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Last week at Turkey Creek, I waded across the Gila River and vowed I was going to go for a swim in it –

that water felt sooo good.  I also made some “waders” out of a heavy plastic garbage bag and wanted to

try them out, so, since I was up early today  and the day was beautiful, sunny and warm I decided to go
for it.  A few weeks ago I hiked down into the Middle Box of the Gila with Glady, then last week I went
to Turkey Creek.  This time, for some new scenery, I went to the area just short of the Upper Box of
the Gila.
0Garmin 1
This gives a fair distance reference.  The tiny village of Gila is right of the road trace and out of sight
below the bottom of the picture.  Look closely and you can see the trace of the Turkey Creek road starting
about half way between “Start” and the small legend “2016 Google.”
The start of the Turkey Creek road is out of sight to the right about ¼ mile.  When I went up that road
and topped out on the ridge, I was looking up a huge canyon to the north.  In this picture look just to the
left of the small cone on the right.  That canyon is directly past the saddle and splits around the distant
0Garmin 3
 Doesn’t look like it on the Google satellite image, but this whole area is riparian brush habitat…….with the
accent on “brush.”  It’s like a jungle down in there.
Well short of the river, going into denser woods, 2 very large birds suddenly took off right over my head.
Owls ??  Hawks ??  I followed one with my eyes and it appeared to land in a tree not too far away, so eased
on over there.  Their camoflage is excellent and I didn’t really expect to find it, but suddenly…..a tiny
movement, right where I happened to be looking.  Instantly it stood right out – a Great Horned Owl.
Yaaay……..don’t often get a privilege like this.  It didn’t think too much of me traipsin’ around below it,
so it took off – right toward the river, so I followed.

……and lucky me, I found it again.  This time its’ frustration was obvious and you can almost hear it saying,“What the h*ll ??  Get outta here and leave me alone.”  Big, big bird and absolutely silent in the air.


Now, it’s time to pay my dues.  The brush is dense along the river…..uh….there Is a river….??
Yup.  Sure enuf…….Caninus Aquaticus (Glady) found it and bailed right into that nice, cool water.  That’s her
just right of and slightly below center.  It’s an undercut bank here and heavily brushed and she had a time
getting back out.
Once you do get to see it, it Is scenic, but not quite what I had in mind for today’s adventures.
I did find a trail, tho’, and it made it much easier to get thru.  Less than ¼ mile farther on, Glady found
me a perfect spot beside a rock/gravel bar to try out the waders.  You “know” she had to try the water.
Downstream isn’t perfect, but will work for the rest of the plans.  The Google Earth pictures don’t quite
match the reality – floods have re-arranged the gravel bars and piled up that debris.
Of course, being real bright and intelligent, I started off into the fast water.  Those waders acted like
big sails and the water came very close to sweeping me off my feet.  The hiking staff saved me from
a premature swim.
Coming back, I went upstream a bit; out of the main current and it was much easier.  They did leak some –
about a cup or so in each one and got the surface of my boots wet but it wasn’t enuf to soak thru.  I think
I’ll spend the $15 and buy the very similar but far superior ones a friend found at Walmart’s site for me.
 0Swim 1
I came prepared – towels, sandals, tripod for movies, the whole 9 yards.  I didn’t like the idea of someone
finding my stuff there, even with me right beside it, so carried the .38 double barreled Derringer with me
and held it out of the water with right hand.  The – short – movie is at:
I let out a yelp when I ducked into the water – it were chilly but fine once in – prob’ly around 65º and
very refreshing.  Very nice.  The Gila River country is beautiful and I never tire of it.
Silver City, NM

Please click on each picture to open it full size, then click again to return to story.

As shown in the previous story, I’ve started up the Gila (HEE-Lah) River toward Turkey Creek several times, but always get high-centered at the Fluorite digs, a few 100 ft up the side of a very steep hill.  This time, I gritted my teeth and kept hiking.


0Garmin 1

Just as we did for the Gila River hike a few weeks ago, go NW on Hwy 180 about 25 miles, but this time go right on 293 past the tiny village of Gila to end of pavement, then keep going on the gravel.  Follow the dots carefully – it’s 12 miles to the end of the road.  Look closely and you can see the trace of the road.  We’re way back in the wilderness bordering the huge Mogollon (muggy-own) Mountains here.  I didn’t see another person all day.


0Garmin 2

On the way in, I keep getting side-tracked.  It’s a beautiful, rugged drive and lots to look at.



The road actually did go all the way to Turkey Creek……and still does, except for a section where the huge springtime floods wiped out about 1/8 of a mile of road and in places there’s barely room for a trail alongside the mountain.  This is a good portion.
When Tim H. visited from Baltimore 2½ years ago, we went up on the hill for some fluorite.  Coming back down thru a different canyon, we were almost to the main trail when Tim got my attention and said, “hey, look at this.”  “This” was a gravestone, professional quality, that you’d expect in a cemetery, not out in the wilderness.  The dates show that the man was born in 1861 and died in 1944.  I wonder what his story was ??
Not much farther on, the trail crossed the river.  I “hate” hiking in wet boots, but sometimes you gotta just grit your teeth and go for it.  I had been assured by others that the hike was worth it.
WOW ! ! !  Was it ever.  Just a bit upstream from the ford, it opened up into this vista.  This is at “View” on the 2nd map, above.  You just don’t see this kind of open park in this wild, rugged, heavily forested country.  I do know that I’m going back up here soon with a towel.  The water felt a bit chilly at 1st, but as I waded across – knee deep at this ford – I realized the water was just right – fresh, cool….wonderful….and I’m going to go back for a swim.  It’s just about deep enuf – 2 – 3 ft.
Midstream here – turn and look downstream and it makes me ache for a rubber raft to float on down in.  I’ll bet it would be a wonderful ride on a nice day.  Soon, there won’t be enuf water for that.
The 2nd ford, looking upstream.  Wide and shallow….and a real struggle getting thru the dense brush up onto the far bank.  I was grinning the whole way – didn’t expect this, but I was being reminded why I don’t like hiking in wet boots.  It was like wearing ankle weights in a workout session.  Each boot/pant leg/gaiter must’ve weighed 10#.  That’s OK….hired out to be tough, now we just gotta prove it.
3rd ford; about 100 feet wide.  This was the deep one – about mid-thigh.  Footing was good on all 3, current was moderate, I felt very safe….and the water felt delicious.  What a wonderful place.  This is just below the confluence with Turkey Creek and gave me several surprises.  1st, this is a large area – quite a few acres and there are many rock fire rings, trails; evidence of a lot of use.  Upstream on Turkey Creek there are hot springs, but I didn’t look for them today.
Turkey Creek proved to be dry as a bone, but there’s much evidence of huge floods.  I wouldn’t want to be caught here when a flash flood hits.  This whole big park-like area would be a raging torrent.
As I wandered upstream I got another surprise.  No plates, but this truck hasn’t been here all “that” long – tires still have air in them, tho’ there are no tire tracks; they’re washed away by floods.  I did see fairly fresh tire tracks on the way up here – and when I got back to car I went looking and found a work-around to get past the washed out portion of road.  The 4Runner is one of the most capable 4WD vehicles I’ve ever owned but I would have to cross the river, clear back before the beginning of the trail.
I’m quite sure I could have done it, it looked like good solid bottom, such as I crossed on the fords, but being alone, many miles back in the middle of no-where I didn’t dare take a chance on getting stuck.  I’ve got years of heavy-duty 4 wheeling experience and have learned that you “always” have at least 2 rigs in country like this, so 1 can pull the other out if stuck.  Imagine being stuck in middle of river; a thunderstorm hits – very likely at this time of year – and there’s a flash flood….??  You’d lose your vehicle at the very least.
Yet farther up, I got another surprise – an old cabin in pretty rough shape.  This guy worked very hard, both to get materials here, prob’ly back in the 20s, then to build the place.
This portion was well and solidly built.  The front add-on was a slap-together job and shows it.  There were surprisingly good kitchen appliances still in here – including a microwave oven.
Shed beside the old corral/loading chute.  The graffiti artists did pretty good on this one.  The animal depicted at lower left is a Coati-mundi.  I’ve looked for those since I’ve been here – 6 years now – and so far have just a couple of very marginal pictures.  Today, when I drove to the trailhead, a family of them ran into the brush in front of car and gave me a great charge.  Finally.  3 adults and 2 half-grown cubs.  Most are reddish in color, the ones I saw today were dark, like long, tall, skinny raccoons with very long, banded tails like a Lemur.  I was Very Pleased, but no chance for photos of them.
This was Glady’s 2nd time in the Gila River and she almost went bonkers.  She invented a new game, here, where she plows along with face underwater and blows bubbles thru her nose.  Haha…….then she comes up with the goofiest – grin is the only word for it – on her face, and back down she goes for more.  She ran and ran and ran, then slept – out cold – all the way home today.
What a wonderful day; what a wonderful hike.  I absolutely loved it….but a total of 3½ miles of swinging wet boots had this ol’ fart very glad to be back to the car.
Silver City, NM

