What’s Your Boss Trail Name?

Lisa High Hut

Does Your Backpack Own a Boss Trail Name?

Meet Jonny Cache

I don’t know about you but, just about everyone I hike with has a trail name.

One year we decided to go with names from the American Gladiators. For those of you too young to know about this TV show. You can get up to speed on Wikipedia.

American Gladiators aired from September 1989 to May 1996. It matched gladiators against one another and other amateur athletes.

Our house went full-tilt testosterone when all my boys got a bit over-excited about watching them duel it out.

With my kids hands all over each other, I learned hearing the theme song, evoked the motion in the room to increase.  In this way I know there has to be a similar parallel to a trail names.

My boss trail name became Turbo at that time with my friends, Blaze, Lace, and Red still owning their names like a boss as I write.

Recently, I decided Turbo needed a bit of a boost and thought Xena Warrior Princess was more fitting for me.

Xena has stuck for awhile.

I’ve always thought she was better at just simply being strong and beautiful then could muster up hidden strength when necessary from the gods. I’d kind of forgotten about her.

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This week I decided Xena needed to be called up again. I always work out better when I have this mindful and playful attitude about kicking ass.  To prove my point Xena did some serious ass kicking this past week.

Double workouts in a day. Bike rides, long runs, charging hill sprints and backpacks loaded down with 20 pounds of cat litter on neighborhood hill hikes.

I was on fire!

Because I frequently hike around the neighborhood with a 20 pound bag of cat litter stuffed inside, at some point I was jokingly saying each time, ” I am taking my cat litter on a walk.”

Since we’ve been up-close and personal, like my new best friend this past month,  I decided on a name for my backpack. It’s better than taking your cat litter on a walk.

 

That’s where Jonny Cache was created. Jonny Cat to Jonny Cache.

Now that one is going to stick around awhile.

Take a Shot at It

The Amazing World of a Backyard Weed

Have you pondered how photographers get those great macro shots.

Take a look at the simple dandelion. As we have come to terms with their endless spreading and have learned to appreciate and understand them better, we now know they serve an important role in the environment and to our dwindling bee population.

Kids also get excited about macro photography. With their natural curiosity, it may lead to them discovering and wanting to explore the fractal world of many other plants and lead eventually to becoming good stewards of the environment.

Here are a few tips on how to get started and take a great macro shot.

Macro Photography

Macro photography can be accomplished with with either a cell phone or an expensive digital camera. These two types of cameras operate comparatively the same for the beginner. When set in auto mode you just point and shoot. Automatic settings take the guess work out of photography and many times you get an amazing picture.

The first thing you will need with either device is time, an abundance of subject material and the willingness to get to know your camera a bit better.  That’s why we chose our friendly dandelion as the subject.

Here are the other materials you will need:

Camera tripod if available, various colorful kitchen background materials, dishes, dishcloths, a spray bottle with water, a paintbrush for droplets water on the subjects, short stubby glassware, clips, tweezers.

Taking macro photos does not require any expensive outlay of cash. All the backgrounds seen in the above photos are from the items on the left. The photo on the right shows my set-up. I use the glassware as a ball and socket I can swing the subject around and push and pull back and forth. In this way I simply experiment around with camera settings and use what I have available to start and go from there.

Once you gather a few materials, time to start experimenting.

10 Tips for the Digital SLR

  1. Choose simple and easily available subjects
  2. Experiment with Manual settings and your camera’s built-in light meter
  3. Take multiple shots using a variety of shutter and aperture settings
  4. Keep the camera in a stationary place if possible. Tripod set-up is best but a tall counter also works.
  5. Use the camera for an initial auto-focus then set on manual focus.
  6. Fine tune your subject’s focus, depth of field and focal plane by moving it with your hand either away from the camera or towards you while you look inside the view finder. (This is why a tripod is very handy to have) In general if you focus on the closest area there are a few degrees that will fall into focus behind it.
  7. Keep your laptop handy for quick downloads in order to adjust your outcome. I move back and forth between shooting and checking my shots on the laptop
  8. Bracket exposures length and shutter speeds a few clicks at a time
  9. Be patient, experiment with a variety of backgrounds placed in the distance, drop a some droplet of water for the effect of dew.
  10. Avoid cropping. It does not yield good results try to use good composition of your subject and background before defaulting to cropping
  11. True macro photography garners a multiplication ratio of 1:1 ratio or higher

General tips for those new to manual operation. Shutter should not go below 30 on your built in meter unless you are using a tripod. The tripod also frees up your hands to adjust your subjects focus, look in the view finder and press the shutter release all at the same time.

