Little Mashel Falls

We tried this hike again and were better prepared. We headed out earlier this time and because of the heat, we left the dogs home in the air conditioning. We carried our water and had some snacks back at the truck. There was only one other car in the parking lot when we pulled in and parked. I hooked my water bottle to my camera backpack and swung the backpack on my shoulders. Mitch brought one of his hunting canteens filled with water and strung it on his belt, (old school guy, super functional). After getting our meager gear on, we headed out up, the gravel road, hopefully to find a waterfall.

The morning was warming up as we walked along. The route was poorly marked, with a coupled of letter size pieces of paper in clear sleeves and hand-written word, “Falls” and an arrow pointing up the road. Someone spent big bucks on the signage. We came upon on a large rock that someone or someone(s) spray painted letters on next to a small gravel path. We walked on passing the rock thinking there had to a better marked path ahead. After walking another mile and a half, we decided we had gone too far and turned back.

We walked back to the large graffiti rock and headed down the path, twisting and winding our way into the woods. We walked along a couple of switchbacks, then came to a rather steep dirt path down the hill. The path was steep enough my knees and shins hurt, and my toes were jammed against the end of my shoes. I tried walking back and forth across the trail to lessen the steep descent. I kept thinking that this was looking like a potential AFLAC claim.

At one point we came up on a fork in the trail. Do we go to the right and up or do we continue down and to the left? We chose down and to the left. At one of many forks and some narrow steep ways to continue, we turned to the right and headed on that path. We spotted the falls through the trees and looked a way to get closer without doing a header off the side of the trail.

We found another narrow path that had some trees close enough and small enough I could hold on to for support, that led to the base of the falls. As I walked up on a huge boulder to get a better shot of the falls, I looked down to the next lower boulder and discovered a couple having a moment. Lucky me, I finally find the waterfall and now I’m a voyeur in a porno flick. They looked up at me, so I waved and turned away. Of course, they had the best spot for getting full on frontal pictures of the waterfall.

I had to content myself with side shots, from a few different angles. After taking a few photos, we headed back up the trail, retracing our steps. I was so looking forward going up the near vertical trail, (not). After nearly eight miles we were back at the truck, tired but we found a waterfall. Not the truly majestic one I’m still searching for, that is still out there waiting.

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Woefully Unprepared

Summer in the Pacific Northwest is as close to perfect as you can get. Sun, sun and more sun, the days are sunny and clear, humidity is almost non-existent, daytime highs are in the eighties, to low nineties and lows are in the high fifties, to low sixties. This year we are trying to coordinate our schedules to get more time for outings, hiking, kayaking and searching out my dream vistas.

Thursday the plan was to rent kayaks at a lake that was close to us and do some paddling around. After a convoluted call to the rental shop, the guy at the shop said that the owner called in to say he wasn’t feeling well and wasn’t going to open the store that day so he was going to have to call all of the people that had already reserved kayaks and paddle boards to let them know the store was not going to open. I thought wow what a way to run a business and figured it was probably for the best that we didn’t try and use one of their kayaks.

We decided to go hiking instead. I searched around for a hike that wasn’t too far away, since we were going with plan B and getting a late start. I found a hike south about thirty miles away, a forty-five-minute drive that was reported to have three waterfalls. We thought the dogs would enjoy tagging along so we added extra water for them too and headed out. I should have packed some snacks but didn’t think about it. (Poor planning on my part)

Following the directions to Little Mashel Falls, we arrived at an access point on the side of the road that looked really sketchy, with a couple of cars parked that looked like someone lived in them and were not mobile. There was no marked trailhead, so I got out of the car (really smart idea) and walked along the edge of the woods to see if there was a path. I found a narrow path leading off into the woods and walked in a few feet to check out the trail. It looked feasible, but there was a lot of trash around, like a bunch of slobs had been through. I walked back to the car, leashed up the dogs and we headed off down the creepy trail.

We hiked in about fifty feet when we came up on a steep path down to a train trestle. There was even a rope tied to a tree as a hand hold to get down the path without face planting at the bottom. Mitch and Royal headed off down the steep embankment, and I looked at Orso and thought there was no way we would be able to get the dogs back up that path if it was the only way in and out. I wasn’t even too sure I would be able to get myself back up let alone going down without filing an Aflac claim. I called to Mitch and told him that this was not a good idea and let’s look for a better trail down. He and Royal made it back up with some effort and we headed out looking for a better descent trail. We came up one a man just standing on the trail looking off into the distance and said without turning around, “The next trail over has a better access.” Creepy, where did he come from?

