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Waiting for snow

Posted by joeabbott on November 11, 2018

While I wait for snow I’m still getting out. A little. I returned to a hike I’ve already done twice this year but, because I tossed out my pictures from the last outing, I’ll make this mostly about the images and not so much a play-by-play of the hike.


While not as cold as any of us thought it might be, we were constant friends of frost in the lower areas and snow in the upper! Winds were low and that made for nice hiking weather. Here’s a shot as we were crossing the Nisqually River.


We had a few river crossings but all on bridges, some more rustic than others. All were less slick than I’d imagined they’d be.


A curious break

I saw this tree last time and, in higher winds, it made passing below it spooky with all its creaking. Today it was silent but still ominous. You can find this on the trail between Longmire and Paradise in Mt. Rainier National Park at about 4180’.


Closer to Paradise

Not only were we seeing more snow, we got views of Mt. Rainier. It was good to see her with a little snow coming back!


Reflection Lake

As per our usual habit, we sidetracked a mile and a half to Reflection Lake … surprised to see it iced over!


Old water pipe

I love the section of the trail that abuts an old water main that brought water off the mountain to some of the lower sections. Coopered pipes of wood, complete with wooden joints, wrapped in steel cable. It’s a fantastic bit of engineering and workmanship.



Coming home

While long hiking trips always energize and feed me, they can also be tiring. A long day of walking in cold and damp weather can be seen in my partner Tim’s posture as we head back across the Nisqually.


That’s it!

Thanks for dropping in and sharing the trail.


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Sorry I’m late!

Posted by joeabbott on November 4, 2018

I’ve been caught up in a whirlwind of activities, some my old faves and a few news ones. Rather than many smaller posts, I’ll try to catch up here with a grab bag of “what’s Joe been doing lately”!

Driving to work

With so many special activities on the calendar, I’ve driven into work a few times this past week rather than take the bus. The bus is, in a word, miserable. OK, maybe not that bad but I leave the house a half hour later, it takes 30 minutes longer, and both the seats and air temp are uncomfortable. I take the bus for two reasons: I’m frugal and it saves me a lot of gas money and this picture sums up the rest. Yup, this is from when I was on the road at about 5:30AM and what I get to see … I’ve added a close-up of one of the key details:


Yeah, that’s not unusual. Vehicles all around and at a complete stop. It’s just for one section of the roadway but it’s pretty irksome. So … I’ll take the bus when I can.

A long walk

Suzy and I have been enjoying some of our old favorites here in the south end over the past many weekends. One of our enjoyable haunts is a donut shop called Legendary Doughnuts; I’m a fan of their salted caramel doughsant, Suzy favors a tiger tail or apple fritter. Regardless, we realize it’s calorically unbalanced to drive somewhere for fried dough, so we find some nice places to walk before we enjoy our rewards.

On our last trip we found the Vista Ridge Trail.

WP_20181027_12_07_29_Proimage lists it as a 2.8 mile, 300’ elevation gain loop and that seems about right. You lose most of your elevation from the get-go as you follow a busy road and then gain it immediately thereafter as you head up through a greenbelt before rejoining a modern housing development.

That arrow I included on the small map? Oh, that’s the location of Legendary Doughnuts!


I should have said “Halloween”, but for us the main attraction is getting together with Suzy’s brother’s family, having a meal out, and then carving pumpkins.

We almost always choose The Outback before we carve, but will tradeoff hosting the carving. Or, maybe we always do it at their house … now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t recall us carving often at our home in the recent few years. Either way, I look forward to it and seeing the design each of us chooses to carve.

This year Stevie carved an alien, Julie did a fiery design (it was called “Hothead”, I think), Suzy carved an owl, and I took inspiration from the movie Nightmare Before Christmas and carved a character called Oogie Boogie. Yeah, Oogie took me all of four cuts to complete … my kinda pumpkin design!


At home, Suzy’s pumpkin greeted Trick-or-Treaters on the Smith Brother’s milk box outside our front door, and mine was at the bottom of the stairs grinning over whoever was handing out the candy.


Starting the build

And a big bit of news from our small corner is that we’re starting the build on our new home!