10 Tips for Cell Phone Macros

  1. Choose simple and easily available subjects
  2. See if your cell phone has a macro setting
  3. Use an aperture if available of 4.5 or less up to 1.4 if camera allows you
  4. Focus by moving the subject not your phone
  5. Take multiple shots
  6. Use a variety of backgrounds
  7. Plan for composition
  8. Avoid windy areas if outdoors
  9. Be patient
  10. Avoid cropping

 

 

 

 

 

Outside In

Washington State recreation is in crisis mode.

Known for its beauty, Washington State without a doubt has a large urban population who have either lived their entire lives or have moved here to enjoy the scenic outdoors of the region.

A Right or Entitlement

Recently our state made the news with pictures of hikers and trail usage on rocky hillsides with no social distancing and going against the wishes of our leaders.

Wildlife at Risk

Park workers and rangers have been pushed to the max and have had to issue no trespassing signs on thousands of trailheads where hikers refuse to follow good judgement and feel entitled to use them anyway.

This past weekend rangers started towing cars at popular trailheads that were closed.

It goes without saying, it is getting ugly in the iconic outdoors of the Pacific Northwest.

Outside In

Outside in is all about this one person outdoor enthusiast who is now found caught-up indoors. It is moral belief to follow the recommendations of our leaders because we must do all we can to stop the spread of this disease and protect our lands.

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Here’s the story.

Friday last week I was notified my volunteer work as an ambassador for Washington Trails Association had ended abruptly.

My supervisor, Crystal Gartner with Washington Trails Association emailed me with a very professional and heartfelt letter that her duties were being turned over to another WTA employee, mostly due to the recent Covid-19 outbreak that has rocked the world and our country.

Washington Trails Association

A bit about Washington Trails Association. It exists as a non-profit organization and with the economy taking this downward turn, WTA has decided to reallocate funding (what little they have) and focus on trail reports only that empower its members to make informed choices while choosing a hike outdoors. WTA runs a giant data base with hiking information at your fingertips.

I would like to spend more time on another post why WTA is such a class act when it comes to organizations but, the top reason I chose to volunteer there is because it was first, an interest of mine and second, the focus of inclusion, equity and diversity while creating access and protecting and maintaining our trails.

Back to Crystal, I’m reading between the lines here but, one can only summarize in Crystal’s well written letter, many programs that co-exist as public service and help maintain trails in parks were cut.

Left in existence as of today is the online trail or trip reports with all other projects being cancelled. This means, no trail maintenance, no advocacy, no gear library, no ambassador program, no Trail Newsletter and blog, etc.

Crisis

Washington State Parks, lands and trails are in crisis mode as trails are overrun and are now at risk of being destroyed by our love. A right yes, but so many organizations have come to depend on non-profits.

One idea the talented employees left WTA with last weekend was a hope of filing trail reports with titles of “My Neighborhood” and “My Backyard” in order to show others the correct way on the trail as of today.

My Neighborhood Hike

Outside In

The following is my trip report on Washington Trails Association

…It took two dandelions to find four hours of bliss today.

I located the specimens on my way out on a neighborhood run this morning. Upon my return home I found solitude with my camera and faced the daytime with future fractals.

It’s amazing how a few practice shots and some common items around the house can provide hours of entertainment and peace.

My friends are among the backyard flowers as they return social distancing that is required for my survival.

It is an act of moral responsibility by saying above all else, I care enough about the future of our environment to not go to into the woods.

 

Who Else is Snackin’?

If the COVID-19 doesn’t make me sick, the snackin’ certainly may.

Even though I have been running and hiking up to last weekend like mad, my will power to un-consume, has gone by the serious way side.

