Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Ozette Triangle - June 24 - 26, 2016

End of Day Two
Christina and I were joined by Don and Nisa Heggenes as well as Quinn and Caldwell Clements shortly after the school year ended for the Ozette Triangle hike.

On Friday, we hiked out to Cape Alava on the three mile boardwalk, with a few stops to get readjusted, shed layers, and view open prairie. During one memorable stop, we witnessed a group of four deer. They seemed completely indifferent to our presence. Although we see many deer on Whidbey Island, it's always a treat to see them up close in a different setting.
Deer Grazing - Cape Alava Boardwalk
At Alava, Caldwell spotted a decomposing sea lion. Quinn and Donald helped him remove a couple canine teeth. There seems to be negative karma associated with this disturbance. In the process, Quinn catapulted purified brain on his shirt. All had to dig into the baby wipes in an attempt to rid themselves of that zombie smell associated with death. Shortly after, Donald sat directly in bird doo. The coast teaches many lessons.
First Campsite
We camped about one mile south of Alava. The site was just north of Wedding Rocks. The water source was adequate, the camp open and light.

I was wide awake at about two in the morning. After letting some air out of my mattress, I was more comfortable and quickly went back to sleep.

Christina and I didn't roll out of bed until nine o'clock Saturday morning. Everyone had been up for awhile. We made instant oatmeal, had a few Poptart knockoffs and enjoyed chatting with the group around the morning fire.
Posing at Petroglyphs - Wedding Rocks
We packed our bags and hiked south to the petroglyph site at Wedding Rocks. There are still many examples that are visible, but the coastal conditions are having an obvious impact.

While taking a break on the large Sand Point rock, I spoke with two hikers who had spent the night on the shores of Lake Ozette. They had ditched their canoes at the lakeside trailhead and walked to the coast through the woods. I was surprised to hear that there are many camps on the lake; I am interested in exploring them. Adventure perpetuates adventure.
Top of Sand Point
A group of eight twenty-somethings passed us on the flat, sandy stretch south of Sand Point. Donald found out that they were camping at Yellow Banks for the night. We decided it best to stay at the large South Sand Point site. Cedar Creek is my favorite spot to camp on the coast. South Sand Point is a close second.

After setting up our tent, Christina headed down to the beach with the others. I filtered water and had a bite to eat. As the majority of the group drifted off to sleep, I scampered up the bluff, climbed in my hammock, read for awhile and drifted off to sleep. It's easy to find satisfaction on a coastal adventure.
Two Fires
After waking, I joined the group at the fire. We chatted and watched the sun sink into the Pacific. Glorious. I ended up staying by the campfire until eleven-thirty. There are certain moments that are worth holding on to.
Meeting Place - South Sand Point
After a relatively restful sleep, Christina and I woke around eight o'clock. Everyone else was up and moving. We had a bite, packed our bags and hiked the four-and-a-half miles back to the cars. On the hike, I spotted two eagles perched comfortably close in a Spruce tree overlooking the shoreline. I was happy to share this experience with my partner, Christina.

In the immediate future, I truly hope to adventure again with this particular group. Thanks for the memories.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Pony Bridge Camp, Olympic National Park - April 5, 2016

Quinault Flow - Pony Bridge Campsite
Spring Break came on too quickly this year. As seems the case lately, Christina's spring vacation is different than mine. I started researching hikes in the Olympics as late as Saturday. I've been very interested in seeing the Enchanted Valley on the Quinault River. The weather forecast looked suitable, so I sent out a message to a few friends to gauge interest. All were busy with other trips or couldn't commit. On the bright side, this offered me the opportunity for some much-needed solo time.

I decided to take I-5 south through Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia on my way to Quinault. It was interesting putting on 101 through Aberdeen and Hoquiam. I haven't been down to Gray's Harbor in awhile.

Upon arriving at the ranger station in Quinault, I was promptly informed that part of the Graves Creek Road was out. My hike would start two miles before the actual trailhead. This wasn't a big deal. I had planned on tenting at O'Neil Creek, but, due to the time of day, would have to scale back and camp at the Pony Bridge (4.5 miles from the car).

Graves Creek Slide
The hike in was well-worth the drive. I was struck most keenly by the Maples. They stand like ancient men - long are their living beards. The ancient look of these trees are currently juxtaposed against the golden new growth pushing out of their limbs.

