Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

It has been A Weekend. The first truly gorgeous one we’ve had since last autumn, so of course – OF COURSE – I over did it.

I don’t even know where to start. I went hiking with Don on Saturday (crawling over 4′ diameter trees that have fallen down, sometimes one on top of another: the woods are pretty, but I get so worn out from scaling trees. Add to their circumference that they are almost all angled down a slope, too.): I’m tired just remembering. But I did get some great pictures.

Back at home, the yard was waiting. We have so many projects to do. Don’s bonus check went into the purchase of a new kennel for Murphy (his current outdoor kennel is only 6×6′ and the dog house takes up half of that). The new kennel is 6′ tall and 5×10′. We’re going to set the dog house inside the shed and pour a concrete pad for the kennel. But that requires cutting down the holly tree and clearing brush first.

More urgent than the kennel is the vegetable garden. Fenced with a 3′ rabbit fence, we thought it would be safe frome Murphy. After all, Sadie (our former dog) never jumped fences. But Murphy does and a 3′ fence is no challenge to him. Before we can plant veggies, we needed a new fence around the garden – and the apple trees. Murphy eats apples.

So we trudged on down to Home Depot and weighed all out options. We really needed a hundred feet of 4′ fencing, but we only had enough money to purchase 50′ and ten fence posts. Darn: I wanted that extra fencing to put around my former shade garden. (I’ll get to the former part.) Guess I’ll have to do with the plastic “hardware cloth” fence I used last year and the makeshift gate. We can’t have everything.

Today was glorious. Don worked on taking down the 3′ fence and replacing it. I hung clothes out on the clothesline, did the grocery shopping, then came home and attacked the weeds in the peony bed with a vengeance. There were more weeds in there than I thought there were. And more flowers coming up, too.

I put the green hardware cloth back up and wired it to the fence posts. My shade garden was shaded by two big Doug fir trees, but last winter’s storm prompted those property owners to remove their respective trees – and my shade garden is now a full sun garden. More things will grow there, so I’ll have to get cranking on what to plant!

I did a little weeding back in there, too, but didn’t get too serious: the day was heating up and I was starting to really drag. When Don finished the veggie garden fence, we decided it was time for a nice cold beer.

So we sat in our lawn chairs and sipped beer and …

watched in horror as Murphy sailed over the new 4′ fence. GREAT.

We jury-rigged the fence so it is now 6′ tall. Both fences, actually, and they are ugly but he can’t jump them. We’re glad he doesn’t know he can sail over the front gate: somehow a solid wood fence holds him in when a mesh fence doesn’t. We’d be in a world of hurt if he ever figures that out because we didn’t plan on changing that fence until next year. We do plan on changing it to a 6′ tall privacy fence like the rest of the yard, but just not this year.

Now the laundry is folded and put away, the fencing has been finished, the weeding is done for the day, and we’ve both showered and chowed down dinner. I have bruises up and down my legs and arms from the hiking/climbing we did yesterday and scratches from the weeding I did today. I’m ready for a glass of red wine before I give it up for the weekend and go to bed.

Meanwhile, here are some of the images from our hike yesterday. No garden shots: I’m not ready to take garden pics.

We went up the Collowash River to the Aldwer Swamp Trail.


Bridge over the Collowash River. The road ends there, so the bridge leads to nowhere.


Looking down on the falls from the trail side.


One of the newts we saw. (I’m pretty pleased with this pic: the water didn’t create a reflection even though the flash went off!)


The reward is in how beautiful it is just a couple miles from a road. No other people came down the trail: just Don, Murphy and me.

And now I hurt all over. But it’s a GOOD hurt.

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Don left me Home Alone this weekend (which is why you were all treated to photos of my clothesline yesterday). He was out looking for the elusive historical Forest Service Trails that Trail Advocates restores. But all the guys bailed on him this weekend, and he ended up at the Trail “Cabin” (it’s really a ranch style Forest service house) by himself. While I was saving energy, he was out saving trails.

