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Friday, December 3, 2010

Senior Hiking # 378 - Chimney Rock

Nov 15, 2010…Chimney Rock in the snow…Tr #256
…hike # 378 by Betsy

Whew…I am still in shock over a very unexpected but wonderful surprise over the weekend. On Friday Nov 12, we celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary… and my thought that no one remembered dissolved when all four of our kids and some spouses appeared at our door. We had no clue they had been planning this for almost a year. The ten of us had such a wonderful, and a loud at times, visit…it was so good to see all of them, some of whom we have not seen for quite some time. We have the best kids in the world. Thanks, guys!
Even though it was raining here at home, rather than do one of our rainy day hikes or go up to Schweitzer, where we spend most of the winter, we decided to try one more time for a Selkirk mountain hike. We didn’t know how far we would get but it was worth a try. The forecast for the mountains was 80% snow and 32°…too tempting to resist. Just a short way down Upper Pack River Rd, we spotted a young mama moose and just down the road was her yearling calf. Then at the intersection to the three last trails, we passed a hunter driving out with his loot...a good sized buck in the back of his pick up truck. Most of the road was free of snow…just a smattering along the sides but the road down to Chimney Rock trail head was very snowy with ice underneath.

Jim loaded the snowshoes on to his pack…not enough snow for them at the start. I put on my fleece vest and my orange hat, only to cover it up with me hood. It was about 34° but with a nip in the air and it was not snowing yet. Snow got deeper as we climbed this steep trail, and when we got to the first creek, it began to snow lightly. At Chimney Creek the snow began to come down much harder, enough so that we had to put on the heavy duty precip jackets. We should have put the snowshoes on here too but we didn’t. I was leading and the snow wasn’t too difficult to walk in with my snowshoe boots. Jim had more of a problem in that he sank deeper, even walking in my tracks. Crossing two creeks was tricky.

Lots of bear tracks, and it appeared to be a mama and a cub…and some elk tracks. Took pics, and eventually they all went over the side…the tracks, that is.

By the time we got to spot where we normally would get the first view of Chimney Rock, it was snowing very hard and we were beat from the steep hike up in boots. Everything was totally socked in with fog. Tried unsuccessfully to find some trees for shelter from the snow…ate lunch and then turned around. It took three hours to get here…and we had a long hike back down…not to mention that it gets dark much earlier now. We need to get back into winter mode and be out to the truck by 3:30 or earlier now. Descending was much easier than the ascent, and it was just about dark when we reached the truck. Driving out we saw an elk jump into the woods and the snow turned to hard rain all the way home.

Left home 9:15 (late start today!)
Got to TH 10:15Started up 10:30
Got to lunch spot 1:30 (3 hours up)
Turned around 1:50
Got to truck 3:55 (2 hours, 5 minutes down)
Total miles hiked 8½ miles
Total hiking time 5 hours, 25 minutes

Senior Hiking #377 - Harrison Lake

32° - 35°

Nov 8, 2010…Harrison Lake 1st snow hike …tr #217…
hike # 377
by Betsy
Thinking that this could be our last opportunity to head up to the mountain trail heads, and with snow in the forecast, we headed up Upper Pack River Rd. We brought all our gear, not knowing what to expect…snowshoes, boots, gaiters, and warm clothes. On the last section of road, we began to see snow, not only along the sides of the road but falling from the sky as well. There was no one at the trail head…no surprise here…and we bundled up. I wore my snowshoe boots and gaiters, more for water protection and warmth than for comfort. They are not hiking boots but I can get along with them okay. We left the snowshoes in the truck.

We got so engrossed in all the wildlife tracks, and were studying what looked like a nice bear print when I looked up ahead on the trail and saw two hunters coming down. It scared the daylights out of me as I jumped, thinking it was a bear! They had parked in a spot past the trail head so we hadn’t seen their rig…and took a critter trial up…they had not gone to the lake…not sure if they even knew there was a lake. They were hunting for deer but had seen nothing.

There was so much water on the trails and the creeks were overflowing due to all the rains we have received…it looked more like a heavy spring run off. And stepping in so many mud filled sinkholes was not that much fun. I had to take my fleece vest off at our snack spot.

Plodding on, the snow got deeper and deeper and we guessed it was close to three feet. Post holing slowed us down considerably. By the time we got to the lake, the temperature had dropped down to 33° and we ate our lunch under the big rock overhang before walking over to the lake to take pictures. I put more clothes on before we took off...everything was cold now…my hands, my feet, even my nose. And I stayed cold for most of the way down and figured that from now on I would go into winter clothes mode…warmer long johns on bottom and two or more on top. It snowed for about half the way down.

Left home 9:10Got to trail head 10:05Started up 10:15Got to lake 12:45 (2 hours 30 min)
Headed down 1:00
Got to truck 3:00 (2 hours)
Total miles hiked 6 miles
Total hiking time 4 hours, 45 minutes

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Senior Hiking # 376 Mineral Point and Lost Lake


Nov 1, 2010…Mineral Point/Lost Lake…tr #81 & 82 …
hike # 376 by Betsy

Rain with 70% probability was predicted and they were right but the weather gods were kind to us today by not dumping on us till we were almost back to the truck.