Be sure to left click the pictures to open them full size.  Click again to continue reading.

I’ve been a convert to GeoCaching for a few months now and really enjoy finding them.  It gives a purpose to the endless rambling around the mountains and desert that I do, too, so that’s good.  When I enter a GeoCache in my GPS, I just number it in sequence, rather than try to get the whole name in there.  Sooo………G10 is the 10th geocache I entered and today I went after it…..for the 3rd time.  First 2 tries, including yesterday, I got weathered out by thunderstorms, so when it dawned bright and sunny this morning I threw my gear in the car and hit the road.

Several times over the last couple of years I’ve made reference to the ragged, tumbled up canyon of Cherry Creek, about 10 miles north of town.  Looking from Hwy 15 you can see the lava columns in upper right and the tumbled up rock on both sides of the canyon.  Since G10 is just about straight across the canyon from here – the Ben Lilly memorial – that sounded pretty good.  The rocks in foreground go all the way down to the creek and all the way up the other side.  What Fun ! ! !

The trail along Cherry Creek is pretty good, but it’s dark and gloomy in spots and there’s plenty of Poison Ivy.  A fella I spoke with a couple of weeks ago told of seeing a Cougar stalking a group of Coati Mundi about a mile downstream.  That sounded sort of good – I’ve been trying for a couple of years for good pictures of Coatis.  The idea of the Cougar didn’t appeal overmuch, tho’, and the .357 rode in easy reach on my right hip today……right next to the Bear spray.  It’s just under 1½ miles down the trail to where you bushwhack up the rocks and brush to G10 and there were many pretty little flowers and butterflies along the way.  No idea what these are called.  Can anyone help me out ??

It’s pretty easy going thru here and the rugged scenery was interesting.

In some areas, water was seeping out from between layers of rock and made little islands of crowded vegetation.

Farther downstream the heavy tree cover opened up a bit and the bedrock bed of the creek made for some nice shots.

For a long way before reaching a position opposite G10 I was watching for any sign of a trail or path up the rugged cliff, but with no joy.  Finally, having gone past it, I just turned right, picked a spot and started bulling my way up thru the dense brush.  Part way up a blown down tree made for a good ladder for a bit of it.  That didn’t last long and in some areas I literally crawled up thru the tangle on hands and knees.

Then it opened up a bit and I thought, “aha, got it knocked, now.”  Should learn to keep my mouth shut.  Up and around that shoulder in high center………

………and it really got interesting, but I’m stub-Bourne.  From across the canyon, this area looks pretty flat and smooth…….maybe a nice spot for a picnic.  Nawww…………

Having gotten up thru that mess, tho’, it did open up onto a sort of shelf, or plateau.  Narrow plateau.

GPS finally told me I was getting close.  In the lower left corner, that little line below 120 ft shows that the length of that line equals 120 ft on the screen, for those not familiar with these things, so I’m within about 300 feet here.

Finally, at long last, it opened up and there was actually a sort of trail.  Easy money, tho’ by now I was soaked with sweat and very dirty and scuffed up.

A little closer……WOW, look at this.  Looks like an old Indian storeroom.  Remember the several sets of almost buried ruins I’ve found in the last few weeks ??  This looks a lot better.

Around the other side and more stonework.  GPS said I was right on top of G10 and I finally did find it not far from this spot.  GPS was off by about 20 ft.  Pretty good, I’d say.  I was a little apprehensive – it looked like the cache was going to be in the wall and there are a few simple rules of courtesy and good sense that govern this sport.  One of those is “don’t damage anything.”  In addition, it’s illegal as hell to damage something like this.  (no, I’m not going to show a picture of the cache……..that’s a rule, too.  I had to find it – you do the same)

Having accomplished my objective, it was time to slip out of my pack and sit down to enjoy a snack and the great view.  Long, bumpy way down from here.  Reading the sign-in sheet at the cache, I found that just 1 other person had been here this year – last April.  Just 2 or 3 a year prior to that, back to ‘06 when it was hidden here.  Not too many of us lunatics around, I ‘spect.

From here the spot where I took picture 1 of this series was in clear view.

Look to the left – east – and enjoy the view of the route I took down the creek to get here.  The 4Runner is parked just below the V where the ridges cross in upper left.  Yep, that’s the canyon.  Not too wide, is it ??  Nice hike, tho’………until you try climbing out of it.

Now, for a way down.  I didn’t want to return by my upward path – that was a mess to say the least, so I climbed onto a point and saw what looked like a way down…….an almost dry creekbed.  But – it ends at that rock and it’s straight down.  More bushwhacking.

At least it went in sort of “stages,” where I got a break from time to time.  Almost to the bottom here and very glad to see it.  From the creek bottom to the cache is just over 1/10th of a mile, so up and down was slightly less than ¼ mile.  Phew.  Felt like 4 miles.  I haven’t been as active lately and the very few weeks since getting into really good shape were wasted fairly quickly.  I felt every one of these 70 years by the time I got back to the car.  Now, tonight, I feel pleasantly tired and very pleased.                        Lar.

Larry Bourne

Silver City, NM

This was a dandy and opens the way for a lot more exploring – if I can hack it.  Our Tuesday hiking group – I like to call us the “Geezer Group” – got together and this time Charles had decided it was time for another trip to Hell’s Half Acre.  They’d been there in the past but it was new to me.  Turns out I’d gone right past the trailhead when I went to the end of Bear Mountain Road on Suzy the quad last year.  From the road you can’t tell and I had no idea such scenery was almost at my back door.  Thank you, Charles.

Be sure to click on each picture to open it full size, then click again to return to text.  This works with some of the pictures on older pages, too, but not all.  Dunno what makes the difference.

I’ll start with the Garmin GPS track of the day – a total of 6.3 miles for the round trip – much of it thru loose sand at the bottom of the dry washes.

From the parking area along Bear Mtn Rd we immediately started down a steep trail into a canyon.  It wasn’t all that far, maybe 200 yards, but when coming back out it seemed like a lot farther.

Things changed in a hurry and it started getting more rugged, with higher mountains beside us.  Here, Charles is leading with Pam behind him and her hubby Ron following.

I wasn’t kidding about higher mountains.  Scenery was already great and we’d just gotten started.

Within about a mile or so we climbed out of the canyon up onto a broad almost flat area that was much easier going than the sand.

Pam to the left, then Elroy and Spike leading up a ridge.  This area was thickly scattered with very nice chunks of white/white agate, some with pockets of sparkling drusy quartz like fine diamond dust. They look like parts of small geodes and I perked right up.  Looked all over but couldn’t see a source they could have washed down from.  That prob’ly happened when this whole area was formed and the source is prob’ly long gone, far away or both.  Looking for ‘em will make an interesting aside to the next trip in there – I’d really love to find a geode of that stuff.

