Friday, October 28, 2016

Maxine's 2016 North Cascades Adventure Trek To Stehekin

What follows is Maxine's tale of this year's North Cascades trek to Stehekin...

We took a new route in to Stehekin this year, we wanted to take this trail last year but it was closed due to wildfires. We took the Thunder Creek/Park Pass route, the trailhead is at the Colonial Creek Campground and Mike dropped us off at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday the 6th of September.

I thought I could use my 25 liter pack but it was too small, so borrowed my sisters 36 liter pack and it was too small so I ended up borrowing a 60 liter pack from Skip. We all ended up carrying about 33 # each which doesn’t sound like much but it was heavy enough!!!!! and I used everything I brought.

The first day we hiked 14.8 miles to Skagit Queen Campground, the trail follows Thunder Creek and was up and down all day through a mossy forest. We saw a woman and her daughter about 20 minutes in to the trail (they had spent the night at Neve Campground) and then we didn’t see another person again until day 3 after we made it over the pass.


There were 3 of us, my friend Delyn and Skip and me. Skip has always wanted to hike in this trail; he has always been our fearless leader, when we crawl out of our tent in the morning there is always fresh coffee waiting, he makes sure we have the proper gear and our packs are loaded properly - that kind of a guy. He had colon cancer 3 years ago but is very fit, trim 5’4” 130# and has hiked in Bridge Creek and Cascade Pass since his surgery with no problem.

Skip was sick the whole first day on the trail and ended up so weak by the afternoon he was taking 10 steps and resting, 10 steps and resting. Delyn and I reached Junction Campground at 5 p.m. and thought we should spend the night there rather than go on but Skip wouldn’t have any part of it and insisted we hike on to Skagit Queen. I was ahead on the trail and kept thinking I would reach our campsite, get a nice fire going and hike back to help with the packs.

It kept getting darker and I had to put on my headlamp, I kept thinking the campground would be around the next bend and the next and the next. I reached the bridge crossing Skagit Queen Creek at 7:45 and waited for Delyn and Skip, After a half hour of waiting I started getting uneasy, had I taken the wrong path? Were they in trouble?

So I hiked back down the path, hollering as I went. They were about a mile back. Skip was even weaker. Skip’s GPS said the campground was very near the bridge, once we made it to the bridge Skip said leave me here, find the campground and come back and get me.

I insisted he leave his pack and that we all would find the campground together and I would go back and get his pack. The campground was another 10 minutes down the trail. We got there at 9:30 and set up our camp by head lamp.

I went back and got his pack, armed with Bear Spray. Skip was exhausted and went to bed without eating. Delyn and I made Top Ramen, hung our food in a tree and got into our sleeping bags at 11 p.m. Water was a 20 minute walk away down to the creek.  It started raining after we went to bed and was still raining the next morning.

We slept until 8:30, had a leisurely breakfast and hit the trail at 10:30. We passed ancient mining equipment and followed switchbacks bisected by a huge pipe used to divert Skagit Queen Creek long ago.

We were so tired from that first day, we stopped for lunch at 12:30 in an area strewn with huge boulders near a creek. We decided a hot lunch would be good so boiled water and had more Top Ramen. While we were eating Delyn saw a black blur, we all looked and sure enough it was a mother bear and 2 cubs. Big, beautiful and with glossy black coats. They couldn’t get away from us fast enough and scrambled over each other to get to the other side of the creek.

I am so glad they were scared!

We put on our ponchos and continued down the trail, up, up, up  and down, down, down.  We reached Thunder Basin Horse camp about 4:30. There is creek crossing there with no bridge, no tree to walk across or rocks to hop our way to the other side on so we had to wade across in water that reached midcalf.

We continued on and hiked out of the forest in to a meadow area, we can now see the pass and the trail leading across and it’s way up there. We stared up at it and figured “no way”. By now it’s 5 p.m., we’re soaked and cold. The underbrush is all wet blueberry bushes.

When Skip reaches us we tell him we think we need to spend the night at Thunder Basin and hike over tomorrow and he agreed. We set up camp in the rain, Skip went to bed to warm up and we passed a Mountain High Chicken and Dumpling meal in to him to eat. Hung up the food,

I had a cup of hot Tang and Delyn ate part of an ancient egg salad sandwich and we were in bed by 7. I put on nice warm socks and then went to pee and by the time I got back my socks were soaked. Fortunately I had one more pair of dry socks left. This was supposed to be an 8 mile day and I am sure we did only 5, maybe less.

