A Hike In Olympic National Park – 07/31/13

Adventure, Outdoors, Travel, Uncategorized

On the recommendation of a friend, I took a hike from Obstruction Point in Olympic National Park today. I slept in longer than I thought I would this morning so I got a later start than I wanted, but I got there. It was a beautiful day and it was a great hike. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to hike this beautiful park.

The mountains have always been a magic place for me and those that know me know that I have always loved the mountains. Moving up here I took a bit of a break from them and have been enjoying the water quite a bit. Getting back into the mountains was a bit of a “coming home” for me. The sights, sounds, and the smell of the trees took me right back to a place inside that is quite special and I had not been in some time. The day even started out driving up Hurricane Ridge Rd. to the top, then taking a left onto the 8-mile long gravel road leading to the parking area at Obstruction Point. Woo-hoo! Off-roading! Damn… I sure miss my Jeep “Big Red”. It’s just not quite the same in my Ford Explorer.

Being away from it for a while made it all new again. This park is really quite a place and the mountains are just as spectacular as Colorado, but not as tall. The thing to remember is the vertical height. A 14,000 foot high mountain is tall no doubt, but when you start at 8,000 feet that gives you 6,000 feet of vertical. Here they start pretty much at sea level and Mt. Olympus is 7,980 feet tall. That is a pretty righteous vertical there.

Anyhoo I hiked a six mile loop, and it was quite a hike. It was a challenging trail in spots with loose rock and steep drop-offs, and the second leg from the Deer Park Trail down to Beaver Valley was pretty much straight down the side of a mountain. I DO mean “straight down”. I have never hiked a trail that steep, and it was a long way to get down to the valley. The pictures of the trail show what I hiked.

The wildflowers were incredible. There was a lot of color and some plants similar to what I have seen in CO, while others I have not. I saw some streams, and at one I stopped and heated up some lunch on my backpack stove. There were waterfalls, high mountain lakes, snow, goat tracks and bear poop on the trail… all of the things that make nature, well, nature.

I think I will let the pics speak for themselves. Click on them to see larger pictures. (Again, all things on this website are copyrighted and owned by me so please respect that.)

They Are Back…

Just things, Uncategorized

That’s right. Twinkies… Those delicious creme-filled golden sponge cakes devoid of any food and nutritional value. I have not had them in nearly two years before they had stopped making them (other than trying a knock-off that really sucked). It really was a shame that happened, but it did and I am not going to get into the politics of it.

I went to the local Safeway and got two boxes over the weekend along with my groceries. I had read articles about the “longer shelf life” attained by freezing (which is a great way to eat them!). The other thing I read about the Twinkies 2.0 was that they were smaller than they used to be. Figures, and then I saw that the previous owners had already shrank them down and the size is still the same as that. Not surprising.

I got home and opened the box, and sure as hell… they are smaller – NOTICEABLY smaller. I cannot believe the difference and this brings up something I do not understand. Why is it that companies make things smaller but charge the same? I know it is all in the name of profit, but just leave things the same size and charge more for the item. We buy these name brands because of their size and quality. We DON’T buy the lousy knock-offs because that is what they are – horrid imitations of the name-brand products. Same thing with fast food. It is not that I eat much fast food anymore, but sometimes you just want chicken in a bucket, a decent-priced but good pizza, or a cheap greasy taco. I remember when Long John Silver’s used to be a place that was moderately upscale fast food. How about A&W? The only places you can find them it seems are in the corner of a convenience store. And McDonald’s… no more Ronald pimping burgers since they are trying to be more “upscale”. McDonald’s always was and always will be a kids restaurant so why not embrace what got you to where you are? Which restaurants actually cook a burger to order anymore? In most all of them I see they nuke the food in a microwave. All of these parent companies have made fast food (that was not the best food to begin with) even worse quality to reinforce the bottom line.

No… I am not longing for the good ol’ days, but I am longing for quality in all forms instead of doing something half-assed just to get by simply because of relying on a name brand as you drag it through the mud. What I would like to see is a return to how these companies used to do business – that is what made them huge to begin with and got us in the door as customers. All I see now is shitty, horrible-“quality” “food” that is compromised to keep the stockholders happy. If you treat people right they will keep coming back, and that will keep stockholders happy too. Okay, off my soapbox now.