Of course, the easy going had to end and we started back into the dry wash.  Charles is leading, almost hidden to his right is Spike, with Elroy (in blue) behind him, then Pam and Ron.  The formations ahead were starting to give a foretaste of what was to come.

Getting rugged fast now and I was starting to grin.  Almost like Utah, and you know how much I like Utah – except in the winter – eh, John H ??  It was actually fairly easy going all this way because of the broad dry washes we followed.  There’s a technique for walking thru loose sand that helps a lot.  Take fairly short steps and when you move a foot ahead put it down flat and let momentum carry your weight onto that foot, then do the same with the other foot.  Don’t push off with the rear foot.  Lots of ankle flexing.  You kind of glide along without as much effort as if you were trying to walk normally.

Around a curve and we came into a forest of hoodoos – almost like Tent Rocks near Santa Fe.

Did I say hoodoos ??  Wow.

We were descending the dry washes, the mountains were getting higher and more impressive.  It was in this area where we stopped for a break and several decided not to go farther.  Lazy Lar stayed with them – I was looking at something else and not paying attention as Elroy and Pam continued on down the canyon.

Finally I came up for air and looked around.  “Dohhh, where’d they go ??”  “They went on down to the slot canyon,” I was told.  “What ??  How far is it” I asked ??  I’m a fanatic for slot canyons, claustrophobia and all.

“Oh, it’s not even a quarter mile,” I was told, so off I went to see for myself.  Fairly soon the trail started to narrow, then it Y-ed.  Footprints went to the right – so did I.

……and really got into it.  Had to duck to go under this big boulder stuck in the middle.  I was really grinning now – I love this stuff.

By now I was scraping thru with some difficulty.  Too narrow for my shoulders and I was wearing my hiking pack with all the camera gear, so I just twisted and bored on thru.  More huge boulders overhead.  Footprints in the sand told me I was on the right track.

I was starting to think I’d goofed after all when I heard echoes of voices ahead, so I let out a yell and got a reply.  A few seconds later Pam and Elroy appeared, having gone to the end and now returning.  Getting past each other was a little tricky but we managed it.

Elroy is a master photographer and stayed behind to take some shots of ol’ Lar hamming it up, going way high over a steep spot.  The walls are very rough and give good traction.  They do a good job of removing skin, too.

What fun, eh ??…….and this is only about 15 miles from home.

They’d told me it wasn’t far to the end, so I followed them out and returned the favor with Elroy.

On the way back to the cars, I caught up with Spike and Charles contemplating some formations on the other side of the wash.

The Spot Locater won’t send out of canyons or under trees and brush – some emergency device, eh ?? – tho’ the Garmin GPS has no difficulty in the same areas.  I had to wait till we were back on the open area to send a location.

Here’s the Google map the Spot finally did send and I transposed some locations onto it.  From “parking” go down to the left at about 45º into the bottom of the canyon, then follow on to the marker at slot.  I took that one with the GPS just before going into the narrows.  Looking things over, it appears that we’d barely gotten into the area called Hell’s Half Acre.  The marker at “Hells” is where the maps show the area to be.  You can check it out for yourself by going to –,-108.453&ll=32.93143,-108.453&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1 If you’re not familiar with Google Maps, you can use the slider on the left to zoom in and out and you can drag and drop it to what ever location you want to look at.  From the green arrow, look up and to the left (northwest) and zoom in on that ragged looking area.  It looks like a maze of slot canyons and other neat stuff.  I’m planning a trip on Suzy soon to see how far I can get thru the canyons and washes.  From “parking” above to “slot” above is just over 3 miles – just to the beginning of the good stuff – and the round trip’s about my limit these days.  Maybe I can find a way with the quad, eh ??

Larry Bourne

Silver City, NM

Couldn’t resist it.  I was up early today and I’ve still got that bug to see an Ibex, so it was off to the Florida Mtns again.  Got a little carried away this time.  Here’s an example of how a map and/or GPS can be deceptive.

Be sure to click on a picture to open it full size, then click again to return to text…………

This is the GPS track for today’s hike.  Don’t look like much, do it ??  From Spring 1 to Spring Sum (summit) is right at 1.0 mile and elevation gain is right at 1,000 ft.  (1,012 ft)  It were interesting.

Starting from the parking/picnic area, this is looking up Spring Canyon, to the west.

The farther you go, the steeper it gets, till the last few 100 feet are a scramble chance on loose rocks and dirt.

This is Lover’s Leap and the view from the “Leap” is tremendous.

From a previous trip, here’s a view of where I’m at from the west, looking east.  The arrow on the left is where I’m standing in the picture above and the arrow to the right is where I got to – on this side – today.  (actually, I think I goofed with that right arrow.  When you read the story below, see if you don’t think I was at the base of that big pinnacle to the right of that arrow.  The canyon to the right of it would work, too)  It were a helluva climb, but a lot of fun and challenge.  This is very deceptive.  Looks pretty smooth and straight forward, doesn’t it ??  Guess again.

On the way up the canyon, 3 smaller canyons open to the left – south – and they’re very rugged.  Brush is so thick, tangled and fishhook-ey that it’d be almost impossible to go up that way.  This is Canyon 3, the upper one.

………and a look back down from here.  Car is parked in that white spot just below center.  Beautiful picnic area there – and not a soul using it.

From Lover’s Leap, I turned left – south – and followed what I “thought” was a trail.  (Seems like every time I try to “think” I get myself in trouble)  It’s very steep to the right.  The drop-off is just out of the picture.

Crossing this scree slide was…….interesting.  The drop off is right below and you don’t Even want to slip.

I tested each foothold before trusting my weight to it.

By now, I was out of “trail” and was following game trails, prob’ly made by the Goats – the Ibex – and they went all over.  Finally, I came to a small canyon and tho’ I “think” I could see the continuation farther over and “think” I could see a route thru the canyon, it’d be a huge amount of work for a question-able gain.

I really wanted to go higher anyway – the Ibex are known to like the heights – so checked things out and figured I could see a usable route.

See what I mean by “deceptive ??”  This is about as rugged and ragged a country as I’ve ever seen.  My route up worked out well, tho’, and it’s not all that far – just looks very bad – and I soon approached this pinnacle.

As I got up near the base of it, I could see a route open up to the right……and here’s where I puzzle myself.  Why didn’t I go up there ??  It was right there, I had plenty of time, my legs felt great – not tired at all, felt good, in fact – but I turned left.  Shoulda gone up there.

It did work out well, tho’, but I wish someone would tell those durned Goats to find easier routes.

We’re getting some serious altitude now and a great view to the west.  Deming, NM is in the upper right corner.  This area is becoming very popular as a retiree haven/winter snowbird home.  Climate is quite moderate.

Now, I had to cross the scree slope again, but at the top now.  Above is vertical, so I go this way or go back.  They don’t call me stub-Bourne for nothing…….I went forward.  With caution, it’s really not bad – better footing than I expected – just don’t tumble.  You’d never stop.

This led me to a 2nd, smaller saddle – the right arrow (or above it) in the picture above.  Above me I heard….something….that I thought was thunder at 1st, then as I thought about it, it was more like a growl and my hair stood up.  Brush up there was very heavy and I’d be willing to bet a lot of money it was a Cougar, but even tho’ I got the Bear spray out, took the safety off and went after it, I never did see it or hear it again – here.  Not crazy, honest.  They’ll run from a human – usually – and I didn’t want that guy sneaking around above me deciding whether or not to jump me.  Where else was I gonna go ??  I was there, so I “think” I chased it off.

To the east is a tremendous view of the trail up Spring Canyon and the country beyond it.

To the north…… NOT the trail down to Lover’s Leap.  This one make ya dizzy.  Long, long way down.

Farther around to the west was an interesting little spot.  Looks to me like an observation point and the tracks and scrapes looked – to my partly trained eye – to be very, extremely, fresh.

I’d bet a lot more money that at least one or more Ibex watched me go by on the trail far below, below that bush in lower center.