You know you’re in trouble when you get a 10:30 start and take a hot lunch break 2 hours later.

The next morning the weather had improved, we packed up and were back on the trail by 8:30. The climb up to the pass was steep through woods and rock rubble, but no scary cliffs or drop offs. The whole time I have been anticipating scary drop offs.

We rested at the end of every switch back and reached the pass about 11 a.m. There were nice views of glaciers, mountain peaks and even a rainbow. The pass is 6100 feet and Delyn is nauseated.


Is it the altitude or the egg sandwich?

The sun was coming out on the east side and the east side drops down to a beautiful dry meadow.  We reached Buckner Campground ( our original destination for our 2nd night) after 4 ½ hours of hiking. We see a Park Ranger grooming the trail and then pass a young couple hiking up to the pass.

Skip and I are in the lead and Delyn hears them say “I wonder if those are the people that were supposed to stay at Buckner”. We take a lunch break at Buckner Campground, replenish our water and reach Bridge Creek Campground about 6:45 p.m. This is the meet up spot for 6 members of our group who are hiking to Stehekin via Cascade Pass. Only 2 members of the group are there, Ger and Barb.

This year I invited my cousin Frank and his wife Lynn to hike over to Stehekin. Lyn works with some of the other nurses that are part of this group and both Lyn and Frank are very outdoorsy and I thought they would enjoy the trip. Frank was a boy scout leader for years and they both are in shape and were excited to hike in. They invited a friend and her son to join them. Ger and Barb had talked to the Park Ranger just before we got there. Lyn had trouble walking on the rock scree and her knee was bothering her. Frank was carrying both packs, they were hiking less than a mile per hour. There was a park ranger at Pelton Basin rescuing someone with a heart attack and Frank and Lyn ask him to relay a message to Ger and Barb that they were moving slowly and would get to Bridge Creek late that night or the next morning.


The next morning, Ger and Barb and Skip head on to Stehekin Ranch. I decided to wait for Lyn and Frank and Delyn said she would wait with me. Frank and Lyn were moving so slowly that we figured we would need to spend one more night at Bridge Creek. Ger and Barb and Skip left all their leftover food with us. We settled in for a leisurely day, gathered firewood and cleaned up camp. Lay the tent and our bags out to dry.

At about 11 a.m. Lyn and Frank’s two friends came rushing in to camp. Frank had fallen and twisted his knee and couldn’t bear his weight. They thought we needed to get horses from the ranch and ride up to rescue them.

Then Colter, son of the ranch owner Cliff, showed up to replenish the tent. We told him we would clean up if he would take Lyn and Frank’s friends to the ranch to arrange for a horse rescue. Off they went, we gathered our gear and were back on the trail by 12:30. We made it to the ranch by 3. Cliff set off by horseback with two horses following him. He reached Lyn and Frank by dusk and spent the night on the trail with them. They got up at 5:30 a.m. and came out on horses, Cliff led the way and the horse he rode in on was used to haul their packs.

Lyn and Frank were fine, except for their knees. I heard the horse rescue cost $1,000.00 as opposed to a helicopter rescue of $50,000.00. I didn’t have the heart to ask. They were in good spirits, thank God! And enjoyed their stay at the ranch. We dipped in Lake Chelan the next day and one of our friends brought in blow up paddle boards and so I went paddle boarding for the first time. Had the best massage I’ve ever had in my life and then we hiked  out the Bridge Creek trail on Monday the 12th. We had mandolin and guitar music, it was a great time.

One good thing that happened is that Cottonwood camp that has been closed for years had just been reopened this year and Stehekin Outfitters had a big tent with cots set up there, so Lyn and Frank spent 2 nights there. They didn’t know that is was associated with the same outfit that provides the tent at Bridge Creek, just a fortunate coincidence. When Cliff showed up with the horses they thought they were going to have to move out of the tent because a paying customer had shown up.

My camera died on day one so I didn’t take many pictures. Fortunately Skip did so I will have pictures to show soon.

m

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Wade Hudson Family & Friends Picket Okanogan Courthouse For Justice

In January we blogged about Justice For Tonasket's Wade Hudson's Murder By Omak Cop.

A paragraph from that blog post for those not familiar with this particular crime...

