WA – Olympics – Colonel Bob, Temptations and Finales!

Since we were planning to be back by early afternoon, our goal was the Mulkey Shelter or a little beyond where one of today’s comrades had turned around a couple weeks previous when he hit a four foot bank of snow. 

Colonel Bob is a designated wilderness area within Olympic National Park. The Olympic Peninsula is a bit confusing as there is the Olympic National Park, Olympic National Forest, plus Indian Reservations and private lands.

Today’s weather fit my perceptions of the area. 

These are my hiking buddies, Jake and Ryan. So fun to share the trail especially on a day like this. 

The slugs were happy to see new rain. I’d never seen an albino slug before, have you?

Flowers were happy too.

No snow at the shelter . . . so let’s find snowline.

This display of Avalanche Lilies was my heaven. I could have sat in the trail and enjoyed this view all day. It was glorious walking maybe 1/4 to 1/2 mile with these beauties lining the trail.

On our return, they’d turned their smiling faces upside down. 

First views . . . uh oh, it’s nearly 1pm . . . so much for a short 4-6 hour hike. But look, it’s clearing, Jake says “this ain’t nothing, wait til we get to the top.”

It’s such a small patch, we might as well keep going . . . 

It’s pretty easy walking and we’re not postholing, so might as well keep going. 

What’s a little stream crossing, our feet are already wet from the snow. 

There’s mile marker #7, time check 2pm. 

The sky clears enough for a tiny tease of a view and more motivation to keep going. 

Without any traction devices (since afterall we weren’t planning to snow hike), some places were a bit sketchy. Good thing we were all experienced in such conditions, and not easily intimidated. Admittedly I fell once, and needed assistance a couple of times.

And then we’re at the top. 

Ooohhh la la, these 360 degree views were worth every step. 

Thank you Jake and Ryan for this memory maker. It was a blast, made all the better by trail and weather conditions. 

We made it back to the trailhead at 6:30pm, a mere 9.5 hours after we’d started, oops.

Life is good when you’re climbing mountains. This was my swan song to the Olympic Peninsula. After 10 fantastic days of hiking and 12 days on the peninsula, it was time to say farewell for now. I’ll be back! 

Date(s) Hiked: 5/14/16

Road Trip Day(s) #85

Resources:

Jan’s Tips:

  • There are two ways to access the Colonel Bob Trail. On this date, we used the Quinault trailhead. The shorter and more popular option is via Pete’s Creek.
  • According to my Trimble App this was a 14+ mile round trip hike with about 7,000 feet of elevation gain/loss. It ain’t for sissies:)
  • Camping is available at North Fork and Graves Creek Campgrounds, plus other USFS options along the south shore of Lake Quinault
  • Nearby trails to check out:
  • If you want to camp on trail, you’ll need a permit. Visit the Quinault Ranger Station for more information.
  • Nearest resupply is Forks.
  • Link to my other jaunts in Washington

WA – Olympics – Quinault Rainforest, Home of the Giants?

Are you really the largest Sitka Spruce in the world? 

Quinault Valley claims to be home to the world’s largest Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir, Sitka Spruce, and Mountain Hemlock. They’ve also set records in the US with the largest Yellow Cedar and Western Hemlock. Going in search of each would be a fun geocaching type adventure. This Giant Spruce sure has big feet. 

Lake Quinault’s National Recreation Trail parallels the lake’s shoreline.

The East Fork Quinault River Trail is popular with backpackers heading to Enchanted Valley but on this day I was headed to Pony Bridge, a normally short 2.5 mile jaunt from the Graves Creek Trailhead. But due to recent flooding and road damage, to reach the trailhead a nearly 3 mile road walk was required. Trees with their giant root balls took a tumble into the river, taking a bit of road with them. There were three areas that looked like this.  It’s going to take some serious engineering to fix this.

Can’t complain about a road walk when you have scenery like this.

This very old picnic table marks the first high point on the trail. In California I’m sure it would have been removed due to litigation fears. 

The water was that beautiful aquamarine color, and the canyon walls just luscious. 

The waterfall below the bridge on the wall of the chasm had me scampering down for a closer look. 

I found more charismatic mega flora. 

This female grouse decided to pose for me.

I learned this cuts are from old logging when they used platforms to reach higher sections. 

You know there’s serious flooding in this area when you see signs like these. 

Quinault Giant aka Sasquatch? 

Guess he just stumbled . . .

Date(s) Hiked: 5/12-13/16

Road Trip Day(s) #83-84

Resources:

  • Quinault Rainforest – NPS
  • Trail Guide – Olympic National Park & Vicinity by Douglas Lorain
  • Map – USFS Olympic Peninsula 2014 edition
  • Map – NPS Olympic Wilderness Trip Planner (free from Visitor Center)
  • Barefoot Jake (lots of local trail intel and amazing photography)

Jan’s Tips:

WA – Olympics – Hoh, Hoh, Hoh . . . it’s a Rainforest!

