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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Coming Full Circle on the High Divide Day 2

Day Two: Deer Lake to Appleton pass juntion campsite
9 miles 1,800 feet elevation gain

We got up at about 7:30 and started hiking out of mosquito hell at 8am.  I yelled “Goodbye Mosquito Lake” as we left.  I hope I did not wake anyone up.  After leaving Mosquito (Deer) Lake the trail climbs to more open country, the trail climbed past a couple of beautiful tarns and then up towards the spine of the high divide.  My daughter hiked strong on this day.  Maybe the motivation of knowing that today was the day I would show here where we were airlifted is what got her going.  She hiked without a complaint.

Tarn above Deer Lake

Twisted trees above Deer Lake

Just before we reached the top of the ridge near Bogachiel peak a man came up behind us and asked where we were going.  I have him vague answers until I realized that he was a ranger.  He was a very friendly ranger whose name I did not catch.  He asked to see my wilderness camping permit and he volunteered water information for our hike up Appleton pass.  He said there was only one sketchy section of snow on the entire hike and he was on his way up to cut steps into it because people were going the wrong way.   We could not ask for better timing on this timing for us.

He passed us up and by the time we reached the snow he was there beginning to work.  He showed us the correct way so we were able to stay on the trail and avoid following the foot prints on the really sketchy off trail ridge that everyone had been taking.   It felt good to have a ranger in sight as we crossed the 10-20 feet of slightly sketchy snow.  I taught my daughter how to kick steps into the snow and showed her how far she would fall if she slipped so she would be sure to kick in good steps.  She just walked in my footsteps.

7 lakes basin

After leaving the highpoint of the hike I began to look for the campsite that we had been airlifted from when I was 8 weeks pregnant.   It took a while to reach it; it was further down that I had remembered.

The campsite was called Silver Snag,  but there used two be to camp sites there.  One campsite has been closed and one has been left open.  It was the closed site that I almost stayed in the night I got airlifted.  On this day I showed my daughter the log I sat on while I was waiting for our helicopter and took pictures of both of us sitting on the log.
Above Deer Lake 7 lakes basin junction

Sound of music stuff
Why lakes

A little bit of snow on the trail

Next we followed the ridge up and down until the drop off for heart Lake.  It was hot on the ridge and we were starting to drag.  When my daughter saw Heart Lake she made a beeline for it right down the slope on the top of the snow.  I followed the actual trail down to the lake, so it took me quite a bit longer to reach the lake than it took her.  The wind was blowing at Heart Lake so there were no mosquitoes but the air was a bit cold.  I swam across the lake a couple of times and treaded water in the middle.  I spent more time in the lake that I should of and I got pretty cold, but it was so worth it.  My daughter just took one quick swim and spent the rest of the time looking at frogs.

Heart Lake

Heart Lake

After we left Heart Lake it was time to drop down to Sol Duc Park.  A bridge across a creek had washed out there, so I went upstream to find a place to boulder hop across, then I could not find the official trail because the trail where the bridge had been confused me. 

 I was not at all lost, I was actually in the campground but I did not want to be caught trampling on vegetation.   Suddenly a volunteer ranger appeared and I asked him where the proper trail tread was and he pointed it out to me.  He was very friendly, he did not ask to see my permit but I think he might have asked if we were camping there at Sol Duc Park.   I told him we were staying at Appleton Crossing and he repeated the same words the first ranger said “that’s a lot of miles”.   Hmmmm that got me thinking and made me worry a little bit.

Our home for the night
We left Sol Duc park and crossed the Sol Duc river at Upper Sol Duc Falls (I think) and then turned left towards Sol Duc hot springs.   When we reached rocky brook campsite we saw a person was camped there and we thought he was our camp site, but then we saw that the sign said it was not our campsite.   Whew.. We had hiked too many miles to find someone in our reserved spot.
Appleton Crossing camp was nice, we arrived just before sunset, dinner was Ramen with the MSG flavoring packets tossed in the garbage,  but with hamburger and dried veggies added to it.  There were very few mosquitoes at Appleton crossing so I opted to not pitch the tarp and we slept well under the giant trees.

We went to bed at about 9pm, we did not have a campfire that night even though we could have.  I like campfires, but the smoke stuffs me up, so I tend not to light very many fires. 

sleeping under the trees

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Coming Full Circle on the High Divide Day 1


I’ve decided to split this blog post up into days to make it more manageable. On this 5 day trip we started at Sol Duc and finished at Barnes Creek.
Day one Sol Duc camp host site to Deer Lake
4.5 miles 1,850 feet elevation gain

My alarm went off at 7am so I got up and made coffee for myself and my spouse.  My and my daughter's  ULA packs were all ready packed for the trip with food and gear for 5 days plus we had a grocery sack full of food for the trip up. 