Last week I made cranberry muffins, went through those, a bag of almonds, ate that, bottles of red wine, gone, banana bread that my husband helped me with…

Glutonny is ug-i-ly. I believe it manifests itself in many ways, such as my example of food above or perhaps hoarding toilet paper, hand sanitizers and paper towels. Basically I’ve just lost my way with self-contol because there are so many others things to consider controlling, like obsessive cleaning and hand washing. I don’t know.

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My self-control has also been challenged with excessive running and hiking lately. Forty miles in one week seems a bit excessive as well. I could say it was for health reasons, which it is but it all plays into the game. Run to eat, hike to eat, do weights to eat.

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I’m not sure what exactly brings this all on except there are a lot of us who are stressed out and frightened right now. Stress certainly triggers it in my opinion.

For today I am a better person for understanding this. And for whatever the cause, I should be thankful for my health and take care of the condition.

Let’s stress less, use more self-control, create limits and routines and remember to breathe.

 

The Cycle of Hope and Despair

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Mt. Rainier, Washington State

Changing Attitudes and Feelings

…Social Media

Over the past 10 years myself and many of my friends have shown gratitude on social media with an abundance of pictures of families, social outings, and travel. Like everyone, this is why we participate. As social media evolves, with these daily examples of life, it is clear we are beyond blessed and thankful, and show this each and every day of the week.

Many times I felt the struggle of guarded feelings of jealousy and being envious.

COVID-19 US Ground Zero

It is March 16, 2020, Washington State. Up the road, just east of Seattle is Kirkland. Life Center of Kirkland, had the first casualties from COVID-19 the past month. The virus is spreading from China, to Italy, most of Europe and the United States.

Within a month or less time, we moved from denial to acceptance. We have sent our kids home from school for six weeks, closed public places, and started to shelter in place. We collectively looked at facts as evidence and then became people who sought hope in our medical community and governing powers, more than seeking our own self recognition.

Hope can be fleeting, however. Hope is and will be challenging. It is a hard to maintain and even harder place to live. When hope dwindles you easily begin to drive down a road of despair. Just that fast.

When you loose hope together and willingly, despair consumes you.

The Cycle of Despair and Hope

Today it flipped for me. As my husband and I walked a few miles through the surrounding  neighborhoods, the lesson I saw was many people standing outside in their front yards looking for us to say hello or to stop. Keep in mind it is chilly here in Washington State, 35 degrees and breezy and clear. Yet I never saw so many people outdoors, cleaning the garage, working in the yard, playing with their dogs, walking.

 “I am good,” I say, “how about you” with a smile, not looking away and down at my phone like I would have done on any other given day. Today my glance lingered, my smile lasted a bit longer. Then it was apparent. I added a word of encouragement keeping my social distance.

Isolation Spreads Despair

No one wants to feel isolated and despair lives in isolation. Hope thrives when we are together even if it is at a distance. We need a reassuring smile to see we are still going on but, remember we have done it to ourselves when we feed into despair.

Togetherness Builds Hope

As I walked I continued to think hope will be the big idea and safety net today, especially in light with what’s around us. Observe, listen and above all else remain positive. We are learning a new way to navigate life and cope with fleeting hope for a short time.

When you become tired and weary let others lift you and don’t drive down that road of despair and take others with you.  I was headed there when I stepped out my front door feeling alone today.  Help each other, reach out from a distance.  We are in this together.

Take that step.

It’s Time to Submit for the Permit

Meet Candace. This week Candace and I met to go over our itinerary we are submitting for the Wonderland Trail. We have a few others who may hop on and off the trail along the way but mostly it will be just Candace and myself and then the potential of meeting close to 100 more folks that we have no idea who they are and they don’t even know who they are yet. In other words, it is a random lottery fest to see who gets the coveted permit within the desired window of time. Mt. Rainier National Park holds the statistics on the lottery with only a small percentage being issued ahead of time and most all handed out after appearing at the door of a ranger station ready to go.

I am sure I put too much thought into it but, the most popular and currently used book is Tami Asars, “Hiking the Wonderland Trail”. Since Tami Asars book is currently so popular, we picked the more leisurely 13 day trek and settled on submitting our permits for both counter-clockwise and clockwise, mid August, beginning at Mowich, a less desirable starting point.

