Olympic Peninsula – Quinalt Station, Fourth Beach, and Ruby Beach

I planned to do the complete circuit around the Olympic Peninsula over several days. Instead of unhooking and hooking up and because my truck can go places that my trailer cannot, I left my trailer at Elma. Also I would enjoy a couple days in budget motels, needing only a clean bed and bath. I’m somewhat selective in choosing a budget motel, having stayed in some really awful places while hiking. I check the reviews on line, and examine the outside. In Fork, a once nice old-style motel had deteriorated. There was a large flower garden in the front that had been weeded. The gazebo had been painted recently. Remodeling was underway. Pulling in, I spied a large pile of materials and tools undercover. I asked for one of the rooms that had been completed. It was very clean. The remodeling effort was basic: painting, patching, new bath liner, and such, but adequate. The new owners, from India or Pakistan, exhibited the best traits of immigrants: hard-working, enthusiastically improving their place to make a better living for themselves and their families while contributing to the community.

I had started early, leaving Elma around 6, arriving at the Ranger Station early. I had breakfast at the Mercantile across the street, a basic breakfast of sausage, over-medium eggs, chunky potatoes, sourdough toast, and coffee. I complemented the cheerful waitress/cook on the eggs being done perfectly. On my way out, I noticed a rack of jackets for $20 and purchased one, a blue flannel with a heavy liner that I would wear the next several days. It was damp, raining now and then, chilly and sometimes windy on the Peninsula.

I stopped to visit the nearby world’s largest spruce tree, 58 feet in circumference where a young couple from Michigan agreed to be my models for scale. Hey Michael and wife! whose name I forget (he gave me his business card). Shortly thereafter I met Teres-a from Maine by a waterfall who also gave me her card.  Hey Teres-a!

The next stop would be fourth beach and Ruby Beach. I had promised my friend Richard to have a beer on Ruby Beach, but it was rainy, so I carried my coffee down. The trail at the beaches for some reasons always ends in a pile of rocks. Why the logs pile up there, when areas a couple hundred feet do not, I cannot understand. Are these logs washed down the small streams that the trails usually run alongside. So small are these trails, that I cannot imagine anything the size of these massive logs washing down the narrow stream ways.

The hardest part of the trail down to the beach is climbing over these logs, without slipping, falling, or the log rolling. I quickly learned that in some cases, the best way was to cut sideways where, perhaps, there might be a shorter way across the logs. Forging ahead was the long, hard way through. Once through, at low tide, there were many starfish, mussels, and other creatures living in the tidal areas to find, provided one was willing to climb over the rocks. Watch out for the green algae, it is the slipperiest. I met Stefan and Astrid, Hey!, from Austria, and running into each other again at dinner. They invited me to sit with them. He shared some of his amazing pictures, including one of an eagle scooping up a fish that he had taken at Third Beach.





Mima Mounds

After setting up in the rain in Monday,  I stuck to the campground. It would rain all night and again Tuesday, but I decided to brave the rain in the afternoon because it was easing up and head out to Capital Forest State Park to Mima Mounds, where unexplained mounds of earth dot the prairie, about 22 miles long and 1 mile or more wide. The mounds are 15-20 foot in diameter, circular, and about 6 foot high. At first, thought to be burial bounds, excavation found nothing but rich soil and rock. Other explanations include glacial deposits and the remains of places where vegetation retained the soil while water ran around draining a large glacial lake at the end of the last ice age. I favor the later explanation myself.

If you take the long trail, it is about 3 miles plus; the short trial, 2 plus, depending on what else you tack on. I did both and the add-ons, despite being caught in heavy rain and hail, large enough to catch my attention, but not large enough to hurt. The clouds were moving quickly and I was hoping to catch a view of the mountains to the east, in particular, Mt. Rainier, but all I could see was the clouds rising around the mountains, they make their own clouds. I suspected Mt St Helens to the south, Mt Rainier to the east and another nearby, from the three rising columns of clouds cut off at the top by the winds, the clouds resembling anvils pointed eastward.

The flowers were coming out. I counted 3 yellow, 3 white, 1 purple and in the woods another two. Some of the plants I think I know by name now, salmon berry, Oregon grape, buttercup, camas, death camas, chocolate lily, shooting star, tansy, wild parsley,  skunk cabbage, honeysuckle, fireweed, California Poppy, daisy, black eyed Susan’s and several clovers and onions, and of course trillium.