We have done this hike several times before, it being one of our three rainy day hikes, and all of which are mountain bike trails. This recently built trail is an extension of the Mineral Point trail, which goes straight down to the lake…the extended part starts from the same point at top but meanders thru the woods, full of ponderosa pine and cedars, over to the Lost Lake trail offering many nice views of the lake. It is very beautiful.

The last time we did it though, we found a fork in the trail with no indication as to which way the trail to Lost Lake went…we took the one on the right and found a lake but we both had no recollection of this lake…it didn’t look like the Lost Lake we remembered before the new trail was built and it didn’t have any sitting benches. Hmmm. So this time we took the trail on the left and voila! We found the real Lost Lake and it was as we remembered and we now know the other lake is Mud Lake!

We met a couple of mountain bikers, one of whom was a member of the Pend Oreille Pedalers, the group who built the new trail. Again we caught up with them at the lake…they pedaled on and we ate lunch and took pics.

We saw the biggest mushrooms ever today, some were pizza sized. Never have we seen such an oddity, and so many in one particular spot.

There was a sad story in the paper this week…a 56 year old experienced hiker out for a day hike near Priest Lake…his car was found unoccupied for three weeks after his family reported him missing. Search and Rescue tried for 24 hours to find him but called off the search due to 3’ of snow. They said they would resume the search in the spring or if the predicted big snow winter comes thru, it won’t be till July 2011. My assumption is that he fell off a cliff and is gone. His family has hope that he will come home. The mountains are not very forgiving some times.

Left home 9:35Started up 10:30
Got to lake 12:30Turned around 12:40
Got to truck 2:00Total miles hiked 7 miles
Total hiking time 3 hours, 30 minutes

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Senior Hiking - How it all began!

Posted: Sunday, November 7, 2010 10:00 am

Updated: 9:48 pm, Sat Nov 6, 2010.

Newspaper article By DAVID GUNTER
     SANDPOINT — Together, they have hiked nearly 3,500 miles over the course of about 360 trips to the trailhead. For Betsy and Jim, these hikes are more than a passion for the outdoors. They are the weekly remembrance of a love story that plays itself out on the trail.
     For this couple, a romantic walk means spending the day exploring wildflower strewn meadows, scrambling over boulders to find hidden mountain lakes or stepping into snowshoes for a climb that leaves them standing breathless and awestruck on the highest peaks the region has to offer.
     They have been together for some time, but this chapter of their love story started seven and a half years ago, at a time when Betsy was recuperating from a battle with breast cancer. After a year that included two surgeries, a half dozen rounds of chemo and seven weeks of daily radiation treatments, she found it difficult to climb the stairs at the library, much less anything as rigorous as a hike.
     Jim, though, sensed that the outdoors was just the medicine his wife needed. He’d been spending part of his Sundays fly fishing and discovered the trail up to Harrison Lake on one of those outings. Somehow, he knew that asking his wife in person to join him the following week would result in a “no.” With that in mind, he made the invitation via e-mail.
     “He was right — my first instinct was to say ‘no way,’ ” Betsy recalled.
     After mulling it over, she decided to drive into town and find a pair of hiking boots to replace the ones she had long ago given away.
     “Then I e-mailed him back with a ‘yes!’” she said. “He was shocked.”
The first hike was scheduled to last 15-20 minutes up the Harrison Lake trail to a good view spot, where they would call it a day. Betsy, however, wouldn’t turn around at that point.
     “I told him, ‘I’m going to the lake — I didn’t go into town and buy hiking shoes for nothing,’” she said.
     On the way back to town after the hike, the couple stopped into Buck & Edna’s — it was still standing on the Pack River Road at the time — for what Betsy described as “one of the coldest beers I ever had.” Still on a hiking high, she asked Jim what the plan was for the following Sunday.
     They have been hiking together every week since that time.
     “Fifty-two weeks a year — rain or shine, fog, cold, blizzards and 40 mile per hour winds,” Betsy said. “We’ve been out in it all.”
     There are some great trail guides available for those who want to hike the Selkirk and Cabinet Mountains, but none have quite the personal touch of the “hiking reports” Betsy logs after each trip. They recount the time the couple left home, when they arrived at the trailhead, GPS readings, mileage covered and the time they got back to the truck, all interspersed with personal reflections and weather reports.
     “As you can tell, I’m a perfectionist,” Betsy said as she thumbed through the indexed and very organized notebook of reports.
     When asked if she has a favorite hike, she responds: “Do you have a favorite child?” Still, when pressed, she does list Fault Lake and Big Fisher Lake as two locations that get high marks, along with Bee Hive Lake, Chimney Rock and the one that started it all, Harrison Lake.
     Getting her to name a trail she’d never want to hike again turns out to be an easier proposition.
     “Goat Mountain,” Betsy said without hesitation. “The elevation gain is 4,000 feet in three miles. I’m happy we did it, but I never want to do it again. It’s a killer.”
     That trip, like all the others, is listed in great detail in her reports. Other day trips include attempts to summit Silver Dollar Peak — a still-elusive goal — and successful hikes to the top of Scotchman Peak, the summits of three of the Seven Sisters and the highest peak in Boundary County, which has no name at all, just a map listing as “7709 feet.”
     While most of the hike reports recall trails that have proper signs and guidebook listings, there is also a category for unmarked trails in the notebook. Once done, those trips, too, receive some sort of a name to commemorate their completion.
     “Those are the trails that only exist in Jim’s mind,” Betsy said, flipping the report pages until she finds her notes on one particular hike. “Here’s a good example: This is one I named, ‘Bushwhack to Nowhere.’”
     One of the more memorable climbs took the hikers to a remote spot that has come to be known as Miracle Mountain. On the rocky slopes beneath its peak, those who have the tenacity to find the place can still see the crumpled remnants of a plane crash.
     “We couldn’t find it the first time,” said Betsy, who, with her husband, learned about the site from Royal Shields. “It’s up in the boonies on a ridge above Little Harrison Lake, between Sister Four and Sister Five. I swear, it seemed like nobody had ever been there before.”
     On their second hike to find the plane crash, they encountered Royal and Jana Shields, who led them to a sign above the wreckage. Amazingly, the wooden marker tells of a family that survived the crash almost 25 years ago.
     Under the words “Miracle Mountain” the sign reads: “Irwin family of four walked away from plane crash of C-70040. 4-20-86. Praise the Lord.”
     “We’ve talked to other avid hikers and nobody — I mean nobody — knows anything about it,” said Betsy, who later researched the crash and posted a plastic-covered newspaper clipping under the sign for those who might want to know the whole story.
     When she went to the Bonner County Historical Society Museum to look up press accounts of the accident, volunteers asked her if she was a lawyer or a member of the Irwin family.
     “Neither, I told them. I’m a hiker.”
     Along with the written reports, Betsy chronicles the couple’s hikes with her camera. Her requirements are simple but non-negotiable: The unit has to be small enough to fit into her waist pack and be able to handle both close-ups and panoramic vistas with ease. Readers of the Daily Bee see her work regularly in the “Your Best Shot” feature slot, a venue that has become a stand-in photo gallery for her more than 100 published shots of wildlife, plants and mountaintop views that can only be earned the hard way.
     “I love doing both — hiking and photography,” said Betsy. “And they just happen to complement each other.”
     On some of their early hikes, Jim opted to scout ahead on the trail when Betsy stopped to collect photos of a flower or batch of huckleberries that caught her artist’s eye. Now that she has become known for her photos, he has started to help her scout new images — sometimes, it seems, with a little too much enthusiasm.
     They started hiking together in the early 60s. Now 70, they take their weekly outings so seriously that they close their business — Mountain Spa & Stove — on Mondays to allow time to get to some of the more remote trailheads. On average, each hike totals about 10 miles, though several have gone considerably farther.
     “We’ve only missed about six times in seven and a half years,” Betsy said. “I’m so happy that we do this, that we have our health and that we live here.”
     Betsy 's photographs can be seen in the Daily Bee, while selected hike reports and images can be found online at by clicking the Outdoors tab and going to the Mountain Walkers column.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Time to Make Those Family Get-Togethers Productive!!!