Mason Transit 8:05 am
My daughter does not like her boots because she cannot tie them tight enough and sometimes the laces catch on the metal hooks and trip her.  There was some drama related to her boots and leaving the house was chaotic but we got out just in time to catch our first bus.  Mason Transit Route #8 to Brinnon leaving Shelton at 8:05. 
My spouse is in very poor health and we were sad to leave him behind at home.

At 9:15 we made the seamless transfer to Jefferson Transit #1 to the Port Townsend Park and ride.  We had a one hour layover in Port Townsend so we checked our packs with the visitor center and headed over to nearby Kai Tai Nature Park where we ate lunch and I found three geocaches. 
Kai Tai Nature Park Port Townsend
Next we caught the Jefferson Transit #8 bus to Sequim, we did not have to pay for this ride because we had day passes but on the way back we were charged an extra dollar for this out of county route.  Next we had a 15 minute layover in Sequim and there were teenagers playing loud music through headphones at the tiny transit center.   Most of the adults moved to the corner to get away from the teens who were smoking “pot oil”.
Sequim Transit Center 15 minute layover
Sequim is getting a new civic center and there was construction everywhere.  We were able to find an unlocked door so we could use the bathroom at the transit center. 
Port Angeles Famer's Market
Next we caught the Clallam transit bus #30 to Port Angeles.   On the ride from Sequim the same teen sat in the back with headphones so loud that the bus driver stopped and got up and made him turn his music down.  There was a couple from California on the bus who were taking a carless vacation and they seemed to be enjoying it. 

In Port Angeles we had about a 45 minute layover so we checked out the farmers market and Dairy Queen where I was charged $2.05 for a medium drink.  That left me with 95 cents in change that I did not want to have to carry, so I went back to the farmers market and bought a small heirloom tomato.    
Next we took Clallam Transit #14 headed towards forks.  We were going to get off at Sol Duc hot springs road and get back on at Barnes Creek.  The driver showed us where the return bus stop was but we still had some trouble locating it on the last day of our hike.
The bus dropped us off on highway 101 and the Sol Duc hot springs road at about 3:30 PM.  We crossed the highway and walked about 40 feet up the Sol Duc road and stuck our thumbs out.  It only took ten minutes for us to get a ride.
Our ride turned out to be the camp ground host.  He was a very gruff fellow named Larry.  It kind of felt like he picked us up as part of his duty to take care of the place.  Oh well, it was nice to get a ride and he said to us “you girls have a safe camping trip” as he dropped us off.  He asked how far up the road we wanted to go and I said I wanted to go as far up the road as he was willing to take us. 

So he drove straight to his campground host campsite and said here you go.  Starting at the camp host site added an extra mile to our hike but it was okay, not too hot, not too steep and I had planned on probably having to start a mile from the trail head anyway.  We thanked him profusely.

We hit the campground trail at 4pm and my daughter was a bit sluggish.  She cheered up a some when we reached the bridge over Sol Duc Falls and we saw a rainbow. 
Rainbow at Sol Duc Falls

Hoards of dayhikers, the last we will see for five days
After Sol Duc falls we were not sure if the trail went left or right or maybe it went both ways, but we knew we needed to go to the right to reach Deer Lake.  My daughter was sluggish again.  The hike was steep, gaining about 2,000 feet in about three miles and we were loaded down with what we thought was six days worth of food. 

 After such a nice time getting to the trail head the hiking part of this trip was not going well.   But, I had the National Park Service on my side.  We were allowed to camp at Deer Lake and only at Deer Lake, so I told my daughter that I had no choice but to take her to Deer Lake.  I began to have doubts about our trip and my daughter’s ability to hike so many miles.  Should we just give up and turn back and go to the car campground and ride the buses back home in the morning?

 It was looking like we might not make it to the lake before dark and then my daughter had to poop.  Great, just great, such wonderful timing.   After much stress and strain we arrived at Deer Lake at about 8pm and just a bit before Sunset.    We were both in a foul mood.
Hiding from Mosquitos at Deer Lake
  I found a small, rocky horrible tent site where I pitched the tent and then we hid from the mosquitoes while we ate dinner.  The place was mosquito hell and when morning came we could not get out of there quickly enough .  Dinner was chips dipped in beans and  a cup of hot chocolate each. 

