Saturday, November 28, 2015

South Mountain Loop Turkey Burn

Patches on top with Hood Canal, Cascades and North Mountain behind her.
Note the brown smog line over the I-5 corridor

Turkey burn 2015.  I like to burn the turkey on South Mountain, so that is what I did.  I started my hike at 9am and it was a little bit chilly.  My progress up the hill was really slow even though I was feeling good.  I was stopping to take a lot of pictures.

I was on the top by noon.  I hung out and took some pictures in the wind.  I don’t like to spend too much time so close to the tower, so I only stayed for about half an hour.   The view was very clear but I still could not see Mount Hood.  I’ve read that Mount Hood can be seen from up there, but I’ve never seen in.  All three big volcanoes were out though.  There was a dusting of snow on the top, maybe two inches.

The plan was to traverse the summit and then come back down the way I went up. I traversed to the other two radio tower locations on the mountain.  Then I decided that I would rather do a loop hike that was 2 miles longer then have to trudge back up any hills.  I would hike up South Mountain and down North Mountain and then hike on the road that connects to two.

At about 3 pm I realized that I was running out of light.  I checked my GPS and discovered that I was 5 miles from my car with just one hour to go until sunset.  Uh oh, this was going to be an unplanned night hike.  I knew that my head lamp had good batteries, so I was set.  I never do a day hike without my headlamp packed.  I never know when I will get caught in the dark on a long day hike.  If I was really worried about night hiking, I would pay more attention and not get caught out so easily.  This is the second time this year that I did an unplanned night hike.  The moon was full and that made me feel better.

Just after sunset but before dark I stopped for a cuppa.   If I know that I am going to get caught by the sunset and have to hike in the dark, I have a strategy I follow.  Shortly before dark, I stop and brew a cuppa and get out my headlamp. I could use that last bit of light for hiking, but instead I use it to get ready for the dark. Once full darkness hits I know I won't want to stop and sip tea, I'll be too nervous to do anything but keep moving. I like to know where my headlamp is before it gets too dark to find it too.  After my cuppa I hike without my headlamp as long as I can so I can keep my night vision.

So I stopped and had a cup of coffee and a turkey sandwich.  Patches ate the last of a pound of hotdogs that I packed for her.  Then, headlamp and coffee in hand we started our hike in the dark.  The thought that cougars are most active and dawn and dusk played on me.

The moon did not come up at all and the woods were quite dark.  The sunset was pretty, but also scary because I was so far from my car.

I was glad to have Patches for protection.  I heard a scary sound in the woods and I screamed.  It was just Patches.  Patches kept running off into the woods and making scary noises.  Thanks Patches.   I wish she would hike closer to me when it’s dark.

The only time I was really scared was the entire time I was on the main road.  To do a loop back to my car I had to hike on an open road for a couple of miles.  I did not want any yahoos to see me out there, a female alone at night.  I planned to hide in the woods if any cars came.  I stopped fairly often to listen for cars.  That was a good plan until I got to the part of the road with a  swamp on either side.  I walked quickly to get through the swamp.

Once I was a tenth of a mile from my car I relaxed and tried to photograph the Milky Way, but I was far too tired to get a good photo.  No cars passed me out there, so I was safe the entire time.
I made it back to my car at 6:10PM  I had hiked in the dark for a full hour as the sun had set at 4:30 and darkness sets in one half hour after sunset.

12 miles with 2,200 feet elevation gain, that’s a lot of turkey.

I made a video and I will upload it when I have a decent connection

Bald Eagle? These were huge

Rabbit tracks made me think of my mother and cry

Skokomish River Valley

Note the brown smog line over the I-5 corridor

Coffee at dusk

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