Yup, the permits are “in” (mostly … long story but insert any notion of bureaucracy you might imagine here and it’d be close enough) and we’re starting our build. One of our initial hopes was to avoid building in the rainy season, but we’re kicking off smack dab at the start of it. We’d told ourselves starting now would avoid building when the ground was most saturated, but a trip to our property the other day kinda eroded that notion, as large areas of standing water were in evidence.

But, the market’s right for getting workers on our project, our builder is confident he can do a quality job, and our informal survey of people in the industry can’t find a single one who warns against building during this season … “happens all the time and we know how to do it”.

OK, let’s go!

Here was our property a week back … complete with trees and a couple deer:


And here we were yesterday:


Plenty of trees, just not the ones where we are going to put the house!

Yesterday we painted lines where were are going to place the house and barn; pretty exciting stuff. Suzy and I also cleared out the small shed we built on the property … was that really two years ago we put that up?!? This will give the people working on our project a small “shop” in which to stand when it’s raining, roll out plans and keep them out of the rain, and have a small storehouse for “stuff”.


Last and, probably least, I have a bit of gaming going. After a massive August I focused on just a few games since, most notably getting 100% in something called Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen. It proved to be something of a month-long time-sink with my first achievement coming on October 4 and my final achievement landing on the 31st, but it was nice to complete. I made some new friends while playing and seeking advice, but this month I plan on seeing my gamerscore rise a bit, so there’ll be a bit more variety in my gaming.



As you can see, in the first four days of November I’ve already outstripped my October count!


That’s it … the big and the small … or, maybe, the small and the smaller news from our little corner of the world. Today we will enjoy some light yard work, a bit of recharging for the coming week, and putting away the few Halloween decorations we’d put out. An enjoyable quiet little life.

Thanks for dropping by and staying in touch!

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Took a walk

Posted by joeabbott on October 20, 2018

Earlier this year when the road to Paradise from Longmire was closed, my hiking partner and I tried to manage the walk; hiking trails somewhat parallel the road but stay far enough off that birdsong and babbling rivers are more often heard than tires on asphalt. Unfortunately, a bridge over the Nisqually River was out and the fording of that river was too dangerous. But we returned last weekend.


While it’s not labeled on my map, the terminus …  or more accurately, turn-around point … is in the upper right, the Paradise Visitor Center. As you can see, we made a detour along the way to enjoy Reflection Lake, mirroring a hike I did with another buddy a month or so back.

We started from Longmire and as we left the cars, were disappointed at our lack of preparation … we could have used some gloves as the temps were in the 40°s. Although, we quickly gained elevation and the work was good at keeping us warm as we were soon shedding layers and enjoying the hike.


While the parking lot had more people in it than we’d have expected, it wasn’t crowded and we saw maybe 3-4 pairs on the trail as we made the trip up. Early on a pair of trail runners passed us and we shared a few quips. We’d see them again on our way down and it was fun to share another quick conversation before they left us behind.

The trail is broad and in good shape up to the Nisqually crossing and beyond. Somewhere near Narada Falls (where our tracks diverge on the map), it gets rocky and a bit steeper, but then levels as you approach Reflection Lake. Between Reflection Lake and Paradise, we saw a few more people but not many. A few times you will espy your destination if you can manage to avert your eyes from the hulking mass of Mt. Rainier. It’s a big one!

At Paradise we wondered at the over-full parking lot and hundreds of people milling about. Several tour busses attested to the fact that tourist season is still in full swing, perhaps bringing folks up to Mt. Rainier to enjoy the fall colors.

Whatever the reason for the crowds, we finished our lunch and decided it was time to head back. Going down is always easier on the muscles, harder on the joints and this season I’m in good enough shape to only notice the joint discomfort. But, it wasn’t terribly long before we found our way back to the car with thoughts of grabbing a bite to eat at Scale Burgers in Elbe.

I’d share pictures but, after a long session of moving photos about and organizing my pics, I realize I just deleted every last one of the shots from this trip. Beyond sad and disappointed. I can be such a knucklehead.

Oh well … hope your trips are as grand but don’t end on a sour note like mine just did. Alas.

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Museum Day–Seattle Museum of History and Industry

Posted by joeabbott on October 20, 2018

imageI’m not sure what you did on September 22 of this year but Suzy and I participated in the Smithsonian magazine Museum Day! Details on this year’s Museum Day can be found here but I heard about it due to the co-sponsoring with Microsoft.