OK, time to stop fooling around and get serious.  Around to the east and then south and up the side of Canyon 3.

Farther around and up, watch the step carefully some more.

Well…….nothing showing and we’re waaay up there now.  Hmmm…….??  Like a cartoon, I could picture turning around and the Goats’d be grinning at me from behind the next rock.  OK, one more viewpoint.  Should be able to see quite a bit from there.

……..and could I ever.  Almost to the top here and nothing in sight.  I do believe I’m going to go back in a week or 3 and go the rest of the way up and maybe take that other trail, too.  (actually, this shot is from below that viewpoint.  My shot from there didn’t work.  The high viewpoint is that rock above the trees above the scree near the right side).

Starting down now, the brush on the side of the canyon was very thick and it’s like trying to go thru barbed wire.  The scree slope seemed like an easy answer, but how safe is it ??  Very steep and a looong way down, so I tested it very carefully and it worked out fine – for going downhill.  I’d purely hate to try going UP that awful mess.  It’d be 3 steps forward and slide 2 steps back on very steep, loose footing.

Down the scree a couple 100 feet, then traverse to the left and it wasn’t long before I was back to Lover’s Leap.

From there, back down the trail to the car.  I was amazed at the shape I’m in – not tired at all and was galloping across that mountain like one of the Ibex I was chasing.  Not bad for an ol’ fart who’ll turn 68 in a few weeks.  From partway down the trail, one last look up Canyon 3.  The white arrow shows the highest point I reached.  Several times below here, I heard “something” in the brush and rocks from uphill – behind me.  I am absolutely convinced a Cougar was following me, tho’ I never saw it.  I really watched, believe me.

What a great day, even if I didn’t see any a them fool Goats.  We’ll gettum next time, for sure.                     Lar.

Larry Bourne

Silver City, New Mexico

I know, I know, I said no more major climbs, but that was last year.  Every Tuesday morning I meet the “Geezer Group” for a 3 to 4 mile local hike and they’ve become very enjoyable.  Usually 6 or 8 of us but I think there’s over a dozen “unofficial” members.  In the parking lot after the hike last Tues. David asked if anyone was interested in going to Cooke’s Canyon at the south end of the Cooke’s Range – home of Cooke’s Peak.  His interest is in the area around the old Fort Cummings site and Frying Pan Canyon, where I saw the petroglyphs a couple of months ago.  ( )  David knows the area well and planned on starting at Fort Cummings ( ) and moving west to the Pony Hills.  He knows the history well and many of the sites, so this should be an interesting and educational outing.  You bet I’ll go.  Then later I got to thinking…..(yah, even me)….I’d had some people ask about access to the Cooke’s Peak climb and since I’d done it the hard way last year ( ) it might be a good idea to re-read the website I’d gotten directions from and sort it out.  Told the group I’d meet them down there on Friday morning, then Tuesday afternoon I put the camper back on the truck after its winter rest and prepared it for the coming season.

Wednesday, I finished prepping and loading the camper, hooked Suzy the quad on behind and headed south.  It’s only a little over 50 miles, so was soon there.  David has climbed Cooke’s Peak 8 times now and told me about a different route up a different ridge that was somewhat longer, but much easier hiking.  When I got settled in a camp spot, I jumped on Suzy and went exploring.  It’s not as easy as it may seem to find a specific spot in an area this size and I found 2 places that “could” be David’s starting point but didn’t see a trail, so instead of taking a chance, I decided to go back to “my” ridge from last October.  It was getting late, so that’d be a project for the morning.

When I 1st read the webpage of the people who’d gone ahead of me, I read it to say, “follow the road to the end and the trail continues on from there.”  Well, it does, but the road makes a switchback way up the creek and leads up to an old mining claim and I thought they meant from the literal end of the road.  No, no, Lar…..continue on straight off the road and up the creek that I fought my way down last year.  Well, glory be – there really was a trail there and it was quite distinct – for the most part.  It’s marked by a large cairn.  For some reason I had far more trouble staying on it on the return.

Click on a picture to open it; click again to return to story.

This doesn’t look like too hot of a trail, but it’s 1,000% better than what I fought my way up last time.  OK, I know where it is now, so can quit and get ready for the morning hike, right ??  Hmmm……??  Best to make sure, eh ??  Just a “little farther.”

Hike in from the main “road” starting at Trail, past Trl 01 and at Trl 02 you can see the switchback going up the hill to the old mine, near the numeral 7.  Continue on up the creek bed past Trl 03.  The trail wanders back and forth across the creek, mixes in with game trails at times and in general you hafta really watch to stay on it……but it does go.

At Trl 03A the trail crosses to the left side and starts switchbacking on up the hill.  I think I should have placed marker Trl 03A one contour line higher, but it’s not critical.  I think I found the place where I went wrong on coming down last time.  As I said, many game trails wandering around.  The picture above is looking downhill and appears to switchback to the right and a stub leading left.  Nope.  The real trail makes a little jog up around that bush and continues on down to the creek.  My way led across the face of the mountain to a vertical rock bluff.  Whoops.

Wow ! ! !  From there I could “almost” see the saddle that leads to the summit ridge, so let’s see how it goes.  A few more minutes and I was on the saddle and feeling good (I’ve been hiking twice a week for the last month) and summit ridge was right in front of me.  Then my alleged brain shut off – again – and my feet started doing their thing all by themselves and I was on my way.  This time there was a great change in perspective.  Last year when I got to this point I was pretty excited and I think that kind of floated me along.  This time I realized that the trail climbs quite steeply the whole way.

Soon, tho’, I reached the summit ridge and by then my legs were starting to cuss me a bit, but Hey ! ! !  I’m this far – why not finish ‘er up ??  Ahead of me (above) I could see the big pre-summit that comes off the notched ridge and crosses about southwest to northeast.  Not far, eh ??

Once again I followed the path behind the 3 big notches you see from Hwy 180 and kept on going.  Puff puff…….don’t remember it being this steep.  I see by the horizon above that the camera was tilted a bit and the slope is even steeper than it looks here.

When I got to the broken granite traverse, I found a trail going across the bottom that’s obscured when you’re part way up, so there’s a choice.  Maintain altitude and traverse the broken slope (not all that difficult) or go down 20 feet, cross on the trail and climb back up those 20 feet.  I did one of each, up and down.  The traverse is easier.  And shorter.

Now I’m facing that steep slope to the pre-summit.  I’ve mentioned many times how the camera has a flattening effect when looking at hills and I’ve been playing with ways to show how things really are.  I succeeded a little too well, I think.  The left side of this looks steeper than it really is.  Right side looks correct – about a 60º+ slope, but not all that far and it’s really not bad.  Trail(s) wander all over the place.  Take your pick.

That’s not to say it’s a stroll in the park, either.  Looking down here, you Will pay attention or pay dearly.  It Is steep and high enuf to scuff you up some if you slip.  It’s worth it.  What a view ! ! !

This may be a little hard to picture.  Remember the 3 notches on the ridge visible from the highway ??  OK, now I’ve climbed above that, across onto that ridge – the pre-summit ridge – and looking down the southwest face into huge Provinger Canyon.  I believe the big saddle/meadow in upper center is the west end of OK canyon and the topo map shows a dotted line – trail ?? – going in there.  That would likely be an easier route, too.  Maybe.  It’ll be a long way in to find out.  Yah, one day soon I’m gonna go take a look, you bet.

The far southwest end, off to the right here, slopes down fairly steeply and is all broken rock.  Look at the picture above, looking down into the canyon and you’ll see why I wasn’t real willing to go out onto that.  It’s a looong way down, baby.

Finally – the cake walk.  From here it’s almost a casual stroll onto the main summit and Does It Ever Feel Good ! ! !