On Saturday, September 26, 2015 33 year old Wade Hudson was brutally beaten to death in Omak, Washington by police person Shane Schaefer. Wade was murdered because he had a series of epileptic seizures from which he had not fully recovered and was not able to respond to the demands of this very aggressive, abusive killer in uniform. There is a civil law suit filed by Wade's parents against this murderer and a congressman helping to ask for an independent investigation into this death. The Omak, WA police agency has done an internal investigation and found the killer not guilty of murder. The evidence and witnesses do not support their decision. Please help us, Wade's family send this evil cop to prison and get him off the streets before he kills more innocent citizens for being very ill and disabled.

On Monday Wade Husdon's family and friends staged a demonstration in front of the Okanogan County Courthouse protesting the fact that the Okanogan county prosecutor has failed to prosecute police officer Shane Schaefer for the brutal beating of Wade Hudson who was having an epileptic seizure, which the ignorant police officer found threatening, apparently, and thus fatally beat Wade Hudson.

All caught on video.

The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle covered the Hudson Family Protest, as you can see, above, via the front page of the Tuesday, April 12, 2016 edition.

Slowly the wheels of justice turn. Sometimes too slowly....

Saturday, January 9, 2016

In 1963 Riding The Seattle Monorail To The Airport

My nephew, Jason, emailed me that which you see here.

Jason has always been a big fan of the Seattle Monorail. Jason has lost track of the number of times he has ridden the Monorail back and forth from Seattle Center to Westlake Center.

Way back when the Seattle Monorail first carried passengers, during the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, many assumed that the Monorail would be expanded, but that never happened, at least not by 2016, but not for lack of trying, including multiple ballot issues attempting to add to the Monorail line.

The caption under the drawing said "The Monorail as it might run to the airport." This was in the February 24, 1963 edition of the Seattle Times.

In 2016 you can not take a Monorail ride from Sea-Tac International Airport to Downtown  Seattle, but you can take light rail which sort of looks like the Monorail, and is elevated in some locations, from the airport to Downtown Seattle where you can exit the train at the Westlake Center station and ride an escalator up a few flights where you can board the Seattle Monorail to continue your journey to the Seattle Center.

Not quite what the Seattle Times envisioned way back in 1963....

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Justice For Tonasket's Wade Hudson's Murder By Omak Cop

On Friday, September 25, 2015, at the end of his first day on new job in Omak, Wade Hudson had a seizure. An ambulance was called which brought Wade to the Omak Hospital.

Wade's mom and dad soon drove from their hometown of Tonasket, to Omak, to see Wade.

They did not know, at the time, that that hospital visit would be the last time they saw Wade alive.

The next day Wade returned to his job, where he was told he was in no shape to work. What happened after that is not known for certain.

But, it is known that at some point on Saturday Omak police stopped to question Wade. What happened next is explained in the text above, which I will copy below....

On Saturday, September 26, 2015 33 year old Wade Hudson was brutally beaten to death in Omak, Washington by police person Shane Schaefer. Wade was murdered because he had a series of epileptic seizures from which he had not fully recovered and was not able to respond to the demands of this very aggressive, abusive killer in uniform. There is a civil law suit filed by Wade's parents against this murderer and a congressman helping to ask for an independent investigation into this death. The Omak, WA police agency has done an internal investigation and found the killer not guilty of murder. The evidence and witnesses do not support their decision. Please help us, Wade's family send this evil cop to prison and get him off the streets before he kills more innocent citizens for being very ill and disabled.

Wade's mom and dad still do not know, after all this time, what happened which brought Wade into contact with the Omak police. They got a call saying Wade was back in the hospital. And then another call telling them Wade's condition was so bad he was being flown over the mountains to Seattle's Harborview Hospital.

Where Wade died.

Please sign the Change.org petition asking that Washington State Attorney General, Bob Ferguson seek justice for Wade, his mom and dad, and daughter, Lavada.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Saturday's Deadly Washington Windstorm Knocks Down Trees Leaving Half Million Powerless

Yesterday a windstorm hit the Pacific Northwest, with gusts gusting into the over 60 mph range in the Puget Sound zone, while 80 mph wind was recorded on Destruction Island off the Olympic Peninsula.

Two people were killed in Western Washington. A 10 year old girl in Federal Way was killed by a wind blown tree branch. A Gig Harbor man was killed when a tree was blown over on his Subaru.

Almost half a million people were left without power. Many who did not lose power did lose their Cable TV connection, right when they were getting ready to watch the Seahawks play some football.

