Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Day 64: Getting lost....

August 12: It was finally time to get back on the trail. Amanda drove me back to Lyman where I would continue my hike--and with my full pack once again. My slackpacking days were over.

I followed Pipeline Road north across Highway 20 and back toward the primary PNT route. Two aggressive dogs near the end of the road worried me and I pulled out my bear spray just in case they caused trouble, but I got by without having to use it. Dogs worry me a lot more on the trail than bears, I'll tell you that. I've had far more problems with dogs than I've ever had with bears. It was the main reason I hadn't ditched my bear spray since leaving grizzly country. I knew there were a lot of road walks along this route, and I worried about the dogs that people let run loose.

Crossing Highway 20 at Pipeline Road in Lyman.

There was maybe a quarter-mile of trail between Pipeline Road and the logging road that the primary PNT followed, but I had trouble figuring out how to connect the two. Because this route was a detour featured on the PNTA website to avoid an active logging operation, it wasn't really marked on my map or on my GPS device. I just knew I needed to hike north a short way to reconnect with the primary route.

At one point, according to my GPS, I was less than 1000 feet from the trail, so I looked for a way to connect me and found what looked like an overgrown fire break. I tried following it a bit, but blackberry bushes kept catching me with their thorns and it took me 5 minutes to walk about 15 feet into the break. It was horrible! I finally decided to give up and turned back.

I remembered seeing what appeared to be a trail further back, so I returned to that. It didn't appear to be an official trail, but more of a game trail, but it seemed like it might go in the direction I wanted, so I followed it.

I tried following this apparent fire break at first,
but eventually turned back due to the brambles!

That trail was terribly muddy in sections, but I got through faster. But when I reached a junction, I had no idea which way to take. I tried one direction for awhile, but eventually it seemed to be taking me in the wrong direction and I backtracked again before taking the other route.

Then repeated the process again at yet another junction. There appeared to be a whole network of informal trails through this area!

From my map, I knew I needed to get across a small creek which I eventually reached, and there did appear to be a barely perceptible game trail up a steep hillside on the other side. So I crossed the creek and followed it up, where more blackberry thorns attacked me.

In all, I probably spent the better part of an hour trying to connect that 1000 feet from the end of Pipeline Road to the primary route on the PNT. It was awful! And I finally spilled out onto the gravel road and shouted with joy. Yes! I made it!

The trails I did end up following weren't well defined or maintained.

I wasn't on the road for 5 minutes when a pickup truck drove up and stopped next to me. The driver rolled down his window and asked what I was doing out here.

I told him I was hiking the PNT. He explained that he was hired as security by a logging company and patrolled the area--apparently eco-freaks have caused issues in the past.

"How did you find me so fast? Do you have sensors out here or something? I've only been on this road for not even five minutes!"

He never really answered, but I think it was just a coincidence. I showed him a map of the trail which he looked at and he seemed confused that I wasn't taking the fastest route to the Olympics. "But then I wouldn't be hiking the PNT!" *rolling eyes*

He was completely unfamiliar with the trail--despite driving up and down it on a daily basis.

I was so happy when I finally reached the logging road!

Then he asked where I was from.


"Oooh. The city council just voted to defund your police department by 50%. Good luck calling 911."

Oh, I see. He also liked to watch fake news. I have to admit, I hadn't really been following the news very closely since getting on the trail, and while I wasn't aware of any votes taking place, I knew darned well that was completely and utterly false.

"Well, the protesters want to defund the police by 50%, not the city council," I suggested politely.

"Oh, no... they just voted on it. And it would have been unanimous except one city council member didn't think the cuts were deep enough."

Dumbass. Actually, I could totally believe that they voted for some cuts. The pandemic is going to cause governments at all levels and all departments to require budget cuts, and with police making up a large chunk of the budget, it makes sense that cuts will need to happen. And if a small cut might help appease the protesters and reduce their intensity, that's not necessarily a bad thing. But I knew darned well that the city council at large had no intention of such reckless and draconian cuts. I figured they'd probably vote to cut the police funding by 5 or 10% or something, which in my book is more of a budget cut than truly "defunding" anything.

And I totally believed that one city council member would have voted against it for not thinking that 10% or whatever wasn't enough: Kshama Sawant--definitely the most radical of the council members. But I doubted that even she would vote for more than a 50% cut.

