Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hiking Souixon Trail in Washington

Over the weekend we did a backpack trip with a bunch of other teenage boys. We hiked the Souixon Peak trail, and did almost 23 miles in the 3 days / 2 nights.

Souixon Peak is south of Mt St Helens, just below and east of Yale and Swift reservoirs.

Everyone was eager to leave the vehicles.

The countryside and woods were beautiful.

We were in timber the entire hike.

Most of the trail followed the Souixon creek or Chinoon creek.

The water was beautiful, but no evidence of fish...

At the big falls, we crossed the river on a natural bridge.

Only one boy fell in, and he was wading the river instead of on the log.

Our first camp was at 3400 feet, 8.4 miles later.

It was a dry camp along an unusable road, but was nice and open.

Even after a day of tough hiking, the boys were ready to explore and push logs.

We needed more help with this one...

We climbed the closest peak, and placed a solar LED lamp on top. You can see camp at the clearing in the background.

The camp was a great place to experience the boys with the fine art of food prep. The 2nd day's breakfast was crossoints rolled around sausage links.

We put a layer of wood down in the pot to keep the rolls from frying, then covered the pan on the propane stove to bake them. This first batch didn't bake as well, but no one complained...

We used higher heat on the second batch - and you can see they turned out perfect.

The boys were so eager to eat them they never noticed the camp spices...

They sure turned out good, though.

The second day some of us decided to hike the extra 1-2 miles to get to Souixon Peak.

We quickly ran into snow, and ended up abandoning the trail for the last 100 yard scramble up the hillside.

Once on top of the ridge-back, it was a fun but spooky hike to the summit.

A great hike! Now, we had the tedious job of hiking back to camp, and catching up with the other group on the 8.4 miles down from camp.

Oh well - being on the summit was well worth the sweat.

The cool, cloudy weather was perfect for hiking, but obscured the great views of Mt St Helens, Adams, and Rainier.

Here St Helens peaks out.

The hike back down was long, but at least it was down-hill.

We all enjoyed soaking our feet in the cold water at the log-bridge.

Some boys got a bit nervous on the return crossing...

The second night we camped within a half-mile of the cars.

Everyone was happy to have the work done, and we enjoyed that last night on the mountain.

The last morning broke with clear skys and sun!

A quick hike to the cars and we were done.

Sore and stiff (at least the adults), but smiling.

A great hike and highly recommended.

Crows in the Corn

Crows have been at the corn lately.

So... we soaked some of last year's corn, and it started to sprout!

Unfortunately it is all "mule corn" - hybrid offspring.

According to the 1881 Maine Farmer's almanac, if you put horsehair (or thread) through a handful of kernels, the crows will eat the corn, then when the thread remains coming out of their beak, they will scratch out their eyes trying to get the thread out.

We'll see. We only tried 3 kernels. Kind of morbid to think of blind crows gathered around the house, but it makes for good bed-time stories for the children...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Roadside Camas!

On our way out to Silver Falls, we passed a nice farm with a sign on the barn "Native Lilies - Chocolate, Fawn, Camas".

We had to stop!

They were growing very nice 'Grand Camas' - we've never seen them so big!

The Chocolate Lilies were done for the year, and next year's plants were just coming up.

We have tried to grow camas from seeds, but after they initially sprout, they die off.

Regular potting soil, long, deep planters (more than 12" deep), and some sawdust to hold moisture with the plants outdoors seems to be the trick.

We bouight some bulbs - these 5 year old plants were huge! The longest was over 52" long.

Most of the wild plants we've dug were less than 18" tall, with bulbs the size of dimes or quarters.

These bulbs were fist-size.

Alot of seed pods for next year, too.

We planted them where they would get alot of sun at mid-day.

While planting the new lilies, we uncovered a bunch of smaller camas from our seed plantings last year and 2 years ago.

These bulbs never flowered (that we know of) but seem to be thriving. Hurray!

These Grand Camas were beautiful plants.

Hopefully they take to their new home 2 hours north of their birthplace.


A New Hike - Silver Falls SP

The boys all had a prep hike to get ready for this summer's 50-mile hike. They went to hike 8 miles of logging roads.

The girls had a certification hike for church camp, and planned to go to Silver Falls State Park. It was a beautiful hike.

The park is manicured - easy trails and trimmed edges! Very disappointing how 'managed' Oregon has made its scenic places. I guess there is a price to pay ($5 per day!) to use public lands that employ state pensioners.