The photo above arrived in my email this morning, sent by Spencer Jack's dad, my favorite nephew Jason. A tree was blown over on to the Skagit River bridge which connects downtown Mount Vernon with West Mount Vernon.

Reading various news sources this morning it seems a bit unclear whether the windstorm and its accompanying rain helped stifle the wildfires. It would seem strong wind would fan the flames. But a good dose of rain might counteract the flame fanning.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Spencer Jack Tour Of Washington's Shrinking Skagit River

The rivers of the Pacific Northwest are overheating and drying up, killing off millions of fish; salmon, sturgeon, trout, due to the water being too warm and in short supply.

Today Spencer Jack takes us on a look at the incredibly shrinking Skagit River, in the Skagit Valley of Washington.

In the first picture Spencer Jack is standing on a sandbar in Mount Vernon. Under normal conditions Spencer Jack would not be able to stand at this location. He would need to be swimming.

Behind Spencer Jack, on the other side of what remains of the Skagit River is downtown Mount Vernon, with its iconic Tulip Tower, while towering over the Tulip Tower is Mount Vernon's Little Mountain.

Skagit River information which Spencer Jack sent along with the pictures....

The Skagit River measures just 10 feet at it's deepest location in Mount Vernon.   Believed to be a 60 year low.  Typical lows don't normally occur until mid-September, 30 plus days from now.

More of Spencer Jack's look at what is now known, for now, as Skagit Creek....


Above Spencer Jack is in Mount Vernon, on the west side of the river.


Above we are on the east side of the Skagit River, showing some water, looking at the Riverside Bridge which connects west and east Mount Vernon.


Here Spencer Jack has driven to the Burlington side of the Skagit River, where he is waving at us on Young's Bar, usually not a location for casual beach driving.


Above Spencer Jack has walked away from his car to take a picture, looking west, across the new Young's Bar Sand Highway.


We conclude with Spencer Jack standing under the railroad bridge crossing that crosses over Young's Bar. Again, under normal conditions Spencer Jack would need to be swimming at this location.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Chris & Jeremy Safely Exploring The Big Four Ice Caves

What with Washington's Big Four Ice Caves being in the news, for a deadly reason, with one person killed and several injured, after ignoring the warning signs indicating entering the Ice Caves was not safe in warm, let alone, hot weather, I thought I'd share some photos of a safe, winter, frozen visit to the Ice Caves with my nephews, Christopher and Jeremy.

This hike to the Ice Caves took place back in the early 1990s.

Winter is a safe time  to visit the Ice Caves. In late Spring the Spring Thaw brings about new Ice Caves as melting chunks of ice crash down from the steep cliff above, creating a spectacular attraction which attracts a lot of onlookers to look at the cascading chunks of ice  and listen to the explosive cracks of ice.

This pile of ice later morphs into the Ice Caves, becoming safe to enter with the return of freezing in Winter.

The Ice Caves are never safe in Summer. Just look at the below pictures of Chris and Jeremy in the Ice Caves and imagine being so foolish to do on a HOT summer day.

One my Washington website's Cascade Mountains webpage there is a good description of the Ice Caves....

Ice Caves
There is a road called the Mountain Loop Highway that goes from Darrington to Granite Falls. This road is in the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest. It is the way to Glacier Peak which is one of the 5 volcanoes in Washington, and the least known and most difficult to get to. The Mountain Loop Highway is very close to the lowlands of Puget Sound and is easy to get to and closer than going up to the ski areas on Stevens or Snoqualmie Pass in search of snow to play on. There are many attractions on the Mountain Loop Highway, Mount Pilchuck, Granite Falls (the actual falls, not the town),  Monte Christo, an old mining town which is now a ghost town and a major mountain biking and hiking destination in summer and a cross country skiing destination in winter. But the most unique thing on the Mountain Loop Highway may be the Ice Caves which form every year as the winter's accumulation of snow that has slid off the mountain forms caves as water erodes the ice away. The Ice Caves are about a mile hike from the Highway. There are warning signs. 'Enter the Ice Caves at your own Risk', 'Ice Caves Dangerous on Warm Days'. People have died in the Ice Caves.

In the following three photos we go inside the Ice Caves with Chris and Jeremy.






Above you are looking at Chris and Jeremy looking at HUGE chunks of ice which fell from the Ice Caves during the previous Summer's melting phase. Again, why would anyone ignore the multiple warning signs and enter the Ice Caves on a warm July day?