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  • Archive for October, 2012

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    On Sunday we dug up our sweet potatoes at the community garden, the last plot we had still growing there. It was a bit sad to leave but it felt right to be leaving. We grew a lot there in the year we spent at the garden but I know we’ll be growing a lot more at our garden at the house in the future.

    The sweet potato harvest was pretty good, though at first we were a bit doubtful. We kept pulling out the smaller, thickened roots but were finally rewarded with good sized potatoes. The smaller roots and pieces we are keeping for ‘seed’ for next summer’s crop. The rest of the potatoes will be stored and eaten throughout the winter. I’m kind of wondering how long they will last knowing that we do try to eat what we harvest pretty quickly. Next year I think we should plant at least two beds of sweet potatoes.

    I have to say, harvesting these potatoes made me curious about growing ‘real’ potatoes. Next year…next year.

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    The elephant ears line the pond in the area.

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    Chasmanthium latifolium

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    Spanish moss

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    Blue mist flower, Conoclinium coelestinum

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    Bidens laevis

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    Bushy blue-stem, Andropogon glomeratus
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    This little pond is across the street from our house. Would love to explore these woods but I’m unsure who owns them.

    Pre-cold front the air was humid and thick, temperatures in the mid to high 80s. Post cold front the air is crisp in the mornings and evenings, days are mild and pleasant, skies are stark and blue. Enjoyable…

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    Salvia is one of those plants in which I could have a bed of many varieties and species…much like passiflora, brugmansia/datura, tomatoes, and probably too many other plants to name. I’ll take one of each please!

    Take in the spring of 2012.

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    I may or may not be still working through photos I took in Austin last spring. Yeah…. I love milkweeds not only because of their host food abilities for monarch caterpillars but because they are just a beautiful native plant to grow.

    A great Texas milkweed website for reference.

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    Chris’ big goal for the hike was to see goats. He was so excited about seeing them and he got his wish. They came out of the woodwork as soon as we started slowing down to look for a campsite. I swear they smelled us several hundred yards away and knew that humans equaled food and/or salt. At one point at our campsite there were six or seven goats hanging around, most were moms with their kids. A couple of times they eased themselves a little too close, causing us to shoo them away. I was expecting the marmots or chipmunks to be pesky, not the goats!

    Pesky or not, they sure were adorable!

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    Climbing up Aasgard Pass was slow going, taking us about three hours to get up to the top. For the first third of the trail cairns marked the path somewhat clearly. I was leading, and somewhere near the middle of the climb I started having difficulties following the trail as the path became more scree-like instead of boulders. It didn’t help that there were smaller cairns that sometimes lead in different directions. A couple of times we slid a bit, causing us to halt in our steps and steady ourselves.

    Around the two-thirds-of-the-way mark I heard sounds but couldn’t see anyone. I looked up and to the left and found rock climbers hoisting themselves up the side of the mountain. Rock climbing is something that I think sounds fun and adventurous but then I find my sanity and realize that I’m perfectly happy hiking. I’m sure they had some spectacular views though!

    Multiple times we found ourselves eyeing false summits, becoming too hopeful that we were almost there. Our first first mountain goat sighting came at a small creek and waterfall where a group of male backpacker had stopped to take a break, a green area in the midst of the rocks. It was a sign of goats to come….

    On the last leg of the climb up we came upon a mom and adult daughter moving slowly. The mom was having a difficult time and sometime shortly after our encounter I heard the daughter tell the mother that we had somewhere around 500′ to go. That’s not 500 linear feet, that’s 500 vertical feet. If it was 500 linear feet oh how fast that would have gone, but 500 vertical feet is more time consuming. It was here we had boulders to climb up and around, pulling ourselves up to get to the next part of the trail.

    Finally, finally, we found the top. The air was crisp and the terrain was something I have definitely not hiked in before. The rocks and peaks were jagged, glaciers and snow were tucked in the shady crevices, and below the peaks were chilly lakes, some still half frozen or with miniature icebergs floating around.

    Chris found himself with a headache and we were both running out of water so we made a beeline for the first lake we saw which was Tranquil Lake. Beyond it was Isolation Lake with the peak of Little Annapurna behind it. Likely the closest I will get to anything bearing the name Annapurna. I dug in my pack for the ibuprofen for his headache and got the Aquamira drops ready for the water. I ate a snack, took some photos and Chris snoozed for a few minutes. The day seemed late but we still had several hours of sunlight left. The casting of shadows by the mountain helped create the impression of early evening instead of late afternoon.