With Thanksgiving and Christmas fast approaching, it is time for you to think like a Family Historian. Figure out your game plan for collecting and sharing your genealogy.

Some ideas for gifts could be: calendars, family history books, videos of your family, a trip back to your heritage (that one sounds like something I want to do), personal journals or family journals, family history quilt, oh, the list can go on and on.

To prepare for some of these gifts, you will need to get organized. First begin by collecting the pictures and information you will need for the gift you wish to make. Remember, time goes by way too fast and your life may get way too busy for too detailed of a project. If you think your project will take a week to do, you are probably wrong. I always plan to do this huge project and as time flies by, I reorganize and take it down a few notches and end up with a far more simple idea.

Most very detailed projects should have been in the works long before now. You can do some simple projects though. Make a Living Journal for your parents/grandparents/children. Put some pretty paper with lined pages and plastic protectors in a loose leaf binder. Put some cute pictures on the outside cover and have some divider pages for categories like - life story, hobbies, school, etc. Make it specific for the person you are giving it to.

Instead of making a whole quilt with family photos, make a pillow or a picture frame. Personalize it by putting your family photo in the middle. Use ancestor photos all along the outside. Use good materials and be neat and careful with your work.

Make an apron for grandpa or grandma using hand prints of the kids. Use your computer to print on transfer paper to be used on material.

Get the kids to help make a fun video of your family. Have each child do some narration.

Have each member of the family write a special something about their grandparent (maybe something they did with them or something they love about them). Put it in a nice book with some family pictures (you can do this online at many photo sites).

So maybe you are not planning to make a family history gift this year but maybe you are planning a family reunion later in the year and want to have something special for that. Now is the time to begin gathering information from all of the relatives. When you have your family dinners and get togethers, bring a recorder or video camera. Take tons of pictures. Ask your family to bring some memorable items with them to the dinner then bring a portable scanner (I just bought one and it is awesome!). Look through photos (be sure to get the names of those in the photos and places and dates are good too). Take down details - names, date, places. Don't be shy...ASK!

Several years ago my mom had Thanksgiving dinner at her house. She had my grandmother (dad's mom) there. I had taken my video camera to take family pictures. At one point I got my grandmother into the living room and started asking her questions. I quickly got the video camera and started asking her to tell me things about her past - her life. Before we knew it, I had her life story on tape (these were the old days of VHS). I was excited to hear these wonderful stories. One story was about the only Christmas present she got as a child (that was something other than useful stuff like clothes or food). She got a locket. Inside the locket was a picture of her mother and one of her sisters.