Nature's First Green... - Graves Creek
Last week, my class discussed Frost's poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay." I'm in this forest at a unique time of year. Maybe I can capture, in a small way, the beginning of this golden season. It will not last.

Distances - Enchanted Valley Trail
A Trail Story Told Many Times
After taking my time on the Pony Bridge, I found a beautiful spot to camp on a bank overlooking the Quinault. I'm living with the sound of water in seemingly all directions. It's easy to dream in these places because there is life patient and impatient - the trees and the river. Good night...


Tent Configuration - Pony Bridge Camp
View Dining (Foam Core Pad Over Bear Can) - Pony Bridge Camp

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Enchanted Valley, Olympic National Park - April 6, 2016

Sand Hoodoos - Quinault River Bank - April 6, 2016
I hiked approximately eleven miles today into the Enchanted Valley. Boy, were there a number of trees down over the trail. I'd say that I had to skirt twenty or more. Also, just past O'Neil Creek, one hundred yards of trail has disappeared into the Quinault. At one point, I decided to wade a short distance rather than hoof it up a steep sidehill. The park service has some work to do to open this route up. The new trail will need to be cleared high above the river. Summer work for young people contemplating their future? What better way than to place them outdoors. Of course, detours add incredible interest to hiking as well as life.

Enchanted Valley Footbridge
I'm composing this while sitting on my bear can in camp, facing the old chalet. Surprisingly, there is a bear just to the left of the building. I yelled out to him, we made eye contact and he went right back to feeding. I'm lower on the food chain right now and don't want a confrontation. I could scare him off if I wanted to, but it's enjoyable being in such close proximity to unchecked wilderness.



Elk Thoroughfare
Earlier today, I saw about five elk working their way through the forest just shy of O'Neil Creek. Later, a large branch snapped in front of me. My eyes focused just in time to see the first black bear of the trip crashing through the brush to get away. He was more timid than the one in camp. Maybe I just startled him.

Sighting the Chalet - Enchanted Valley - April 6, 2016
The old chalet is all boarded up. I had hoped that part of the building would be accessible. It has been moved off its original foundation and away from the riverbank. It would certainly be special if someone fixed it up and started offering services to hikers in the backcountry. It seems like there would be a grand volunteer opportunity here. I would certainly consider a three-week stint over the summer.

Chalet History - Enchanted Valley
It was good for me to come out here by myself. I'm currently fifteen miles from my car and haven't seen a single human being yet. I do enjoy spending time in my own head, but, honestly, I prefer a shared experience.

Tenting in the Valley - April 6, 2016

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Quinault River Hike, Olympic National Park - April 7, 2016

Close-Up - Enchanted Valley Chalet - April 7, 2016
I called it a night around eight o'clock. Of course, I was wide awake at around two. Crashing early in the evening can mean confronting reality in the moonlight. I opened my tent and stepped out under the stars. Insight into the immensity of our situation draws people together.

Climbing back inside my tent, I started thinking about what the next day would bring. I began tossing around the idea of hiking the fifteen miles back to the car. I knew that the weather would be pleasant, and I was aware of all of the obstacles. I fell back asleep with that in mind.

I woke with the idea that I'd pace myself and evaluate how I felt at each campsite. I didn't feel rushed, just excited to get moving. I packed my belongings and took several photos before leaving the valley. Will I return?

Around the Pyrites Creek camp, I encountered the musky odor of elk. Sure enough, a large herd had their eyes open to me as I came into view from behind a tree. Due to my desire to get video footage, they moved out quickly. Although I captured a short clip that I can upload to YouTube, was it worth it? It is a reminder that my intentions were taken as hostile by a large group.


I encountered a hiker just before the trail washout northeast of O'Neil Creek. He had met two other backpackers earlier who told him that the Enchanted Valley was closed due to the slide. They obviously didn't want to bushwhack too far off-trail.

Working My Way Down the Hill - Lost Portion of Quinault River Trail - April 7, 2016
Later, I met a father and son close to the Pony Bridge. They were headed to the O'Neil campsite. The young man looked to be about middle school age. It was heartening to see the two struggling along together. The trip will be remembered with fondness.

Feeling strong when I walked over the Pony Bridge, I decided to walk the final four-and-a-half miles to my car. I was, to be sure, tired but satisfied when I caught a glimpse of it. If every day could be this fulfilling...