No feeling quite like summiting a big peak, even if it’s the 2nd time.  This was Great and again I felt like the King of the World.  (forgot the tripod, so had to set the camera on a rock)

This is the view from the highway and will give a little different perspective.  What a day……but I blew it.  Next morning (Friday) when the others showed up I was stove up some from the climb and didn’t much feel like hiking another 4 or 5 miles.  I begged off and they understood.  I hope.  Actually, not sure if it’s better conditioning this time (prob’ly not) or the better trail up and down (prob’ly) but I was nowhere near as sore and hurting, either on the climb or afterward than I was last year.  Last year I was almost crawling, time I got back to Suzy.  This time, just stroked on out of there.  What a day.  How much ya wanna bet I wind up back down here with David in the near future to learn his route ??  No bets.

Larry Bourne

Silver City, NM

After leaving Port Angeles I went back thru Port Townsend, across on the ferry to Whidbey Island, north to Anacortes on Hwy 20, then straight across I-5 and into the mountains. The great bulk of the traffic east thru the Cascades Mountains goes east from Seattle and across Snoqualmie Pass to Ellensburg. I’ve been thru that route many times but had never been across the North Cascades Highway and had heard for years of what a great drive it is. The 1st night I spent in a small campground just short of where the road really started into the mountains.

The next morning I stopped at the ranger station for maps and advice on what to look for on the way. I’m sad to say that altho’ it’s a nice and large facility, the rangers couldn’t have cared less and offered nothing, even to direct questions. Too bad. Most are more than willing to help and make suggestions.

Leaving there I headed on up into the mountains and for quite a way just watched and looked around. Very nice, rugged scenery and there are a couple of large lakes to the north but my interest was way down. I’d been on the road for nearly 3 months now, going hard all the way – as you’ve seen from the list of stories under “08 Vacation” – and I think I was somewhat burned out. Then………….

Left click once to enlarge pictures – left click again to return to text

I had passed the Diablo Dam, but climbing up past the reservoir there was a big view point looking back west and it was quite a view. Diablo Reservoir. In the jumbled rocks below and to the side of the viewpoint I could hear sqeaks and chirps and thought that maybe I’d finally found Marmots and/or Pikas. Tho’ I spent quite a while with binoculars I had no luck in seeing any. This acted like a catalyst, tho’ and I started waking up some. Came around a curve and Really woke up………..

These are Fisher and Mt. Ariva peaks. At the right side of Mt. Ariva, note how the rock changes to a pink color ?? You climb Ariva, follow the ridge east (right) and it leads into the approach to…….

Cutthroat Peak, looking from Rainy Pass and it’s awesome. I thought of what a climb it would make, then shook my head. “Nope, not that one, old feller,” I said to myself. Reading up on it later, I found that it’s a very technical climb and quite difficult. Sure is beautiful, tho’ – and there’s much more of it. I do think I could handle Ariva and possibly Fisher. Maybe one day. Just looking at those places makes the air smell fresher. Gotta love it.

While at Rainy Pass, I met more travelers who’d stopped and made friends with some of the local wildlife……..

Remember the friendly, fearless Gray Jays (Whiskey Jacks /Camp Robbers) at Nambé Lake in ‘07 ?? ( ) They’re common here, too, as well as in Canada at Joffre Lakes – – and pretty much every other forested mountain area I’ve been to. They’re cute little guys and a lot of fun.

……..and they like Pine Nuts just as much, too. The other travelers were nice folks and we swapped cameras to take pictures of each other with a Jay on our hands.

Remember the Steller’s Jay from my Winsor trail hike the week before Nambé Lake ?? ( ) They’re here, too, and so glossy their feathers look waxed. I took quite a few pictures of this one and even moved in on him a bit to try and get him to raise his crest, but no joy. This guy wanted some seeds, too, but was just a bit too shy to come in, tho’ this Is the closest I’ve ever been to one – about 15 ft. When I tossed nuts to the ground in front of him, he looked interested, but the aggressive little Camp Robbers dive bombed them and they were gone before he could make up his mind.

This fat little Chipmunk was right in there for his share, too and approached closer than the Steller’s Jay, but still maintained about 6 ft or so distance from us. Toss a pine nut to him and you’ve never seen anything so quick. In and Back. Wham. He knew he had to beat the Gray Jays to them and he did get his share.

I didn’t really study up on this area beforehand, it being pretty much a compulsive decision to go. That, coupled with the useless rangers, I had no maps or real focus, but from what I could see from going along the highway, the drive, as beautiful as it was, shows only a small part of this incredible area. You have to hike into viewpoints and overlooks to see the real scope of the mountains. I missed a lot and it’s on my priority list of places to return to. Farther along the highway, more and more mountains appear.

I “believe” this is part of the South Pickett Range but it’s hard to be sure. A really ragged, jagged pile of rock, eh ??

Unidentified. To the left of it is a huge glaciated valley leading south…………

By the time you reach Mazama you’re pretty much out of the mountains and the whole stretch from there thru Winthrop and Twisp is incredibly yuppie-fied. All fancy cutesy little craft shops and veggie palaces, etc., etc., but it sure is a pretty area.

Approaching Wenatchee the Columbia River backed up into this lake is a nice surprise, too. Wenatchee itself is an OK town I guess but solidly agricultural and very hot and dusty dry in summer. Still, I wouldn’t mind spending a summer there to explore the 1,000s of square miles of mountain wilderness just to the west. Very, very nice country.

From here I bombed on down thru Oregon and Nevada, visited friends in North Las Vegas, then stopped to visit my old boss and his wife in Sedona, AZ. Very nice visit, then a day later I was back in Santa Fe. As it worked out, I was on the road for 3 months to the day and covered nearly 10,000 miles. What a trip. Lar.

Larry Bourne

Silver City, NM

Part 1 –
Part 2 –
This is part 3 of a 3 part series.

Cape Flattery is the most northwestern point of the continental US with Tatoosh Island and its lighthouse just offshore. Next stop is Japan, and the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. Today, I hiked the mile – more or prob’ly a little less from the parking lot down to the tip of the cape.

This whole country is temperate zone rain forest and an attempt to go off the trail won’t get you far without huge effort and you’d surely get lost very quickly.

The bush on the right side, above, is Salmonberry and when ripe they make a great trail snack, like a big golden raspberry with a mild, sweet taste. The boardwalk carries you over a lot of very swampy, soggy ground.

Seems like it goes forever, but I think it’s mostly because of the closed in feeling in the heavy forest. It doesn’t take too long, tho’ before you can see daylight between the trees ahead.

As you get closer to the point, the trail goes closer to the water and a couple of short side trails lead off, the nicest of which is Hole in the Wall, here looking southwest.

Farther yet, near the end of the trail the view to the south opens up and it’s great. Don’t let anyone fool ya about whether Oregon, Washington or California has the best coastline. From San Luis Obispo on the central California coast all the way to Alaska is all the same type of scenery – some more so, some less, but all beautiful. The black spots on the rock at lower right are Cormorants drying their wings after a series of underwater fishing trips.

From the viewing platform there’s a nice view to the northeast, into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. (no, it’s not “straight”) Vancouver Island in the distance with Port Renfrew at about the middle of the portion showing. This summer, while I was farther north a Black Bear swam out at Port Renfrew, climbed up into a boat and attacked the man on board. He managed to chase it off and later it was found that it was an old Bear in poor condition with worn down teeth and couldn’t catch game any more. I guess we’re easy pickin’s, eh ?? More Cormorants on the rock below us.

Our Hero on the viewing platform at the farthest northwestern tip of the continental U.S. Tatoosh Island with its lighthouse is behind me. In the farthest visible distance up Vancouver Island is the little town of Bamfield, 50 miles away. The white swirls on the water are powerful tidal currents surging past and around the island. This is about as calm as it gets out here. When the prevailing west wind is blowing against an outgoing tide, it can get very messy out there very quickly. If the big ocean rollers are coming in from Japan, the tide going out and the wind from the north or northeast, it can get insane in a hurry. I spent a lot of time in Dustbuster I out there and went thru really bad water a few times. Fishing is great. One species you never hear about but is one of the finest bottom fish for the table is the Black Rockfish. People don’t go after them, I guess because they’re small – just a pound or 3 each – but they’re delicious and very plentiful here in the shallow water in the coves. Great fun on ultralight tackle. You must be VERY wary of the waves when after them – an unexpectedly large wave can throw you into the rocks in seconds.