Timing is everything and the later the better. Reason one we decided on mid August is, the snow pack is much higher this year and will more than likely put us a week or two later in the season.

Mowich is also less desirable for the following reason. Mowich Lake drive-in campground is an eleven mile dirt hole drive through potholes and mud until you arrive at your even more dusty location.

After you leave your vehicle there for over a week, no telling what could happen. You may not be able to find it with all the dust. There is also no running water and pit toilets. The one desirable thing about Mowich is the beautiful crystal blue serene lake.

Planning is hard work…

In the end, since the probability of being pulled out of a lottery for any itinerary published in Tami’s book is slim to none, coupled with the most desirable time to do the Wonderland being late July and August, I really thought through our strategy over and over again in my head in the middle of the night.

The window to submit is March 15th-30th this year. Here is where we started after meeting and then here is where we discussed again Tuesday and landed…

Here is my thinking why starting at Frying Pan Creek is most desirable….

First, the trailhead is in a good spot for one of the most challenging portions of the trip.

This trailhead leads to Summerland and the highest point of the Wonderland, Panhandle Gap. Panhandle Gap is usually always snow covered and there is a 2900′ elevation gain from the TH to the gap. The nice part about this is, we will stay at Indian Bar one night, then Nickel Creek day two. Our next cache is at Longmire, adjacent to our stay at either Paradise River or Cougar Rock or The National Park Inn.

2900′ elevation gain with two days of food sounds really desirable to me. It gives us a burger and a beverage at Longmire with our trip ending at Sunrise for another burger and adult celebration beverage.

After day hiking for years, I think Frying Pan Creek is most certainly the ticket!

I am using the Wonderland Guides Trail Planner to play around with several scenarios. It has online tools and easy guides to adjust days.

The best book currently available is Tami Asars Hiking the Wonderland Trail

Trail Grub and Snowshoe Video

Nothing is more important than good food on the trail.

A few weeks ago my friend Carrie and I ran into three ladies who had hiked the Wonderland Trail successfully a few years ago.

Since we were hut mates for the evening, Carrie, mostly picked their brains for the entire evening. Their food looked delicious and they talked about how many things they had dehydrated and dumped into ziplock baggies.

Ziplock baggies is key here because on the Wonderland it is pack it in and pack it out. You might find yourself with trash for days if you take the store brand sealable cooking pouch bags. Also if you’ve ever actually sampled those, they are hit and miss with taste with some of the desserts being overly sweet and lacking fresh taste.

When we returned after our stay at the hut, these recipes magically appeared in my email box.

I’ve also decided to dive into the world of dehydration. I should be able to do this with my oven that has low and convection settings.

Also important to note, a wonderful website TrailCooking.com

I’m doing the happy dance!

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Seated left to right:       Carrie, Lisa, Shannon, Susan, Catherine

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  Snowshoe Video

 

How to Know YOUR Gym Workout is Working for YOU

GYM DAYS

Find Your Fit

Find Your Fit

Find a good gym, with excellent trainers.

Click for Information on MyZone

Today was 4 Minute Rounds between a menu of cardio and strength activities and bouncing back and fourth for sixty minutes. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) to say the least! Between each 4 minute round, we did 5 burpies.

Seriously, of all the things I do, Find Your Fit is probably the best thing I could have done for myself in the past 40 years.

About the Gym

Find Your Fit is a family owned and operated facility from the ground up. Workouts are created with all fitness levels in mind. The facility was created with the idea that everyone has unique fitness goals and abilities, and the path to get to those goals can vary greatly. Whether you exercise everyday or you’ve never stepped into a gym before, Find Your Fit can help you reach YOUR goals. They can modify any exercise when necessary,  while still pushing you harder than ever before.

I meet with Shane once a week on my nutrition goals as well. A few years back I took a hard look at my weight and why it bounced around all the time. Shane has helped me by staying accountable and by focusing my attention by bringing out some details in my nutrition that were lacking.

Each week he looks over my food plan. I use My Fitness Pal to log all my nutrition and calories and exercise. He then looks at the calories overall and the pie chart that shows the breakdown of carbohydrates, protein and fats.