We turned around and headed back to where the car was parked and looked for a better access point. Right by the van that was parked there and looked like it was not mobile, was a sign that said, NO TRESPASSING! Property of the Railroad. Too bad we didn’t see that sign first. We loaded the dogs back up in the car and put in a different description in my phone, hoping for a better spot.

We found a better access point, actually a park with a real parking lot and a gravel path and markers with real directions. Imagine that. What a difference a better description makes in my phone. We headed off down the trail noting the sign that said 4.8 miles. We hoped that meant round trip. The sun was shining, and the day was warming up. And we forgot the water, it was still in the cooler in the back of the car, (really stupid). We thought that once we got there, the dogs cold get in the water and cool off.

At the halfway point, we realized the 4.8-mile sign was one-way and the dogs were getting too hot. Orso was panting and struggling, I was even getting tired, lugging my camera backpack. So, we decided we had not planned well at all, and were stupid pet owners. We turned back and headed back to the car. No waterfalls today.

Next time I promise to do a better job planning and packing for a day hike. I will even read all of the trail description, not just the highlights.

Chasing Waterfalls and the Coast

A couple of weeks ago we decided to buzz over to the Olympic Peninsula and search for some waterfalls. There is a waterfall road trip that loops highway 101 starting on the east side of the Peninsula goes north to the Strait of Juan De Fuca and turns south to drive along the Pacific Ocean coast for a while. We took the dogs, so we couldn’t go into the National Park, but we could go into the National Forest, so we drove west and found a couple of waterfalls in the Olympic National Forest, then drove up the coast and found a beautiful beach.

We barely scratched the surface and as soon as we have a couple of days to explore we’ll go again.

I’ve Learned My Lesson

I’ve always loved gardening, planting plants and seeds then watching them grow. Playing in the dirt is relaxing and hard work at the same time. Dirt and plants don’t talk out loud to you, don’t ask questions or care how you look and are just content to have you pay attention to them. Since moving to the Pacific Northwest from the Midwest, I’ve learned a lot about the way plants grow here. I’ve read books and talked to Master Gardeners. I’ve paid attention to the weather patterns, discovering that while everyone believes it rains every day here, it doesn’t. Our late falls, winters and springs are wet and rainy, but come summer and the tap turns off, this year with a vengeance. At present counting, we are at fifty-six days with no rain, a new record. I decided to plant a huge raised bed garden for vegetables and fruits.

I drew up plan for a large garden area with eight raised beds, four – five foot by ten foot raised beds and four – five-foot square raised beds and Mitch built them. Pretty ambitious I know, but I hadn’t had a garden in two years and was itching to play in the dirt. Well I got my wish and boy did I ever get things to grow. I was warned by experienced gardeners to be very careful when planting, because everything grows well here.

I planted one of the small beds with cucumber seeds and at first, I was disappointed at the small spindly little plants. Silly me, I just needed to be patient. The raised bed is overflowing with a tangled web of cucumber vines, hiding cucumbers that seem to grow over night.

I planted one of the large beds with strawberry plants, almost all came from my neighbor, and now I must go out every day and stick the runners back in the bed, because they’ve covered the bed and are trying to colonize my other beds. I planted three rows of green bean seeds and have already picked four buckets full of green beans and more are growing.

I bought a seed packet of zucchini seeds and a packet of summer squash seeds. Growing success is a gross understatement, because I have one five foot by ten foot raised bed covered from end to end with three and a half foot tall plants and am picking five and six zucchini a day, that doesn’t include the six to eight squash I find hiding under the giant leaves every day.

I have been scouring Pinterest and Facebook for zucchini recipes. I have been thinking of writing a cookbook and now I can write a whole chapter on just zucchini and squash recipes. I’ve frozen six bags of zucchini and squash, have learned to make zucchini spaghetti, zucchini tots and zucchini fries. I swear my hair is getting a green tint to it.

I’ve given so much zucchini and squash away to my neighbors that now if they see me coming with or without anything in my hands, they run inside and close the curtains, until I go by.