We went to bed at about 9pm

Deer Lake in the morning

Monday, July 21, 2014

Solduck, High Divide, Appleton Pass, Olympic Hot Springs, Boulder Lake, Aurora Divide and Barnes Creek

We did it!

Day one starting from campground host site to Deer Lake

Day two Deer Lake to Appleton Crossing

Day three Appleton crossing camp to Olympic Hot Springs

Day 4 Olympic Hotsprings to Barnes Creek Camp

Day 5 From Barnes Creek Camp to Barnes Creek Bus stop

Sunday, July 13, 2014

It's time to come full circle on the high divide loop

I attempted to do the twenty mile high divide loop in July of 2003.  I started at Olympic Hot springs and then hiked up Appleton pass and then down Appleton pass and began my loop.   My spouse set up base camp at Olympic Hot Springs, after seeing me off at Appleton pass.

The day I left my husband at Appleton pass something terrible happened.  It was at the end of my hiking day and I was about to set up my camp at Silver Snag near Bogachiel peak when suddenly, I began to hemorrhage.

 I was eight weeks pregnant and I knew I was having a miscarriage.  I was airlifted from the high divide that night and it would be two days before I could get word to my husband who was camped at Olympic Hot springs to tell him what had happened.  My husband heard the helicopter flying over head but he had no idea that I was in it. 

As the sun was setting I was flown to Edez Hook in a coast guard helicopter and from there was transported to the Jefferson county ER via an ambulance.  The ER could not tell me if I had lost my baby or not and they refused to do an ultrasound.  They said that it made no medical difference and I would find out soon enough if I was still pregnant based on a blood test.

Since I had no car the ER sent me in a car with a Australian woman who was camping at Elwah with her family and had taken her son to the ER that night.  The Australian woman was kind enough to take me to my car at the Olympic Hot springs trail head rather than dump me at Elwah campground as the ER had intended. 

I spent the night in my little car trying to sleep while hoping that the bleeding had stopped, hoping I was still pregnant and wondering what to do.  I could not risk hiking to the hot springs just 2 miles away to let my husband know that I  had been flown out.  For all he knew I was on my loop and would rejoin him in two days.

The next morning I left a note at the trail head for my husband and then I carefully drove into Port Angeles.  I had my drivers licence, but I did not have a credit card and I did not have much cash on me since I was hiking. 

Luckily I was able to get a phone call through to my ex-boyfriend and he very kindly offered to  pay for my motel room for the night.  I booked myself into the first motel room with a kitchen that I saw and then began trying to figure out how to tell my husband who was still camping at Olympic Hot springs, what had happened.   

The rangers on the ground the night I was airlifted refused to hike in and tell my husband.  I kept driving back and forth from the motel room to the Olympic Hot Springs trail head trying to find my husband.  I told the person at the park entrance booth my entire story, but she was unable to offer me any type of help.  Finally two days after I had been airlifed, I drove back to the trail head for about the fourth time and I got another hiker who was a total stranger to agree to find my husband at the hot springs campground and tell him where I was.

Then drove back to the motel room  and waited for my husband to join me.  The motel had a kitchenette but the owner, in spite of knowing my story locked me out of the kitchenette claiming it was not included in the price we paid.   I was to ill to argue with her so I got by with carefully cooking my backpacking food over my stove in the parking lot the first night and then the next night I ordered a pizza.

After my husband finally got word he night hiked out of the hot springs and slept at the trail head.  In the morning he got a ride and joined me in the motel.  A park  caretaker had very kindly gaven him a ride all the way in to Port Angeles.   My husband and I then moved to the Riviera Inn Motel a different motel in Port Angeles so I could rest for a week before driving home.  My British husband did not yet have an American drivers licence, so he could not drive us home.

The next day the hospital in Port Angeles called and said that the blood tests showed I had lost the baby.  But I thought they were wrong, my gut told me I was still pregnant.  I called my gynaecologist in my home town and told her my blood test results.  She said the baby was probably fine and the hospital had read my test results wrong based on how far along I was in my pregnancy.   What a relief!

I called the hospital back and told them that they had interpreted the results of the blood test wrong.  Then and only then did the hospital agree to do an ultrasound.  The ultrasound showed a heartbeat.  My baby was alive!

My baby is ten years old now.  She was born healthy and at full term.  This week I am going to take her backpacking with me on the high divide loop.  I will take her to the spot where I was airlifted and when we get there I will probably hug her and kiss her a lot.  My spouse is now too ill to make the journey but he will be rooting for us from home.

By taking my healthy daughter up there under her own power on the loop where I nearly lost her, I feel the circle will be completed. 