Leaving Oregon

Tomorrow, May 15, I cross the Columbia into Washington on my way to Olympic Peninsula and the Hoh Rainforest. All in all, I enjoyed Oregon very much. It is a beautiful place, with many waterfalls, forests, farmland, welcoming people, and great trails well-worth hiking. I liked Grants Pass and Silverton the most, both of which are in the state of Jefferson, I believe. There is plenty of great hiking in and around Portland and I wanted to like Portland more, but I had watched the live-coverage of the Antifa riot on May 1. Shortly thereafter, I learned that an annual Rose Parade in East Portland had been cancelled due to threats by the Antifa against Republicans, not the KKK or some other far-right group, but the Republican Party which has had a float in the parade. Portland appears wonderful, and everyone was welcoming, but I wondered about the undercurrent of political violence that appears to be tolerated, if not condoned. Would I return to Oregon? Absolutely, I like Oregon very much.

Mt. St. Helens

Saturday, May 13th, was the first day that the Johnston Ridge Center would be open. Even though Saturday was predicted to be the day of heaviest rain, which would mean snow higher up, Saturday was the day for me to go through rain below, mixed with sleet and hail, into snow near the top. It was a beautiful drive up to the Center, where visibility of the Mount was limited by clouds coming lower, bringing snow with them. I drove down through clouds, alternating between rain and snow, until I reached the Elk Viewpoint, after which rain persisted.

One stretch of the road up resembled a snow globe, the snow splashed across the pine trees up a hillside, followed by a soft, wet snow as if the snow globe had been shaken.

The Johnston Center is a very nice facility, with good exhibits and explanations and two wonderful movies, with a surprise ending, well worth the time to watch.

Traffic was light and two cars decided to stop on the narrow two-lane highway to take pictures. Not pulling off, but stopping on a 40-55 mph highway with no shoulder. One woman was standing next to her car. Thankfully, I could see them in time to go around. I read once that every year there are more pictures being taken than the total number of pictures taken in previous years, whether this is creating competition to capture a greater picture, I don’t know, but some pictures just aren’t worth the risk.

Portland, Oregon

Spent some time exploring Portland in the rain on Thursday, Friday, before clear weather arrived Sunday afternoon. Portland has many nice features, including a selection of parks and trails that reminded me of Schenley Park in Pittsburgh, although more extensive and varied. Both have wide trails, cleaned on debris, running through “wild” city areas. Leif Ericson Trail was an easy climb for several miles, your choice how far, out-and-back, with three trails that I know of: Dogwood, Alpen, and Cherry Tree. I met a family, Blair, Max and Tom. Of all the people out, Max was having the most fun, riding his bike through every puddle, up and down, speckled in mud, grinning widely.

Sunday afternoon, I stopped by the winery of my new trail friends, Ryan and Kari, Enso Wines. Ryan had spent ten years touring in a band before settling down to become a maker of wines. He worked a year at a winery before starting his own business. Because I usually drink cabs, Kari suggested I sample their Americana blend and Malbec. Both were good. I liked the Malbec slightly more, ordered a glass, and purchased a bottle when I left. The bottle was autographed for me. I shall save it for a special occasion, maybe. While I enjoyed the Malbec, I also enjoyed a Pacific Pie Company, spinach and feta pie. The crust was superb and the filling delicious. I sat at the end of the bar, and although Kari was busy, she spent some time with me. I went back out to the truck to get a copy of my book to show her, and suggested she read one of my favorite poems, “I Knew.” It was a nice visit and a chance to get to know them better. If I were to return to Portland someday, I might hang out at Enso.


Dog Mountain

I’m sore at 5:30 AM this morning, not from a lack of water to flush the toxins from my system, but from the 3-mile, 20% slope of Dog Mountain in Washington along the Columbia River. I hadn’t done anything this taxing since Mount Katahdin at Baxter State Park in Maine. Lying in bed, listening to the long, light rain that started just before dawn, I thought of my good trail friend Olive Oyl hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) with Twix and Salsa, AT Class of 2013, who on mornings like today spend another day hiking up and down mountains through beautiful scenery to see the vistas that one can only see by climbing a mountain, while I can roll over and go back to sleep, eventually walk to the kitchen for a cup of coffee while I catch up on the sad news of the world. Press on, ladies! Follow them at oliveoyladventure.wordpress.com

By 8:30, I’m feeling better, but it’s still raining. Wondering whether to focus on necessary chores, maybe go to a winery run by new trail-fiends, or risk a hike in the rain. There is a gorge trail I want to do, but wet rock … I don’t want to fall, it is my biggest fear about hiking, not bears, wolves, getting lost, poison oak, snakes, tick-borne diseases, not even falling off a cliff, but the short fall gone bad, like a friend whose two-foot fall turned into a major on-going health event. Tomorrow, there is chance of thunderstorms, so it’s hike today or take two days off and hope Saturday is better.

