5 hours.

I got out of my car to try to see what was going on.  Then a man with the most wonderful velvety voice came up behind me and asked me if I knew what was happening.  Mr. Velvet voice was parked on the road right behind me.  It was love at first sound! 

Nothing to do but take pictures while parked on 101

 Yes, he was out of shape and nearly as old as my father, but oh that voice!  Oh that friendly deep manly voice made of  velvet.  Suddenly I flashed back to the last time I got stuck on 101 after a hike and the man from Nehalem who just happened to have a bed in his car and had invited me to join him in his car while we waited for the road to open. Hmmmmm

No, I did not join him, but I admit I was slightly tempted. 

I learned that Mr. Velvet Voice lived in Longbeach and he was on his way home from teaching squids how to reintegrate into civilian life after their discharge from the Whidbey Island Navel Station.  He had also been caught in a traffic jam near the Hood Canal Bridge so he was running quite late.  He was a widower. 

I met several people who were in line behind me and it was kind of interesting to get to know other folks who were on the road at the same time as me.

After about half an hour the traffic started moving again and soon I saw that a motor home wreck had been the cause of the delay.  A “Swift” semi truck with no C.B. was right in front of me and was going too slow, he really should have pulled over to let us all by.

Mr. Velvet Voice was still behind me in his car and it made me happy to know he was there.  But then just before the Skokomish River he passed me and the truck in front of me at the same time.  Mr. Velvet voice was gone and he was a dangerous driver as well.  No matter, love is blind.


12 miles with 1,200 feet elevation gain
 1,600 calories without taking the snow into consideration.

(more pictures are coming)

Cougar tracks

Cougar tracks
Bridge over Constance Creek

This sign has been moved down to the middle of the road

Camera on Ranger Station

Cold Barbeque anyone?

Tea time with my new home made
tea cozy.  It cost me nothing to make the cozy
since I already had all the parts on hand

List of things I did wrong

Moss on a post

Fun at lunch time

June seems a long way off right now

Triton Cove

Monday, February 24, 2014

Coastal Winter Backpacking Trip

Sunset on Friday
Some local hikers have been meeting up for a coastal hike in February of every year for three or four years now.  This year I was invited to join in on the fun.  We hiked in to Norwegian Memorial on the Olympic Coast.

This was a 160 mile drive for me and I really did not want to put that much gas into my high clearance gas hog, so I drove my compact car.  I picked up Jake in Port Angeles and off we went.  My car almost made it to the trail head.   I decided it would be prudent to park it about half a mile from the trail head since it was starting to high center in the middle of the road.
The hike in was just like Mildred Lakes except without the elevation gain and with the addition of some serious swamp.  I somehow managed to make it to the beach without going over the top of my boots in mud.    We got to camp in plenty of time to pitch our tents, start a fire, do some exploring and enjoy the sunset. 
My tent, nice and dry the first night
plastic vertebrae I found on the beach

Sun sets on Japan as it rises in Japan

After sunset Jesse and  Melanie arrived in the dark via flashlights.    They brought a huge tarp in with them and in the morning we pitched the huge tarp  over our communal fire pit and then we all went for a walk up to Starbucks mine.

Group tarp set up hilarity

Starbucks mine

Obligatory starfish photo

Jesse and Jake at Starbucks mine

Boat floats and Starbucks mine

Pellia liverwort at Starbucks mine
 After our morning hike Jesse and Jake hiked back to Jesse’s car to get beer and potatoes.   They came back with a 15 pound bag of potatoes, two cases of beer and all kinds of food that was generously shared.  We wrapped potato, onion, bell peppers, mushrooms, salt, pepper and butter in aluminum foil and laid it on the coals to cook.  What a wonderful meal it was!  I am going to try that again.
 There was a steady drizzle coming down all day but life was grand under the communal tarp with a nice fire.  Then everything changed, at about 7 PM the rain and wind really picked up and the fire was nearly drowned.    The weather was about to deliver on the forecasters promise to soak us good.
I decided to check on my tent and discovered that my sleeping bag was wet.  Uh oh!  I had my big camera with me and I need to be sure to find a way to stay dry.  I moved my tent in land a bit and in the dark I pitched a rain fly over my tent that we had found in the woods.  But the rain fly leaked even worse than my tent.  There also happened to be a small blue tarp in the woods, but there was no way for me to attach it to the top of my tent.  What was I going to do?  At this point I was not a happy camper.  I thought about just bailing out and going to my car.  A two mile swamp hike in the dark and wind and rain seemed more fun than dealing with the possibility of my camera getting wet.
Then it occurred to me to put the blue tarp over my tent and cover it with the huge rain fly from the woods and then stake the rain fly down.  The leaky rain fly held the blue tarp down and I even made a little awing with my trekking poles.  I did all of this by myself in the dark and the rain while  Jesse and Jake were engaging in a losing battle to  try to keep the fire going.  Melanie, for the most part had wisely decided to retreat to her tent.
getting soaked

getting soaked

A pterodactyl eating my tent in the morning.