Three days after Christmas my grandmother was telling her neighbor all about our Christmas together. She started to say something then closed her eyes and was gone. Just like that...just that fast. She was in great health and we had no idea that she would be leaving us at that time but within one instant she was gone. The will stated that mom was given everything inside my grandmother's home and my uncle would get the home (my dad had already passed on). My mom and I went to grandma's home and collected many of her things (she had nothing of real value except for sentimental value). I got a little box that she had on her dresser all of the time I can remember. Inside the pretty box was a little box holding a locket - the very locket that my grandmother had talked about in the video at Thanksgiving. My video became a real treasure to me and how very close I came to not having anything of her. I not only got the locket but the story in her own words telling about that special day that she got the locket.

As you get ready for the holiday festivities, don't forget to take along your camera (and use it), and any other items you may have to help record stories, pictures, family treasures, etc. Be sure to get the stories that go with the items you collect. Remind your family about their heritage by giving gifts from the past or help them to preserve the present for the future by giving gifts that will continue.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Senior Hiking # 375 - Mt. Willard Trail 67

29° - 31° - 34° Oct 11, 2010…Mt. Willard…TR # 67 Mt Pend Oreille to Willard …hike # 375

We needed to get climbing Mt. Willard out of Jim’s me it was a nondescript mountain, with not an attractive thing about it except IT IS THERE and needs to be crossed off the list! This is what we tried for twice before but always ran out of time. So today we got a much earlier start on a very frosty morning with temps about 29°. On the drive over we could see much frost but the road was dry. The sun was out.

When we got to the trail head we saw a rig with an ATV in the back and three people walking up to the old fire tower lookout. We waved goodbye as we took off and they shouted back to ‘have fun.’ It wasn’t as cold as I thought it was going to be…Jim wore longs today and when I got out of the truck I was wishing I had put long johns under my pants. As we began hiking, my face and especially my nose got really cold. Shortly before we got to the trail head, I opened the HotHands and got then in my mitts and it was nice to start out with warm hands. The cold temps were reflected everywhere with hoar frost heaving the rocks out of the ground. We were careful not to slip on the icy frost and frozen ground.

An hour and twenty five minutes later we got to the turnoff for Mt. Pend Oreille...about 20 minutes shorter than last time. The wind picked up, enough so that I had to pull my hood up. Again we walked around Mt. Pend Oreille and headed over toward Mt. Willard and got to the spot we turned around at last time at 11:45…still about twenty minutes ahead of we gained an extra hour just by getting out the house sooner. The hike down to the bottom of the saddle was not too bad at all and not knowing what to expect, we picked a good spot to go off trail and head up to the top of Willard. There is no trail so we had to bush whack thru 18’ bear grass and lots of rocks. Since the views were hazy today, we couldn’t see too much and there certainly was nothing special on top. I found an old heavy metal stake in the ground, making me believe there may have been fire tower there at one time but did not find any more and we did not find a geological survey marker either, which surprised us in that this peak has a name. To get out of the light wind, we hiked down a bit, sat on a downed tree and ate our lunch.

The hike back to the truck was long…there was still a lot of the heaving frost on the trail and ice in the hollowed out spots. We came upon a lot of cougar scat...and a large pile a poop that Jim thought was grizzly…I asked him why he thought it was and he answered because wanted it to be! We didn’t see a lot of other scat…usually at this time of year the trails are filled purple bear scat…not this year with the lack of huckleberries.

At the truck we met a hunter who was camped down the road…he said he was camped there for about a week now and had seen about 15 moose, a couple of black bears and one grizzly.
Of course we looked for the grizzly all the way down the road but all we saw was one young moose!

BUT the next day we had our own wildlife show in the front and back yard…see pics! BEAR!

Left home 8:05Started up 9:20

Headed back from Willard 1:15Got to truck 4:20

Total miles hiked 13½ miles

Total hiking time 7 hours

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Varmint Invasion

This has been such a hectic time for me.  My vinyl business is in full swing, I have been teaching genealogy lessons at our Family History Center, my husband retired and just had hip surgery, and we have become a refugee for a variety of varmints.  Well, not all varmints but our home seems to have become a sanctuary for the lost.

A few months ago a cat came to our home.  Our son who lives next door (but we live in the country so next door is about 1/4 mile away) had a female cat come to his house and had babies.  Well, this beautiful male cat came to our house.  We think someone may have dropped them off and the cats relocated to our places.  The gray male cat took up home in our barn. We saw him now and then but he never really gave us much notice.  He discovered that we fed our cat on our front porch and began helping himself to free meals.  Slowly he has decided that we are his new family.  He actually is an extremely friendly cat.  He obviously was raised with kids and dogs as nothing seems to scare him off.  As the weather has gotten colder, he has tried to become a house cat (which I do believe he was at his last location).  Unfortunately, we have a very old cat that doesn't really want to share his home with another cat.  Out of respect for our cat, I have restricted the new cat to living in our basement or the barn with an occasional visit into the house.  He gets all the food he wants and love and attention - just not freedom of our house.  So now we are a family with two cats.