We had a broad list of museums to choose from here in the Seattle area and I was thinking about hitting up a smaller museum, something I’d normally never make time to see … say, the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum, the Renton History Museum, or the Frye Art Museum (although this one is free every day). I thought I’d be going solo as Suzy would be attending another Master Gardner event.

But, her meeting across town didn’t start until 2PM, so we had time to check something out together … so we selected a larger museum: the Museum of History and Industry.

It’s located just off Union Bay just outside of downtown Seattle, a beautiful location, and we greatly enjoyed ourselves. And, I’ll admit, free parking the day of the event was an added bonus.

Here are a few pics from our outing.

Our approach


Expansive interior


Hydroplanes are part of Seattle’s Heritage!


A mural I liked a lot


Suzy enjoys a read


The Fabled “Will the last person leaving Seattle …” sign


A well-deserved break



That’s it … I think we spent three hours walking the exhibits and enjoying all three floors of the museum. Admittedly, I like a quieter time amidst the pictures and artifacts of Seattle’s heritage, but seeing so many people take advantage of the free admission was nice. I’d trade solitude for the masses being educated any day.

I hope you had the opportunity to take advantage of the free entry on Museum Day and, if you missed it, keep and eye out for this awesome event next year! Thanks for dropping by.

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Fixing my Invisible Fence and Binary Numbers

Posted by joeabbott on October 20, 2018

This one is a treat … I actually love it, even though I feel a bit a fool for making the error I’m about to divulge. Buckle in, chums!

Back in September I posted about our Invisible Fence failing; how I’d been told how to turn off the audible alarm and proceeded to fiddle with a bunch of settings. This may ring a bell:


The details of changing the settings aren’t important but the fact that there were four items that could have one of two values is. Let’s write this out: the four items are: Mode, L1 Freq, L1 Signal, and Mask. Each of these can have one of two values … and, honestly, the specific names of the values doesn’t matter for this exercise.

After fiddling with the controls, I forgot what their original settings were … oops. But I reasoned that I’d just try all available settings and one of them should work! There could only be 16 different unique settings for the four items. From Statistics 101: if we have

  • … one item with two values, we’d have 2 different unique settings: 0 and 1
  • … two items with two values, we’d have 4 different unique settings: 00, 01, 10, 11
  • … three items with two values, we’d have 8 different unique settings: 000, 001, 010, 011, 100, 101, 110, 111

And so we see that, for binary choices, the number of unique settings is the square of the number of items:

  • 1^2 = 2
  • 2^2 = 4
  • 3^2 = 8

This brings me to my assertion that I should only have 16 possible combinations to the configuration of the panel: 4^2 = 16. That night I tried randomly plugging in the combinations but lost track … I needed a little structure. So I created this little cheat sheet to help me


Here’s the problem: I wasn’t very organized in how I was doing things. The way you should capture binary is how you should write a decimal number: that is, no one says 0, 1, 2, 4, 8, 3, 5, … which is how the above image reads. By doing so you just lose track and can make and easy mistake. Like I did.

After I created the above image, I tested all these values and when nothing worked I concluded that “something more needs to happen to set the system”. After calling the Invisible Fence tech folks and talking with Makayla (who was awesome), she helped me find the right values and we got our Invisible Fence system back. So, what went wrong?

Well, if you’re sharp-eyed (I wasn’t), you’d see that I duplicated a number. The second column from the right in the upper row shows 0111. And, the second column from the left on the bottom row shows that same number. What number did I miss? Well, the exact sequence that turned out to be the values I needed: 1110.

If I’d just remembered my binary number sequencing and wrote out the values like this: 0000, 0001, 0010, 0011, 0100, 0101, 0110, 0111, 1000, 1001, 1010, 1011, 1100, 1101, 1110, 1111 … everything would have been just fine. And, to be honest, I didn’t need to know about binary numbers or statistics … I just needed to be orderly. I wasn’t.

Thanks for dropping in!

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Been a way a while

Posted by joeabbott on October 20, 2018

Over the past three weeks I’ve been keeping busy … day outings, taking care of the home fires, and of course work: but it’s time for a few quick posts.

clip_image001A month or two ago Suzanne and I visited our property in Granite Falls to inspect a small bit of work needed as part of the permitting process. While there we saw a sign someone had posted at our property: it was a bit of cardboard stapled to a couple of wooden stakes. While a manageable bit of signage at need, it wasn’t the presentation we were looking for at the site of our future home. And so a small project cropped up.