Heading back out, some portions of the trail aren’t so nice. More Salmonberries on the left. Lots of Huckleberries out here, too.

Down the coast a bit to Makah Bay (this is the home and reservation of the Makah Indians) and you’ll find a series of really nice beaches for miles to the south. A swimmer must be very cautious – there are powerful rip currents everywhere and no rescue people or facilities close enuf to do you any good.

When I came to Port Angeles in 1989 I immediately made a trip out here towing the Dustbuster I and launched at Neah Bay. At that time, Halibut and bottom fishing was really excellent and that was true for ‘90 as well but when I came out in ‘91 it had been “discovered” and, even tho’ Swiftsure Bank is 20 miles off-shore the water was covered with boats – looked like black pepper sprinkled all over. That was the end of the good fishing out there. The big trawlers dragging their huge nets along the bottom didn’t help a bit. The map above shows most of the places I’ve mentioned thru this series of stories. Now, I think it’s time to brag and show off a bit.

Here’s the 19 ft Glastron “Dustbuster” at the launch ramp on Ediz Hook next to the Harbor Pilot’s building. The big 115 hp Johnson V4 cruised it at an easy 25 mph while burning just 5 gallons per hour. The 16 ft Dustbuster II goes 22 mph at 5 gph with its 50 hp Tohatsu. Figure that. On my 3rd run to Swiftsure there were huge 14 ft high rollers (long ocean waves) coming from the open ocean to the west. Wind was pretty strong from the northeast and was kicking up a 4 ft cross-chop. The boat handled it fine, like a cork bobbing over the top……until a roller and cross-chop teamed up. I was going slowly, but the boat came off the top of that – about 18 ft in the air – and dropped. It still had the stock seats in it and nearly broke my back with the impact.

HoooBoy, now I knew what to look for and kept going but the boat felt funny. Squirming, sort of. WTH ?? Couldn’t figure it out, then turned and looked back as I was going over a large roller and saw the whole floor moving independently of the hull. The impact had smashed the floor loose from the hull; that took the stiffening support away and the boat was crawling over the waves with the un-supported fiberglass hull moving like a snake. Very gently and carefully eased on back to Neah Bay and loaded it up. The next month was taken with epoxy-ing new framing under the floor, putting down new plywood, filling it with Coast Guard approved 2 part polyurethane floatation foam, then fiberglassed over.

I found some seat pedestals from a Chevy van at the local wrecking yard and seats from a Plymouth Horizon that “almost” matched the color. It worked wonderfully well. The deeply sprung seats soaked up impacts in rough water and I could slide the seat forward to drive like a car, or push it all the way back with both base adjuster and seat adjuster so’s to stand up and watch over the windshield while running. When trolling, I could turn the seat ¾ of the way around, watch the rod tip and steer at the same time. Everyone who rode in it was amazed at the comfort – un-heard of in a boat.

It was equipped with Loran C, (this was pre-GPS days) fishfinder, CB radio, VHF marine radio, all safety equipment and fully rigged for fishing. When I bought it both motors ran perfectly but it had sat so long the gas and electrical systems were shot. (the old fella who owned it had run the motors frequently to keep them up) I went all thru all of it till it was like new. Now……….what am I gonna I do with all this ??

Swiftsure was Halibut heaven then and I caught many. Here’s a 47# Halibut from there. Ol’ Lar was a perty good lookin’ feller at 50, wasn’t he ?? Sure went downhill fast after that. Sighhh.

14# Red Snapper (Yellow Eye Rockfish) from the dropoff near the Halibut flats. These are very, very good eating, but endangered now.

37# Ling Cod from same area. These are the king of the bottom fish for the table. No cheating and holding it at arm’s length to make it look bigger here. I don’t ever do that and don’t like to see it done. The only one you’re fooling is yourself.

If you look on the map above, you’ll see Bamfield, B.C. on the south shore of Barkeley Sound – an even 50 miles from Neah Bay. About 2/3 of the way up was the Nitinat River and a well known spot for catching really big King Salmon. (called Spring Salmon in Canada) I caught this one while trolling a cut plug herring on 15# test Steelhead tackle in shallow water right at the river mouth – all 27# of him. You can see the scars from where some predator – prob’ly a Sea Lion – “almost” got him. Nice fish. This had to be in ‘89 – you can see the original seat behind the fish. Hard as a rock.

All that stuff was well and good and lots of fun, but my favorite sport was going just off-shore of Port Angeles into the tide rips out in the Strait. Schools of Silver Salmon (called Coho in Canada) and Pink Salmon (sometimes called Humpies) would congregate at the rip lines and chase the herring schools there. I went after them with a 6# test Trout outfit (in the picture) and just enuf lead weight – about ½ oz – to hold the cut plug bait below the reach of Seagulls. That little Ryobi reel did yeoman service for 6 years – those nice Silvers and the smaller Pinks would make it scream – but it was completely worn out when I left there. I have no problem with recommending Ryobi reels.

Trout fishermen would love this. You’ll hear stories of 20# Silvers out there, but I literally caught 100’s in 6 years of steady fishing and never saw one weighed in at more than 15# and very, very few of those. Most were under 10#, 12# is a bragger and this one is very average at about 6#. On that light tackle they’d run and jump like a huge Trout and were great fun. Great on the table, too, if you bled them first. I spent a lot of hours out there after those guys – and ran a full time service business at the same time. Busy Lar. Thanks for putting up with the bragging. No more, I promise. Lar.

Larry Bourne
Santa Fe, NM

Part 1 –
This is part 2 of a 3 part series.
Part 3 –

The day after my hike to Hurricane Ridge, I went west to one of my favorite places – Lake Crescent. I spent many hours on that lake in the original Dustbuster trying for one of the big Beardslee strain of Rainbow Trout that live in there. Never did catch one, but it’s sure a pretty place to get skunked.

Shortly after descending the grade to the lake edge, Hwy 101 comes around a bend and you’ll see where the lake is split by the huge bulk of Pyramid Mountain. The right side goes northwest to Log Cabin Resort and the outlet to the Lyre River. Left side goes on around about another 8 miles or so west to Fairholm, then up the long grade to the Sol-Duc flats. When I moved here in December, 1973 with my new (now ex) wife, I drove a big Kenworth logging truck for a year, mostly on runs around Lake Crescent to the west end. We had great fun playing “Chase the Tourist” around this winding, twisting 11 mile portion of Hwy 101. People visit here to sightsee and enjoy the great scenery – and they go 15 or 20 miles an hour around that lake. Don’t blame them – it IS beautiful – but we were paid by the load and had to make time. Do you think any of those donkeys would pull into a turnout to let us by ?? Not a chance, so we be-deviled them. Here’s a 3 picture panorama of Pyramid……….

When I was taking flying lessons, I liked to come this way when weather permitted (I learned to fly in and around the Olympic Mountains during the winter of 94-95 and got my fill of rain, fog, wind, ice, snow…..) and enjoy the scenery as I went thru my maneuvers. Just to the left of the tip of Pyramid Mountain you’ll see a small notch. Below both is a large expanse of clear rock. Right on top of the lower left peak is a small old ruined cabin that I spotted fairly quickly and really wondered who’d gone to the enormous effort to build in a place like that. No roads within a mile or so of it. More on it later.

