Friday, June 19, 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.

Thursday, June 18, 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

Wednesday, June 17, 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.

Tuesday, June 16, 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.