Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Jackson Creek Fish Camp

Here, along the Columbia River, only a half mile or so (1km) downstream of Priest Rapids Dam. I recreated responsibly, mostly. I had traveled from Rimrock Lake east through Yakima (see previous post), where I caught a shower and grabbed a chance to eat at Yakima's Sportsman State Park.

Fun layout, which I didn't know about until I looked up the site online, from above. I enjoyed my stay.

I was in site 7, way over there, generally upwind of whomever might come along later. (No one did, mostly.)

The place had the cleanest vault toilet I've ever seen. Literally looked like it had just been installed and never used. I used it. Still looked OK afterward. And this was the view from my campsite around 4 p.m.

The river was in flood. The streamside trees were roughly four feet deep (around 1.25m). A week later the water was about half again as high, with severe flooding way up north, and several towns threatened.

Toward evening the scenery got more interesting to look at. The area was breezy, which kept bugs down, though aside from the riverbed itself, there isn't much plant growth — mostly dry grass and sagebrush.

Here you can see the water's depth. Id like to get across the river to explore that shallow ravine.

Correct. Pelican. There was a small herd of them: Fly upstream, float down. Repeat.

Later in the evening. Though the wind was from the west, clouds kept edging in from the east. Wha? (You get a better idea of the river level from this shot.)

Unhappy-looking sky. Coming my way.

Shortly before the rain hit. We had a brief but heavy downpour, and then the sky gradually cleared until dawn, which came clear.

Around two hours after I arrived, a family of six came in. Eastern-European accents. May have been Russian, Ukrainian, Estonian, etc., but I had the presence of mind not to ask. They said they wanted quiet. I said I was quiet. Then they parked as far from me as they could get.

Four kids. Kids ran around. Good place for it. $10 per night.

No one else there except for two vehicles upstream at the day use area where the occupants were apparently fishing. They left about dark.

Somewhere between breezy and hurricane-force winds for the first half of the night, but no dust. The rain did not last long, but it took care of the dust.

The father of my neighbor family asked me if the water was salt water or fresh water. He had a freshwater fishing license and wanted to be sure that he was in the right place for it. Odd, but I reassured him: fresh water.

I said I wouldn't tell on him anyway, even if he didn't have a license, but he wanted to make a point of being legal. OK. Good neighbors. The kids continued running around, jumping from one boulder to another, carefree.

In the morning I left first. No telling where the family is now. Still not sure where I am.

More info:

Google's View of the place.

Jackson Creek Fish Camp

Wednesday, May 23, 2018


Restless. Suddenly late winter becomes mid-summer but snow still blocks mountain trails. I head east then. Can't be that bad. I have to do something.

From Olympia with a late start Rimrock Lake is far enough, just east of the Cascade divide on U.S. 12. Far enough to remain clear and dry. Looks good. I park.

Someone has been here. Like 12-year-olds. That's when I built my last fort.

But overall it is nice. A few people parked closer to the main road, no one way back where I stop, and I have acres of land. And trees. Colorful trees.

With a few flowers. The Tieton River is a short walk north. I can just hear it where I park. Not loud enough to bother. Close enough to be a comforting presence.

To the south, elevation and wind-buffering trees.

Flowers along the river, among the rocks.


Hope found. Hope for the arriving and continuing summer. I need it.

Lichen at dusk, a quiet neighbor.

There is room to sleep in peace.

Reassuring growth springs from the earth.

The next day I stopped at a state park in Yakima for a shower and to have a lazy lunch, then continued north, to discover a great campground, though my goal is to explore eastern Washington's "Channeled Scablands".

Plans don't always work, do they?

More info:

Rimrock Lake (Wikipedia)

Tieton River (Wikipedia)

South Fork Tieton Dispersed Camping

Google Maps' view.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Fletcher, Fetch Me A Canyon!

North Fork, Quinault River.

Traffic hazard.

Start here.

Way out of date: Colonel Bob Trail has not been there for at least 25 years.

Free comics.

Secret frog.

Yep, this is it.

Trillium. Two of 'em at once.

A bit overgrown these days.

Footlog and Fletcher Creek. And sunshine.

Waterfall upstream. And sunshine. Also overgrown.

Spring leafies.

Fletcher Creek and alders in the sun.

Clear, clean.

What is this? Salmon berry? Anyhow, it's doing fine.

More water. More rocks. More sunshine.

No idea what this is called, but it looks happy.


I left the beach. (Previous post.)

Rather than going back to my temporary home base the way I'd driven out to the coast, I headed south to make a loop out of it, and I had unfinished business to attend to from two years earlier.

I'd done the Skyline Ridge Trail/Quinault River loop in Olympic National Park in 2016, and left a small tree tied up. I had used some line and a small carabiner to bend the tree over and out of the way of my hammock so I could sleep.

The next morning I forgot to remove them, recalling the issue only after I'd made it back to the trail following some thrashing through undergrowth, and decided not to go back. I stopped several times to reconsider on my way out and made the wrong decision each time: Leave it.

For two years I've been worrying about that tree, so I had to go back and check on it.

I did a quick two-hour, out-and-back evening hike to that secluded spot along the Quinault River and found both the line and the carabiner gone. The tree was still there and looking good - no permanent damage. I tied up the tree (bent way over, very badly) in late August or early September, 2016, and it clearly had not stayed tied long. Maybe someone fixed it only a few days after I'd tied it. No way of knowing now, but everything is fine.

