Private Forest Road Hike

Hike Distance: 8.4 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 1100.8 miles

Elevation Gain: 1080 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 162869 feet

As I mentioned in my previous trip report, we again visited a private tree farm that allows public access.  The area we hiked was mostly well shaded or under a nice tree canopy.  This was good as it was a very warm day, and the lack of direct sun made this a tolerable hike. 🙂

Not much was remarkable about this hike, unless walking past a quarry or seeing power lines floats your boat.  Mind you, I didn’t mind seeing these attributes of modern civilization since I was a guest on private forest lands.  Other than the power lines and quarry this area contained lush forest and some roads with high grasses.

One interesting point to note is how inaccurate the maps on my GPSes can be, regarding private lands.  I carry three devices with GPS capabilities, a Garmin 66st, Garmin inReach Explorer and a Samsung S20 Smartphone.  They all use different mapping software and offline maps, and they don’t have the same data.  Only the main roads appear to be somewhat similar, and accurate.  The minor roads may or may not be there.  Unfortunately, the company which owns this land doesn’t appear to provide maps for personal use, at least from my research?

A very nice day and well worth getting out and enjoying mother nature. 🙂

Private Forest Road Hike

Hike Distance: 7.9 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 1092.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 1015 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 161789 feet

This pandemic continues to adversely effect everyone, and has definitely changed where and how we hike.  As I’ve mentioned previously, we have no intention of hiking on normal trails until an effective treatment, or vaccine, is available.  In our opinion, the forest roads are far safer, during a pandemic, than hiking on any of the popular trails, but as a result we’ve definitely sacrificed the quality of the scenery.

We’ve been hiking the same forest roads since the beginning of March, and wanted a change, so I’ve been investigating the forestry companies that DO allow recreation on their property.  There are actually quite a few logging companies that have recreation opportunities.  Some are by permit only, and some aren’t.  The companies that require permits cost money, and can be expensive, and also limit the number of people that can get the permit.

The logging companies that allow recreation on their property, without a permit (or the permit is free), typically have no limit for the number of people on the property at one time.  In many ways it is similar to state and federal owned lands, but logging companies have many more rules.  At this time, many of the logging company land is closed due to the summer fire season, but not all of them.  The hike today, and also tomorrow’s, is one of those companies that is still open for daytime recreation.

I also want to add a few more comments about hiking on private land.  There are many logging companies, and you will need to Google what is available in your location.  Visit the logging company site and see if they allow recreation, and read their conditions for use.  It’s usually the larger companies that allow some sort of recreation.

Don’t expect a wilderness experience on private lands.  There are clear cuts, active logging operations, and possibly traffic on the roads.  One day you may find a gorgeous forested area and the next visit you’ll find the forest gone, so assume the views will change, and this may not be to your liking. You may also see other people walking on these lands, but we observe that most are bringing their dog(s).  It’s possible to see logging company security while on their land.  It’s not a big deal if you’re abiding by their rules, and we do!

Lastly, walking on forest road is harsh on the body.  The roads are typically gravel covered and like walking on concrete.  We’ve also slipped, or fallen, due to the loose gravel, so you need to be very careful.  We feel that hiking on forest roads is still enjoyable, despite this risk.

Now, on to this specific hike.  We parked just before a locked gate and headed out.  This hike was on a typical private forest road.  Describing the roads in detail would be pointless, as this was like any other forest road.  However, there were some highlights.  Notably, there was a nice view, looking east, early on in the hike  The view wouldn’t have been there if the area hadn’t been clear cut.  The second thing noticed on this hike was the huge number of flowers.  Most were flowering weeds, but they’re still pretty to us. 🙂

The last observation we made was that there was a very loud barking dog at one road location.  We never saw the dog, or owner.  All the property around us was private, with no homes, so we wondered if this was a stray.  In the past, we’ve had stray dogs follow us for miles, and not leave us alone.  Many of these stray dogs are glad to follow people, but won’t come close enough to be caught,  It’s frustrating when this happens, and it’s occurred several times.

Forest Road Hike

Hike Distance: 7.3 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 1063.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 829 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 157758 feet

A hot day, with plenty of humidity, made us head out for a shorter hike that would mostly be under the canopy.  The hike was very typical but two things stood out.

The first thing that stood out was when we went into a clear cut, and a magnificent view of Mt. Rainier greeted us!  It’s always amazing to us how big that volcano is, but at over 14,000 feet it stands out like a sore thumb!  We took plenty of photos but my zoom just didn’t do the photos justice.

I moved forward on the road to get a better angle shot of Mt. Rainier, but then heard a loud grunt!  Oh crap, a large horse is coming at us slowly.  My first reaction was to stop and assess the situation, but very quickly.  I slowly backed up and the horse stopped it’s forward motion.  Off to the side of the horse were three other horses.  It just so happens I violated their space and looked threatening to them, and the stallion was protecting its mares!

I backed up and started making noises, while waving my hiking poles.  The horses had a clear exit path and they ran about 100 yards away, and started foraging.  We looked at each other and I suggested we continue forward, and as we did the horses stared at us until we went out of view.

We were turning onto another road, where forest bordered its entire length.  I quickly looked back and saw the horses running across the field, but in a similar direction as us.  I told my wife that I hoped they weren’t flanking us, but moved on and just kept an eye out for them.  While hiking along this alternate road, we evidently spooked some other large animals, that were in the dense forest.  They could have been horses, or even elk, but we just made noise and they disappeared.