It was good taste them again, but I probably won’t be buying many more Twinkies due to the loss of quality (yes, I view a reduction in size as a loss of quality). I will enjoy the ones I have left… in a bowl, piled high with some locally-grown strawberries. Hostess used to make and sell shortcakes, and they were basically a bowl-shaped Twinkie without the filling so I tried it one day and it was pretty tasty. The filling works in place of whipped cream so it is easy to prepare. Give it a try.

At least it won’t take as many strawberries as it used to…

Seals on the Beach

Adventure, Just things, Outdoors, Uncategorized

Saw my first baby seal Friday. It looked like a legless Shar-pei lying on the beach – all wrinkly and cute.

Baby Seal on Dungeness Spit

Baby Seal on Dungeness Spit

Baby Seal on Dungeness Spit

Baby Seal on Dungeness Spit

We have to block off a large area around the pups to keep people back so the mother doesn’t get spooked away if she is watching from offshore. It also reduces the possibility of anyone touching it. We were told that they can give us diseases and we can pass things to them, so touching is bad. If you ever see one (or ANY marine mammal) please notify the proper people and stay far away from them. It is illegal to harass, touch, move, or kill any marine mammals. It can take quite a while for them to get back into the water – this one we watched from 8:30 in the morning until about 4:00 in the afternoon.

I went and put our marking tape and safety cones away when we were done and came back down to the beach to do some things and there was another one! The past few days we have seen or been notified of five seal pups on the beach. It is the season for this to be happening so it is not a surprise.

Nature just kicks ass.

Land Ahoy! Oops!

Adventure, Just things, Outdoors, Uncategorized

Last Saturday, 1:15 A.M. the phone rang. Woke me out of a coma and I am thinking “goddamn telemarketers” (like they are going to call at this hour) so I waited for the machine to pick it up and the voice says “This is Chief Petty Officer So-and-so from the United States Coast Guard…” and I thought “Well THIS probably isn’t good…” so I picked up the phone.

He proceeds to tell me that there is a boat on the Spit. That means I gotta get dressed and drive five miles out to the lighthouse (which, ironically, is where the boat ran aground completely defeating the whole purpose of a lighthouse) at this time of night in weather that is windy and cold and it is pitch black. The tide was really high so I had to wait to go out to get the two guys who were on board. Then the phone rang again and it was the Sheriff’s office. They were up at the kiosk and I had to go up to get two of them and take them out with me. It was a good thing I had not left yet I guess.

We got out to the boat just short of 3:00 A.M. due to waiting for the tides, plus it was windy and the surf was rough. The boat was pitching b=side to side pretty good and I know if I would have been on there I would have been sick as hell. The two guys were okay, but thew boat was on the sand and not going anyplace until the next tide cycle came in. WE set anchor up on the sand as far as possible to make sure it would stay put. We got them out and back to the mainland were they were asked some questions by the paramedics and deputies. We all went back to where we were going, and that was bed for me and it was 4:30 A.M.

I got up at 8 and went back out to check on the boat and see what damage, if any, there was. I also needed to make sure there were no environmental problems like spilled fuel or oil. This is what I saw:

Stranded Boat on Dungeness Spit

Stranded Boat on Dungeness Spit

Stranded Boat on Dungeness Spit

Stranded Boat on Dungeness Spit

The boat was far enough ashore to avoid the rocks and settled on the sand thanks to a nearly eight foot tide and the waves kicked up by 30+ mph winds. There was a little damage to the trim tabs and possibly the left prop. There was no apparent damage otherwise so I fashioned some barricades and roped the area off to keep people away.

I made all the calls to the refuge personnel who needed to be notified. Vessel Assist was called by the boat owner at some point to get the boat off the Spit, and I went back out in the afternoon to catch the next high tide when it came in to offer my assistance. I got out there early since I was not sure if I could even make it out later after the tides came in. The boat was once again pitching violently and I wanted to make sure no one was hurt by either the chain for the anchor or the movement of the boat.

