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Just a meandering soul sharing my backyard. Visit my Flickr page too! www.flickr.com/photos/meanderingwa/

Saturday, November 26, 2011

At 60 MPH

You never know what you will see along the way!!!

Keep movin', movin', movin',

though they're disapproving,

Keep them dawwgies rollin', Rawhide!

Don't try to understand them,

Just rope and throw and brand 'em,

Soon we'll be living high and wide!

My heart's calculating,

My true love will be waiting,

Be waiting at the end of my ride.

Move 'em on, hit 'em up, hit 'em up, move 'em on

Move 'em on, hit 'em up, Rawhide

Cut 'em out, ride 'em in, ride 'em in,

let 'em out, cut 'im out, Ride on in, Rawhide!

H'yah! H'yah!

Turkey Trot

After a wonderful Thanksgiving meal, my mind turns to penance.  A day of sloth and eating, punctuated by a visit to work left me wanting to get out.  It was an amazing sunny day.  I was hoping for a hike that would put me in a little bit of snow at the highest point.  The snow level, however , had risen quite above 4000 feet and unless I wanted to go further inland I knew I would not easily find snow.

They say there are old hikers, and bold hikers, but no old bold hikers.  While this is not entirely true, I find myself erring on the side of caution when it comes to visiting areas I have not been before.  I don't feel comfortable going to a place I have never been in the season of rain washouts and snow.

I settled for a familiar place, Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park.  This 25,000 acre park is set between Bellevue and Issaquah, and just 20 minutes from my home when there is no traffic.  The trails are well marked and wind all over,  It seems you are never far from a trail junction, so folks of all ages and abilities can have a walk in the woods within their comfort level. 

I considered the map and chose a feature I had never seen before.  It was clear across the park from my parking area so out and back should be a nice healthy burner of calories.

This area supported many mining interests and you can still find open pits and caves.  These areas are well marked as toxic and have sturdy fences to keep you at a distance.  There is something about the graphic skull and crossbones, plus the toxic lungs of the fellow on the right

I featured this park last February and like then, there is a simple pleasure in our typical mixed woodlands.   I am participating in a Flickr group which requires posting a photo every day.  Every month we get an assigned color and the photo of the day must feature the target color.  This month is "rust".  I though it would be a challenging color but being forced to see, I find rust all around.

Must be due to all the rain.

The trails here are covered in Bigleaf Maple leaves.

I selected the route northbound, away from my usual favored trails and paid a visit to the old Nike Anti-Aircraft site.  You can read about it here.


There is nothing much left here except the footprint of cement sidewalks.  Now a cell tower makes use of the space.

I did find an old relic and when I saw it, had a chuckle as I realized how long it had been since I noticed such a thing.  I guess it puts me within reach of "relic" status.

in the trees near the Nike site, the remains of an old telephone pole with the climbing rebar.  Remember those?  Small irony that it was near the cellphone / microwave tower.

I trucked along enjoying the quiet.  Along the way I was reminded of dinner the night before...

Witches BUTTER  ( oh the glory of all things cow  butter cream cheese  ) 

Tremella mesenterica   actually a jelly fungus

And mushrooms of every shape and color.

The stump was my choice for my rust photo of the day.

These lichens caught my eye.  I am not sure which ones they are but I think they are in the Cladonia / pixie cup group

Cutting down through Tibbetts Marsh I again remembered that I want to visit this place during the blooming season to see what treasure can be found in this woodland marsh.  It was great hearing water running that was not that over topping the plugged gutter outside my window.  Creeks cut through this park and oven the trail runs above or over their courses.  Makes a pretty sound and one that simply relaxes and keeps you going along.

I finally reach my destination, the "Fantastic Erratic".

Humm you say, a rock

Such a rock; a boulder, a whopper.  Many of the hill and mountainsides are littered with these foreign visitors.

Carried here floating or embedded in glaciers, deposited as they retreated.  There are people on top of the erratic and a man walking past.

The Erratic is covered in ferns lichens and mosses.  Soils have built up from the leaf litter.  The ferns reminded me of green beans.  OK off the food thoughts

It is easily 15 - 20 feet up to the top from this side.  The bare base is colored with lichen.

And if you look closely you can see glacial etch lines where the stone was scoured as it was pushed along.

All though this park there are details to keep my eyes and mind busy.  This massive old trunk was easily 75 - 100 feet tall.  Filled with massive holes, I am sure it still serves as nesting perching and protection areas for birds and animals of all kinds.

These mushrooms were fresh and pliable.  One cluster appeared to be growing from a neat woodpecker hole.

I love this bridge, a cut log and handrails over the tumbling Coal Creek.