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    Chris’ headache eased, so we packed up to find one of the designated campsites. Supposedly there were privies at these campsites and since there wasn’t a lot of cover for ducking behind a tree the idea of a privy sounded nice. We weren’t far from the first campsite and while it was a decent spot, we couldn’t find the privy despite a sign pointing in the general direction we searched for. Later we realized they are almost hidden in plain sight, which I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to use a privy in plain sight.

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    Deciding to pass on the campsite we opted to continue walking along the chain of lakes until we found something suitable for camping. Many times we found ourselves walking through well packed but slick snow, and eventually down an area that I only guess was really a glacier. Snow melt and water from the upper lakes made its way down through streams that flowed beneath the glaciers, snow and ice. We got a peek here and there of the water where it has eroded the snow and several places I envisioned great photo vignettes, however I didn’t stop to take any photos.

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    The walk along the lakes is gently downhill from the top of Aasgard Pass. The trail goes straight across what would be lakes or streams had they been completely melted. At times we precariously put one foot in front of the other on the packed snow trail ahead of us, poles testing out areas in front of us as we made our way down. A couple late dayhikers were still heading from the other entrance to the Enchantment Lakes, working their way towards going down Aasgard Pass. I spotted at least two people on the other side of the lakes camping but still we continued on until we reached an area we thought would be good for camping. Part of the reason we stopped was because we saw two mountain goats crossing the snow and ice covered lake, heading towards our side of the lake.

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    They trotted over like they owned the place and knew what we had—salt on our clothes, packs and bodies as well as food. Despite being cute in appearance, they were still wild animals so we kept our distance safe. We watched and talked to the goats for awhile before deciding to stake out our place for the evening. Our stomachs were grumbling and it was time for dinner.

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    Our spot ended up being above Crystal Lake which was just down below and to the south. We were soon joined by upwards of six-ish goats throughout the evening, especially when we broke out the food.

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    Next we had to figure out how to hang our food because alpine trees are kind of stunted. We found a decent tree but it took two of us to get the food pulled up high enough after we considered that the goats would easily stand on their hind legs and reach the food.

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    McClellan Peak in the far background…this perspective shows it hiding a bit.

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    My Marmot hat…still going 3,300+ miles later….love this hat!

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    This male joined us for a long time during our dinner and post-dinner bedtime readying. Chris stayed up for awhile attempting to get some sunset shots and thinking about setting up the camera for nighttime star shots while I read in the tent for awhile. Something I really enjoy while hiking is that the only thing I can do creatively is to read. I can whip through books easily during our breaks throughout the day or spending an hour at the end of the day. It was something I really enjoyed while on the Appalachian and Florida Trails because I often don’t take that time in my daily life just to sit and read.

    Tomorrow…more goats.

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    At the junction of the Stuart Lake trail and the trail that leads to Colchuck Lake we stopped on a rock to take a break. The walk from the Mountaineer Creek had left the shade of the forest and began winding its way up the side of the mountain. Overall not difficult but the heat was rising. Despite the northwest having a reputation for being rainy and cloudy, we came during a week or sunshine and temperatures upwards of 100* in the valleys and 80s and 90s in the mountains. We sat eating a snack, fending off a sneaky chipmunk and then meeting several groups of hikers, including two women in their 60s.
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    We crossed the creek once more and found ourselves winding around a small boulder field before returning to the trail which continued its general way upwards. Along the way we played leap frog with the two women. The so-called leader of the group managed to pull ahead of the weaker woman who had to stop several times along the way. When we caught up to the leader we let her know her partner had taken a break. She stopped to talk with us for a bit letting us know that we shouldn’t get old if we could help it. It seemed all of her hiking partners were slowly falling away, either to ailments, death or lack of interest. So, hike while you can!

    While we were doing fairly decent for lack of hiking shape, we were still passed by folks doing a ‘thru’ of the Enchantments in a day. Carrying small daypacks, they jetted up the trail ahead of us and we never saw them again. We also saw people coming down, those who’d started on the other end of the trail. These folks must have been up early!

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    And then finally we reached the ‘top’, or what would be a nice break from going up for a mile or so, as we would be walking nearly ‘flat’ around the side of the lake. We came to the north end of Colchuck Lake which offered up a beautiful lake that with the heat of the day I felt I could just jump right in! The peak on the right is Dragontail Peak and the dip to the left is Aasgard Pass, our destination after lunch and what would take us to the Upper Enchantments. Aasgard Pass is a nearly one mile hike filled with scree, boulder, rocks and a lot of elevation gain packed into that mile.
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    It doesn’t look so bad from here, but it really is a slow going hike. Running down the middle is a stream and waterfall while a trail marked with cairns runs along the east side of the pass. It is pretty easy to lose track of it too!