So I knew the guy was full of crap, mixing up real news with with fake news, and it just annoyed the hell out of me. And it annoyed me even more that I hadn't been following the news well enough to call him out on it. I knew enough to know it was BS, but not enough to give actual facts. It's very frustrating!

(If you're curious, now that I can look it up, the 2020 budget called for about a 1% reduction to police, and the 2021 proposed budget calls for a 12% cut. Still nowhere close to 50%. And even that isn't as bad as it seems since most of the "cuts" just move things like parking enforcement and 911 dispatchers to other departments.)

Anyhow, eventually the guy left, but he left a bad taste in my mouth.

I continued on my hiking, eventually reaching the dead-end of a logging road. Or rather a dead-end for vehicles. The road used to continue through but was no longer maintained, and now only people could hike through.

This 'bushwhack' actually followed an old road, but it took me about a half-hour to cover the 0.25 miles along it. It was badly overgrown with brambles and I just couldn't move through it very quickly!

But it was a terrible hike, overgrown with those thorny blackberry bushes ripping at my clothes. It was probably just a quarter-mile, but it took me about a half hour to get through that little section. Wasn't there a gravel logging road that could have taken me around it?

But I made it through--finally--and that was my last bushwhack for awhile. Now it was road walk for pretty much the rest of the day.

Late in the afternoon, though, I started seeing signs that suggested active logging was ahead. Then I reached a clearing that obviously was in the process of being logged! None of the machinery was running at the moment--it was probably after quitting time--but I found myself walking past the giant machinery and piles of cut but unprocessed trees. I had the impression that I wasn't supposed to be walking through. Heck, the detour that took me into Lyman was in place to avoid an area of active logging! Why wasn't there a detour around this section too?

But I didn't know how all the logging roads intersected or which areas were actively being logged, so I plowed through along the primary route anyhow.

At the edge of the logged area, the PNT heads into the woods on a small trail through DNR land. I had trouble finding the it (the Gurdgieff Connector Trail) through all the destruction caused by the logging. Eventually I found it, though, and escaped onto a short section of actual trail.

The trail would only last a couple of miles, however, before returning to logging roads, and being late in the day, I set up camp smack in the middle of it. If that wasn't enough reason to stop for camp, my map warned that the next 16 miles went through private property owned by the logging companies and it was illegal to camp. So I stopped in the small parcel of DNR land for the night.

It was a nice campsite, too, at a small open area with flat ground. I only covered 13.3 miles for the day, but overall, I found it a pretty miserable day of hiking and was thrilled that at least I ended at a pretty nice place to camp. =)

One nice thing about clear-cuts... at least they left wide-open views to enjoy! =)

But clear-cuts are definitely an eye-sore too.

I was rather surprised to find any evidence of the PNT out here!

Views of Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands!

Logging equipment

These are definitely freshly-cut areas! Probably from earlier in the afternoon.

My campsite for the night--a lovely little open area. =)


Lou Catozzi (PI Joe) said...

Do we need to start throwing around the claims of click-bait subject lines? :+) At no time during your narrative of the day's events did I get the impression you were getting lost.

Ryan said...

Well... I had a lot of trouble reaching the trail! It's one thing to know where you are. It's another to know where to go! Just cause I always knew where I was doesn't mean I didn't know where to go. ;o)

And I took several wrong turns along the way! If that's not a sign of being lost, I don't know what is!

Eidolon said...

I agree that this is click-bait. You just neglected to include a scantily clad woman as the main photo. You were not lost, you were just wandering aimlessly.

kellbell said...

I live in Mount Vernon WA and am trying to complete 500 miles on the PNT bit by bit. (Actually 500 miles on five different trails is the complete goal.) Anyway, I've had Lyman Hill on my to do list, but I've been really nervous about it -- and you've confirmed why. But I am loving reading about your detailed journey; I've read a couple PNT hiker's blogs, but they gave very little info about this area. It seems most PNTers skip it altogether. (Who can blame them!) So congrats on toughing out this crazy logging road mess! I'm looking forward to reading the rest of your story and putting together my plan for the 300 miles I have yet to do. (Check out my blog if you're interested ;))