Take Dog Mountain for a work-out, but enjoy the view from the top and flowers in season. I counted 21 different flowers, although there may have been more species – I only counted those that I was certain were new; one flower, one vote. Take the shorter, steeper leg of the loop or the longer, easier leg, or the third easiest longer section up from the valley further west. On the loop, break out into an easier, open section, suddenly to a view of the mighty Columbia River – it is a mighty river, wide, deep and powerful – the Columbia passing between hard-volcanic rock mountains, some still spotted with snow, and cut by ravines with waterfalls visible here and there, the triangular peak of snow-covered Mount Hood peeks up behind the mountains across the Columbia where a man died over the weekend, falling 600 feet; to the Northwest jagged, flat-topped, snow-covered Mount Helen to the Northwest side behind; in front and around, flowered fields on slopes approaching 40% angles, even steeper. How tightly the plants must root onto the thin layer of dirt, how fragile their space, protected because no one would risk walking on those slopes. At the top, take a seat and linger while you celebrate with a snack and drink a favorite beverage.

A shout-out to several people: Sam, a young lady from Portland who slowed to walk with me up the shorter steepest section of the trail. She wrote a book, about the Power of Human Connection, something like that. It is easier hiking up difficult sections with someone. Also, Tom and Bunny, from Hawaii. Tom thinks he might have known my trail friend, Danno, and is going to look Danno up when they get back. Tom and Bunny were thinking about going down from the first viewpoint, but when I said that I was going to the top, because I would never be here again, they continued, saying that I was their inspiration. I was happy to have provided the incentive to cover the last 400 feet up. They sped past me, all they had lacked was a reason to continue. Usually others are encouraging slowest guy on the trial -me. On the way down, Ryan and Kerry (Sp?), wine-makers, I will visit their winery this week on a rainy day, kept company with me until I had to rest. One of the nicest things about hiking is that it is a social event: you hike together while it fits, sometimes only because you have the same pace for a while.

The bridge is the Bridge of the Gods, where the PCT crosses the Columbia River.

Waterfalls, Waterfalls, Waterfalls and a Milestone

If Minnesota is Land of the Lakes, Oregon must be State of the Waterfalls. There are so many beautiful waterfalls. Today, I hiked 13 miles, over 3,000 feet up and down to visit 8 waterfalls. It was a wonderful, sunny, warm day that brought the flowers bursting into bloom. Early in the morning, it was purple and blue opening; by mid-day, yellow and red emerged; by afternoon, white and more varieties. I have arrived at Portland at the right time for the spring wildflower show began today.

On each major trail, I walked with different groups for a while. So, a shout-out to the boys from Nova Scotia and Newfoundland; to Evan and Brittany – from Michigan Hoorah!; and to the hiker prepping for El Camino, and I know I got this wrong, trail name of Arrealy. You look to be ready and you can do it – just eat enough, drink enough, and rest enough. Enjoy! It will be awesome.

The Falls: Upper and Lower Latourell, 4.2 mile loop, 800 feet, Bridal Veil, about 1 mile, 125 feet; Multnomah, 2.5 miles, 870 feet; Lower, Upper Horsetail, and Triple Falls, 5 miles 1,243 feet to Triple Falls; and Wakhenna – a hop, skip and jump, part way up. Throw in a couple side trails here and there, and OK, I went down the wrong trail once before figuring it out, but not very far, maybe .1 mile round-trip. Total tops 13 miles – the most in a day since the 15 mile Scout Trail without the elevation back in flat, flat Ohio at Oaks Opening last October.

Feet feel good; knees, fine; and I’m not overly tired. Today made me jealous of my friends hiking the PCT this year, but a through-hike takes so long and it is what you do everyday, day after day. Also, one 13 mile day is nothing compared to the PCT: they are doing that day after day, more or less. Still, some nights I wonder.

Today, I crossed into Washington, the last of the lower 48 for me to claim that I have been in. When I hike in Washington next week and Idaho soon thereafter, I will have hiked in 33 of the lower 48 and Alaska: missing “real” hikes in Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Delaware, South Carolina (maybe, might have back in the 80’s), Louisiana, Arkansas, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Missouri.

6 and arrival in Portland

The route from Tillamook to Portland runs through the Tillamook State Forest, a pretty drive, often narrow, two-handed drive. Arriving, I set up, grocery shopped, and did a quick drive around to get a handle on where I am. Almost on the Columbia River, so I will have some nice walks and pics.

My routine for setting up and tearing down is so well rehearsed, that even when interrupted, I scarcely need to think. One of the keys is to have little counts for each area, all I have to is look and four point check on stabilizer bars, 6 on the hitch, 6 windows; and so forth. Setting up: eye-ball level, maybe put one side on pads, chock tires, set in pads under lift, raise, then back to the count. I don’t bother with stabilizers on the corners, if the trailer is fairly level, it hardly wobbles, sea-legs I guess.