Prior to this visit to the Olympic Peninsula, my preconceived notion of the entire area was wetlands. I’m sure my brief experience living in the Pacific Northwest didn’t help with this perception as I clearly remember how much I detested the gray dreary moisture-laden skies, all too much for this blue sky sunshine gal. But here I was on Day 8 in the Olympics with not a drop of rain to date.

One of the benefits of my current lifestyle is TIME where I can turn perceptions into realities! I don’t rush from one location to another, instead my senses are wide open and I take the opportunity to absorb the unknown. During this visit for example, I learned that the Olympics is home to several weather and environmental zones, including areas of rain shadow such as Sequim where annual rainfall averages 16″ annually (as compared to the Hoh Rainforest which receives about 160″ annually making it the winner in the continental US). I would have guessed otherwise given the predominant color green accented by the colorful rhododendrons. I bet you want to say, “ha, fooled you!” 

Unlike Northern California and Southern Oregon where this year’s el nino provided plentiful rain and snow, the Olympic Peninsula remains in drought, which may encourage visits by folks like me, but even I can appreciate how much more beautiful this area would be with a regular misting.

There is nothing quite like a night in the rainforest. Waking to bird song has to be the best alarm ever! 

The moss makes it feel like a spooky lagoon.

What do you see? I see a giant ant. 

The benefit of plentiful rain is . . .

You can see why the bears like this area. So many berry bushes. It was nearing the end of the flowering season. 

But there were plenty of other blooms to add a little color to this otherwise forest of every shade of green imaginable (the paint store color wheel has nothing on nature).

Where there’s water and flowers, there’s also little forest friends like this shy little guy.

The notches in this log made for much easier access by short-legged humanoids like me. Genius!

Oh snow covered mountains, how I want to visit you. The Hoh River Trail is the gateway to Mount Olympus.  You’ll love knowing I took off my shoes to walk to the middle of this river to capture this image. The black sandy river bottom was very inviting although the water was glacial cold. 

How many charismatic mega fauna live in this forest?  I recently learned of this very popular phrase used in National Parks to categorize the big animals that we all want to see and photograph like elk, moose, bison, bear . . . 

As for me, as much as I like the big animals, I also am happy to see charismatic mega flora (mine and Joan’s phrase). There are lots of big old forest trees in the Hoh Rainforest. Just how big is big? I tried to find a way to show size perspective. 

The front of this tree measured 30 feet. The protrusion reminded me of an elephant’s foot.

How tall is tall?

Date(s) Hiked: 5/10-11/16

Road Trip Day(s) #81-82

Resources:

  • Hoh Rainforest – NPS
  • Trail Guide – Olympic National Park & Vicinity by Douglas Lorain
  • Map – USFS Olympic Peninsula 2014 edition
  • Map – NPS Olympic Wilderness Trip Planner (free from Visitor Center)
  • Barefoot Jake (lots of local trail intel and amazing photography)

Jan’s Tips:

  • The Hoh NP campground provides for convenient overnight car camping. It’s a $20 per night, no-reservation CG.
  • If you want to camp on trail, you’ll need a permit. You can stop at the NP Information Center in Forks or the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center.
  • Nearest resupply is Forks.
  • Link to my other jaunts in Washington

WA – Olympics – Third Beach, it’s an Obstacle Course!

This was another trip my friend Jake, a long-time peninsula dweller and fellow adventurer recommended. Did he forget I wasn’t 20? After reviewing the details of the hike, especially being such a newbie to coastal hiking, I elected to day hike this section knowing I most likely wouldn’t make it all the way to Strawberry or Toleak Points but knew I’d develop some new skills while having a grand adventure. Bonus: I’d get to hike another section of the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT).

Obstacle #1 – After hiking a little over a mile through a beautiful coastal forest, clamber over these driftwood logs, and on down to Third Beach.

As I arrived at Third Beach, this sign was a good reminder to return before high tide, which on this date was about 3:30pm. 

The beach (and the south side of Teahwhit Head) was welcoming at 9:45am, another perfect walking beach. Low tide was a little after 9am on this date.

When I returned around 1:30, it was a much smaller beach and still a couple more hours before high tide. 

As the tide recedes, the water makes such lovely patterns. 

This pattern always reminds me of tree roots. 

Taylor Point, which requires overland travel, has a freshwater creek that drops as a waterfall into the surf. With this being just past low tide, it’s easy to see why the point can’t be safely rounded.

The rocks were mostly hidden by early afternoon. 

Obstacle #2 – climb this rope to begin the Taylor Point overland hike. I was so glad to not have my overnight pack. Since I solo hike frequently, my rule is to never go up something I can’t get back down and visa versa, I never go down something I can’t get back up. Although I felt fairly confident about getting back down, I worried the rest of my hike and was extremely thankful for dry conditions. I don’t think I would have tackled this when wet and muddy. 