I’d hiked to beautiful Marymere Falls in the past, but had never taken the side trail for the climb up Storm King Mountain. Not sure why not – coming east around the lake you can see it there for several miles and it looks great. Today I wanted to rectify that omission. I parked the truck, loaded up and hit the trail. Right away I was in heavy temperate zone rain forest vegetation and just before the Storm King trail, came upon a giant old Douglas Fir that had escaped the old time lumberjacks. This one is a dandy – over 8 ft thick and over 200 ft tall…………

Then I found the Storm King trail and turned left and up…..and up….and up…… Phew. Most trails will go steep for a while, level out, steep some more, etc., and you get a bit of a break from time to time. Not this one. Right from the get-go it went up at about 30º and it kept at 30º for what seemed forever. Un-relenting, but the scenery was sure great. Wasn’t long before I got a pretty good look down toward the Lyre River end of Lake Crescent. At about middle right you can see a piece of Hwy 101 and a viewpoint. That’s where I took the Pyramid Mountain picture from………

Climb some more and suddenly got a view of almost where we’re headed. Yah, up past that…….

I like to cry and moan and whine about the hardships of something like this, but in truth I love the challenge and enjoy the scenery. There’s ego, too. :-) I love the feeling I get when I’m really in good shape, too. Feels very good. Quite a bit farther up is a sign that doesn’t seem like it’s gotten much respect or concern……….

No, they weren’t kidding. We’re going up the side of a severe canyon now and the trail barely hangs in there. Do NOT slip here. It would go very badly for you. The drop off is at the lower right corner and it goes waaay down………..

Altogether, this trail is a little less than 2 miles and you climb about 2,000 ft, so it’s a pretty good pitch. Farther up, there’s our destination – out on that point at upper left. The steep angle makes this shot deceptive, as you’ll see a little later. The trail – you can sorta see it – goes up by that downed tree then angles right thru the trees and waaay up the hill……….

It was from the point left of here that I could see out over the lake again and from this angle you can see the cabin on Pyramid Mountain. Look left of the notch above and to the left of the big bare patch. The roofline is barely visible, hiding behind that tree. You don’t want to mis-step there…………

See it ??………..

Climbing a steep slope on dirt is difficult and demanding and I found 2 pitches where others had tied ropes off to trees above and left them to help later comers up. I appreciated the thought and did use the ropes for an assist, but didn’t commit myself to them. Who knows how long they’ve been there or if they’re rotten or not ??. The picture is deceptive, again. This is Very steep………

But, then comes the reward. There’s the rocky spike from the earlier picture and a view most of the way down this beautiful lake. How many times did I fly a plane over it and run my boat on it ?? Drive that big Kenworth loaded with logs around it ?? Even now, the lake is very lightly used. Wonderful memories. Fairholm is around a bend at the far end. I believe Lake Crescent is almost 11 miles long, if I remember right. I do know we used to figure the road on the left edge at 11 miles when driving log trucks around it. You can see Hwy 101 going along the left side just above the water. On the right – north – side, just a hair to the right of the point I’m standing on you can see a bare patch of rock. That’s where the old logging railway went thru a tunnel that’s closed now. I’ve come in from the east end at the Lyre River and hiked as far as the tunnel but never went past. Also came from Fairholm back this way but not this far. You can see the line of the trail – the Spruce Railroad Trail – a wide, level and very beautiful walk……….

Now, step carefully out onto the point and look down. Instant vertigo. :-) What a view. 2,000 feet down. There’s the little peninsula that Lake Crescent Lodge and several other facilities are on, the parking lot is on the right side of it, but the Diesel Dodge is behind those trees. One of the launch ramps I used back in the day is at the right edge. I mostly used the launch at Log Cabin Resort on the far side of the lake. The water is crystal clear and very deep……….

Coming back down, my knees cussed me and my toes were jammed into the front of my boots the whole way. Ouch.

Then came the fun part. I passed my check flight and got my private pilot’s license on July 29, 1995 and my horizons really expanded. I flew that Cessna 172 to Idaho, Oregon and British Columbia as well as all over the local area. A year later I moved back to Palm Springs and didn’t return until 1998. Ken, now retired from the flight school, owned a beautiful little 1941 Piper J-5 Cub, a 3 seat version of the classic J-3 Piper Cub. (the 2 passengers had best be fairly small) Nice thing about the J-5 is that you solo it from the front seat. The J-3 solos from the back seat and is a little trickier. Bad thing about the J-5 is that I’m about a foot too tall (I exaggerate some) to fit properly, but I crammed in and made it work. The plane was beautifully restored but Ken told me he didn’t have time to fly it as much as he should, sooo…..he’d make me a deal. You can read about that deal at:

The next morning I went out to the airport, opened the hangar and carefully pre-flighted the J-5. Here I is with that little jewel. It’s more than a year older than I am – and That’s ooold………

The Aeronca Champ was a good plane to learn tail dragger skills in, but flying the little Piper was a revelation. (a tricycle gear plane like the Cessna with the steer-able wheel in front drives pretty much like a car when on the ground. Tail dragger – with the small swiveling tail wheel at the back wants to swap ends and you must be very alert at all times when moving on the ground) Light and precise and quick and easy on the controls, it makes the Aeronca seem like a sled. It’s a joy to fly and I found that I could shoot pictures out of either side by just holding the stick lightly between my knees and all I had to do was think about it and I’d be there. What a rush. Several passes up and down the runway and taxi way to polish my rusty taildragger skills and then I socked the coals to ‘er, we leaped into the air – as much as 75 hp (conversion kit) can make you leap – and headed west toward Lake Crescent. Here’s the Piper in the air over Sequim. (skwim) (I wasn’t the pilot here) It’s beautiful. Years later Ken offered to sell it to me and I wanted it badly, but I simply couldn’t afford it. I ache……….

Seemed like no time at all and we were over the lake and looking down toward the Lyre River exit. Ken and Marge’s weekend cabin is about ½ way between the point on the right and the river. I stayed in that cabin on 2 separate vacations………

Beautiful place, eh ?? With their now large family – including all the grandkids, the cabin sees plenty of happy use……….

Turn way around to the left, gain some altitude, circle around and here’s the cabin on Pyramid Mountain. Hmmm……?? Someone been working on it ?? Roof was full of holes last time I was up here………

Ay-yup, sho’ nuff………the new roof is almost done and the sides are re-shingled. What a project, just getting things up here, with no road. Pack horses ?? Mules ?? I guess. Man, that’s steep. Look at the beaver slide at lower right below the wing strut. A slip there would be ugly……..

Now, we’ll head across the lake and take a look at the little ridge I stood on yesterday. See the little white arrow ?? The trail goes up the right side. Told ya it were steep………

I flew up into the canyon, made a U-turn – the little Piper can turn almost in its own length and it’s a big canyon – and there’s the ridge again, at the arrow. Pyramid Mountain straight ahead, Spruce Railroad Trail going along the lake edge. I’ve been told that going the rest of the way to the “real” summit can be done, but it’d be an awful climb. I think I’ll pass………

When I flew the Piper, I was careful not to overdo a good thing. This was a mighty favor Ken was extending to me and I didn’t want to abuse it, so I kept my flights fairly short and always made sure the plane was full of gas and cleaned up before I left it.

I had never been to Lake Angeles and not sure why, so I decided on a short side trip on the way back to the airport. Lake Angeles turned out to be a little jewel hidden in a pocket of the Olympic Mountains and I think it’d be a mighty climb to reach it………

This is a Google Earth overview of most of the areas I’ve mentioned here………

Here’s my friend Ken, at the hangar with his immaculate 1941 J-5 Piper Cub………..

Marge called me several months ago. On October 15, 2011, after a short illness, Ken passed away. I have very few friends and that hit me hard.

Good Bye, my friend. Rest In Peace. Lar.

Larry Bourne
Silver City, NM

This is part 1 of a 3 part series.
Part 2 –
Part 3 –

After leaving Bella Coola and arriving in Port Hardy on Vancouver Island I was frustrated in my exploring by an un-ending rain and wind storm that made it impractical to try going out looking for Whales, Orcas, etc., in the Dustbuster. Finally landed at my cousin’s home in Richmond B.C., a suburb of Vancouver, spent a few very nice days with them, then continued on my trip, down to Whidbey Island, WA and the ferry to Port Townsend, WA – a picturesque re-created 19th century seaport and a great destination in itself. From there to Port Angeles is about 40 more miles – scenic miles.