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Also a nice feature of these check-ins are Shane will periodically do a body fat measurement with the calipers. He also arranges for a mobile truck from BodySpec that scans your body for bone density, fat and muscle. It amazes me how high tech everything is. Making the comparisons between the two has allowed me to have some grace with getting older and by having realistic goals.

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Edit “Gym Days”

Growing up in the Shadow of a Mountain

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Burroughs Three, Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington State


This is the year of my own story. It begins at the Wonderland Trail. I plan to spend 10-12 nights in the backcountry of Mt. Rainier backpacking.

You will find many helpful tips on my blog because everything I have accomplished in my life so far has led me here to my own backyard.

My family came to the Pacific Northwest over 100 years ago. It was a family who respected all people, and who were above all else passionate about nature, service minded, and hardworking.

My name is Lisa Elliott. I have been a wife, teacher and mother most of my life now. My friends say I’m badass but, I am really a big woosy. I have some major fears with being outdoors at night and alone in my own home at night by myself for that matter.

Our family has grown a new generation of grandchildren now. Having my own grandchildren has brought back memories of when I was little. Memories that include what I hoped and dreamed for and what continues to matter the most in my life as an adult today.

In the very least I hope to inspire a strong generation of men and women who are fearless, compassionate and serving.

A Life of Purpose

I recently retired as a public school teacher but just because I gave up a paycheck doesn’t mean I’m done with life. As of late, I applied to be an Ambassador for Washington Trails Association in Pierce County, WA. It was quite the interview process too. The mission of the WTA is access for all. That means they take it very seriously when it comes to diversity, equity and access. Their mission to connect people to trails, to provide access and grow and nurture a lifelong appreciation for the outdoors, really fit me. So if you see me know on the trail, I might look more like this.

How My Purpose Changed

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When I was a very young girl, my grandmother on my mom’s side used to tell me of when she lived on the mountain at Longmire, Washington. That mountain was Mt. Rainier, located in Washington State. The mountain and the community of people she encountered had such a tremendous impact on her as a young girl.

As a young child I began to know the mountain because my grandmother would take me on long nature walks and teach me the names of all the plants in our back forest of 10 acres. This brought her much happiness and joy because she frequently would speak about those times with a smile.

Grandma’s Life on the Mountain

Our own home was a small farm with an immense dense forest within the Fruitland area of Puyallup, pronounced Pew-all-up. Sometimes it felt like you could reach out and touch the mountain but we were still 30 miles away as the crow flies. We have a saying around here, “Live like the mountain is out.” With my grandmother’s encouragement and living like the mountain was out each day by being outdoors, climbing trees, and building forts, it instilled a lifelong appreciation of nature and for the environment that surrounded me. An appreciation that my grandmother passed on to me through her hand to mine.

My hope throughout the remainder of my life is to be able to do the same with my grandchildren and live a little speck of time on the mountain in order to conquer some personal fears of mine.

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Stories and a Man they Named a Glacier After

My grandmother also had many stories of adventures from living on the mountain. One of my favorites was of when she lived at Longmire and would be stalked by a cougar at 11 years of age. Then there was the story of the raiding bears of Longmire Campground who came for dinner each night. Finally the stories of following Professor J.B. Flett around the mountain as he cataloged plants. Today there is a glacier named for Dr. Flett, Flett Glacier.  Her first love was more than likely the mountain first, but I could tell she had a place in her heart for Dr. Flett, too.

Summers on The Mountain

The following is a part of my grandmother Ruth’s stories…

Most of my summers when growing up were spent at Longmire Springs in Rainier National Park. They were happy, healthy, carefree days and also very educational. My family all worked at Longmire and we lived in a tent community with all the other employees of the park. The tent frames would sort of remain there, year round except that they would usually need repairs in the spring. Everything else would be stored over for the winter in a large warehouse.

Living with the Bears

by Ruth Lillian Knoll

Bears were our constant companions and garbage cans could be heard being ransacked all night long. Days we swam in the sulphur plunge and drank the soda iron and sulphur water from the springs. No wonder we were healthy. Most wonderful of all were our days spent with our dear teacher.

