Thursday, October 1, 2015

Tebo Mountain Lookout

Mount Ranier and Adams at sunrise

I decided I needed to get in another hike before the wildlife gates shut.  I pondered where to go, church creek, upper skok, dry creek?  In the end I picked dry creek and Dry Mountain.  My plan was to brush crash up to the top of Dry Mountain and spend one night up there enjoying the views.  On my last overnight trip I was perched high on a ridge, but the forest blocked all of my views.

This was to be a short hike, so I did not get started until 10am.    The actual road to the trail has huge horrible water bars that could cause the rear bumper on my Jeep to drag in the dirt.  I don’t own a Jeep anymore, all I have now is a low clearance car. So now I have to start my hike 1 mile before the trail.

Here is a video of my hike:
As I started hiking up the road I noticed that my pack felt heavier than it was and I was struggling.  I was carrying extra gear for Patches and soon I would have to get water, about 4 liters to carry to the top of the mountain.  I decided I just was not up for such a trip.  I changed my mind and decided to hike to the end of a road on the flanks of Mount Tebo.  I was told it had a nice view, especially at night.  Changing my plans cut a few miles and about 1,500 feet in elevation gain off of my hike.

The road up Mount Tebo is slated to be turned into shit by the forest service, but they have not done it yet so the hike was nice.  

The washout on the road has been repaired and I could have driven my Jeep all the way to the start of my hike, but I don’t have a Jeep anymore.  This could have been a .5 mile hike with a Jeep, but I wanted a longer hike than that.  With my low clearance car this hike turned out to be about 3 miles. 

I veered off of the main road up Tebo and onto a decommissioned spur road to reach the viewpoint.  The going was hell as it always is on the decommissioned roads, brush, slanted terrain and huge ditches are the norm. I nearly poked both of my eyes out several times.  Ticks are the norm too.  Ticks love to live in the brush that grows on the old roads.  Animals use the old roads, so the ticks sit in the brush waiting for an animal to drop on to.

When I finally made it through brush to the viewpoint, I saw that the camping was not so great.  There was just a tiny somewhat bare patch with lots of huge sharp rocks and probably a few ticks. 

However, my topo map showed a nice flat spot in the forest above the trail.  So I thought I would camp there.  But the flat spot never materialized, instead the terrain got so steep that I had to leave my pack behind.  Next the terrain turned into a knife edge ridge!  My topo map had lied to me!  I was out of my comfort zone in this terrain.

I went back down to the road and set up camp there.  I made a bed of Douglas-fir and Hemlock branches, due to all the large sharp rocks on the road bed.  I’ve never done that before, I don’t like to harm the vegetation.  I was sure to not take the tops off of any little trees and just to take branch tips of big trees.

The branch tips made a wonderful soft bed that smelled like a Christmas tree!  I turned the worst possible place to sleep into one of nicest places I have ever slept and helped to clear the road at the same time.  Soothing Christmas tree bed.

There was a steep drop off in front of my tent and Patches decided to run down it to chase a rock I had tossed to the side while clearing a spot for my bed.  

Patches was too long in coming back, I was afraid she had fallen off a cliff.  I called and called for her with no response.  I could hear rocks falling down the hill.  Had Patches fallen to her death?  

I went down the hill as far as I felt safe going and I called for Patches.  Then she started barking the way she does when she is stuck. From the sound of her barks I could tell that she had gone way down the hill. 

I could not go down to help her, the terrain was too steep and I was too tired and clumsy.   Eventually Patches freed herself and I kept her tied up for the rest of the night and the next morning.  She loses all common sense when her prey drive tells her to chase something.

After I was done eating dinner I read from a book called “A Feather on the Breath of God”  by  Sigrid Nunez .   I sobbed and sobbed when the author’s mother died at the end of the first chapter. I knew that was how the chapter was going to end, but still the way the author worded it it really set me off.

Message on my answering machine: Mom fainted again today.  Please call.

Frued says the most important event in a man's life is the death of his father.
          Oh, Mother.

Oh what an ending.  Yes, losing your mother may be the most important event in a woman's life.  I lost my mother three months ago and I still cry nearly every day even though I barely knew her. It turns out that sobbing is a bit like shivering, it really warms you up. 

I picked this book to read because of all my unread books in my book shelf, this was the lightest one. I did not want to carry a big heavy book with me. I carried this same book up Prospect Ridge on my last hike.

When it got dark I kept reading, but paused from time to time to take pictures of the stars and the moonlight.  I think I finally fell asleep at about 10pm.  I woke up a few times in the night to answer the call of nature and to take pictures; I was also hungry in the night. 

I knocked down the pole that holds up my Duomid about half a dozen times.  I had put the pole off to one side and out of the way.  When the pole is to the side it is too short, so I propped it up on a little rock.  The rock was not very stable.  I don't like having a pole in the middle of my living space.


The full moon came up and it was orange.  It stayed in the sky all night and I did not need my headlamp to see.  The moon crossed the sky right in front of my tent. What a magical night!

Patches stayed warm all night and she did not need the sleeping bag that I packed for her.

Sunrise came first thing in the morning like it always does.  I was not very impressed with the sunrise, but a lot of people like the pictures I took.  Am I getting jaded?

After my sunrise photo session I went back to sleep for a bit.  Then I got up and did some sunbathing on my sleep pad.  

 I could see a bank of clouds moving in and smothering the cities below me and I was in no hurry to down there and be smothered.

I sunbathed and read my book until the book was finished.  It was a good book and with a name like “A Feather on the Breath of God” I felt like tossing it off the cliff to float back down to my car, but I packed it out instead.  I want to read other books by this author. 

When my book was done and I felt I had procured enough vitamin D to get me through the winter, I got dressed and packed up. My trip out was easier, my load was lighter with most of my water and food gone and the route was down hill.

I took my time picking my way through the brush so I would not risk poking my eyes out.  I really need to start wearing goggles on these road hikes.

Just before I reached the main road I heard the voices of several men who were standing around a couple of trucks.  I paused and listened to them.  I want to assess how safe I would be revealing myself to them as a lone female backpacker.  Finally I realized that one of the men might be forest service worker so I came out of the bushes while yelling “Don’t shoot, I’m a human.”  It is almost hunting season and I was wearing a bright orange shirt for that reason.

One man was a forest worker, another worked for the tribe and the third was “Pyrites” from  Pyrites had been looking for the Dry Creek trail and he was way off course.  The forest worker he was talking too also had no idea where the trail was! 

 All they do these days is destroy roads?  

I showed Pyrites where the trail was as I hiked out.  It was nice to meet you Pyrites! I made it back down to my car at some unknown time in the afternoon.

I really enjoyed this trip, the view point was very nice, the full moon was great, and the solitude was welcome.  Thanks to the bright full moon and thanks to my reading a book until I could not keep my eyes open, I did not get scared at all in the night.  

 I’m getting better and better at staying calm while sleeping alone in the woods.  Still, I would not dream of doing a trip like this without my 12 year old dog Patches.

I might repeat this hike next year when the gates open up.  I left a geocache where I camped.

About 6 miles with 1,400 feet elevation gain.

just before moon rise


Patches keeping warm, city lights below

My teepee

My teepee


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