So we walked along some tree lined roads and were heading back to the main road, which led to our car.  We were between 1/2 to 1/4 mile before reaching the main road when we saw the four horses blocking our way!  I thought to myself, I’ll just yell, wave my hiking poles to look larger, and they’ll get out of the way.  Nope, not these horses.  They were not impressed.

I pulled out my extra loud whistle and blew it hard, but that just made them curious and they started moving toward us!  Shit,  what the hell are we going to do.  This is like a nightmare.  I’d often thought about our vacations to Yellowstone, and getting trapped on a trail due to a blockage by bison, wolves or even grizzlies, and this was that scenario!  I yelled and waved my hiking sticks and they stopped again.  phew!  All the while we saw them I had taken out my bear spray, but didn’t want to use it, if possible.  Besides, I didn’t know if the winds would blow the bear spray back at us, and that would be bad.

It turns out I had no obvious tricks left, or so I thought.  We needed to get out of here, and couldn’t go around them and through the forest, as it was too dense.  What can we do to speed this up, and prevent us from getting trampled?  I’d heard a rumor, from a person we bumped into long ago, in this area, and he mentioned how the horses forced a hunter to climb a tree!  Were these the same angry horses or was this a different clan.  I didn’t want to find out!

I looked at my wife and said, “Play some music on your smartphone”.  She looked at her music list and chose the song “Shout” by Tears for Fears!  She maxed out the Android phone volume, which isn’t loud, and we sang the song loudly, while moving ahead cautiously.  To our amazement, these horses were no match for Tears for Fears and our loud singing!  They were disturbed by our concert and quickly backed away.

We would push them up the road about 100-200 feet and they would stop and try to hold their ground, but they were no match for our screeching voices and loud music.  We pushed forward, at a slow enough pace, and after about 15-20 minutes were able to reach the main road. 🙂  The horses had finally escaped to the clear cut and gave us ample room to pass them by.

Now, I’d heard, or possibly read, something about playing music to scare off animals, but didn’t know if it was bullshit.  I can’t take credit for such an original idea, but was glad to use some other person’s wisdom.  Well, I’m here to tell you it was very effective, in this case.

Maybe we should have turned around, when we first saw the horses.  We’d run into a stallion before, in this area, and that horse stood its ground, and we turned around.  The correct answer isn’t always obvious, except in hindsight.  This is a great story, and the outcome was the best possible, but it could have turned out badly.  I really didn’t expect the horses to follow us down the road, and there was no way to know this, and it never happened before.  The bottom line is that it will never be completely safe when hiking in remote locations.  Be as prepared as possible and try to anticipate what you would do in scenarios like this.  We carry an emergency beacon and are very prepared for protecting ourselves.  We’re also prepared to stay overnight, and carry the 10 essentials.  Actually, we have more like 50 essentials.  haha

This trip report isn’t actually the best example, but 999/1000 times we turn around, and live to hike another day.  We learned from this experience, and will take this as a learning experience to improve our safety in the future!

Forest Road Hike

Hike Distance: 8.5 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 1025.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 1629 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 151372 feet

A very nice hike with some great elevation gain.  The road was very rocky and I twisted my knee during our ascent, which only led to worse knee issues later in the hike. 😦  We ended the hike early due to my knee, which was a shame.

We had a short talk with a person that was driving by in a truck, but kept a long distance from their window.  It’s rare for us to see any people, and was quite nice to have a short talk, for a change!

This hike had a bit more elevation gain than usual and we were glad the wind cooled us down, at least at the higher elevations.  There were plenty of flowers but most of what we saw were weeds.  Still, the Lupine and Foxglove added some additional nice colors.  There were also some ripe  Salmonberries, but I don’t really enjoy their mild flavor, and will wait for the Blackberries to ripen, and also look forward to the Huckleberries later in the summer.

Our hike was in the vicinity of Moulton Falls, WA and we drove by the over filled parking areas.  We were appalled to see so many people, in close proximity, without masks.  If you didn’t know better you’d think everything is back to normal.  So sad and disappointing. 😦


Forest Road Hike

Hike Distance: 7.4 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 1016.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 942 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 149743 feet

This is a favorite area of ours with plenty of roads to explore.  Most of the area has a very nice canopy but there are some clear cut areas.  It was a rather humid area and we sweated profusely.

What made today different is that I chose to bring my Olympus Mirrorless camera, rather than use only my smartphone.  My smartphone is very nice but the colors are very saturated, and too vibrant for me, in general.  However, I don’t like carrying extra weight if I don’t have to.  Well, today I chose to carry the heavier camera in order to try and capture pictures with better photographic qualities, such as true colors, sharpness and with a keener eye for composition.

I pretty much looked at all my surroundings as potential for some good photographic content.  There were plenty of flowers, beautiful canopied roads and I was fortunate that my wife pointed out a deer (right in front of us).  The outcome of this photo session is that I’m much more pleased with my Olympus camera than my smartphone, and in fact, it’s not even a close call.  There’s something about holding a capable camera in your hands that makes you feel like a photographer, whereas the phone is just point and shoot, with many less features.  That said, the smartphone has a special place in my hiking toolkit since it’s smaller, lighter and water proof, which are formidable attributes.