About 2 weeks ago, we got a new visitor.  I discovered something was getting into the garbage under the sink.  It was pulling trash out and hauling it somewhere into the walls.  We could hear it in our walls.  It sounded like it was eating my walls trying to get out.  I hated the sound and the stink that was now coming from under the sink of mouse urine.  We set out a sticky trap to catch the varmint.  We heard it clunking around under the sink as it was caught but when my husband went to get it out, it was gone.  It had managed to escape the sticky stuff.  This went on for a few days...we'd catch it, it would get lose and hide out again.

We then got one of those big rat traps that would kill anything.  NOPE!  This varmint got caught one time and when my husband went to get it out from under the sink, it was gone.  Left behind was some gray hair but no sign of blood or of being hurt.  It continued to torment me with his noise in the walls.  Every day he would release the trap, take the food, and off he'd go.  We moved the garbage from under the sink so he wasn't getting into it but I could smell that he was still visiting under the sink...ugh!

My husband went into the hospital and I was left alone with the varmint.  I decided to buy one of those live traps and set it up under the sink.  About 10pm I heard it go off.  I peaked under the sink and there he was, caught and staring up at me with his little beady eyes.  Actually, he was quite large.  I called my son to come and take him away.  When my son pulled out the cage, we saw that it was no ordinary rat.  It looked somewhat like a chinchilla rat cross.  It had a soft wispy tail but a rat face.  I have not seen a rat look like him.  My son took him far away from our place and let him go in the woods. 

Now I am one varmint short....but so glad that he is gone.  I have scrubbed under the sink and tried to plug up the hole he created under there.  I guess this is one of the prices to pay for living in the woods. You would have thought that with 2 cats around, that nothing would be able to get in or at least live in our house.  I guess it may be time to let our new gray cat move into the house - we'll see on that one.

Senior Hiking # 374 - Beehive Lakes Trail 279

45° - 36°
Oct 11, 2010…Beehive Lakes…tr #279 …
hike # 374 - By Betsy

After a week or more of rain, the forecast for today was to have some sun but it was cold and windy. Clouds hovered over the mountains toward the north where we were headed. The plan was to go back to Beehive for the fourth time this year, and go up to the saddle on the ridge above the lake. I thought we had already done this but the mouse in my pocket kept saying we hadn’t. The last time we did this hike it was 87°. At the trailhead, the Pack River was roaring, full of water from the recent rains. I was glad I switched to my warmer sweatshirt with the temperature at 45° as we started out.
The trail was wet with running water everywhere…and slick and muddy. Hmmm...I wondered to were we going to get across Beehive Creek? As I was in the lead and was the first to get to the creek, I thought when I saw it, no way am I going across this. The fast running water was scary to think about crossing on the few rocks available to get to the other side. When Jim got there, we surveyed the situation and of course, he just went right over. I pondered other ways over but they were too dangerous so tried his way, the only safe way over, hesitating and moving very cautiously. It wasn’t falling in the water and getting wet so much that concerned me as slipping on the wet rocks and hurting myself…not to mention that if I went down over the side, it is a long way down and I would be unconscious…or dead… by the time I hit the bottom! I made it over without incident and checked for possible slippage carefully before trusting the three rocks but it scared the daylights out of me. For the first time in a long time, I did not bring my extra pair of socks…water seeped into my boots on the crossing and I could feel wetness. Grrr…..

We got up the steep trail to the lake in three hours, the wet and muddy trail slowing us down considerably. Twin Peaks above the lake were totally fogged in so we aborted the plan to go up there. It was cold and raw, and I just wanted to make a little fire in the fire pit to get warm. At least I was smart enough to wear long pants…Jim wore shorts! He forgot his warm mittens but at least had his light wool gloves which did nothing for cold fingers.

We walked over to the ‘bear box’ to get out of the light wind to sit and eat lunch. My hands and feet were very cold, and got out my HotHands for the trek down. By now it was 36° and falling…just a nice fall day…ha! I doubled up on jackets and Jim put his on as well. He refused my extra set of HotHands…it would have been hard to get them into the close fitting gloves and it wouldn’t do much for the cold fingers anyway.

As we got down off the huge granite slab, we met a couple hiking up…what a surprise that was to see anyone on this gray day. They had been planning to go up the saddle today too but we gave them out thoughts on the conditions up at the lake and they said that they decided already that they were not going to do it either.

Left home 9:20Started up 10:20Got to lake 1:20 (3 hours)
Left lake 1:45
Got to truck 4:10 (2 hours, 25 minutes)
Total miles hiked 10 miles
Total hiking time 5 hours, 50 minutes

Friday, October 29, 2010

Senior Hiking #373 - Gold Hill


Oct 4, 2010…Gold Hill + extra 3 mile loop…Tr #3 & Tr #2…
hike # 373 - by Betsy

We woke up to hard rain…it rained all day yesterday and rain was predicted for today as well so this was no surprise. We headed off to one of our rainy day hikes, and chose Gold Hill again since it makes for a nice longer hike. And there was no one at the trail head. Did not put the rain pants on nor did I even bring them. Jim wore shorts. I wore longs. The tree that fell down between us last time is still lying across the trail. We chuckled a bit about our experience with the three falling trees.

