Friday, May 30, 2014

The Trail of Flowers and Folsom Farm

We were so excited to get the kayaks out and explore Hog Lake and that we stayed on the lake most of the first day.


Next we decided to hike the trail to the Hog Lake Waterfall.  The wind was back by mid morning so we decided it was a perfect day for a hike along the bluff edge overlooking the lake.

The Hog Lake waterfall is best seen during the spring run off when the most water is cascading over the terrace of basalt rocks.   We saw the falls from the end of the lake in the kayak but were curious if we could get a better view from the bluff.

The Fish Trap area is of mixed vegetation with some trees pine and aspen but is fairly arid so I wasn't expecting to see a lot of flowers.    Since we were here later in the Spring we were treated to a rainbow of spring flowers.  There is a trail from the south end of the lake starting at the kayak launch and following along the bluff.  It has some ups and downs but is a fairly easy trail.

But oh my the flowers were wonderful.


Some of the native plants were used by local Native American tribes of the area and the bulbs are still dug today. Camas and bitter root are two of plants dug and used in special dinners and medicines.

The prize for the most beautiful and unexpected flower of the day is the bitterroot.

It grows in the most arid soil, often in places that fire has cleared out other flowers.  The buds that you see surrounding the flowers push up through the crusty earth and burst into bloom without producing much in leaves or vegetation amid plenty of volcanic rock.  

A fire in 1998 burned though the area leaving downed trees that are providing natural habitat for the birds and insect and the area is once again coming alive.

Even though the area has heavy basalt formations, there is also soil layers deposited during the thousands of years of floods, over the layers of broken rock forming a base for the flowers to grow.

So there definitely was more flowers to be seen.


The wind was blowing off the lake making flower close ups challenging.

Along the trail on top of the bluff we found a camp site of folks who had hiked into make a camp.  Pretty rocky ground to sleep on but the view was beautiful.


And still more flowers.
Each flower is like discovering an unexpected gift on a scavenger hunt in a dry climate.

Later in the summer, fewer flowers will be found as the summer becomes much hotter and dry weather will prevail.  So I treasure each flower now.

 A bit more view of the Falls.

Back to camp and lunch before another hike at Folsom Farm. 
In the woods behind our campsite is a trail that follows the coulee to an old homestead known as the Folsom Farm. (it is also accessible by road during summer months and has picnic areas.)

It was originally homesteaded in 1902 by Frank and Alice Folsom was a Greek Revial farmhouse similar to this nearby farmhouse..

The west is full of abandoned homestead but most have NO TRESPASSING signs posted.  This homestead on BLM land welcomes visitors and have a parking lot and picnic tables to enjoy the sight.
  The house was burned in the Fire in 1998 but the other buildings were spared.

The barn was built later in the 1940's and is standing still. 

The view from the barns are of another pond below in the coulee that you hike past from our camp site.  The bird viewing platform  near the pond allows  a great place to blend in and observe the birds in their natural habitat.

Early farmers and ranchers dug trenches to drain the ponds to farm the rich soil.  Restoration efforts have returned the farmland to its natural state.

The wetland is reborn!

 The viewing platform hid other treasures as well.

 The barn sits high on the hill overlooking the pond.


Relics long ago left behind remain on the property.  It is not difficult to see yourself living in this wonderful place.  It was not an easy life, but it was a good life in a beautiful place.


I was rewarded with one more wild flower.  When I was here at Hog Lake scouting a place to camp I found an unusual flower that was not quite open.  I found one that this trip that opened.
Check out the fuzzy hair like follicle.... 

It was a good trip....

~ Happy Trails~

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Hog Lake in the FIsh Trap BLM, WA

We scored a spot near Hog Lake in the Fish Trap BLM near Spokane, Washington.

There are only a few spot for dispersed camping in this spot unless you are willing to hike into a remote spot, but we gave it a shot and it payed off.  We arrived on Friday at 4:00 on Memorial Weekend and we were indeed lucky.

 Since it was a holiday weekend we chose a sight a bit of a ways from the lake so that we wouldn't be surrounded by other campers but it was indeed a quiet weekend.

  We were surrounded only by nature!

There were just us, a girls college rugby team (who were incredibly polite AND quiet), a few widely dispersed campers and a few day use folks to share this space.

Hog lake is a perfect lake for kayaking.  The wind could be howling around us on the bluffs but below on the lake there were just mild ripples on the water.  It sits down in the bottom of a coulee so it is protected from the wind by the tall basalt cliffs that surround it. 

We paddled the length of the lake several times in the time that we were here.  

We watched the birds swooping among the cliffs and were even able to watch an bald eagle pair soaring overhead.

Hog Lake Falls

We paddled to the northeast end of the lake where a waterfall carves through the steps and tumbles along the layers of basalt.  Earlier in the Spring the water fall is more impressive but the volume is reduced as summer approaches.


Hog lake is in the  Cheney- Palouse Scablands of Eastern Washington. The unique landscape resulted from the ravaging waters that carved the landscape from basalt during the massive Missoula Floods.

 I have been reading a number of interesting books regarding the cataclysmic floods that carved  through Central Washington.   The most interesting book is " Bretz's Flood"  The Remarkable Story of a Rebel Geologist and the World's Greatest Flood, by John Soennichsen. 
I love to read about the history and geology of an area that we are visiting. 