He called me last night and I stupidly volunteered to meet up with him today. I say “stupidly” because I know darn well what hiking with Don entails. I made myself a sandwich and drove up to meet him this morning. We met up around 9 and drove out to where he though he could cross the traces of the Last Creek Trail.

It was an easy hike to start, but then we veered off of the logging spur road into the mossy woods. The first thing I noted was that was a veritable faerie wood, with lots of lichen, old man’s beard, and interesting woods. The second thing I noticed was that we were climbing over a lot of dead fall in an ever-increasing slant uphill. Somewhere in there, I numbly noted that there was a lot of yew in this forest.

That is a sample of the stuff we crawled over and hiked through. My modus operandi is to sit on the log and swing my legs over. Sometimes I stand on the things and step over, but most of the time, they’re too tall to step over or use as stair steps.

We were trying to skirt a clear cut (about seven years old), but the wind-blown trees on theedge of the clear cut were almost as much as trying to push our way through the clear cut. Don said he saw something jump into the clearcut, leaving only the ceanothus branches waving in its wake. He joked that it was Bigfoot, but we all know that Bigfoot was in Skamania County this weekend. Probably the bear that was tearing up all the stumps where we were hiking. As long as it wasn’t a mama bear with cubs, I’m cool with that.

View from the top. Don says, “You hike back down this side” (past the bear that jumped into the clear cut) “and I will hike down the other side and we’ll meet up.”

I said, “No, I think I will continue to kill myself following you through the woods.” Better that than meeting up with a bear. Or a cougar. Or Big foot. Or simply not meeting up with Don at the right place/right time because he might find an easier way back down.

Even Murphy was tired. He kept laying down every time it looked like we might take a break. This was his pose at lunch. Pant, pant, pant.

My tired feet. They decided to take a break for lunch, too.

Yeah, I don’t think he ever broke a sweat. But I do know why he is so darn skinny now. He does this every weekend.

This was the downhill stretch. We didn’t go side-hill: we went pretty much straight down the hill to Last Creek. The boots I was wearing are not made for this. Note to self: wear the Asolo boots next time. Much better on the downhill!

Last Creek was a pretty wide little stream, dashing over logs and down fall and rocks. We shed our packs here and took a lunch break before crossing the creek.

My boys. Murphy is hoping for some lunch.

this is why I did not take Don up on his idea of splitting up (this and the possibility of a bear out there): once we crossed Last Creek, he decided that if we walked fifty yards further, we would come out to the decommissioned Forest Service road. Ta da! Easy walking!

We just walked a mile down this to the paved road and then walked a mile up (UP!) the paved road back to the rig. I was hot and tired, but I didn’t have to climb over any more felled fir trees and that was a huge relief.

Then Don said it was still early, so we needed to drive up the road to USFS 4210, spur 370, which crossed the upper end of Last Creek and maybe (MAYBE) we would cross this missing hysterical (er- historical) trail there.

We had to zig zag over the creek again. And climb over dead trees like this some more.

I decided that if I was going to kill myself trying to keep up with my husband, I ought to at least observe the woodlands around me. It looked like it might be a faerie wood: lots of moss, fungus, and lichen.

There was some unworldly black worm or ??? trying to hid behind this conk on a fir tree.

Someone’s permanent tree stand. Too lazy to carry it in and out every year, I guess. When Don hunted, he carried his in and out every year. But that’s probably why he’s so skinny: always on the move.

A bright orange pine drop.

A triplicate of conks.

Indian Pipe Weed. Isn’t this the coolest strange fungus? Translucent flowers that rise from the forest loam, like ghost pipes…

Don’s butt. This is my usual view of Don while hiking. In this case, we were “only” going to the boulder that is just to the right of his shoulder. When I got past that boulder (several minutes later), I asked about that. “Oh,” he said, looking surprised. “But it looked flatter up here, so I kept going.”