The many waterfalls were beautiful - the trail was very similar to Eagle Creek along I-82 near Multnomah Falls.

The trail passed behind and under many of the falls. Don't worry - we were well protected with fences, walls, and handrails to save us from ourselves.

The weather for the hike was rain. It was very pleasant and not too cold, though.

And of course it was green.

Another falls...

North falls was the favorite - very impressive.

The cavern behind it was also impressive.

A great hike with alot of great people.

Another Stump Rodeo

Stumps are great to keep kids busy. Cutting them down, hauling the branches, chipping, splitting and stacking firewood, etc.

The boys like a hard challenge, and pulling a stump is a challenge.

This area was too soft to get the backhoe in, so we put the mule to work on it.

The younger boy got to saddle up the backhoe to pull his stump.

After 2 years down, the stump still put up a good fight.

There was 'real' work for him to do getting the last of the roots out, too.

With this stump out of the way, we can expand the garden again next year.

The mylar tape is doing a great job keeping out the birds this year.

This ones just about out.

After the stump is out and on the burn pile, cleanup went quick.

Sure looks better. Now, to get the other tree, stump, and old pole out of there.

Job security!

2011 Garden

This year's garden is up and running. We are pleased with how well the beans, potatoes, and even the corn are doing with this cooler weather we've had so far ths spring.

We just got the tire on the backhoe fixed, and so its time for the old stump to come out.

The real benefit of the garden is the work it provides and the excitement it gives to the kids.

Yeah, it is alot of work, but work is good. The kids are seeing this, and enjoying it.

This year's experiment is with our son - he is measuring how quickly his garden plot comes up compared with our family garden. The difference? He planted his in the old chicken coop we aren't using now. The difference is visible - his plants are up sooner and growing noticably faster. Chicken coop "soil" is sweeter!

The devourers have noticed the garden, too. Here are two little bucks snooping under the fruit trees.

The neighbor's horse chased these dudes off fast... right into our pasture.

Our dog chased them off FASTER! Good dog!

The dog didn't chase them off until one of the boys got a good, hard look at those antlers.

The boys are building arrows, buying arrows, and throwing arrows to get ready for this fall's hunt.

It is a great time of year with all the green and growth in a new garden. Just need more sun!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rescue Tape Test (FAIL)

I know, it happens all the time. Kids playing with swords, end up cutting Mom's garden hose...

Usually "the tape" can fix it. Not in this case.

Mom really needed the hose, so the boy got to "hold the tape" so that alittle water made it out to Mom.

The hose was almost cut completely.

Looks like a great test for Rescue Tape!

A single layer of duct tape was then wrapped with 3 layers of Rescue T.

Looks good, but not sure about adhesion to the hose.

Well, it failed. Most of the 'fix' held, improving the water yield at the other end by about 80%, but not a real 'fix'.

Oh well...

Fortunately the cut was only about 3 feet from the end, so we simply put on a new fitting and are done.

We're going to make the boy keep holding the old piece of hose for a day to learn to be more careful ;-)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Finally - A Salmon from the River!

Wow - has it been so long since the sun has been out?

A couple of hot days this week, and out comes the hose for waterfights!

This lady is definitely 'pro' - look at her blast him in the face while completely dodging a full bucket-load of water!

A long piece of heavy plastic is all that is needed for the water slide.

Sleeping on the tramp is another favorite - hurray for summer!

We loaded up the plunking rods to hit the Columbia.

The water on the river is WAY too high for care-free boating... and with all the trees floating down, we decided to fish from the bank for steelhead and salmon.

Most of the action has been from the bank in shallow water anyway (so we hear...).

The sky is blue, and the scotch-broom is in full bloom.

Beautiful day.

We found a 'mutant' bush, too. Very purdy.

We had the best 'action' using tuna balls. The oily meat seems to work great - especially in the shallow, murky waters.

Mom brought the little girls out later and we had a great picnic.

The boys tossed the football most of the day, which left Dad watching the fishing poles.

We had 3 good take-downs. The first two didn't stick very long. We used smaller hooks, and the third take stuck!

Its just a little one, but we were excited to put it on the bank! The first two bites were probably small ones, too, we think.

Great day. When it is nice here in the Pacific NorthWest, you can't beat it anywhere.

Problem is, we've only had 4 nice days so far this year...