Given our busy days, Suzanne was encouraging me to just get her a bit of plywood so she could paint on the house numbers and get something posted. I had other ideas … that, as they do, took a bit longer to knock out.

I started by printing out some simple numbers as large as I could on a standard piece of paper. I then cut them out, glued them to some scrap lumber I had laying about, and then cut the numbers out on the bandsaw. After that, a bit of sanding finished up the numbers and I needed a frame to put them in.

I chose a bit of wafer board … probably not the best possible wood to use, but as it forms the sheeting for houses and even the underlayment in roofing, I figured it’d be OK. Two pieces about 15”x27” were selected. One piece would be the back, on which the numbers would be attached, and the other formed the frame. Rather than cut out four parts to create the frame, I used my track saw that can make plunge cuts … and I cut out the center of the second piece of wood, leaving a frame about 3” around!

This worked pretty well.

After that, Suzy helped by painting all the parts, making sure to give them lots of coats (pro tip: plan for extra paint if you’re painting wafer board!), and then I glued everything up. After that, a bit of clear shellac finished the presentation part of the sign.

For mounting I dug out some old butterfly clips used to secure two pieces of plywood when butted together. After a bit of bending and drilling, I was able to mount the clips to the back of the sign and then run a piece of rebar up through them. After that it was just a matter of pushing the rebar into the ground and posing for my picture!


Now we just need a house here!

Apologies for the long delays. I’m reminded of a diarist I read who said something like: the trouble with writing about your life is that you need to live a little to have something to write about. Your patience at my long disappearances is appreciated.

Thanks for dropping in.

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Just when you think you’ve had the “last hike” of the season …

Posted by joeabbott on September 30, 2018

… the season just keeps getting longer!

Last weekend Suzy and I took a “final bike ride” of the season but it was so nice, we kept our bikes down from the loft to get out again. After my last hike, I had cleaned up my gear for stowing away until the winter snow set in but we had a forecast for 70°F and sunny skies this weekend, so I got out again! The weather never quite reached 70°F or sunny, but it was a gorgeous day nonetheless.

DSCF2613 Stitch

We headed out to Vesper Peak, a moderately remote peak off the Mount Loop Highway in the middle Cascades. A number of fantastic hikes are accessed via this road and I dream of the day I’ll have more time to explore them all, but yesterday I got my chance to get back to Vesper Peak. While I know that I climbed this peak solo in my youth, so much of the actual ascent of the mountain was novel that I’m starting to question whether I’d actually been to the true summit. Regardless, yesterday I made it!


After parking at a busier-than-expected trailhead, we made short work of the obligatory second growth approach and entered a box canyon with fantastic fall foliage popping on every hillside. You head in with Sperry Peak looming above you on your right and Morning Star above and to the left; your objective being Headlee Pass.


I was feeling super-fit heading into the hike, having kept up my regimen of spinning at the gym a couple days a week and getting out for a mid-week hike on a local peak, but the 4000’ vertical feet of gain in the roughly 4 miles to the top of Vesper had me panting and sweating like crazy. My partner, Heath, was more fit than me … and, let’s be honest, 15 years my junior … so I had my work cut out for me. But, I was happy getting there and we didn’t race. We had plenty of stops and I managed my water well, so I had a great time.

But it was almost crowded on the trail! Part of that may have been the “advertisement” Vesper had received in recent months as a young hiker went missing on this route. She was a solo hiker who had been seen by a number of people as she ascended the peak, but no one saw her descending. And her car was still found at the parking lot. She’d been missing 58 days and it was impossible to miss people were still looking for her.

The people looking for “Sam” Sayers (one article is here) had setup some information at the trailhead, had an established camp at the three-mile point, and a helicopter flew in while we were there as they took trained search dogs out onto a nearby lake in the event Sam had fallen into it. A little sad and somber and while it underscores the dangers of hiking (especially solo), it’s a mystery how she could have so completely just disappeared!


DSCF2635After Headlee Pass you transition from steep scree along a bowl to huge slabs of blocky granite, playing a friction game to the top. The going is fairly steep and the footholds plentiful, but a nice, smooth slab might lead you to an otherwise more difficult section. The vastness of the slope makes it hard to put together your route up.