Friday, June 19, 2015

Deer Lake, Olympic National Park - June 16, 2015

Deer Lake, Olympic National Park - June 16, 2015
Anders, Craig, Charlie and I camped this evening on the grassy shores of a small lake adjacent to Deer Lake. We hiked out of Sol Duc this afternoon about four miles to the site. The beauty of these mountain lakes touch me every time. It's very comforting to know that in a short amount of time I can be deep into the wilderness.

Craig brought his fishing pole, which was a great idea. At first, he thought that he'd forgotten his lures. I heard him utter the word "Unbelievable" about five times during diner having thought that the lures were at home. They finally turned up. It was a great relief. We both did a little fishing after dinner. He caught a small trout that he decided to throw back. I had a couple hits, but couldn't set the hook. Trout seem plentiful in these lakes. I enjoy watching them touch the surface of the water. These also love to jump. Charlie said that while he was watching a fly hover over the lake water, a trout leapt from the depths and snatched it out of the air. Glimpses of wonder keep drawing me back to the wild places.

Campsite Near Lake Adjacent to Deer Lake - Olympic National Park
The mosquitoes are pretty bad up here; I'm glad that I packed my new lightweight tent. Having the big screen really keeps me comfortable. I've moved away from the bivy sack I've had the past two backpacking trips. Tent materials are getting so light, it's hard to justify the small weight savings of the bivy.

We have two small streams near our campground. The sound is soothing. I should get an audio recording in the morning. I expect to get a peaceful night sleep.

I have taken several panoramic shots with my iPhone up here. I enjoy taking them. I imagine that there will be plenty of opportunities for shots tomorrow when we hike the high divide.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Seven Lakes Basin, Olympic National Park - June 17, 2015

Anders Fishing Before Hitting the Trail - Deer Lake, Olympic National Park
We took our time hitting the trail this morning. Being camped in a beautiful spot does that to you. Anders and Charlie tried their hand at fishing on our own private lake before we set out at ten o'clock.

It was a steady climb after leaving Deer Lake. A little over a mile in, we came across a small lake. We dropped the packs and waded in. The water was refreshing and the depth perfect. We could stand in the middle and just keep our heads above water. It was a little bracing at first, but was perfect after a couple minutes. Swimming in lakes reboots the entire system. It felt like washing the first mile off and starting fresh.

Our First Alpine Dip - June 17, 2015
Leaving the lake, we steadily climbed toward Seven Lakes Basin. The wildflowers are out at this time of year. The mountainside is lit with color. Craig and I let the guys go after a while. We stopped for water and a box of Junior Mints in the shade of what I believe to be Nobel Fir. This was our last stop before climbing down into the Seven Lakes Basin.

Walking into Seven Lakes Basin with a View of Lunch Lake - June 17, 2015
The trail service has built in a beautiful stone staircase to the bottom of the basin. It was a religious experience working my way to the bottom with views of Round Lake and Lunch Lake. I dropped my pack and scouted the area for suitable campsites. After at least thirty minutes, we settled on a nice spot tucked away on a hill above Lunch Lake. All four of us meandered down to the lakeside and took another swim. We found a large stone that protruded into the water at a fairly deep spot. It was easy to get in and out of the water. I have named it the "Dipping Rock."


After cleansing ourselves in the cool waters, Anders and I took a nap in our tents. Craig and Charlie later told me that they went fishing and landed four trout. All were released. Charlie went down to Round Lake and spotted a bear. I took a short video and showed us. I was interested in heading down there later.

Craig at Campsite - Lunch Lake
We cooked dinner on the shore of Lunch Lake. A couple borrowed Charlie's Steri Pen and talked of the beauty of the Enchantments. I look forward to seeing that area someday. Anders and Charlie took turns lightly casting off a rock while eating. The mosquitoes were bad, but I'm getting better at removing them from my mind.