I found myself on the look out for mountain lions and bears today…stems from watching the story on TV last night of the biker who was attacked in California several years ago. I think I’ve been watching too many episodes of “I Survived.”

Before we even got to the top, the rain began to come down hard, soaking my pants and making me cold and wet. My hands were also getting cold in spite of mittens. We finally had to stop for me to put on another jacket under the rain jacket and it was not fun undressing in the rain to accomplish this. The wind picked up just a tad as well.

Up at the view spot on top it was totally socked in and we could see nothing. Continued on up to the road where had to decide whether to do the extra 3 mile loop or not. My thought was that if it was still raining hard, I would nix it but God, with ever present sense of humor, stopped the rain so I had no excuse. Stopped at the view spot to look over at Hope, but of course could see nothing but fog. We ate our lunch here and then continued on to the beginning of trail #2. It was still cool enough to leave jackets on and thankfully I didn’t overheat climbing the trail but I did have to stop and take a rest and an energy gel. The rain and rain gear always wears me down. It took us two hours, less five minutes to do the loop. I don’t think I ever checked it before.

About 20 minutes from the bottom, we noticed a huge broken up birch tree lying in the trail and it was not there on the way up…so it had fallen down since we went up. Large pieces about two feet long lying about everywhere, on and down the trail. This is turning to be a menacing trail...the birch trees rot on the inside and finally just give way. We looked up and could see the tree it had broken free from. Scary.

Normally this trail is 100% litter free but today we found two empty Starbucks coffee cups on the side of the trail…we took them back out with us.

Left home 9:50Started up 10:20Got back to truck 3:55
Total miles hiked 12½ - 13 miles
Total hiking time 5 hours, 35 minutes

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Senior Hiking #372 - Mt. Pend Oreille to Mt. Willard Trail #67

52° - 61° Fog

Sept 27, 2010…Mt. Pend Oreille to Mt. Willard…Tr #67 …
hike # 372 by Betsy

The weather looked iffy...overcast, low clouds and fog but headed over to Trestle Peak Rd to hike to Mt Pend Oreille and try to get to Mt Willard. We’ve tried before but ran out of time and didn’t really know exactly which peak was Willard. Got to the trailhead in deep was windy, chilly and raw. We wore shorts today and I had the wrong sweatshirt jacket but it turned out to be fine. I doubled up on jackets, put on my hood, pulled up my socks and off we went. The Lunch Peak lookout was completely fogged in.

The trail was so beautiful today with the brilliant reds of the huckleberry bushes, in spite of the fact that even over here, normally a great picking spot, there were no signs of any of the purple morsels this year. (We’ve heard that those who were able to find some were selling them for $43.00 or more a gallon.) I couldn’t help taking so many pics.
We got to the cutoff to the top of Mt. Pend Oreille in thicker fog and wind at 12:00 but took the trail around the mountain this time to head off to Mt. Willard. I was nervous the last time we did this too…I remember I kept ‘smelling a bear’ and saw one of the bear’s day beds. The same was true today…I was not comfortable but since we saw no bear scat anywhere, I just kept walking with a very alert eye!
Several grouse startled us by whooping upward in front of us and after my heart started beating again, I got a few good pictures of two of them. We could hear mama grouse calling the babes. After one hour of hiking in the right direction, we reached a point where we could see a mountain and could see a trail over on that mountain but the drop off down into the saddle and then the climb back up looked daunting so we took a GPS reading and sure enough, it was indeed Mt. Willard that we were looking at. But we chose not to attempt it today, not knowing exactly how long it would take us…most likely an hour and a half or more. Instead we sat and ate our lunch while looking over at Mt. Willard, which would have to wait for another day and an earlier start.
 Mt Pend Oreille loomed over in the other direction, now with spots of sporadic sun hitting the sides of it, illuminating all the gorgeous red bushes.

On the way back, we kept seeing horseshoe prints…but how and where? Then I remembered that earlier we passed a truck pulling a horse trailer as we drove on the road to the trailhead…it just always amazes us how horses and mules traverse these difficult trails, especially crossing the steep shale not to mention other trail hazards. The tracks led all the way back to our truck, but there was no parked horse trailer. We began assuming that they were parked at Lake Darling...but as we drove down the road we saw the trailer and now figured the road was much too rough to drive all the way up.

There was a huge bull moose on the road as we drove out…it had been in the spot we noticed on the way in, a spot with lots of dirt pulled apart, as if it were a bed or resting spot. Jim called to it and as it turned around, I got some great pics, from the truck!

Left home 9:00Started up 10:20Turned around 1:00
Got to truck 3:40
Total miles hiked 12½ miles
Total hiking time 5 hours, 20 minutes

Senior Hiking #371- Gold Hill Trail #3


Sep 20, 2010…Gold Hill…tr #3 …
hike # 371 by Betsy

Rain, rain, rain…so it was off to one of our alternative hikes today and we were in no hurry to get going since it would be about a five hour hike. I was running on low again today with no energy for some reason. It rained all night.