I chose to hike with my poles and repeatedly was frustrated by that decision. Not enough to stow them on the pack, but each time they skittered off and failed to provide purchase, I was reminded to keep my balance and only trust them when I knew their points were set.

At the top I was greeted by roughly a dozen other climbers and some fabulous views; Sperry Peak standing out the most.


While Vesper Peak may not be for everyone, aside from more solitude, I can’t think of anything a hiker might want that’s not here. It was simply one of the nicest hikes I’ve done in a while: a lot of exertion, phenomenal views, and a variety of scenes on the way in and up. While I rest my feet today, I’m sure to be looking over my pictures from the outing again and again.

Thanks for dropping by.

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And then the rains came … or, turtling-up

Posted by joeabbott on September 22, 2018

2017-01-16 13.09.02With my training trip for our successful Mt. Rainier bid, I have been on the go every weekend for about half a year now. Friday approaches and I’ll have both Saturday and Sunday planned, I get through those, and back to work. Initially it was hard to overcome the inertia of winter and build up momentum to keep going: the preparing for an outing and its imageattendant details, becoming physically strong enough to maintain the pace, and ensuring gear was ready before the coming outings.


After that, it was exhilarating to be operating in a zone where I could hike, bike, or mountaineer with ease, keeping up with my friends or enjoying time with my spouse. Throughout these adventures I battled foot-pain that was unrivaled in recent years, with any trip more than 6-miles being amazingly painful. I could stop and rub my feet out, but that was a short-term fix of limited efficacy on long outings. Fortunately it was less pronounced while wearing snowshoes (which I did a lot) or biking (which I did a bit) and in late season Suzy helped me acquire some insoles that did marvels.


But, as my outings continued, so too did the mess grow in my garage, the staging area for my many adventures: 4 different pairs of boots, the same number of backpacks, multiple pairs of snowshoes, bikes, a tire pump, stoves, filters, first aid kits … you name it.

2018-07-02 12.00.28DSCF2386

And then there were the small household projects that I’d get to: putting the summer fans away in the loft, the bucket I promised to make a “sifting top” for so Suzy could clean soil in the garden to remove rocks, the stash of electronics gear, stones and sharpening tools … just a lot of the things you need for a semi-active life put on hold. A picture of my workbench might be called Still Life of a Suburban Homeowner. It all fed a treadmill of go-go-go that was energizing but starting to sap me. You see, I really do hate to live in a messy space.


And then the rains came.

Yup, I not only looked forward to them but almost needed them. Last weekend I passed on a hike due to some mild sprinkling. We got the garage mostly in order, Suzy’s stone-separating sifter was finished (sorry, love … just as it starts raining Sad smile), and we nearly completed a sign for our house numbers at the new property. Not a bad weekend. But, it didn’t rain much, just some misting and enough to hide behind the excuse of “rain”.

imageToday, however, I awoke around 5AM to glorious gushing! Trees were wind-blown to the point I heard one crack, rain would come in sheets and then buckets, and all sounds of anything but the rain were drowned out … literally. By the time I got up, around 6:30AM, the rain had slowed to a patter and the world was sufficiently saturated. As if knowing we had a new routine, Trasper, our social cat, curled up atop the fuzzy blanket on my lap as I read the paper … rather than his usual quiet mew to see what was outside. It’s good to just pull your head into your shell now and then and “turtle-up”.

imageBut, lest this sounds like I’ve fallen from an active lifestyle just a bit too quickly: my legs are sore from spinning class both on Tuesday and Thursday, as well as an after-work hike of 6-miles with 2100’ of elevation gain on Wednesday, Suzy and I will participate in the Smithsonian sponsored Museum Day today (Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry being our target), and tomorrow we have a last-of-the-season bike ride with a trip to the Old Goat Farm afterwards for an end-of-the-season plant sale. Maybe not everyone’s version of turtling up, but it will work for us.

My fall activities are not as exciting or glamorous as hiking in beautiful or challenging areas, tidying up is hardly the exercise in body or discovery as taking new trails, but it’s part of life … part of my life … and every bit as valued and valuable.

Thanks for dropping in and hoping your fall activities are just as rejuvenating.

