2020 Hike ; 169

Hike Distance: 8.7 miles

Elevation Gain: 1479 feet

Yearly Hike Distance: 1287.9 miles

Yearly Elevation Gain: 192174 feet

A pleasant sunny day in the state of Washington. The shade was particularly nice, along with the cooling breeze that swept past us. In the sun it was a bit warm, but even that was enjoyable.

The best part of this road hike was when we walked along a scenic creek. We love the rocks and flowing water, and stopped to take many pictures. After walking along the creek we turned to cross over a nice bridge, and then started to ascend up the mountainous terrain.

The ascent up the road continued for a majority of the hike, outbound. Our goal was to connect up to a previous hike endpoint, and that was a success! Most of the ascent was through clear cuts, which isn’t easy on the eyes. However, the lack of trees yielded expansive views of the mountains just north of us.

We finally reached a road at the top of our ascent and then followed it along, through a long forested canopy. Within about one mile we reached our connection point, and then turned around. We again got spectacular views of the creek, but the lighting was much different, and very photo worthy.

The only real issue we had with this hike is that I’ve been having pain in my thigh, for the past several weeks. It doesn’t seem to be getting better, but it’s also not getting worse. Despite my fear of going into a clinic, in these trying times, I have a couple issues to discuss with the Orthopedist, and hopefully rectify. Truthfully, my body aches and pains are par for the course, and are expected given that we hike between 35 – 50 miles per week.

Forest Road Hike Near Mt. St. Helens

2020 Hike #: 164

Hike Distance: 7.8 miles

Elevation Gain: 1317 feet

Yearly Hike Distance: 1247.2 miles

Yearly Elevation Gain: 186058 feet

A beautiful day with plenty of sun and the wind helped us stay cool!

This was a new road area for us and the views were epic. Our favorite part of the hike were the views of Mt. Rainier. Almost all roads we walked had a different vantage point for viewing Mt. Rainier. We dearly miss visiting Mt. Rainier National Park, but it’s very popular and crowded, so we’re happy to view it from this safe location. 🙂

We were also able to see the top one third of Mt. St. Helens but it was obstructed by clouds until the end of our hike. This wasn’t the best location for a photo, though, due to a clear cut location relative to the mountain. Oh well, you can’t have everything.

Forest Road Hike Near Mt. St. Helens National Monument

2020 Hike #: 157

Hike Distance: 7.7 miles Yearly Hike Distance: 1201.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 1230 feet Yearly Elevation Gain: 178141 feet

Today was forecast to have a temperature of about 100 degrees, where we live. We chose to flee the Wilamette Valley and hike in the higher elevations of the Washington Cascade Mountains. As a result, we found a network of forest roads that were adjacent to the Mt. St. Helens National Monument. It should be mentioned that we came well prepared to handle the heat, and stayed well hydrated during the hike. 🙂

To put it lightly, we hit pay dirt! We parked at an elevation of about 3200 feet, and quickly ascended to areas that were at or above 4000 feet. The beauty of the area we hiked is that there were expansive views of the Mt. St. Helens National monument, as well as north and south along the Cascade mountain range in Washington and Oregon!

Today was a four volcano day! Mt. St. Helens was in our face, with exceptional views of Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier. Mt. Hood was also visible but the atmospheric haze made it look like a phantom image. The rock outcropping (drop-off) we found gave us one of the best views we’ve ever seen of Mt. St. Helens and the Toutle River Valley. It turns out a road terminated at this rock outcropping, and a truck pulled up and spooked us, as the guys inside jumped out (sans masks) and climbed up the rocky area. They were too close for comfort and we quickly exited the area!

There are many other advantages of hiking at the higher elevations later in the summer. The flowers that have already bloomed and gone to seed, at lower elevations, are just starting to flower at the higher elevations. We received another flower show during this hike, with Lupine, Paintbrush and others reaching their peak blooms. It was a beautiful sight!

The biggest surprise we found at the high elevations were the availability of ripe Huckleberries!!! Oh how we love to see those ripe Huckleberries hanging from the bushes. We didn’t eat very many but it was a welcome addition to this fantastic hike! There were even ripe Salmonberries, although we aren’t as interested in them.

The temperatures at 4000 feet had to be in the high 70’s or low 80’s, but it felt much hotter in the direct sun. At the end of the hike we had much more shade, and it was quite pleasant while the trees protected us.