Every morning when we would see him start out, every kid in tent city would be ready to follow him, to have unfolded to them the beauty and marvels of the universe. Especially those around Mount Rainier. The Pied Piper of Hamlin couldn’t have had more entranced followers.

Nearly everyday we would follow him up a different mountain trail and he would tell us all about the fishes and bugs in the creeks. All about the rocks and the mosses. We would gather flowers as we went along and he knew all their botanical and common names. He knew the names of all the animals and birds, and it seemed to us that he knew and loved everything and also loved all of us. And never seemed to tire of imparting his great knowledge to us.

The mountain and its pungent smells, meadows, streams and glowers always bring back a fond memory of this most wonderful man. What a privilege to have known him, not knowing who he really was or even caring, but later learning that he was Professor Flett, a renowned botanist teaching at Pacific Lutheran University and was classifying all the flora and fauna of Rainier National Park for the United States Government.

Professor Flett was a pioneer of Pierce County, Washington, and the Flett Dairy family are a part of him. His work on earth was very well done.

A bit more about my grandmother. My grandmother, Ruth Lillian Sharpe was born in Buffalo, New York, April 8, 1904. She came west with her family, when she was 2. Her family consisted of her older brothers, Carl W. Sharpe, and Clarence Sharpe. Her mother, Isabelle McPherson Sharpe (Belle or Bella) was born in Canada, Her father, Charles William Sharpe was born in Wateringbury, Kent, England.  Her grandfather, Alexander McPherson also moved here, born in Scotland and buried not too much longer after coming here in The Old Tacoma Cemetery.

                                     Great Aunt Mildred McPherson 

Early Years

In the early 1900’s the Sharpe family purchased a 10 acre plot of land in Puyallup between Fruitland and Woodland avenue on 104th and south to 112th. The trolly came down 104th and turned at Fruitland and headed down Fruitland Avenue and also flowed the opposite way allowed them access to Tacoma. During this time my great-grandparents mostly raised chickens while my great-grandmother and great Aunt Lil worked in the Elite Restaurant in downtown Tacoma at 26th and Pacific.  I was told my grandma Ruth as a toddler used to sleep under the counter while my great-grandmother worked in the restaurant.

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While working in Tacoma my great-grandmother, and her two sons, Clarence and Carl, who also worked in Tacoma came upon a grand opportunity. The opportunity was to move to Longmire at Mt. Rainier National Park and help run and work as the park was becoming more developed. There had been some debate over how the Longmire’s ran the current property as they were a private family who profited from their business. Eventually the park purchased all the property from the Longmire family.

Longmire Hot Springs

Sometime around 1910 my grandmother’s brothers Clarence and Carl, ended up managing the Longmire Hot Springs Hotel. Perhaps it was just Clarence because Carl worked as a postal worker in Tacoma. They were both handsome, full of energy, outgoing and hardworking. At Longmire, my great-grandmother worked at the store, my great-great grandfather, her father, built the rock fireplace in the store and community building across the Nisqually river. I believe big dreams eventually caught Uncle Clarence as there was mention of MGM studios and he ended up living in Los Angeles and married to my Aunt Edie who was a beautiful professional singer.

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Longmire’s Gas Lanterns and Tents

The following is a part of my grandmother Ruth’s written stories…

My brother Clarence worked at the Rainier National Park Inn which is across the road from the only one Longmire now. My brother Carl drove the bus that carried the passengers that had come from Tacoma and Seattle by train to Ashford and then from Ashford the bus brought them to Longmire and up to Paradise. That was the way nearly everyone came to the mountain at that time. There was no electricity in the park yet and I can still see my father lighting all the gas lamps or lanterns they were called, and putting on new mantels so that they could be lighted before dark and the guests could see where they were going. I remember how he was always worrying about the plumbing that was always breaking down. Many of the guests sleep in the tents and the lanterns were spaced along the wooded walkways between the tents.

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Longmire Sulphur Pool

by Ruth Lillian Knoll

At the back of the Longmire Inn was a sulphur swimming pool, called the plunge, that the hotel guests used but, we had use of it too. It was so buoyant that it was impossible to sink or drown in it and the sulphur water was wonderful for your skin. When you came out of the water you felt great. Longmire Springs was considered a health resort during those years.