Here is the text from two newspaper articles about my airlift.  I have removed personal information:

Peninsula Daily News July 25 2003
Woman Airlifted

  Olympic National Park - A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter airlifted a pregnant woman Tuesday night from Olympic National Park when the 40 year-old woman began hemorrhaging, the Coast Guard Reported.
XXXXX XXXXX, whose hometown was not reported was evacuated from a field near Bogachiel Peak, just south of Seven Lakes Basin, after the Coast Guard received a call from park rangers at about 8:30 p.m.

A medical doctor hiking in the woman's group recommended an immediate evacuation, the Coast Guard  reported.

The HH-65 Dolphin helicopter landed in the field, at an elevation of 5,000 feet, retrieved XXXX  and transported her to Group/Air station Port Angeles, where medics from the Port Angeles Fire Department met the craft and took XXXX to Olympic Memorial Hospital, according to the Coast
Guard. The hospital has no record of XXXX, and her condition was not available.


Peninsula Daily News July 27 2003
Airlifted Pregnant  Woman OK
Port Orchard--  A pregnant woman who was airlifted from Olympic National Park last week is fine, and so is her unborn child.
XXXXX XXXXX 36, of Port Orchard, was evacuated in a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter from High Divide at an elevation of about 5,000 feet, Tuesday evening when she began bleeding.

XXXXX's  last name and age were incorrectly reported in a story in Friday's Peninsula Daily News. XXXXX who is eight weeks pregnant, was checked by staff at Olympic Memorial Hospital and said Friday she and the unborn child are fine.

XXXXX,  a seasoned hiker, was four days into a back-country trek and was hiking alone when she reached her campsite Tuesday night and began bleeding.

"I thought I was having a miscarriage," she said.

Other hikers staying at the campground went down the trail and contacted the Park Service for help, while a doctor on the trail assisted her and recommended she be evacuated, she said. She does not know who the doctor was, she said.

"I'd like to thank that doctor and everyone who helped me," XXXXX said.

South Shore Coastal Trail

View from trail to Toleak Beach Shelter

We are still hoping to through hike most of Oregon on the PCT this August.  We are going on longer backpacking trips every week until then.  This trip was only a couple of miles longer than the last one, but the terrain was tougher.  We hiked 22 miles on sand while climbing up and down headlands clinging onto little ropes and half rotten ladders.  This was quite an adventure.

We should have rode the bus to our hike but planning for that seemed too complicated, so the plan instead was to drive to the ocean and back without out using the brakes too much.  My car needs new brakes and an alignment.  I can’t really afford either of those things without taking money out of savings.  I sure wish I could make some money or get some gear donations with this blog, but that's not why I started blogging.

We drove to La Push via the Hood Canal and Port Angeles.  We arrived at the trail head at 4pm and began our hike.  We were lucky to get a spot that was almost on top of the trail.  The hike starts with a 1.5 mile mostly downhill trek to third beach.  I had a heavy load for this trip, since all food has to be in a bear can I had to carry all of the food and the freaking bear can weights almost three pounds when empty.

We are in training so I put extra water in my daughter’s pack to give her something heavy to carry. Also we had to filter water on the beach, so it was nice to arrive at camp with lots of fresh tap water. 

As we hiked down to third beach on a Tuesday we witnessed may people hiking back out.  Some had huge heavy loads; one person was pulling a cooler behind him. 
heavy load
Heavy Load

The beach!  Time to swim.

When we reached the beach we turned south and after a bit we began to look for the trail over the headland at Taylor Bluff.  We were led astray by a different trail when we saw other hikers attempting to go up it, but we turned back and found the correct route.  We never did see those other hikers again and wonder what happened to them.

On the wrong trail

We hiked four miles to Scott’s bluff and found the first campsite to be full.  Two women were camped on the beach with two teen age girls; one of the women showed me where the good campsites off the beach were.  Since my daughter kicks up a lot of dirt, I did not want to camp in the sand with her.  I don’t know why, but whenever I arrive at my campsite for the night I’m a bit disoriented, maybe I’m just tired after giving it my all.

our campsite at Scott's bluff

This did not seal
again after the first time
After a dinner of rehydrated split pea soup and chips we went down to Scott’s creek and filtered our water for breakfast.  I bought a full sized Sawyer squeeze filter for this trip even though I own two of the minis.  I liked the full sized squeeze better. It has a faster flow rate and a push pull cap.  We will only need one full sized filter between the two of us.  At first it mated perfectly with my platypus, but later I could not get it to screw onto my platypus properly.  I will have to get a tube for my platypus and an inline kit for my sawyer. 