Now comes the only downside to our hike today, and it came in the form of flies! 😦 To say the flies were a nuisance would be putting it lightly. We were sweating quite a bit, and the flies never got tired of dive bombing us for the moisture and salt. I can take the flies that want moisture, but I have no tolerance for the horse flies, that crave human meat. These horse flies were like small birds, and they were relentless and fast. We were escorted by horse flies the entire hike, and toward the end of it I was done with them. My wife took the flies in stride, but they wouldn’t leave me alone, and tried landing to try and take a bite out of me every chance they got. We were almost entirely covered in light clothing, but that didn’t seem to deter them. It’s no wonder why I’m looking toward the colder temperatures; those damn bugs all die. haha

Forest Road hike

2020 Hike #: 156

Hike Distance: 7.8 miles Yearly Hike Distance: 1193.8 miles

Elevation Gain: 1285 feet Yearly Elevation Gain: 176911 feet

Very warm and humid but the wind cooled us down during this hike. I would have preferred more shade but that wasn’t to be in this area.

The main event of this hike was picking the ripe blackberries! There were so many blackberries but we only had a couple of plastic cartons to carry them. It’s also impossible to spend too much time picking blackberries due to the thorns, which puncture my clothes often. However, it was still worth it and was a bunch of fun!

Nobody seen during the entire hike, which was wonderful!

Forest Road Hike

2020 Hike #:  149

Hike Distance: 7.2 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 1146.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 1080 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 170044 feet

I’m sitting here writing this trip report and wondering when the Shingrix vaccine side effects will wear off.  Yeah, I know that this has nothing to do directly with my hiking, but the Shingles vaccine has already kept me from hiking for three days!  The side effects for this vaccine can be brutal, and I’ve experienced a high fever of 103.2 degF, violent shaking, headaches, body aches and now to fairly bad pins and needles pain all over my body. 😦  Mind you, I’ve had the Shingles (and thus had Chicken Pox as a child), and it was a full MONTH of severe pain, at the infection area on my chest.  My personal experience is that you most definitely don’t want to get Shingles, and for all the side effects of the Shingrix Vaccine, it is well worth this three day experience, at least for me, but, don’t just listen to me and go talk with your doctor if you’re concerned and thinking about it!  I’ll get off my complaining and high horse now.

Given that all of our hikes are now strictly on forest roads, there really is no need to spend, or waste, anyone’s time on what the experience was like.  Suffice it to say that the roads are in various stages of being used for logging (and have a fresh layer of gravel) or in phases of being reclaimed (since it takes from 25-40 years before an area is logged again).  Most of my future trip reports will focus on unique experiences on a particular hike, which is more exciting to read, and write about, anyway. 🙂

I also have decided to include, in the hike distance and elevation gain info, above, how many hikes I’ve done since the start of the year.  The reason I’m including this isn’t to try and impress anyone, but to let you know why I just don’t have the time to write a trip report for every hike.  This additional information also gives anyone following the blog an indication of how many hikes it takes to accrue the kind of mileage needed to attempt to achieve the goal of 25,000 miles, at least in my case.  If you’re somebody that goes longer or shorter distances, then you can obviously adjust your timeline to complete any personal goals you have.  And let me say this once again, my goal is only meaningful to me, and isn’t meant to be competitive.  I’m an engineer, and numbers have always been a part of my life.  I’m motivated by numbers, but realize everyone is motivated by different things.  The numbers keep me moving forward, give me an objective, and get me out the door, even when I feel like doing nothing.  Again I digress.

Today’s hike was like many others we’ve had.  It was hot, but the occasional breeze cooled us down.  We came upon a spur road and turned to investigate and experience what it had to offer.  Looking down I saw a small puddle with something moving in the waters.  To our amazement it was filled with hundreds of tadpoles.  The tadpoles had overpopulated this pool and the sun was directly radiating upon it.  This puddle wasn’t going to be around very long, under the beating sun and warm temperatures.  My wife and I looked at each other and she decided to empty most of her water into this puddle!  We then went about cutting ferns, and small cottonwood branches, and placing them over the puddle.  When we left, this small pool of life was now a shaded oasis, and we hoped it would give some of these tadpoles a chance to survive? 🙂

The second, and last, major event of this hike was noticing the ripening of the Blackberries that were growing along the side of the road.  It’s getting close to that time when the availability of Blackberries will be insane. 🙂  If you don’t live in the Pacific Northwest it would be impossible to imagine just how prolific blackberries are here.  They are basically very thorny weeds with the best tasting fruit.  Unfortunately, most of the blackberries we see are the invasive Himalayan variety, which are very abundant in fruit.  My wife and I picked the blackberries and popped them in our mouths.  We can’t eat too many or we feel sick.  We’ll be bringing containers with us, on subsequent hikes, so we can collect them in larger quantities.  Why pay for them when we can get any amount free? 🙂

A very nice hike with some nice memories!