I’ve learned my lesson, next year I will buy two zucchini plants and maybe one squash plant. You don’t have to hit me over the head with a zucchini.

Oh Come on Now – Enough is Enough!

Mother Nature is having a huge laugh at our expense and I’ve had enough. It is the middle of May for god’s sake and I’m still wearing an insulated jacket when I walk the dogs. Oh and did I mention the jacket has a hood, because we are having the wettest spring on record. That matched our winter, which was the wettest on record, too. Yada, yada, yada. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and in the Midwest, that is the date to plant your hot weather vegetables and tomatoes. Here, I’m still hardening off my tomatoes so they don’t wither and die at night when the temperatures dip into the forties.

Well enough is enough! I am so ready for some warmer weather, not asking for nineties, I don’t want that, but some seventy degree days are desperately needed and sunshine. I need some sunshine! I would even settle for the mid-sixties if I could have the sun out too. I have so much yardwork to do, but every time I get ready to head out, I look outside and it’s raining, again. All the native Washingtonians tell me that this is so unusual and they are getting tired of all the chilly wet weather too.

Well Mother Nature, enough is enough, come on, you’ve had a good laugh and have reminded us all you are in control, not us. It’s time to move on, go inland, go out to sea, I don’t care, just go play your pranks someplace else. I have eight raised beds and all I have planted so far is a bed of strawberries and a bed with three blueberry bushes. I have green beans, zucchini and cucumber seeds I need to get in the ground, not to mention the tomatoes.

And I’m haven’t even mentioned mowing yet. I could mow my yard twice a week, if I was so inclined. All my neighbors mow their lawns one to two times a week, but not me, I don’t care that much about it. I like my grass a bit taller than everyone else around here. If you were to compare our yards to a golf course, my neighbors’ yards look like the putting green and my yard looks like the rough. It hides the weeds.

It’s enough to make me drink, oh wait, I already drink.

Hiking at Fort Steilacoom

Today we went on a quick hike at Fort Steilacoom. The place is a bit deceiving at first glance. As we pulled into the parking lot I was disappointed. There were baseball diamonds, soccer fields, a playground and a paved walking trail. I thought here we go again, another boring “unscenic” walking path. Where were the vistas?

We walked along on the path and noticed some people off in the distance that were not on the paved path. We cut across the field and found some dirt trails that led us off into the woods. The deeper we got into the woods, the more serene and beautiful it got.

We plan on going back in the future to do more extensive exploring.

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The Word on the Street

I like to think that I am in tune with the local inhabitants here and well versed in the street slang. I hear what is being said about us among the locals and it’s not pretty. In fact, it’s downright degrading.

Every morning I get up at four am feed Orso and take him for a walk. It’s always dark on our first walk of the day and normally no one else is about. We do run into the creatures of the night, deer, raccoons and rabbits, all of which cause Orso to stand up straight, lunge at the interloper and bark loudly. Each time he does this, I usually have to have my shoulder put back in place after being yanked sharply. I truly believe my left arm is two inches longer than my right arm.

And every time he barks loudly at 4 in the morning, I whisper sharply to him, “Shh, people are sleeping, shh.”

I’ve been working hard with Orso to just ignore the offending creature; may it be deer or rabbit. He still stiffens his body and gives a halfhearted leap when he spots a rabbit, but he is doing better at not barking. He looks at me right after he lunges at a rabbit to say, “look I’m trying, but it’s not fair, chasing rabbits is what I do.”

Well now that I have gotten Orso to not give chase, the offending rabbit doesn’t move. The other day we were on our morning constitutional when on our return Orso’s ears when stiff and erect, giving me warning that there was something was ahead. Sure enough about twenty-five feet ahead of us on the same side of the street, was a rabbit just sitting there watching our approach. As we got closer, Orso got more alert and readied himself for the attack. Still the rabbit just sat there, not moving.

I decided that the better decision was to cross the street hoping to avoid a trip to the emergency room and an Aflac claim. The stupid rabbit did not move, just sat there waiting motionless, taunting Orso. Even as we drew closer and were directly across from the rabbit, the rabbit didn’t move, just watched us walk on by.

Yeah, I hear the word on the street, “The short human won’t let the giant brown menace chase us, we’re good.”

Do you have any idea how degrading it is to not be feared by rabbits? What a bunch of punks.