The Longmire Family was Gone

by Ruth Lillian Knoll

The Longmire family, who had by now gone from the park and now lived in Yelm and Roy, came up every summer with their pack horses taking tourists in every directions, all over every part that wasn’t too steep for an animal. I managed to make a lot of these trips too, as one of the Longmire girls was a close friend and there were always horses that needed exercising. I guess I earned the trips tho, as I can remember washing an awful lot of dishes for a very large Longmire family that were in their own camp over by the Nisqually River. One of the other privileges I had was inviting any of my friends to have a milkshake or soda or sundae at our local confectioners anytime and my father or two doting brothers would pick up the tab. You can’t do better that that. Although they were a lot cheaper then, then they are now. We consumed a lot of them. Also a lot of candy won on a punch board.

Being Stalked by a Cougar

by Ruth Lillian Knoll

As a young child a hair raising thing happened to me. My parents were always working, and seemed to trust that I would take care of myself, which I usually could do but by some hook or crook, I managed to attach myself to a group of mountain climbers who were going to climb the Ramparts, a rather short climb out of Longmire Springs.

They were a group of doctors and their wives, about either or ten people, I did not know one of them personally and how they agreed to take me with them has always been a mystery. We left Longmire rather late in the afternoon, and had an uneventful climb up. After reaching the top and admiring the view with Longmire below, we were all sitting on a log resting. First we heard a cracking noise, and about 25 feet from us was a cougar sitting and looking at us, and absolute panic struck everyone. By this time it was beginning to darken and we hastened to start back. We were walking single file down a narrow mountain trail and the cougar was following us through the woods, not behind us but opposite us at what seemed a very close range. The men were saying that if the cougar attacked it would be the child (me) that it would go for so they put me in the middle of the line between two men. Some of the men carried flashlights and kept them turned on as it was getting darker every minute. No one had a gun.

That cougar followed us every step of the way back and it became dark and all we could see was its eyes.  When we finally saw the lights of Longmire, we lost the cougar, much to to the relief of everyone.

I have often wondered what that big cat had on its mind.

Later On

Years later during high school in the 70’s, I became a member of our hiking club at Puyallup High School. We hiked much of the trail system at Rainier. At that time you could drive all the way in on Westside Road, now closed, clear up to the Tahoma, St. Andrews and Klapatche trailheads. You could also drive into Ipsut Campgrounds and access the Carbon Glacier, an easy day hike, or bust your butt on Ipsut Pass and onward to Mowich. My friends know this story.

In many ways getting around the mountain used to be easier when you could just drive up. I became familiar with and got around the Wonderland by day and could easily come home to a comfy bed and shower at night. In this way the mountain became a map is in my head like a walk in your own neighborhood might be however I never got to see it at night and for me that was a real good thing.

Today I see myself there, this year. This is my year. I am doing it.

Any Hikers Frustrated with Expensive Jackets. You’ll be Shocked.

Any Hikers Frustrated with Expensive Jackets. You’ll be Shocked.

Washington Weather Tested Jackets

Over the past several years I’ve had the opportunity to test a number of so-called, water resistant “Gore-Tex” jackets. Each one of these jackets cost well over $100 each but only one out of the three truly did not “wet-out”.

Living in the pacific northwest gets challenging for hikers and backpackers when it comes to waterproof jackets, pants and shells. The Mountain Hardwear (red) seen on the left was the most expensive, Columbia (white) was next,The North Face (pink heather)  and then followed by Marmot (blue turquoise) being the least expensive.

I wore all these jackets all seasons with layers underneath. Three of these did not perform and one came out on top. If you are testing a new jacket, I highly suggest you bring a cheap plastic poncho because you will be shocked at the lack of results for the price you pay for all but one of these jackets. Keep in mind I hike in all kinds of extreme weather. Rain that soaks, completely soaks, is not uncommon in our neck of the woods.

Want to make a guess which one performed in the worst conditions?

Then click to picture to find out why…

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Sometimes you don’t get what you paid for and in this case, always carry a $1.49 plastic poncho. I call it the 10 essentials +1 for Washington State.

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