Itching To Get Out

The advent of Spring has left us dying to get out; maybe go on a hike on solid soil. My husband and I love the outdoors and we live in the woods but we’d like to see some different trees.

Morel season is quickly approaching but not fast enough so we settled for a drive up the road to DNR (Department of Natural Resources) land near us the other day. The DNR owns a ton of land that they manage for recreation and various other commercial and governmental type uses.

This area is well laid out with dirt roads threading through forested hillsides and mountains. There are a couple of silver mines, plentiful sources of wood that some hardy locals take advantage of to make a living (they are a special breed), and hidden huckleberry patches known only to some inhabitants. We’ve been promised to be taken out to pick but have been warned that the bears love huckleberries also. We’ll be sure to bring our bear spray as we always do The Man, the Bear and the Truck.

While in town the other day I stopped by the Colville station of the Colville National Forest for some advice as my husband has been chomping at the bit to go on some overnight backpacking trips. I asked if there were really Grizzly bear in Washington state and in Stevens County and the answer was “yes”. The ranger said they hung out closer to the Canadian border and at higher elevations so I think we’ll stick to the lower. I was instructed to spray our bear spray in a half-moon pattern horizontally to create a sort of wall in front of us before the animal gets close if we are unfortunate enough to have an encounter with a predater. Good advice. I would have just sprayed straight ahead.

I asked about Morel hunting in previously burned areas of the forest. The staff warned of hidden holes and falling trees as dangers so I think we’ll stick to safer places. There’s plenty out there as it is.

When I asked about road conditions the ranger recommended a phone app called Avenza which is free but you can download road and recreation maps of various sections of the national forest in addition to being able to navigate off-line. We could have used that a couple of years ago when we got lost in the Snoqualmie National Forest Lost In The Woods; Twice In One Day.

There is wild asparagus coming up although I have yet to find a single sprig, and crawfish waiting for my pot although I have yet to learn the spots they like here locally. We knew the other side of the mountains fairly well (except the time we got lost) but here is a new story. We’re still plying the locals for their secrets; more like begging.

Lastly, I have gold fever again and have been all over our property crushing and breaking promising looking rocks and I dug a hole right into what, to the best of my knowledge, is a geological fault. Our own private one. How’s that for a selling point? Our property has the perfect geology for possible gold and comes with natural springs . Couldn’t get any better for a geology/nature fanatic! Take a look at the map I found showing the fault. The photo is crummy but you get the point.

The back of our SUV is crammed with gold panning/prospecting stuff just in case; classifiers, my pan, my sluice, a shovel, the Fish and Gold Pamphlet required by the state to have in our possession so there are no excuses should we be caught out in the field breaking the law. 🙂

On The Road

Eluding the forest police.

We were on the road in our little trailer from sometime in May to September 19th of 2017. At first it was just me and our son but my husband joined us about 2 weeks into our great exodus along with quite of few other residents of King County. We’ve met a surprising amount of people from our old neck of the woods who have come here for mostly the same reasons as us; fresh air and some room.

We spent most of the time in the Snoqualmie National Forest on the west side of the Cascade mountain range. You’re only supposed to spend a total of 2 weeks at a time camping there but, sue us, we bounced around for a couple of months. Not just us either. We met quite a few people who made the forest their temporary home. Ours was by choice. I don’t believe their’s was.

The areas are well patrolled by sheriffs and we had to play a kind of hide and seek to keep them at bay. We ended up staying at an inn at Snoqualmie Pass for a couple of weeks to burn up our “not allowed” time before we returned to camp.

We camped in designated and undesignated sites (which is allowed) and moved from the north side of I-90 to the south side to keep a low profile.

Camping was the cheapest and most viable option for us. The hotel cost us an arm and a leg. We were actively looking for property and going out to look at them a couple of times a week. We wanted property that was away from town but not so remote that we would have to home school our son and cut off most human contact.

Until we found something though, we were living on the road.

It seemed like it was getting expensive and at one point I began thinking “we gotta find a place so we can pump money into there, not into living on the road. I don’t know what our biggest expenses were but I wanted the money to go into our destination, not the road.

When we finally found a place, some paperwork got lost in the mail and things dragged out for weeks longer than we anticipated. Our agent got pissed at us because things were taking so long. I reminded her that someone else lost the paperwork. I was pissed at her. I still consider her quite a battle ax but we are in touch every now and then because we’re still thinking of buying the lower lot. It’s one of those semi tense relationships that you have to maintain in your own best interests. Thanksgiving or Christmas with her….noooo.

We stayed at a couple of improved campgrounds. The first featured an ogre and his wife. The kind who watches every move you make from his RV. He would literally look at his watch when we would come to pay for the day, as if he was counting on us to be late. He was just a rude asshole. I felt sorry for his wife.  The second hosts were very friendly and we actually worked out a deal with them to do the final cleaning of the fire pits in trade for a few days of accommodations. My husband and I scooped and cleaned out about 30 to 40 fire pits for the close of the season.

In general, we kept the lowest profile as possible until we could get out of the forest and to a place we owned where no one could tell us how long we could stay or what we could do.

And I could dig as many holes as I wanted at any time of the day I wanted. 🙂