Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hannegan Peak August 2011

Hannegan Peak  All the details on this hike can be found at this site, including pictures.
However, my personal experience of the peak was enhanced by Leif Swanson, neighbor and fellow hiker.
We hit the trail before seven, the overnight campers at the trailhead still had sleepy voices rumbling from their sleeping bags, the sun slanting only across the peaks of the nearby mountains.
All those peaks had names and most of them were summated in the past by Leif. He was the proverbial fountain of information.  Leif was also scouting the trail for his wife, Heather, a horse packer for the National Parks. We weren’t that far up the trail before Leif decided that it wasn’t the downed trees or narrow twisted stream crossings the would be a problem for a string of horses but the fields of snow that were still in abundance across the trail.
The snow was hard, ice like, difficult to kick your foot into to get a grip. Leif encouraged me to mentally put my mind into my footing and physically how to carry an ice axe and then to use it to self arrest when my head went elsewhere and I started to slip and fall.
We passed on climbing Mt Ruth when we got to Hannegan Pass. We tried but without crampons I could see myself sliding into oblivion with or without an ice axe. Hannegan peak was the obvious choice.
The peak itself stands in the middle of a ring of higher mountains with a number of valleys dropping away from its flanks. Leif had a story for almost everyone of them, of climbs past and trail info of which headwater winds up in what river system.
With our early start we didn’t see any other hikers or black flies till we were about half way down. Leif was able to point out the type and quality of the trail work as we went along. An unused blast hole and the shattered remains of one used to break up a boulder blocking the trail. The difference between a water bar and check dam to protect the trail from runoff, and some intricate rock work almost hidden under moss and detritus.
Wild flowers were in abundance in the open areas, glacier lilies lifting their yellow petals right through the snow. Each slope, depending on its solar orientation, had its own set of dominant flora. Most of the stands of huckleberries we passed through had hardly leafed out at all causing me to wonder if they would get a chance to fruit at all.
We saw a bear below us the valley, a big one but non threatening. I can’t imagine there was much to eat but grass and leaves. But even more interesting was the marks of a porcupine on the bark of a newly fallen tree. The teeth marks were at various levels, which as Leif pointed out, were made as the porcupine returned to the same branch as the snow levels dropped.
For a ten mile hike I learned a lot. I also discovered a few things on my own. I had overlooked taking a hat and sun glasses. The reflection of the sun on the snowfields was unpleasant almost painful and I was glad the crossings were not too long. Surprisingly I ate and drank everything I carried. Between the plodding on the icy snow and the duration of the hike my energy and water consumption was more than it would have been had I been running on a snowless trail.
Fortunately Chair Nine, a new restaurant and bar, was twenty minutes down the road. An aptly named Elysian IPA frothy pint full of tasty flanvanoids hastened my recovery.

Neskowin July 2011

Alison’s family has a rich tradition of gathering at a funky resort at the little town of Neskowin Oregon the last weekend of July. I’ve been there maybe 5 times already.
Most of the old vanguard has passed, Alison’s Aunt, Annie Lousy, as she is called is the last one, frail enough to require a full time care person to come to the “beach” with her.
Friday night is Mexican night for the Allen section of the family and Saturday evening is a big potluck and group pictures of everyone. Sunday morning is a drawn out affair of lengthy goodbyes and standing around the parking lot.
BUT the rest of the weekend, the daylight hours, are spent on the beach – except of course Saturday morning, early. A group goes golfing and the others who aren’t sleeping in, meet in the parking lot in preparation for a hike/run up Cascade Head.
Cascade Head isn’t a long hike, it’s just up. Stair stepping through a Sitka Spruce forest and on to long switchbacks through hilly meadows only to arrive breathlessly at the top to a grand view south along the Oregon coast way down below.

Only this year was a bit different. Great views of the ocean and the beaches to the south as we left the forest but the top was socked in, windy and a bit too cold for me in my T-shirt and running shorts. We stayed long enough for a group picture but we high tailed it out of there as fast as the slope and rocky trail would let us.
The main event of course was the beach and the surf.


First Day of Crab Season July 15

Were you ready? I wasn’t. Friday afternoon found me a bit behind. No crab pot or fishing license. I pulled it all together though and the pot was down in Chuckanut Bay at 5:15 PM.

High overcast skies and calm seas, I luxuriated by just bobbing around near Teddy Bear Cove. My day had been full of shoveling gravel so I was content to drift and not paddle for exercise.

For entertainment, aside from watching the motor craft zoom around checking their pots, I was plunking a baited crab catcher with cables to snare crabs. I had this attached to a short fishing pole, the line dangling in about 30 feet of water.

Crabs were curious about it all right, good old chicken parts attracts them every time. I caught a few but realized I wasn’t willing to drop the crabs between my legs and the bucket I brought was the wrong one and wouldn’t fit in the cockpit very well. I let a couple of tasty critters go.

Surprisingly enough a 3 foot dog fish (shark) got entangled in the snare and put up quite a fight. I didn't have a fish bonker to kill it nor a knife to free it so I had to sort of play with it to loosen the snare.

The shark manage to get the snare behind is pectoral fin and wasn’t happy. He splashed a lot and got me all wet. They have a row (or two) of razor sharp teeth and a stinger on their back so grabbing the thing was out of the question. The water was clear so I could see that I was making headway or tailway I shoud say and he finally slipped through the noose.

Shortly after that  a good sized tour boat came by closer than I would have liked. No one was out on the deck looking at the view, there were just a bunch of old people sitting down inside feeding their faces. I could have mooned them and no one would have noticed. The idea of mooning someone from a kayak is a rather humous thought, since so much could go wrong doing it.

Then the weather changed and I hadn't paid attention because I was too busy releasing MR Razor Sharp Teeth and laughing at myself and my stupid ideas. I quickly pulled the crab pot and made it back to where I had parked the car just as it began to really rain.

I only had two keepers but that's OK, they are always the best fresh. Alison had the water boiling when I came home so I plunked them in and we finished them off before we went to bed. Can't get much fresher than that.