Dinner and Fishing on the Lake
After dinner, Anders, Charlie and I headed down the trail to Round Lake. We moved down a unmarked trail the paralleled Seven Lakes Creek. I have a feeling that the trail we found heads all the way to Sol Duc Lake. It was too late in the evening to find the truth. We were only able to trek part way down. On the way back up I heard a large crashing through the underbrush to my right, in the area of the creek. I saw brush shaking and was certain that it was a bear. Sure enough, Anders pointed to him as he moved up the creek into the open. We watched him from afar the rest of the way up to Round Lake. He didn't look rushed, but easily outpaced us to the lake. I was able to take a short video of the experience. We must have watched him as we walked for twenty minutes. This was only the second bear I have seen in Olympic National Park, the other being south of Cape Alava on the coast. What a humbling way to end the day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Sevenmile Footbridge Campsite, Olympic National Park - June 18, 2015

Morning Mountain Goat Track, Lunch Lake - June 18, 2015
Last night was pretty funny, in retrospect. Early in the morning (3:00ish), I had to relieve myself. I crawled back in my tent and started to fall asleep. I was startled by the sound of a large animal walking by. It sounded like it was right by my head. A short while later, I heard licking sounds. I had to laugh. The ranger had told us that the mountain goats will go for urine. They love the salt. I never opened my tent entrance to look, but found many tracks in the soft dirt by the side of my tent. Next time, I'll walk a distance further...

We started climbing out of the Seven Lakes Basin at 9:00 AM. The strenuous climb was balanced by the peaceful views of the basin. I'm determined to return to this place.
Charlie and Blue Glacier - High Divide Trail, Olympic National Park - June 18, 2015
After a short walk, we took a side route and summited Bogachiel Peak, a worthy viewpoint worth the short climb. We then continued on to the High Divide. It was everything I had hoped for. Where else can you view the snows of Mount Olympus, the Sol Duk watershed and the Hoh river? Amazing! Every single turn in the trail was picture-worthy. I took many.
Heading Down to Heart Lake, Olympic National Park
After a Rolo candy stop, we dropped down to Heart Lake. True to its name, the lake is in the shape of a heart. We wanted to hike further, but taking a dip was a must. Anders had packed in two sets of swim goggles. He gave me a pair and Charlie, Anders and I headed out into the water. After less than two minutes, the water felt perfect. We swam to the other side and then paddled around in the middle. The lake was naturally clear. I grabbed two pieces of trash off the bottom and swam them to shore. With the mountains surrounding us, this was probably the most picturesque swimming I've done.
Break After Swim - Heart Lake
After toweling off. A entire family of mountain goats showed up on the scene. They gave the impression that they owned the place by the way they leisurely walked right by and up to higher ground, freely grazing as they roamed. I shot a little video and took a couple pictures. I've seen more wildlife than I ever expected this trip.


We passed several hikers on our way down into the Sol Duc watershed, every one of them in good spirits. The sky opened up on us as we reached the seven mile footbridge. I made the mistake of setting up my tent at the stock camp located nearby. Craig, Anders and Charlie found a better spot right by the bridge where I eventually moved to. It rained off-and-on into the evening. My last two backpacking trips to the coast have been rain-free. I was overdue. This campsite, although just off the main trail, has a lightly cascading waterfall and sheltering trees. The footbridge itself is slightly suspect. It consists of one large fallen tree boasting a single handrail. We'll have to watch our step with the packs tomorrow morning.

Crossing Bridge Creek - Sol Duc Watershed
After approximately four hours of sound sleep, I woke to the sound of the river and my own thoughts. I seem to have so much thinking energy on wilderness trips. Life issues become clear in the forest, which, I swear, speaks. Questions usually always come easy. Answers can be elusive in domestic life. After a short time in these natural environments, answers trickle in. It's peaceful and assuring. Those are powerful reasons to embrace this wild life.

Sevenmile Footbridge Campsite - Sol Duc Watershed

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Sol Duc River Hike, Olympic National Park - June 19, 2015

Sevenmile Footbridge Crossing - June 19, 2015
I woke up this morning at a little after seven o'clock. Craig and Charlie were up having a bite to eat. Anders climbed out of his tent at about the same time. We packed the wet gear and headed down the trail.

For about three hours, we hiked through old growth forest, primarily consisting of Douglas Fir. Anders and I hiked together. We entered a conversation regarding the heap of sand paradox that lasted for nearly an hour. New ideas were explored. Can anything actually be defined and agreed upon?

Sol Duc Tributary Crossing - June 19, 2015
We stopped at Sol Duk Falls for a little food and water, then passed many groups of day-hikers on the short walk to Craig's truck.

I changed into street clothes and we hit the road. After returning our bear cans at park headquarters, we stopped by Fat Smitty's Restaurant for lunch. My stomach rarely agrees with this treatment.

This hike was a great way to kick off the summer vacation. I would like to take it again and look forward to trekking through all of Olympic National Park.