The major challenges of living in a trailer are: moisture build-up. the best way that I have found is to run the furnace until the trailer is hot -like 80, then open the door and run the ceiling fans to vent. Exercise: without running up and down stairs 100 times a day, I have to work at exercise, trying to get 20 miles in a week or more, plus calisthenics. Food: it is too expensive to eat out every day, so I try to work in special treats that I like: some are perhaps odd: one of my favorite breakfasts is kippers on toast with sliced tomatoes; or peanut butter toast with sliced tomatoes; or a bratwurst with kiwi on the side. One trick, cut off the end of a kiwi and scope it out like a soft-boiled egg. For snacks, I have started buying those prepared salad plates, which are expensive, but I never finish a head of lettuce etc. so getting a selection already prepped provides variety with less waste, and probably in cheaper than individual items. Boredom leads to overeating, so when I get the urge, I give myself 20 and I don’t feel hungry anymore. A drink helps w relaxation: my current favorite beer: Guinness Blond; mixed drink: Jack Daniels w tonic water – try it.

And writing: I am torn, do I focus on one of two stories, one for children maybe older children, and one for adults; or do I write a book about to travels putting in the poems as inspired without fitting into stories; or do I simply do a book of poems without context? For now, I am focusing on writing and figuring out where to put it later. So much inspiration!


Astoria, Bowpicker, and Lewis and Clark National Park

Rain expected to clear out later possibly, so up to Astoria and the mouth of the Columbia River. A beautiful drive along the coast north of Garibaldi with a spectacular view of Manzanita. In Astoria, Bowpicker fish and chip, reportedly number 3 in the country, good portions, fair price almost as good as St. Andrew’s Lenten Fish Fry, beer-battered cod in Saline, Michigan. OK, I’m biased.

On the way back, stopped at Fort Clatsop, where Lewis and Clark wintered for tree months. The Fort is a reconstruction as the original rotted away and then was burned down years ago. The Fort seemed indefensible to me. When I asked about this, a ranger explained that this was their best effort based upon the info they had, but certain features may be inaccurate, incomplete, or altered in favor of durability of the structure. Lewis and Clark only needed the structure for three months, so it is likely the current structure is better made and with different materials. What most impressed me was the crafts and attire of the rangers. A film detailed the preparations, supplies, and craft involved in the cross-country trip. For example, the gunpowder was sealed in lead boxes which when melted could be turned into bullets to be fired by the gunpowder. The ranger at the Fort itself was still and shocked me when she moved. In her period get-up, she melded into the display perfectly. I asked for permission to take her photo, which she granted.

In the afternoon, the weather cleared somewhat, clear, clouds, rain, clear, clouds, rain, repeat. Hopefully the weekend will clear up. The coast seems drier than 10 miles inland where the mountains rise.

Wilson River and Falls

Before the rain and hail descended, I squeezed in a short 3-mile+ rt along the Wilson River out past Wilson Falls in Tillamook State Park. But first I visited the Bridge Falls across 6, which was a very busy high-speed two-lane highway heading east out of Tillamook.

Of the two falls, the Bridge Falls was prettiest. Wilson Falls was anticlimactic, especially after the spectacular falls of the last two weeks in Silver Falls State Park and Niagara Falls. In fact, Wilson Falls was so unspectacular, that I picked my way across the water running across the trail without realizing that I was passing by it. Just another no-name falls, I thought. There are so many in Oregon.

Shortly afterward, I met a woman named Julie – Hey Julie!- hiking back. She had continued past Wilson for a little or so before turning around wondering if that could have been Wilson Falls back there. We decided to forge ahead in the hopes of something better, until we met two hikers starting from the ranger station hiking down river who informed us that we had passed Wilson Falls. So we all continued towards the Falls.

Julie and I shared the hike back, enjoying each other’s company. She was a very nice lady. She is relatively new to hiking, having been a trail runner for a while. We got into a discussion of gear, when she observed my hiking shoes might work better than her trail runners.

I had been wearing trail runners in drier climates for several years, but switched to hiking shoes in Maine, which was wet and rocky, shredding my initial and back-up pairs of trail runners. I have been happy with hiking shoes, which provide more protection to the feet and dry out more quickly than hiking boots.

So what is my day-hiking gear? My poles, useful when needed, like crossing a stream; my GPS beacon attached to my day pack, so that I can call for help and be found, if necessary; one small light on the pack and a back-up inside; also inside: two bottles of water, a water filter, two large Snickers bars and two meal bars, a sit-pad made from a section of a foam sleeping pad, a rain jacket, a puff jacket, a medium weight wool shirt; a pair of socks; a tube of cloth that might function as ear muffs, neck gaiter, face shield, or bandanna; a fire starter; some tinder; a small first aid kit; and a small knife. In my pockets, my phone and camera. I think that is it.

It was a good decision to turn around; when Julie and I arrived back at our vehicles, a drenching rain mixed with pea-sized hail began pelting us. Down by the coast, the hail stopped, but the rain continued off and on all night.