It sprinkled rain all the way to the trail head, and there was no one there. The light rain would come and go and we couldn’t decide what or if to put rain gear on. Finally decided on none and of course that just made it rain but we persisted anyway.
About 25 minutes up the trail, with me in the lead, I heard a snap and turned around just in time to see a medium sized tree fall right across the trail behind me and about four feet in front of Jim…right between us! It was like watching it in slow motion. My footfall may have set off the tree to fall from its hold in the wet and soggy ground. Then as he took a step, a second smaller one came down and then as I watched a third smaller one began to fall, I yelled “watch out” but it was too late and it fell hard right on Jim’s head! He was okay and there was no blood. This was all such a surprise…then we set off a small bunch of rocks to come rolling down.
The wind was manageable today at the top, temps unchanged, with low clouds hanging over the mountains but we could see the lake and the river. Now we headed up to the top of the trail to the road and I decided I had run out of oomph so we sat on a log and ate our lunch, or rather I did because Jim forgot his food today. No three mile extra bonus loop for us today.

On the trip down we met a couple with two Boston Terriers…they asked how far it was to the top…they were about 45 minutes away. No sooner did we get to the truck, when the rain began to fall harder and once again, we made down just in time. That couple with the doggies was mostly likely getting quite wet by now and it didn’t look like they had any backpacks or rain gear. Their truck showed Washington plates!

I love my voice recorder! It’s like re-living the hike all over again…

Left home 10:05Started up 10:40
Got to top 12:30Turned around 1:00Got to truck 2:30
Total miles hiked 8 miles
Total hiking time 4 hours

Monday, October 4, 2010

Retirement - Yikes!

Oh to retire!  A very scary thought.  My husband is going to retire this a week in fact.  So how is this scary?  I am not sure if it is scary for him but for me, it means the possibility of a variety of changes.  Some of these are exciting but some are down right frightening.

My husband and I have raised 5 kids and have 24 grand kids.  Our youngest has been out of the house for several years now.  Life changed when she left home.  We became "Empty Nesters".  That was a very difficult time for me.  I had been the "mother" for close to 30 years.  For the most part, I was an "at home" mom.  I actually did have a job just prior to her leaving and that helped keep my days somewhat busy but the evenings, wow,  how quiet our home became without her constant chatter. 

Things filled up those empty spaces that the children had previously occupied.  One main thing, my husband moved his parents to our home so that we could take care of them.  They both had Parkinson's Disease.  His dad had the paralyzing kind and was unable to even turn over in bed.  I quit my job and took care of them full time.  They both passed away within a little over 2 years (those were wonderful years - taking care of parents was quite rewarding for us). 

Just when I felt that our time would be lonely again, our oldest grandchildren came to live with us for a few months.  That did help with the transition from "total parent care" to "back to motherhood".  After the grandchildren left, we became empty nesters again.  I filled my days with doing lots of genealogy and spending time with the grand kids.  Last year my daughter and I began the vinyl business and that filled the little empty spaces of time.  I also love dogs and we have had a few dogs as my "babies" to mother.

I actually have lots of hobbies and "things" with which to entertain myself.  My days fly by.  I have very little time to feel bored or lonely.  My husband, on the other hand, has no hobbies.  This is the biggest reason that I am dreading retirement.  I have my routine.  It allows me the freedom to do my day as I please.  I entertain myself in genealogy, house cleaning, traveling to see family, computer, and vinyl work.  If I feel like taking a hike to the beach (on our property), I do.  If I want to read a book or even watch TV... I do!  I don't have to make arrangements with anyone.  I don't have to schedule my day with anyone....I just do what I want to do.

Weekends are different.  When my husband is home, it seems that the days revolve around what he wants to do (to be fair, he doesn't ask me to do this, I just feel the need to be available to do what he wants if he has plans).  Over the years I have adjusted to this fact.  I don't mind what we do on the weekends but I look forward to Monday so I can have my week back to myself.  Now with retirement, I have this feeling that it will all change.  As I said, my husband has no hobbies.  What will he do to occupy HIS time?  I think he will expect his days to be like the weekends.  If so, where is MY time?  I know he has been looking forward to this day.  He thinks he will have so much to do that he will always be busy.  I hope so but there are days on the weekends that we don't have plans.  Those days are torturous as he mopes around and gets frustrated because he's so bored.  I have this fear that we are going to have way too many of those boring days.  I don't know about most households but in ours, if Daddy is unhappy, the whole household feels it.  Even if I retire to the office (to MY space), I can feel the stress building within the walls and soon, my day is spent trying to find ways to make his day better.

I do look forward to some time to travel.  The problem I see with this is that in the past, he has never been the greatest traveler.  He likes his home.  He thinks that will change now that he won't have to rush back to a job.  I hope so.  He is pretty tight when it comes to money though.  I wonder how many nights we will sleep in the car because he wants to keep going to our final destination and he won't want to stop and waste money on a motel - hmmmm!  Speaking of that, I would love to stop at some interesting sites along the way and in the past, he has just wanted to go "not stop until we've reached where we planned to go".  I wonder if we will be able to compromise?