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One of the best hikes ever

Posted by joeabbott on September 16, 2018

I’ve been getting out with friends annually for the last 25 years and we’ve seen a lot of Washington state, but this year we hit the trifecta: beautiful weather, minimal bugs, and some of the greatest scenery around. The outing came with a few caveats, however: one of our number wasn’t able to join us due to back problems, another hurt himself kinda badly on the trip, and we were in deep forest more than I’d like. That said, this outing is highly recommended for anyone! The trails are well maintained, the elevation gain\loss isn’t bad, and at 19 miles for the core trail it’s not abusively long.

Let’s take a look at the trip!

Salmo-Priest Wilderness

See the source imageLocated in the north-easternmost corner of Washington state, the Salmo-Priest Wilderness butts up against Canada and Idaho. Western weather off the Pacific that makes it over the Cascade range starts to collide with the Rocky Mountains, giving this little corner of the world about 60” of rain a year. By contrast, Seattle, a notably wet place, gets a little less than 40” of rain a year.

Our outing was a five-day affair: camping at the trailhead on Thursday and returning the following Monday. Like a modern day Camelot, it only rained once before the trip ended and that was at night. The first night the evening temps fell into the upper 30°s, I’d imagine (based on the need to constantly bury my face in my sleeping bag to keep it from getting too cold), but otherwise the temps were in the 70°F range during the days and stayed in the mid-40°F at night.

This was a perfect trip.

Route overview

Our outing took us in a loop, starting from Salmo Pass Trailhead and returning to the same place after taking a clockwise route along the South Salmo River, into Idaho, up Snowy Top Mountain, and back to the trailhead along the Shedroof Divide.

Camp 1 is about 6.7 miles in; Camp 2 is roughly 23.5 miles in.


While this loop will take you about 20 miles, we added nearly 10 additional miles with our excursions: up Snowy Top, to the burned-out lookout on Little Snowy Top, and some other minor ramblings. That said, stretched over 3.5 days of walking it wasn’t significant. Here’s the profile of our trip.



The first day was mostly just driving; it’s an 8-hour trip from Seattle. But, the roads were clear, we weren’t impacted by any of the recent fire issues (either by smoke or road closures), and I had good company. At the trailhead we pitched our tent, had a little dinner, and oriented ourselves to the proper trailhead. As we were doing a loop, we left from one and came back on another … both trails leave from the same lot but by going clockwise around the loop, we avoided a stiff bit of climbing out of a valley on our return.


Friday was getting to camp, which we did in just a few hours. Again, the trails are well-maintained and we lost 1800’ in the first 3 miles, making that a quick bit of work. We had one minor river crossing at the bottom of the elevation loss, hopping the South Salmo River, but our late-season timeline played well for those with good balance, as we were able to rock-hop from one bank to the other. Tim, chose to test the frosty temps of the South Salmo and ford the river. His report: that was cold.


A couple hours from the crossing and maybe three hours since we left the car, we came to a camp site that we called “home”. It was before noon but it allowed us plenty of time to pump water, find trees for hanging food, setting out a dining area, and generally getting a heavy pack off our backs. This trip was about sharing time with old friends and so we did that … mostly by finding a nice place to read whatever we brought.DSCF2417 Stitch

Later we talked about our jobs, spouses, our buddy back home, and caught up on the happenings in each others’ lives. While we’d all been out together on training hikes, as we’d climbed Mt. Rainier together earlier in the summer, there’s always something new to catch up on.


DSCF2438Saturday started out with a bit of a problem. One of our number took an early morning slip and was impaled by a sharp branch sticking out from a downed tree, but we didn’t realize the extent of the problem. He took care of the issue but we had agreed to hike to Snowy Mountain just after breakfast, so we headed up.

At Snowy Top Pass, just before we started up the mountain itself, we took a small break; at that point we realized the injury was worse than we’d thought. As we generally agreed to head back, I ran up a small slope of about 30’ and enjoyed some nice views, to which I beckoned the others. At this point, the injured party said something like, I think I can make it. Which I interpreted to mean “make it up Snowy Top. And so I headed up. He was talking about the small 30’ slope.

I feel quite bad that I made\encouraged an injured person to hike the mountain, but he was game and we all made it to the top and down without further problems. Still, not cool on my part.