My platypus tube broke years ago and all I have is the bag.

I slept pretty well that frist night, I only woke up about twenty times, that's  better than I usually sleep on my first night of camping.  My daughter got covered in sand and suffered from some chaffing by morning.  I treated it as best as I could with sun screen.

Sphagnum squarrosum
Our goal for day two was a 7 mile hike to Mosquito creek.  We knew it would be a challenge to make it so far but as they say no pain, no gain. 

There was a long headland trail that lead to Mosquito Creek and on all the headland trails I found interesting bryophytes.


Goodman Creek on the overland trail
Not too much mud this time of year

We made it to Mosquito creek at about 6 pm.  I could only find campsites on the beach but there was a group of three men camped nearby and they told me that there were campsites in the woods above the creek.  So after dinner on the beach we headed up the bluff and found several very nice campsites to choose from.  It was just breezy enough up on the bluff to keep the mosquitoes away too.  Dinner was rice with vegetables and hamburger.

The men camped on the beach looked to be in a precarious position, wedged between the river bank and the ocean bank and with the tide coming in fast.  The tide was going to be a 9 foot tide, while the tide the night before was only 6 feet.  Would the men have waves wash over their tent?  We sat up on the bluff and watched to see what would happen.  Nothing happened, the water stopped 20 feet short of their tents.
Campsite at Mosquito Creek
Sunset at Mosquito Creek

Full moon at Mosquito Creek

This came in on the tide overnight at Mosquito Creek
My daughter lost her mp3 player at Mosquito Creek, I sure hope we can get it back.

The next morning we re-crossed Mosquito creek and headed back towards Scott’s Bluff, but my daughter had found a campsite that she really liked in front of what I had dubbed wizard rock the day before.  So we opted to look for that campsite. 

 It turned out that the site was on Toleak point, an area I had decided to avoid because it might be crowded, but it was fine on a Thursday night.  Something told me that this area had a lot of Native American history to it, I could just feel it, or maybe I could see it in the lay of the land.

My daughter wanted to sleep in a hammock and I told her it was okay but she changed her mind as soon as it got dark.  I slept pretty well at Toleak.

Camp at Toleak

Sunset at Toleak

Sunset at Toleak

Sunset at Toleak

My daughter lost her camera at Toleak, I sure hope we can get it back. It is a red water proof pentax point and shoot.  It was her Christmas present and I can not afford to replace it.

The next day we hiked back out to our car.  On a clay bank, but not on a rope or a ladder I fell and landed on my butt and the palms of my hands.  As I fell I felt a shooting pain go down my leg almost like I had hit my funny bone, but I don't think there is a funny bone in the leg.  I think I pulled a muscle in my thigh.   It felt like the kind of injury that needed to be walked off, so I kept on walking, but in pain.  Every big upward step hurt.  In time though and as the trail leveled out the pain subsided.  Now the next day there is only a little bit of soreness.
When we got to the trail head the parking was packed and people were starting to park up and down the highway.  As soon as we pulled out someone grabbed our parking spot.  We were glad to be leaving on a Friday rather than arriving.
Everyone we saw on the trail had bigger packs and loads than we did, but still I wish I had been able to carry less weight for this hike.  By the last day the food was gone but I still had that stupid 3 pound bear can to deal with.  I was able to fit my bear can, tent and sleeping bag all into my pack on the last day by shoving all of my clothes into my empty bear can.

As I pulled out a I saw a bus go by.. damn, we could have a caught a bus to the trail head!  On the way home my car’s brakes started to squeal and the next morning I had a flat tire. My car is going nowhere until the brakes are fixed.
This was a fun adventure; I hope my daughter looks back on it with fond memories.
We had great weather for the entire trip and we only got a little bit sunburned.
Most of the Japanese tsnami debris has been cleaned up.

22 miles with some ups and downs I'll call it 500 feet but it was probably a little bit more.

After I got home I found out that my mother was in the ICU again and she did not tell me.  "Same song, second verse" said the doctor.  I feel like there is nothing I can do to help her and the grieving process needs to begin.

I turned my cup upside down to keep mice from pooping in it
but when I turne it back over I found a baby bananna slug pooping in it.

a dog in ONP?

Sand sea stacks

crab tracks

sea side fern

seaside fern

Oyster mushroom on the way to third beach

Same Oyster mushrooms on the trip back, nobody picked them.
I hardly ever pick oyster mushrooms myself, they are too bland and full of hopping bugs.