Thursday, September 24, 2015

Prospect Ridge Solo Backpack Hike

This text is probably full of errors and I'm too tired to care.

There were trails on Prospect Ridge and trails that led to Prospect Ridge, but the  hike up to the top of Prospect Ridge is not on a trail anymore, it is now on an old logging road that has been decommissioned.
But, you can still find traces of the old trail up there where they have not logged.

Decommissioned roads are difficult to hike on as they are at a slant and have tree thrown across them and huge ravines dug out of them.  There is also  broom and other invasive weeds to deal with.  So it’s been a while since I’ve gone up to visit the old growth forest on the ridge.

When I do hike up there I never get much time in the forest because I have to turn around and get back to the car before dark.  I decided that a backpacking trip was in order so I could spend some time enjoying the forest.

I was very worried about ticks, crashing through brush on old roads is the best way that I know of to pick up ticks in the Olympics.  The day before this hike I went to a feed store and bought pyrethrum to treat my clothes with.  I also treated Patches fur and her coat.   Right at the start of the hike I applied pyrethrum powder to Patches and to my backpack and I put Deet on myself and Patches.

This hike is best done before the wild life gate shuts and adds about 2-4 miles to the hike.  I started my hike at about 10:30.  The hike up was long and hard but I broke up the work by stopping to place a geocache every few miles.  I encountered horrible Scots broom and alder jungles.

The last sure water was just 2 miles into my 6.3 mile hike, so I had to carry a lot of water.  I figured that I would need 3 liters of water for overnight for both of us in my dry camp on the ridge.  But my water stores ran low.  I left one liter of water about 4 miles into the hike for me to pick up on the way down.  There was no point in my carrying all that water up and down.  I had just 2 liters of water for my overnighter and I was not at all happy about that.

The closer I got to the top the more tired I got and the more worried I was about water.  We were just going to have to be a bit thirsty, that’s all there was to it.  Two liters would get us through the night but it was not as much as we really wanted.

Them magically just one mile before the end of the road I found a spring of some sort.  The terrain above the spring was not enough to support a creek, so I think the water must have been pumped up hill somehow.  I was very happy to find this water.  I filled up my three liter platypus plus another one liter bottle that I had planned on using as a geocache.  With four liters of water I knew we were good for the night.
I left the road to head up the ridge at about 5pm and I was very tired from carrying water and brush crashing and from being out of backpacking condition.  I staggered up the top of the ridge at about 6pm.  I had just enough time to try to find a level spot to pitch my tarp and to cook dinner.

I struggled to pitch my duomid.  My trekking poles are not long enough even with a pole jack and I was too fatigued to mess around trying to tie my trekking poles together.  I used my hand saw to cut a fallen log to the right size but I cut it too short.  Finally I managed to get my poles tied together to hold my tarp up.

  One corner of my tarp was dipping down too low and the ground was very lumpy, but I was so tired that I did not care.  No rain was in the forecast.  I just wanted my duomid up to keep off the condensation and to cut the wind.

I ate my dinner and I drank a cup of hot water. Coffee or hot chocolate would have been nice, but it was too late for caffeine and I did not pack chocolate.   After my stove was out I had a tiny bottle of wine.  I was so tired that I nearly tipped my cook pot over twice, so I decided not to drink my wine until my stove was out.   I was also so tired that I can’t tell if the wine even affected me.

Patches was shivering in the dark even with two coats on, so I put her inside of the trash compactor bag that I use to keep my stuff dry inside of my pack.  She warmed up in the bag but she kept me awake with plastic bag noises and startled me with the noise a few times.  She even made me scream once when I thought the sound was coming from the woods.   For that reason I did not fight her when she decided she wanted out of her bag.  I let her out and she wandered off about 15 feet away and went to sleep and shiver on the forest floor.  I’ll have to bring her sleeping bag on my next trip.