DSCF2455 Stitch

DSCF2480On the return to the campsite I got out ahead and ran into a black bear. At that time I didn’t know it was a black and lots of news about grizzly re-introduction going on had me pretty frightened. The bear was hidden behind a stand of trees and he noticed me first, whereon he started huffing and vocalizing his displeasure at my approach. I froze, waiting for Tim and Ron to catch up and, bear spray in hand, we slowly eased past the tree stand to see the bear partway up another tree … and, on seeing us, a whole lot farther up! We continued on and that was the last we saw of bears this trip.DSCF2493

Camp time saw more of the same: Tim and Ron reading at camp, me enjoying my magazine creek-side, and later a nice dinner before calling it a day with some card-playing.


Sunday we broke camp and hiked about eight miles total. The beautiful weather made for a nice jaunt and the inclusion of a side excursion up Little Snowy Top to an old, burned-down fire watch made for great interest.

A few yards up the trail to Little Snowy Top we dropped our packs and continued the rest of the way. At the top we saw piles of rusted nails left behind after the wooden shack was burned, blobby glass that had melted in the conflagration, and lots of debris and old pilings where a lookout once stood. After getting back to our packs we put our feet up and enjoyed lunch looking out down the Priest River watershed. Gorgeous.


According to the route description, we should have found our campsite about a mile past the Trail 315-Trail 512 intersection, but we found the campsites about a quarter mile past that. They were so close to the intersection we continued past them before turning back. It was early afternoon, say 2PM, and we were ready to call it a day. We pitched the tent, Tim fetched water, I scouted a place to hang food, and we all kicked back to await dinner, savoring our final night in this gorgeous area.


Our final day was a quick one, just about 4.5 miles with our lightest pack yet. I continued snapping pics of the Priest River valleys and Selkirks as we left Idaho, re-entered Washington state, and rambled to our car.


At the car we got out our traveling clothes, changed, tossed the packs in the car … and it started raining. The perfect end to a perfect trip. Time to head back home.


I’ll end by simply saying: take this hike. If you can at all manage to get here and put in 20 miles, your rewards will be significant. Take this hike … it’s a beauty!


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Exorcising after exercising

Posted by joeabbott on September 15, 2018

I enjoyed a long (as in 5-day) weekend hiking in a far-off corner of Washington state. As I settled in for the 8-hour car ride back home, I fantasized about my reception upon getting back: a big hug, long shower, maybe a second shower, maybe another hug, and some quality time with those I left behind for almost a week. What I got was something altogether different and this post will be my attempt at purging those “challenges” so I can get back to my charmed life of quiet pleasures and a happy existence.

Invisible Fence

The first thing I noted when I got in was the Invisible Fence beeping like crazy … maybe two beeps a second. Every now and then we need to reset a RFI outlet the fence is on (we’ve never been able to determine why) but those beeps come once every 4-5 seconds. So, I drop my sweaty gear, overloaded pack, and remnants of road trip snacks and tried to reset it. No luck. The beeping was driving me insane and I was quickly ramping up from dozy backseat lethargy to rip-it-off-the-wall angry.

When Suzy came down she got the brunt of my “what’s wrong with this thing\why haven’t you tried fixing it” questioning, and I understandably crushed my hopes for a welcome home hug. As we flitted about trying to make it stop, she said something that didn’t sink in until later: with all the construction from the project next door going on up at the corner of the lot, I didn’t realize the beeping was coming from our Invisible Fence unit. With that she went off the call the Invisible Fence folks and do some online research.

Her comment didn’t sink in until my next story, “The corner of the lot” … but let me warp time and jump ahead a bit.

In the process of talking to the Invisible Fencing folks, Suzy learned how to silence the alarm: just hit one of the small buttons on the inside of the circuit panel. Easy enough … unfortunately we didn’t learn how to do this until after we’d fixed the problem and it wasn’t beeping. To see how this worked, we forced the unit to beep by unplugging it … which beeps every 4-5 seconds. And because I wasn’t sure if I held the button or just pressed it, I held the button … which, in addition to silencing the unit, enters you into a “change the settings mode”!!


I was so thrilled at being able to change the settings that I did just that … and promptly messed up our system. Yup, I broke the Invisible Fence system.