The back of the pterodactyl, not quite so pretty
After I had my Franken tent all set up the way I wanted it I went back to the scene of the rain and wind vs. fire battle and stood with my fellow hikers.  We were all getting soaked; sideways rain was blowing the fire out.  There was no real heat coming off the fire we were all just standing there in the dark and the wind getting wet and wondering if our giant communal tarp was going to blow away.
I decided to go hide in my tent while the rest of the group stayed up for about another hour trying to get keep the fire going for Jeffro and Ariana who were planning on joining us at midnight.  They all gave up at about 9pm and went to their tents.  Jeffro and Ariana arrived at about 11:30 and found everyone had gone to bed.  They shined their headlamp on my tent trying to figure out what the heck it was. I saw the head lamp on my tent but did not realize that it was the new arrivals checking me out so I said nothing.
Inside my tent it was still leaking and I could not figure out why.  I put my camera in my sleeping bag with me and I tried to sleep, but I woke up about every thirty minutes and soaked up water with a tiny bit of cloth I had brought just for this purpose.  Why was my tent still leaking?  It now had two rain flys and a blue tarp and I knew that the blue tarp was not leaking, so what was up?
Each time woke to sop up water I would look out to see if my friends were still trying to keep the fire going and to see if the big tarp was still up. At one point I noticed the fire had gone out but the tarp was still up, so I figured the others had gone to bed.   I was still awake trying to keep my tent dry, well after the fire went out.  Eventually I figured out that rain was dripping off the corners of my little blue tarp and onto the seams of my bathtub floor.  So I pulled the tarp up a bit and then no more water came in. 
Finally at one am I was able to fall asleep knowing that I was not going to wake up in the middle of a puddle with my camera destroyed.  The rain continued all night long and it was still raining in the morning.  I had planned on hiking out the following afternoon, but I decided to go ahead and leave after breakfast.  The hiker that I picked up in Port Angeles decided to stay and ride back with the other hikers who were staying. 
It took me less than an hour to hike out of the swamp and back to my car in the pouring rain.  I had to drive my car in reverse for about 1/10th of a mile before I found a place to turn around and then I had 50 miles of logging roads to navigate and I was anxious about the weather forecast.
It took me about 4 hours to drive home. I had no trouble at all navigating my way to the pavement, but after I reached the pavement  I got confused and took two wrong turns before I found highway 101.  Snow was forecast for the hood canal, so I opted to drive down the coast rather than to retrace my route through Port Angeles.  Too bad I forgot how to do the short cut that avoids Aberdeen and Hoquiam and McCleary.  As much trouble as I had finding 101, I decided that I had better just stick with the main roads and risk driving through McCleary.

 I took a long dinner break outside of the dreadful little ticket trap called McCleary.  I did this for two reasons, one to brace myself for the drive through McCleary and two to brace myself for my arrival at home.  I had left my spouse and daughter home alone all weekend and I knew there was going to be a price to pay for that.
I was correct; the house was a disaster of dirty dishes and piled up garbage.  I made such a fuss that I drove my spouse and child out of the house.  They came back about half an hour later with steak and cake and nearly all was forgiven.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I had a blast and hope to do it all again next year, but first I need to reseal my leaky old tent, or buy a new one.

This was my first hike with my ULA Circuit backpack
Scary path through the Jungle

Fridge from someone's home in Japan, quite sobering to think about

Industrial lightbulb from Japan

Stuff on the beach

Jeffro and Ariana in the morning just before I hiked out

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Walker Mountain Tummy Ache

I think this is Mount Constance

Another hellish bus ride today.  I'm not going to ride with that driver again.  One hour and ten minutes is too long to tolerate such jerky driving.  Patches was uncomfortable too.  The ride home with Bruce was just fine. 

There is about 6 inches of snow on top at most.  I had packed gaiters but did not need them. A lot of people were out enjoying the sunny weather in Quilcene while it rained everywhere else.

I met Bob and Barb of WTA fame.  They have the most trips reports up there.   They had just come up the trail and I was about to head back down from the North summit.  Barb recognized Patches.  They cheered me up a little by telling me that I am not the slowest hiker in the world.  Hi Barb and Bob!

What to do about that bus driver?  I can't ride with her again.  Should I stop going to Mount Walker or should I put in a complaint?

When she stops at Hoodsport she always has a drink from what looks like a water bottle and then she puts something small in her mouth.   My imagination is running wild with that.

6 miles 2,000 feet elevation gain 1,000 odd calories


Spring is in the air

Logging scars and diesel fumes

Slightly botched panorama from the south viewpoint

How did this snow get in here?  I had to kick the snow and ice off
of the seat before I could use the facilites... 

Patches says "let me off this bus!"

Such a pretty ride in the morning when the driver is not making you ill