The ridge was peaceful and cold.  I could see lights to the south but I can’t figure out what they were.  Were there enough gaps in the hills to see over to Montesano?  It was not staircase that was to the West.  The lights that I saw were to the South.  My view from the front of my tarp was looking straight down on the bridge across Lake Cushman near Staircase.

I was up at sunrise and I tried to get some pictures.  From my vantage point up in the trees, I could tell that it was an amazing sunrise.   I could not get good picture of the sunrise though.  In the morning it was a little chilly on the ridge and I wanted to get home in time to drive my daughter to soccer practice, so I started my hike out at about 9am.  I took my time enjoying the forest and I did not make it back down to the road until 10am.

The hike down soon began to feel like a death march.  My feet hurt, my shoulders hurt, my back was tired my legs were sore and I was uncoordinated.  I forced myself to not look at my GPS too often so I would not be too discouraged by how slowly the miles were going by.  I passed a lot of interesting stuff but I was too tired to really care or to take many pictures.

I made it back to my car at about 1:30pm and I was totally exhausted. I could hear people howling near my car but I never saw them.  A brush picker van was parked next to me and I could hear  sticks breaking in the woods near my car just as I paused to use my funnel.  Oh well, I was too tired to care.

When I got home my daughter refused to go do soccer practice.  I wished I had stayed in the woods for another night.  There is so much drama in my home right now with my husband's caregivers coming and going nearly everyday.

I'm not sure if I like my duomid.  It is not easy to pitch unless you have super long trekking poles and I don't want to the extra weight of super long poles.  Also I am not sure if I like having a pole in the middle of my living space.  I also don't like that if I want one side shut it has to be the left side.  I want to choose what side is shut based on where my head it and I choose where my head is based on the tilt of the land.  I want my head uphill.

I like the looks of the Z packs Ataplex tarp:

12.6 miles with 2,600 feet elevation gain

Road overgrown with alder on north face

bear poop art

Yes they do and on the road too

I fell on the slippery alder,  jammed my ankle, cut my finger and bruised my leg

Patches keeping warm with her noisy vapor barrier

Magical glowing moss and the magic water spot

Lumpy camp crooked duomid

An old trail blaze on the ridge

An old trail blaze on the ridge

Old cut log from old trail work on the ridge

Peltergera venosa

Scots broom hell and tick heaven

surprise water source at the top

Tetraplodon mnoides moss

The Mountain

Track and elevation log for the trip out

Constipated bears due to the drought?

Where I slept

Note all of my pictures are copyright protected, if you use them on your website or print them, you are stealing.

Patches cleaning my pot in the morning

From left: Pershing, Ellinor and Washington

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Siltcoos Lake Trail

This trail is just south of Dunes City Oregon.  It is a loop trail and according to the sign it is a 4 mile trek.  My GPS track log put it at 3.8 miles.  I hiked this trail twice last week.

The first time it was later in the day and I did not have my headlamp with me.  I was not sure if I wanted to do the entire trail, but I did and I made it out with plenty of daylight left.  I found a few geocaches and there were a couple of caches that I could not find.  I decided to do the trail again when I was not in such a rush.

Three days later I hiked the trail a second time and I found one of the two geocaches that I did not find in the first trip.  I gave myself plenty of time so I walked slowly taking pictures and hunting mushrooms.

The trail head is right on highway 101 and the trail heads straight to some campsites on Siltcoos Lake.  The campsites have picnic tables, fire pits and pit toilets. Hiking in to camp here would save on campground fees but I might be leery about leaving my car overnight at a trail head that is so close to a major highway.

This is a fun and popular little trail, a good leg stretcher when you're not feeling too ambitious.

Total for two hikes was about 7.5 miles including a side trip to an old look out site.

Nice second growth spruce

At the old look out site not on the trail
Stumps are everywhere to remind you of how majestic
the forest here once was

The trail head sign claims that you can hardly tell this forest was logged

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A geocache