People seem to look forward to retirement.  Mostly for the fun, relaxation, travel, visiting, and togetherness that they can experience.  It has been so many years of him going off to work and me having the days to myself, that this time is quite frightening to me but maybe I should look at it differently....look at it as an adventure.  I know the future will be different...and a huge adjustment.  I know with a lot of patience, we both will make it.  As I write this, I am actually starting to get excited.  Maybe it's time for change...maybe it's time for me to expand and get on with this new life...maybe retirement is going to be fun....maybe!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Senior Hiking #370 - Miracle Mountain

I am sorry to be so slow at getting these posted.  I have been busy with teaching genealogy classes, setting up a new blog for the classes, and doing orders for my vinyl company.  Betsy is so good about sending me her hikes and I am thrilled with the beautiful pictures she shares with us.  I will try to do better at my part and hope you are enjoying these wonderful hikes.  (by Diane)
51° - 61°

Sept 13, 2010…Harrison to ridge to ‘Miracle Mountain’…Tr #217…
hike # 370 by Betsy

This is a very long and very hard hike and our fourth time to the plane crash site…the first being our unsuccessful search for it; this is the hike wanted to do last week but turned back due to the fog. Skies were mostly cloudy when we left home today but headed up Pack River Rd anyway. Surprisingly there was one rig at the trail head, and we met the couple coming down…they had stayed the night up at the lake. We saw no one else today.
So once again, using the Harrison lake trail as a jumping off point for more adventure, we cut off trail just before the lake and bushwhacked down to the river, crossed it and climbed up the steep rock wall. We could probably do it with our eyes closed by now…so many hikes over this way. Crossing the granite for a short bit, we headed up the steep wall of granite and boulders. New cairns marked our way. If you don’t know where you’re going it is very easy to not only get lost but get disorientated, which we always seem to do on the way back! Up and over boulders and granite we went, always looking up toward the ridge to see if we can find the tree with the sign.
Finally realizing we were not far enough up yet, we decided to look for the only possible way up to the top. We have come down this chute in the past. It is about as close to rock climbing as you can get without using ropes. If our report reading group could have seen us, their eyes would have widened in amazement, as my own do quite frequently as well! Pictures help but just never really tell the story. We slowly worked our way up the narrow and almost vertical wall of rock, each one keeping an eye on the other. Whew…we did it. I tried not to look down.

Up now on the ridge we headed over and behind the huge “Sister #6” mountain in the Seven Sisters Range. Traversing across four difficult boulder fields, I finally let out a loud yell saying I could see the tree and the sign, and also some of the wreckage which is still left on our side of the ridge, about 30’ below…here is where the windshield, wing and other smaller pieces landed. After walking around and taking some more pics of the wreckage, we walked up to the ridge to check the sign and look below the other side of the ridge at the wreckage 150’ below down in the boulder field. We had fixed the broken bolt on the old sign in the past and added the article that I able to find in the 1986 Daily Bee about the two couples in the plane…a mom and dad and their son and daughter-in-law…and the crash itself, and how they survived on the crash on that Sunday, April 20, 1986, as they were returning home to Bonners Ferry. Long time report readers will remember this story.
Being a genealogist, I know that all back issues of the Bonner County Daily Bee are stored at the Historical Society Museum and after reading the account, and knowing the exact spot and the conditions possible in April with snow and wind, it is exactly as what the sign says…a miracle! Had they crashed into Sister #6, they would not have survived.

Here is what happened: With the top of the mountain covered in cap clouds, the Cessna 172, C-70040 hit a large snag 10' from the top and it split the plane in half. The two less injured walked out to Priest Lake….unbelievable…and the two more seriously hurt stayed with the plane and made a fire. Turns out they all should have stayed with the plane because their beeper had been picked up and the wreckage was located for the search party. But they didn't know that. Eventually most of the fuselage was removed but a tail section was hanging by a cable and could not be accessed so it is still there, but now lying below amid the boulders. The NTSB attributed the crash to pilot error, with misjudgment, clouds, mountains and a mountain wave being contributing factors.
Four years ago, in September 2006, for the Irwin family, we encased the article in a plastic sleeve and fixed it securely to the tree. Today, the sign was still okay but the article was gone. The straps which were holding the article are still attached to the tree. I hate to think someone would steal it but there was no trace of it or any part of it lying around. Nothing…no plastic pieces, no paper. So sad. I don’t think it was a bear. Took more pics of the main part of the wreckage still lying down in the boulders below and then sat down to eat lunch while enjoying the view. For the walk back to the only way down off the ridge, we decided to not go thru the boulders but instead to use the ridge route down Sister #6. It was SO much easier and faster! Added to the knowledge base! Climbing down the steep granite wall went well…again, I found an easier way to get down than the way Jim did. I kept holding my breathe while watching him and thought...I am NOT going that way. The drop off was straight down as in straight down! Once down to the granite, as usual, we got “misguided” but the new GPS saved us. It told us we were way off track and we then knew which direction to turn so we didn’t get lost as badly as usual. Finally, we got down the last rock wall, back across the river and then bushwhacked up to the main trail down the rough descent. When we got to the truck, I recorded that I was so tired, my feet hurt, my knees hurt, the bottoms of my feet were burning and I was ready to go home to “the boys.” A good hike but a long day.
Left home 8:20
Started up 9:30
Got up to ridge 1:25
Started back 1:40
Got back to main trail 3:30
Got to truck 4:35
Total miles hiked 11 miles
Total hiking time 7 hours, 5 minutes
GPS readings N48.40.073 W116.39.974 (location of wreck)