Leaves everywhere

Coal Creek Falls are the best of the many waterfalls in this park.  One could spend a solid day getting around to every one.  As it was my time walking was 4 hours.

By the way, left over green bean casserole makes a great variation of Barbudos.  I first had Barbudos in Costa Rica.  It was simply grilled green beans mixed into beaten eggs and cooked flat like a pancake.  Some recipes have you dipping the greenbeans then frying them in a cluster.  No matter,  I rewarmed some leftovers and topped them with the leftover egg white from the pecan pie I made.

No amount of walking is likely to atone for that pecan pie.

But oh, both walk and pie were mighty nice.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ketchup ~ Final Mountain Hike

Today, all the weather gurus tell us, is the last sunny, warm, get-out-and-enjoy-it day.

Then our long gray dreary season begins.  November is often exciting with high winds and even a chance of lowland snows.

A month ago I hiked one last time at elevation.  I knew that the season of snow at elevation was already here and I missed getting up to the Esmeralda Basin or back to the North Cascades.  I decided to finally get to the Kendall Katwalk once and for all.

Previously I have been turned back by very high winds or snows that persisted into late July.  This year the trail was closed much of the season due to downed trees.  So many trees down and roads washed out that the Forest Service was having a hard time getting everything open in a timely fashion.  The added restrictions against using gas powered equipment in the environment (why I am not sure) made for some delay.

But the way was now clear , the snows not predicted at this level for another week and the day...

Glorious Blue.  Way up there is Mt Kendall looking down at me in a large avalanche area.  All of the red is Blueberry and Huckleberry along with some Mountain Ash.  I picked berries, an interesting mix of sweet, tart and some even had a bit of fermented taste.  I made scones and they are tucked in the freezer to enjoy in the deep gloom of winter.

I roused plenty of Robins, Flickers and Varied Thrush gorging on these berries.  Many of them could barely fly a straight line as these late berries often make the birds a bit drunk. 

This is a great trail.  Much of it switchbacks out of the Snoqualmie Pass ski area and you stay in the woods until you cross this open area.  Back into the woods on the right, the next time you emerge from the woods you are way up and cross the foot of Mt Kendall in the rocky, stony meadows.  It is here you might meet some Mountain Goat or Pika.  Today there were a few Pika whistling but no large critters.

Gray Jays are always fun to encounter and I cannot resist giving into their cheeky nature.

You offer

they accept

The apple, we all aGREED, was very tasty.

I love getting on the trail early.  I can stop and enjoy the peace and not feel that I am blocking the progress of others as I poke and snoop and listen.

Plus early dew makes everything prettier

In the silence of the upper woods I heard some small toots and stopped.  I called, it called.  It has been a fantastic year and these toots were not one but two Saw-whet Owls.  I think I have heard and encountered more owls this year than many years combined.  I only had a fleeting glimpse of one of the birds flying.  They are only five inches long, shaped like a big pine cone.

I also found  where dynamite was used to clear the downed trees.  They were piled like pick-up-stix.  I suspect it would have been very dangerous for someone to try to saw these apart.  It is hard to appreciate how large these trunks are, some easily three feet across.

In the upper part of the trail, you pass through an area commonly called the Kendall Garden.  Wildflowers love these open slopes and there were still a few Harebells and paintbrush blooming.

  Red Mountain fills your eye as you make your way to the north side of Mt Kendall.

Today there was already a well trod layer of snow on the north slope of Kendall.  Last year this slope had packed snow three feet deep at the end of July which turned me back.  Nothing held me back this day.

The Kendall Katwalk was blasted out of solid granite and the legend of this path reads more exciting than the reality.  They talk about how narrow it is, but really it isn't.  There is a sign that requests people riding horses dismount and lead their horse across, once establishing that no one was on the walk.  Most of the guidebooks advise you should not cross the Katwalk if there is ice or snow.  This I certainly agree with.

Red Mountain framed by a granite window at the south entrance to the walk

Looking north on the walk

and looking back to the south from a vantage along the way.  You can appreciate the slope down from the walk.  Can you see the hiker in the red coat?

It was a glorious place for a sit down and lunch.  No wind, perfect view.  No bugs this late in the season.  My mind was filled with thinking about my berry spot.  I had sampled berries all along the way and felt the effort would be worth a slow trip down.

There were good berries here and sprinkly patches of snow.  Further down in elevation the sun had warmed everything perfectly I no longer needed gloves and hat.

This was the perfect end of season hike.  Now I must content myself with local hikes near sea level.  The Issaquah Alps permit a bit of snowy season hiking without encountering dangerous footing.  I hope my cold, which is now been with me 2 weeks is on its way to being gone and I can get back into the swing of things.

It is 5pm and the sun is officially down.  I am not use to this part of our yearly cycle yet.