We also saw our share of wildlife;

ME first!!!

The  Double-crested Cormorant delighted us with his crane pose. 


Do you suppose he watched the Karate Kid
Movie and is practicing his version of the mae
tobi geri pose?

(Actually, he strikes this pose to dry his wings after fishing.)

We even had a visitor to camp...

A late even paddle at sunset was scenic and peaceful.

And to all.... a good nite!!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

One of Those Days....

You know  those days…. everything you touch turns out wrong.  The kind of day that makes you want a start over but instead it keeps going on and on with everything turning out different than you imagined.  It is then that I start to remember the sweet little spot of my destination.  The place I can envision us for the long weekend.

My day starts at 7:00A.M. with the blare of the phone waking me up.  Nothing good ever comes of phones at wee hours….This time it is just a teenager ignoring quite phone hours that seems to exist only in my universe.  Normally I would already be up and running but last night was filled with… 

Last night I continued to dream on and off  that I would drive from spot to spot to find the old campground full sign hanging from the entrance post.  The dream continues with me finally returning to the house with my head hanging in defeat.  Somewhere during the night I decide if I can’t find a boondocking spot I  I would go back out to my friends house that is up for sale where I was driveway sitting for a bit last summer as it is at least in the woods near where I wanted to kayak and hike.  I should not even bother to try to sleep until I have these things figured out. 

So at least now I had a plan….

So let the fun begin…. off to the store to get the groceries so we will have food for the next few days.  Sounds easy enough, with a rough idea of a menu, I set out to accomplish…what turns out to be the impossible.  How many stores should it take to get food for 3 little days!!.
Apparently, a lot!! Some days when going to the grocery, everything goes perfectly, others every effort is with difficulty.  So after adjusting the menu when stores did not have menu items, and returning to the store for missing vital items I was off to a shaky start.
I hate shopping any day so shopping the day before a holiday weekend has to rank up there with a Never Do This lesson.  Some lessons are just hard to learn and bare repeating…. again and again.

At this point I was thinking… I really want to go…I’m not going to find a spot and this will have all been for nothing….Answer….. I REALLY WANT TO CAMP and I need a change of scenery… so if it comes to driveway camping in the woods…I’ll take it!

I did manage the trailer hook up on the first back up!!  What is with this.  Could it be that I’m learning something!!  It sure beat when I hooked up for the Utah in the rain and hail with wind blowing…. which took at least 1 and 1/2 hours of fun!  Hailey gets home from school and one more quick trip to the store for kitty litter and we are off!!    But finally there it is, the lake I was dreaming of….

A quiet little lake surrounded with trees, birds chirping and  yes,

 a place for us!!

Stay tuned for adventures at Hog Lake!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Let the Camping Begin!!

Finally, we marked the advent of good weather.....our first 80 degree day.  It signals the beginning of camping season in my mind although the day was complete with spring touches of off and on sprinkles and a thunder shower.   On to camping!!!  I need to go camping....

Yesterday was the annual anniversary sale at REI.  I was there when the doors opened with the hopes that the kayak I have been stocking would be available in the store.  NO SUCH LUCK.  The last one sold just a few days before but I was able to order one that will be delivered in a few days.  I love my little inflatable kayak and since there are now two of us, two are needed.
Hailey in my Kayak last summer.

Also available of course from my

While it is inflatable it also has some rigid framing so it does track better and sits down into the water more than most inflatables.  While it may not be desirable for long rides it offers a great alternative for occasional kayakers to get into the water and explore.  Combined with the  advantage of fitting into a small carrying case that is easy to carry in the truck it works well for us.  Next week we will be finding a little lake to play with Hailey's new toy.

We are headed out to scout a new location to free boondock  that will be within 30 minutes of the house, complete with a little lake, water fall and hiking....that sounds like a winner to me!!  That will be close enough that I can set up camp and commute Hailey to school to extend our stay a little longer...  Sounds like a plan to me!!  I certainly am ready for a little nature time and am longing for school to be out. 

Well I'm hoping that the two spots that I found will be available, if not, who knows where I will end up.  I am stressing about finding a camping place for the coming weekend  closeby....Since it is Memorial weekend regular campgrounds will be full.. and expensive, most of the state parks are over $30 and require reservations.  There are. very, very few places to boondock.    I did get a bit of outdoor time in though which helps..... Lordie I need my  outdoor time. 

So many spring flowers are blooming.   Each time I am out on hiking it becomes a treasure hunt to discover what new flowers are blooming and what critters I will stumble upon.  I have always loved Iris and it was a special treat to find these wild ones.


When I was is school taking Biology, we were required to make a wild flower collection, complete with the names of the flowers.  I don't remember anything of the names but I still love collecting the flowers.  Now just with the camera lens.

 I've never seen these little bells before.  I must see them when they are opened up more.

 I had a surprise this morning and am welcoming a new follower today,   Kimbopolo.  She will be hitting many of the National Park highlights in the Northwest this Summer so maybe our paths will cross.  I hope so.

I still don't have hard and fast plans for all of the summer but I do know that we will be seeing a lot of the northwest that I haven't seen yet and connecting with old and new friends. For sure it will be at a much slower pace than the Utah trip.  At least that is the plan... I can never make guarantees cause when I hit the trail I just can't turn off the desire to see around the next bend!!

~ Happy Trails ~