Whoa! What’s this? A mini cave? A Faerie dwelling, perhaps? Nobody was home, so I snapped a flash picture of it.

Probably blinded the critter that lives there.

Another cool looking mushroom, probably some sort of faerie canopy.

From there, we actually did descend. Through a rhododendron thicket, always my favorite. Somehow, we kept moving away from the rig, toward a rather dark fir thicket. Pretty soon, it was evident that we were going to have to brave our way through the fir trees to the roadway.

It was an eerie, dark place. Many of the fir trees had a blue “X” spray painted on them.

Don said they were “X-Mas trees. There’s a mass of them and they all have ‘X’ on them.”

Hmmmm. I always wondered what X-Mas trees looked like…

Now my back, thighs and head hurt. And darn, no Bigfoot!

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Imagine that! I set this blog up to record our wilderness adventures, then I haven’t been camping since last July. I think I’ve been out in the woods once in that time period and not at all in the high desert. I’ve felt like my world was slowly closing in on me, suffocating all the life out of me.

With the 4th of July rapidly approaching and all the noise associated with it, we thought we’d best be out of town with Murphy. He isn’t afraid of firecrackers, thunder or loud noises. He even sleeps through thunder and lightning. But what he is not immune to is the other dogs barking at the firecrackers. He rages from one end of the yard (or house) and back again, barking loudly and furiously at all those other frightened dogs. We really did not want to put up with that and I really needed to get out of town myself.

Our destination was a place we’ve visited before: the first time when Arwen was just a year old and still riding in the fancy REI baby back pack. That was the year I dubbed it “It’s Just A Quarter Mile From the Road Honey Lake”: Don assured me this was a short hike into a lake he found on a USGS map. We were new to the Mt Hood National Forest, fresh from the eastern side of Oregon and high desert. So we parked at the base of the hill and loaded up: one of us carried a daypack with 2 beers (one for each of us), some snacks, and miscellaneous survival stuff we always carry. The other one carried our marshmallow baby (so called because she didn’t help you carry her: she marshmallowed into the pack and became dead weight). The dog we had then was a mutt named Rosie, and Rosie took the lead.

The hike proved steeper than anticipated. When we reached a lake, it was a glorified newt hatchery – and on the wrong ridge. Somehow, we’d ended up to the south of where the lake we sought should have been. I was tired. We were hot. Surely this would be over soon. We drank our beer and put our empties back into our pack, hefted the baby and headed out on the sidehill. After clamboring over deadfall, rocks, and a small stream, we found another lake: a marshy little number that was decidedly further up the hill than we thought it should have been. No more beer left, so we drank some of our water. Then we headed out over even more deadfall, steep gullies, and another burbling little stream forded by more deadfall. Finally, we began a descent and I thought our ordeal would soon be over.

We came out on a road. A road on top of the ridge. We still had a long way to descend back to our car. Don decided we should follow the newest little stream back down, assuming it didn’t suddenly descend in waterfalls over granite. We stumbled through a maze of rhododendrons. Don tends to forget I am behind him, and lets go of the branches right as my face is level with their natural habitat. The dog was running circles around our feet, but the rhodies were so thick, I couldn’t see my feet. They grabbed my feet, tripped me, pushed me back and slapped me in the face. I began a life-long hate relationship with wild rhododendrons. To heck with Big Foot: the Pacific Rhododendron is out to kill people.

And there it was: the lake. The Lake. The one that was just a quarter mile from the car. Four hours, many scratches and bruises later, just a few hundred feet from a road ON TOP OF THE RIDGE, and full of shiny beer cans. BEER CANS?! What idiot 200-pound man carried his full beer in and then couldn’t pick up the empties to haul back out? This 110# woman can (I was 110# then – I am not that now)!

Another two hours later, we were back beside our car pulling ticks off of the baby and the dog. 17 ticks off of the dog to be specific. I keep detailed journals. The lake? It really was only a quarter mile off the road, but it was also only a few hundred feet from the other road, the one on TOP of the ridge.