Vessel Assist got there earlier than what they thought. They sent a diver – Captain Novak – ashore hauling a tow line so he got in and we hooked it up, pulled up the anchor, and the tow pulled the slack tight after I got off the beached boat. They kept the rope tight, and with each wave rolling in the boat spun around until it was facing the water.

Stranded boat being towed off of Dungeness Spit

Stranded boat being towed off of Dungeness Spit

Stranded boat being towed off of Dungeness Spit

Stranded boat being towed off of Dungeness Spit

The boat was back on the water and my day was still not done. I headed back to the mainland and made it fine even though the tides were pretty high.

Still more things to do in my workday, but that was certainly the big news of my day.

Here is the newspaper article about it. I was the one the article mentions that went out to assist, but I am not a “lighthouse keeper”.


Last Week’s Adventure

Adventure, Just things, Outdoors, Travel, Uncategorized

Oops… I forgot to post it!

Last week I went for a hike in Olympic National Forest. It took me a bit to find the Forest Road to get me to where I wanted to go since it was not clearly marked and I did not have a USFS map with me. I finally got to the trailhead, got my pack on, and set out.

Saw this on a shirt...

Saw this on a shirt…

I was hiking on the Gray Wolf Trail, #834, that goes along the Gray Wolf River. This particular trail has a bridge out and the river is said to be impassible so I knew I would not be going more than a few miles in. It is a beautiful hike, and is quite similar to the other trails here with lots of undergrowth and some sizable trees in the forested areas. This trail does not appear to be used much – it is a narrow path with tall flowers and grasses along the trail in the open areas. That was a good sign to me… hopefully I would not see another person on my hike.

Gray Wolf Trail #834 - Olympic National Forest, Washington

Gray Wolf Trail #834 – Olympic National Forest, Washington

The first part of the trail goes through this open area that looked like it may have been a USFS road at one time but had been “landscaped” to give it some features. I could be wrong on this, but when I see a long corridor in a forest that is void of trees I usually think it used to be a road. This part of the trail had an odd feeling to me because of this.

I walked on and the trail started getting into some forest finally. Lots and lots of ferns and shrubs in the understory, and the trees are big up here. As I continued, there was a sign for another trail called “Cat Creek Loop Trail”. Knowing the bridge was out ahead I thought “oh, why not?” and took the loop and it went into a beautiful area of the forest.

The trail eventually split at a tee – it was left or right. I looked at both and thought going left looked easier so I went that way. I could hear the rushing of what sounded like a sizable stream get louder and quieter and louder as the trail meandered through the woods. There are a few log benches put in along the way by the trail maintenance group that keeps this trail in shape (great work done by volunteers!). There are some pretty big trees back in here, both standing and fallen. Looking at trees like this it makes you think about all the things that have happened since these tress have been alive.

I got some distance back in on this trail and saw the source of the noise – it was definitely a sizable stream (or river) and i was quite a distance above it – probably a few hundred feet. It was at this point I decided to turn around and head back. I did not know how big this loop trail was – it could have gone through Idaho for all I knew. Besides, I was getting hungry so I walked and found a good place to have some lunch. As I was sitting there eating lunch I saw these gold/pink berries that were formed like raspberries or blackberries. The leaves certainly looked like blackberry/raspberry bushes.

Gray Wolf Trail #834 - Olympic National Forest, Washington

Gray Wolf Trail #834 – Olympic National Forest, Washington

I asked after I got back, and did a little research on what I was told, and they appear to be salmonberries. Maybe I will go back and pick some to bring back for positive ID.

After I had my lunch I threw my pack back on and started heading back to the car. It was a gray, overcast day where I was, and with the forest being so thick it gets dark rather fast and I did not want to be walking through the forest in the dark. As I was walking back I noticed the wildflowers more and realized how many that there were.

Gray Wolf Trail #834 - Olympic National Forest, Washington

Gray Wolf Trail #834 – Olympic National Forest, Washington

It was a nice hike and I need to get out and do more of them now that I have a map and this area is not a very long drive from home. I did not really know much about this particular area and someone had suggested it to me so I gave it a try. There are a lot of trails in this same area to explore so not much need to go far from home for now.