It took another two days to iron things out but let’s just call this a three-fer: first I come home to insane beeping, then I ruin my welcome home reception, and I finish off the day by destroying the Invisible Fence. Bad news rising.

A final note … the settings should properly be: Mode=8xx (800 series model), L1 Freq=10k (the collars are on a 10k frequency), L1 Signal=Outdoors (kinda makes sense), and Mask=Xmit (the default setting).

The corner of the lot

OK, so after Suzy’s comment about activity from the construction on the vacant lot going on sunk in, I put on my backyard shoes and headed up to the corner and, as I entered Chickenville, it was apparent why the Invisible Fence unit was beeping off the rails: we no longer had a fence in that part of our yard.

The short story is that as the construction crew was putting a bulldozer onto a flatbed truck, the flatbed’s front wheels came off the ground and the bulldozer operator backed off hurriedly. The story is a little confused but his options were to back into oncoming traffic or toward our property. He went for our property and struck a corner, taking out about 30’ of fence in one direction and another 10’-20’ in the other direction.

The confused part is that there’s a massive amount of damage … not just a few boards out of place, but entire uprights with their concrete base pushed over, mangled wires from the Invisible Fence system, and splintered boards. Someone mentioned the bulldozer was down the hill on its side, which would explain the damage, but the bulldozer was upright and back toward the road when I saw it.









Anyhow, after reviewing the damage, I got the name of the owner of the moving company and his number. Nope, didn’t call the police, didn’t get a moving company name, and didn’t get the insurance company. I’m something of an idiot on this one but let’s just agree that I wasn’t firing on all cylinders.

Anyhow, with Chickenville ripped open, our chickens were free to run out and our cats no longer had their Invisible Fence keeping them in … and, anyone walking by can now survey our backyard. Suzy got the pets corralled and we went to work on a temp fence: about 20’ of plastic fencing and a few T-posts for stability. We stapled the plastic fence to the standing parts of the cedar fence and then used the T-posts to give it shape. I then went to work on splicing the Invisible Fence wire. I should mention we did all this by flashlight as the sun had set an hour earlier.

While I was gratified to no longer hear beeping when we got back into the house, my workshop bench got trashed in my search for a stapler (and the right staples), my electronic fix-it gear, and all the stuff that had built up just prior to my long hiking trip.


As a last note on the fence, we ended up turning this over to our property insurance. When I first called the owner of the moving company, he was apologetic and insistent that he’d take care of things. But, he never returned my calls, never took a second call from me, and there was no activity for a few days. The adjuster will call us Monday so we can get our fence back up.

And other stuff

Compared to a bulldozer taking out your fence and an expensive Invisible Fence system not working, the final few challenges seem minor but they added to a “should have stayed in the mountains another couple days” sorta feeling.

With the Invisible Fence not working, we’d kept the cats inside so we opened a few windows; one being a window on the side of our house that we don’t often open. But, upon trying to close it, we found we couldn’t! After a small bit of debugging we found that the sides keeping the string in a groove on a nylon wheel had deteriorated and now the string was getting lodged into a part that it shouldn’t.

It’s a reasonably simple fix and a reasonably inexpensive part … but why now? Yes, I’m starting to mope.


While I was cleaning up … from five days out and a lot of labor putting up a fence and splicing wires in the dark … I must have felt my face needed a good scrubbing, because scrub I did! So much so that in the process I somehow rammed my pinkie up my nose so hard that it still hurts! I’m not sure how I managed to do that this time! I mean, I’ve been washing my face for decades now and can honestly say I’ve never had this problem before. But, it still smarts … which is a funny word to use in a sentence about doing something so stupid.

And that’s about it. Yeah, a few other smaller things went wrong but I think the black clouds that settled over us have passed on and we can get back to our simple lives. We still need a new, permanent fence … but we have a guy lined up. And we need the Invisible Fence system returned to normal, but we’re certain that just needs to be arranged. And the window that hasn’t been opened in days just needs a part that’s readily available on Amazon … I’m sure we’ll get to it in priority order.


Since all the madness I’ve received my welcome home hug, a number of hot showers, and quality time with Suzy and the cats. We have a couple ragged edges to tidy up but I’m hoping that posting this story will clear the air here and allow us to return to our normal. Those of you who weather these minor challenges with more grace than I have my regard; I, for one, appreciate a quiet, happy existence.

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