I decided to sleep at the Fletcher Canyon trailhead and hike that canyon the next day. I used to go there a lot, but the last time must have been 20 years ago. Or more.

The canyon is short - only two miles (3.2 km), but steepish, and shady. Good on a hot day, and Fletcher Creek is cool and clean. Not accessible along the route, but right there in your face at the top end where you need it.

The first time there, in the mid-1990s, I stripped down and waded into the creek. The day was really hot and I needed that. There was a pool on a short bend in the creek and that's what I waded into. From the gravel bar next to it, the pool looked to be about four feet deep (1.3m), but it was almost twice that. And frigid. It was a good deal.

I should have thought of that this time, but when I actually got there, saw the same pool, remembered the experience, and thought about it, I decided not to repeat the performance. Too bad. Even though water spooks me, especially deep water even if it is clear, wading in would have been the right decision, but I skipped it, and now I'll probably never get back there.

The trail is mostly still in good shape, with a few degraded spots. It probably hasn't seen any maintenance in close to half a century, but there were no real problems.

The only thing I didn't like is that the upper flats, at the high end of the trail, are brushy now. The areas around and across the creek from the footlog used to be mostly open and grassy, but are full of berry-bush stalks now, so there is really no option to noodle around the stream banks and explore.

Upstream a short distance is a waterfall, still visible, but not approachable now, really, unless a person seriously likes tussling with shrubbery. On the west side of the creek, the trail used to continue for a short distance before fading out. This was probably the trail to Colonel Bob, but didn't go far then and isn't visible at all now.

Fine. Things change. I still had fun. It wasn't raining. The sun was shining. Not too hot, not too cold. Few bugs. Got to see an old friend of a place. Done.

More info:

Fletcher Canyon, Washington Trails Association

Fletcher Canyon - Explore a rugged rift in the Quinault Ridge, Hike of the Week

Skyline Ridge Primitive Trail, Olympic National Park

The Relentless Skyline, Seattle Backpackers Magazine

Colonel Bob Trail, Washington Trails Association

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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Beached, Briefly

Camp. Safely above the tides (see background) but cramped. I'll call it "cramping". It will be big.

Cramped, but with a nice view.

Ed didn't make it. Might have eaten too many rocks. Don't eat rocks, guys.

Or the crows will get you. Poor Ed.

Around sunset Tuesday. That would have been May 1.

Another friend, Chuckit! So I did. What the hey. He flies good.

Noninflatable sleeping pad. Didn't try it. I think it was a trick laid by the tide. I had my own anyway.

Happy evening ducks. Aren't ducks always happy?

Cipher. Could be a secret message. Erased by the next tide. Verrry suspicious.

My home as seen from the beach.

Morning, May 2. About 5:30. Two boats on the horizon. On a seriously low tide it's possible to circumnavigate the fuzzy sea-stack under the moon.

Fuzzy cobble. Difficult walking. Especially when wet, like trying to tiptoe across a convention of bald guys.

Tiny crabs everywhere. Limpets too.

Someone else made tracks.

Hole-in-the-wall. Canadians. Remarked that there didn't seem to be a lot of bear food around. Just me, I guess.

Hole-in-the-wall at right center, getting crowded in late morning. Only a couple miles from the parking lot.

Sea stacks in the other direction. A fun beach.

Downed tree. Bristly. Didn't have much to say.

A view like this makes it seem a long way out. Lots of surf. Haze. Salt spray. Rumbling.

This is also hard to walk on.

I had planned to make this three nights and four days but it became one night and two days.

I've been through here many times, beginning in 1980 — used to hike in over Thanksgiving weekend when I had four days off. Hardly ever saw anyone. After a few trips I did one over Christmas. Surprisingly, I saw a few people at Christmas. It seems like Thanksgiving is a holiday that brings people together and Christmas is one that might be too much. Or else a lot of people might find it too far to go "home" to see relatives, so they get adventurous at Christmas.

Thanksgiving is a time to just get together and share, and you can do it with relatives, or friends, or neighbors, or vague acquaintances, so you stay put. November in western Washington is also the stormiest month of the year, which is another reason to stay in the city.

In December there is less daylight, but not too much less, and the weather is certainly not worse, so that might make up some of the difference. Who can say?

I had fun there, but this year the weather, seemingly all rain all March and all April, suddenly broke. People broke loose. I saw a few, only a few, but it seemed too many. I decided not to hike in farther on Day Two as planned, camp two more nights, and hike out on Day Four, but to turn tail and hike out on Day Two.

It worked. My heart wasn't in it, and I have no one to impress. And I've seen it all before, so no great loss. I had fun but didn't want to force myself.

I did learn one great lesson though, one that powerfully influenced my decision: Bear canisters suck big time.

I used one. You have to here, by law. Mine barely fit into my pack and threw off my balance like crazy. I hated every second I had to deal with it. If I'd driven back to Olympia, WA through Port Angeles, I might have chucked it in the general direction of the Goodwill store there as I drove through town.

But I didn't go that way. I went south, past Lake Quinault, Hoquiam, Aberdeen, and so on.

On the way I got the idea of possibly using the canister for a food cache later in the summer. If I go out on one or two long trips, I might be able to leave my second week's food stashed in the weeds in the bear canister, which I cleverly bought and paid for and am now stuck with, pointlessly, otherwise.

So maybe. Maybe this, maybe that.

Right now I want to get out again but am briefly stuck waiting for something to arrive in the mail. Maybe toward the end of the week. I can hope.


Rialto Beach (ONP)

Rialto Beach (Wikipedia)

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