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    We made our way around to the south side of Colchuck lake to a nice beach for lunch. We took a leisurely lunch, napping in the sun, before packing up and making our way up Aasgard Pass.

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    There were a lot of great looking campsites along this stretch of trail but we were bound for much better sites!
    Onward…Upward!

    Yesterday I spent practically the entire day working in the yard. Having been gone for several weekends in a row it was time to get some work done. And the title of this post…well, I was pretty filthy when I finally came in shortly after 6pm yesterday. I had arm rings, neck rings, dirt covering my legs and feet; I was awesomely filthy! All the filth was well worth it as I ticked off items on my to-do list.

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    This photo is really for Chel because it shows our nasturiums coming up in our front flower bed. They are coming along nicely and I hope they take over the bed throughout the winter until spring bedding plants can be put in. I don’t really like the yucca but I’m planning a succulent/cactus bed in the hopefully not-too-far future, so hopefully I can move those out of this bed eventually.

    I also planted a ton of bulbs in this bed which I’m hoping will become a plethora of blooms come spring.

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    This guy has been having too much fun with the Shumard Oak that we planted a couple of months ago. I’m hoping that this damage isn’t going to kill the tree. I also found evidence of the buck rubbing against our weeping cypress.

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    One of the interesting things about our yard has been the abundance of fungus that pop up. It doesn’t even have to rain and a new fungus springs up from the ground.

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    We’ve been planting azaleas around some of our pine trees but we opted for the Turk’s Cap hibiscus around one of the trees. I am definitely open to purchasing another color for another tree, such as pink or white.

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    Before I was able to mow the yard I had to go around and pick up pieces of wood and debris that we haven’t picked up since we started felling the dead pine trees. We have been avoiding mowing that area but it was starting to drive me crazy so I spent a couple of hours moving wood into burn piles. I was pleasantly surprised when I bent down to pick up some wood and found a patch of Spiranthes orchids growing. I looked around a little more in that area and found others. Later on as I was mowing the rest of the yard I found other patches and managed to avoid those areas.

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    I like how little unexpected natives are finding themselves in my yard!

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    The pond is lit up in yellow right now with what I think is Bidens laevis lining the shore.

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    Also blooming is the climbing hempvine, Mikania scandens, spreading itself along the ground and over some of the plants along the edge of the pond.

    I still have a lot to work on in the yard, but I’m glad I spent some time to try to tame a bit of the wildness. This week I need to start more seeds in anticipation for spring.

    What is going on in your yard or garden? Oh, come to Sprout Dispatch and see my oakleaf hydrangea!

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    There is one thing this trail area was not short on and that was beautiful light peeking through the canopy and filtering onto the forest floor. Everywhere I turned there was something beautiful to look at, to soak in, and wish I could bottle up forever.

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    Decadent. Stunning. Gorgeous. And Simple.

    All you need is a bit of the outdoors.

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    We had a long drive ahead of us as we had to leave the Olympic Peninsula and head to Wenatchee National Forest but that didn’t deter us from making a stop or two before completely leaving the Olympics. I *may* have been a little too excited to have picked up Canadian radio stations….I mean, Canada was right there.

    Wanting a short but scenic hike we chose the Barnes Creek Trail to Marymere Falls for its nearness to the road due to our time constraints.

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    The trail itself is flat until shortly after crossing the creek and then it is a decent ‘up’ but it is well graded and not difficult for those in any amount of shape. A lot of people came and went and not many stayed while we were there. I wanted to just pull up a chair and read for the rest of the afternoon.

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    The little stone beach there would have been a great place to to explore, but I thought it was quite obvious by the railing that the park didn’t want anyone beyond the trail. That didn’t seem to stop a college-aged couple from going over and exploring. There weren’t signs not to go, but still, I wasn’t too keen on their being there.

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    I really wanted to see what was above the falls. I may have pretended I had monkey abilities and could climb up the canyon wall and get up there. Hah!

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    The Olympics had a fair amount of slug activity…..awwww so cute!

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    The one thing that was a tad annoying but understandable was the weathering around the base of the larger trees due to years of people standing on them for photos.

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    The tunnel under the road to get back to the visitors center and parking lot. We hadn’t bought any souvenirs at the Hoh Rainforest visitors center so I was hoping to get something at this one, but they did not have anything for sale. I was, though, able to ask the ranger what the tall pink flower was in the roadside ditches….fire weed!

    If you only have a few moments to jump on a trail while in the area, this is a nice place to explore and stretch your legs.

    Stay tuned for some magical light photos along this trail…

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