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...

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