We’ve been back several times since, always via the upper road. It’s an old logging spur and there’s a small spot where you can pull off and pitch a tent. A nice fire ring backs against the berm and if you walk a hundred feet to the north, you come out on a ridge with a view.

I almost died there. That was the year we renamed the place “Mossy Rock” because we explored more to the east and discovered the more fascinating aspects to the topography: ancient old granite boulders so covered in moss that they form a soft bed, a hollow of old growth timber with dead falls forming bridges over the gullies and rocks, and a myriad of cedar trees that have been scratched by some large predator. We imagined it was a cougar, but I suppose it could be a bear. In some places, the scratches are ten feet up the base of the trees. We uncovered the complete skeleton of a four point white tail buck (we have the skull in our possession but left the rest of the skeleton where it lay).

On our last day there, I meandered down to the view point to have my cup of coffee and enjoy the last smoky view of the upper Colowash River and North Fork Clackamas River basins. Our little weekend jaunt happened to coincide with opening weekend of deer season, but we hadn’t seen any hunters. Heard a few echoing rifle reports, but nothing to get excited about. Don was walking out of the trees when something sounding very like a missile came rocketing down the ridge, whistling in its mad descent, and passing just over my head. Had I been standing, it would have knocked me off of my perch. There’s an early scene in “Dances With Wolves” where Kevin Costner is hunkered down under a split rail fence and bullets come whizzing over his head. I jump every time I hear that sound.

It wasn’t my time to die. I lived.

I relate all of that to get to the point: we returned to Mossy Rock this past weekend. It’s been three years since my brush with fate. 23 years since we first ascended that miserable granite maze of ridges and angry rhododendrons. We’ve hiked into the fishing lake several times and dropped lines in the water. Once, we hiked back into the second lake (what a miserable hike that was)! We’ve taken three dogs into this country: Rosie the mutt, Sadie the Pointer, and Murphy.

This is a great place for a picnic: soft as a down mattress, yet it’s all granite underneath that moss! This was a short hike on Friday, just in and around camp.

Later, we stumbled down to The Lake, only to find the level had dropped significantly. I didn’t have my camera with me: we were just checking out the trail from camp into the lake and found the trail obliterated by downfall. The rhododendrons tried to wrap their long arms around my feet again, and pulled my hair, slapped my face and constantly tripped me. They’re worse than poltergeists.

The boys atop the last ridge before the upper lake. The hike was a s miserable as I remember it, but this fifty-plus year old body held up to the climb. Mostly, that is. I was huffing, puffing and crying by this point. Then I remembered I am always huffing and puffing and crying by this point and that made me feel better. I mean, if I am now 50 years old and still able to get to this point, that’s a heck of an accomplishment! Of course, there’s no rhododendrons to try and trip me up. Only old dead trees and wind blown logs.

This is some of the stuff we climbed to get where we wanted to be. You can either walk the logs or go up and down the draws. My balance isn’t what it used to be and the hiking boots I was wearing were not trustworthy on slippery objects: I climbed up and down instead of over. Murphy ran back and forth over.

The upper lake was not much more than a mud hole this year. Murphy still sank out of sight. Don and I rested here before heading back to The Lake and the circle of rhododendrons protecting it.

Ta da! We sidehilled back toward camp and dropped down low enough to come back out at the earthen dam end of The Lake. It’s much lower than in previous years – more of a pond now than a lake! We did see one lonely trout in the bottom.

Murphy is the first dog we’ve owned that loves to swim. He jumped out into this log dam and then climbed back up on the rolling logs. He was having a blast in the water and not doing half-bad at playing like a logger.

This is a killer Pacific rhododendron in bloom.It is deceptively pretty. But just try to walk against those long branches! Bwahahahaha!

Tomorrow: How hard it is to find a good campsite and Wednesday: all the pretty flowers!

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