From 1989 till 2006 I started and ran a very successful refrigeration and restaurant equipment repair service in Port Angeles, Washington, did well at that and really loved the Port Angeles area, the magnificent scenery there – and the wonderful Salmon fishing in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Seven years of it, then problems with my aging parents required me to return to Palm Springs in late 2006 and I embarked on a new career – a whole ‘nuther story……but beautiful Port Angeles always stayed in the back of my mind.

In 1994 I started flying lessons with a series of ultralight flying instructors, none of whom carried thru on their commitments. By then I’d had enuf of a taste of flying that I gave up on those bums and went to the local flying school at Fairchild Field airport in Port Angeles and started on regular flying lessons in a Cessna 172. I don’t fit the 152 very well -they’re very small – tho’ I did put some hours in them. The owners, Ken and Marge – now retired – became friends thru the winter of flying lessons and we visited back and forth for years. They made a good excuse to come back to visit this beautiful area. Here’s Lar at a really happy moment, courtesy of Ken, Marge and their office manager daughter Kristi…..and yes, they did cut the tail off my shirt and pin it to the wall. (I made sure I wore an old shirt that day) I was grinning so hard my jaws ached :-) …..

One of my favorite places to visit was Tongue Point recreation area, about 10 miles west of town. Looking due west you can see the partly submerged peninsula. Looking somewhat left of straight out the center, next stop would be Japan. Go to the right of center and you’d hit the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. At the far right edge you can just about see a piece of Vancouver Island in the vicinity of Port Renfrew………

I did extensive scuba diving in that area when I lived there back in the ‘70s and several times dove on the wreck of the Diamond Knot, a freighter carrying a load of canned Salmon that was rammed by another ship and sank in 140 feet of water straight off the end of Tongue Point. Top of the wreck was at 80 feet and it made for quite a dive. Dark, cold and very dangerous. Never did take a still camera down, but I do have a super 8 movie I took while down on the wreck. Yah, Port Angeles and I go back a long way and I love it there, tho’ it’s different now. Port Angeles and nearby Sequim (skwim) are in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains and are semi-arid. This “Banana Belt,” rare in the rainy Pacific Northwest, has been discovered by rich retirees and us common folk can’t afford it any more……..not to mention the awful tangle of traffic on Hwy 101.

One more view from Tongue Point, looking south toward the Olympic Mountains…………

From Tongue Point I liked to make a loop up past Lake Crescent, here showing a small portion of East Beach thru the trees. Much more on Lake Crescent in the next story…………

Continue on south on back roads, follow the Elwha River upstream and come to Glines Canyon dam that backs up scenic Lake Mills. During the springtime floods, this was a truly impressive sight – and sound – with the spillways open. The ground literally trembled under your feet……….

It spills into a narrow, vertical canyon – I think about 100 feet down, it’s beautiful to see and I loved the steady roar of the water and the cool mist. I frequently came here and kicked back near the edge to just daydream for a while. It’s not far out of town, but I don’t recall ever seeing another person up there…………

Lake Mills with Olympic Mountains in the background. The whole Olympic Peninsula is picture postcard country and I had a total of 8 great years there……..

Back from Lake Mills, heading for town and you go past Lake Aldwell, 8 miles long and beautiful. I’m the only person I ever saw put a boat into either of those lakes and the Trout fishing is great. Go figure…………

Lake Aldwell is held back by the Elwha dam – this is all on the Elwha River. Back in the day – in the 70s – we used to put on our wet suits, then walk down the trail at the right side of the dam and jump into the – glacier fed – river. The wet suit was very necessary and it was cold even with it. We’d float downstream several miles and friends would pick us up at the Hwy 112 bridge. No pics of that either, but again, I do have a super 8 movie. It was a great ride – moderate white water in spots and slow floating in others. The perspective from being IN the water was great……….

Both of those dams were built in the early part of the 20th century to generate power for the 2 big mills in town. Now the Fish Kissers and Tree Huggers have worked on it till they got it pushed thru to remove the dams and restore the Salmon runs. I can see both good and bad in that, but the lakes are already drawn partly down and the dams will come out this summer – 2012. (I’m a little slow getting this story written :-(

Go back thru Port Angeles to Race St. and turn right (south) and follow the road about 18 miles to Hurricane Ridge, a very popular overlook of the Olympic Mountains. It’s a wonderful drive. I lived many years in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, then 13 years in the Los Angeles area – both of which have mountains to the north. In Port Angeles the mountains are to the south and you can imagine how many times I got lost before I got used to that. This time, I had barely gotten started when I saw a car pulled off the road at an angle and 2 women were after something in the weeds. Curious, I pulled over, too. They had found a Mountain Beaver, (google it) a truly rare happening. These things are nocturnal and very, very shy and secretive and very good diggers, making huge networks of tunnels. I’d heard of them, spent a good chunk of my life working and playing in the woods and had never seen one. This was my first (and so far, only) – looks like a cross between a Mole and a Guinea Pig and are slightly larger than the Guinea Pig – about the size of a small rabbit………..

The daughter from the 1st car wanted to pick it up, but I told her that it was probably sick, being in the open in daylight like that and, being a rodent, can certainly give a nasty bite, so she left it be. Odd looking little guy, eh ??

As you pull into the visitor’s center at Hurricane Ridge you’re met by a tremendous view of the Olympics. Headwaters of the Elwha River are down in the canyons………..

Then Mount Olympus, biggest of the range at nearly 8,000 ft and covered with glaciers. There are trails to it from the west end, but they’re far more than I had time for – about 18 miles one way. I can’t walk that far anyway…………

I did take the trail to Hurricane Hill, about 3 or 4 miles and that gave spectacular views as well as some wildlife………..

Of course, Bambi came out to say hello. These are the Columbian Blacktail Deer and are much smaller than other species, seldom topping much more than 100 pounds……….

Thumper stopped by, too, and watched me pass……….

……….as did this perky little Chipmunk. I think he had hopes of a handout…..seemed quite tame………..

The summit of the trail is a little beyond the far upper right, at a clump of trees. It’s a handicapped accessible trail in very good condition and very popular, tho’ someone in a wheelchair with several friends helping would all be exhausted, getting him up there…………

When you reach the top – here’s showoff Lar on the ridge……….

…….you’d best be prepared for a real knock-out of a view. This is looking almost due north across the Strait of Juan de Fuca with the San Juan Islands in the distance. Vancouver, B.C. would be about 90 miles out, looking across the left side of this shot. Bellingham, WA would be between center and right side, about 50 miles away. Port Angeles is below with the distinctive finger of Ediz Hook extending from lower left across to almost lower mid picture, forming a sheltered harbor. At the end of it is the Coast Guard Station and if you look somewhat to the left of the ship at anchor, you’ll see a white dot on the inside edge of “The Hook.” That’s the Harbor Pilot’s building and the boat launch I used several times a week is just left of it. What wonderful memories and did I cover some ground – and water……..

The original “Dustbuster” was an older 19 ft. Glastron runabout with a 115 hp Johnson outboard and what a perfect boat that was for that country. Rock solid, wide, deep, fast and very seaworthy and I caught literally 100’s of Salmon from it in all kinds of weather. I put 700 hours on it in 6 years, covering territory all the way from the San Juans and Victoria, B.C., (just out of sight to the left) all the way out 70 miles to Neah Bay, 20 more by water to Swiftsure Bank for big Halibut, Ling Cod and Red Snapper and 50 miles north of Neah Bay to Bamfield, B.C. on the south side of Barkeley Sound on Vancouver Island. When I moved back to Palm Springs I had to sell the Dustbuster and that really hurt. The new Dustbuster, the 16 ft center console boat you’ve become familiar with in this series of stories has done an extremely good job of carrying on the tradition.

More to come…………. Lar.

Larry Bourne
Silver City, NM