I met a couple guys on my return trip just beginning their ascent (doesn’t look so bad from this angle) but they were struggling plenty with those large packs that  looked to be heavy. 

Obstacle #3, this rickety ladder. 

Looking at what I’d be coming down was a bit intimidating, especially since I don’t really like to go down things backwards. 

The waterfall from near the top of Taylor Point. 

And oh the ocean looked beautiful from atop Taylor Point. 

Now this is my kind of trail. Oh how I love boardwalks among the ferns. 

Now these are much more civilized stairs! 

What’s not to like about this ascent and descent? Of course I understand why they’ve kept it challenging at Third Beach . . . . but this sure makes me happy.

Upon reaching the beach, I was once again reminded about high tide. And I was welcomed by an orange version of Wilson. 

Welcome! but remember high tides are not your friend. 

The south side of Taylor Point and the headland I hiked. 

To the south of Taylor Point is a nice little pocket beach, accessible during low to medium tide. 

Obstacle #4 would have been climbing this rope to hike the overland route of Scotts Bluff. But given my time constraints and seeing the rope (and still being a bit concerned about getting back down the ladder and ropes on Taylor Point) I knew Scotts Bluff, Strawberry and Toleak Points would have to wait for another day. I met this young couple, Cole and Elizabeth, after they descended. What an exciting life they are living; they plan to visit 59 national parks in a year. Check out their Switchback Kids website.

These grassy rocks fascinated me. 

I took time to explore some tidepools. 

On my return trip, while up on Taylor Point, I saw these two guys walking toward the waterfalls. Later we met on the beach and they wondered if they would make it around the small headland that led to the pocket beach. They were told by the ranger most likely not. 

Returning to the safety of Third Beach, I had plenty of time to lollygag, and watch the tide begin to roll in among the sea stacks. 

The highlight was watching this sea otter catch and consume several fish. 

When he’d had his fill, he scurried off to his waterfront home. 

Thank you orange sherbet Wilson for keeping the tidal wave demons at bay. 

Date Hiked: 5/9/16

Road Trip Day #80

Resources:

Jan’s Tips:

  • The NP campground at Mora provides for convenient overnight car camping. It’s a $20 per night, no-reservation CG. There are a couple other nearby options if this is full.
  • If you want to camp on trail, you’ll need a permit. You can either stop at the NP Information Center in Forks where I believe you can obtain the required bear canisters (for the raccoons). Be sure to ask for the Wilderness Trip Planner map as it shows the campsites, impassible headlands, low tide passage areas, and fresh water locations. They will also provide you with a Tide Chart and explain how it works for the area you’ll be visiting. Note: I was told fresh water must be boiled or filtered, that chemicals will not work sufficiently (to kill a bacteria?).
  • The tide maps are available from the Visitor Center and are posted at most trailheads and ranger stations. If unfamiliar, take time to learn how to read. (link)
  • According to my Trimble Outdoor Navigator Map, this was a 8+ mile round trip, 2,000′ elevation gain/loss hike.
  • Nearest resupply is Forks.
  • Link to my other jaunts in Washington

WA – Olympics – Second Beach and the Land of Vampires!

The naming wizard must have been feeling uninspired when he pulled out of the hat such boring names as First Beach, Second Beach and Third Beach. But indeed those sad names line the coastline near Mora.

Continuing my quest to move beyond my neophyte coastal status, I skipped First Beach, but visited Rialto Beach during high tide. This beach too is part of the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT).

Then I visited Second Beach, where I watched the tide recede while walking a delightfully easy beach. I’m sure those on the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) are happy for this small section.

And found my first “impassable headwall” requiring overland travel, Teahwhit Head. 

The ominous warning sign for Teahwhit Head. 

Favorite rock. Look at those survivor trees! 

I was pretty excited to find my first ocean survey marker. 

Anyone know what these are? (Note: I’ve learned these are jellyfish aka free-floating hydrozoans that live on the surface of the open ocean, common name By-The-Wind Sailors, scientific name Velella)

Just to the south of Highway 110 (the Mora beach access road), is the town of Forks, the nearest place to resupply. I stopped by the visitor center and was completely surprised to find this was Vampireville. I’d forgotten all about the Twilight Series. It’s also home to Mick Dodge, featured on the National Geographic channel for his life in the nearby rainforest. The Twilight marketing is really over the top with everything seemingly named after the characters. Bella salad anyone? Edward burger? Jacob ribs? Of course all with more creative names.

Where Highway 110 splits, is the infamous Three Rivers. I heard the food is quite good, but then again it might be because the reviews were from hungry hikers. 

Those evil eyes don’t scare me! 

 

Date Hiked: 5/8/16

Road Trip Day #79

Resources:

Jan’s Tips:

  • The NP campground at Mora provides for convenient overnight car camping. It’s a $20 per night, no-reservation CG. There are a couple other nearby options if this is full.
  • If you want to camp on trail, you’ll need a permit. You can either stop at the NP Information Center in Forks where I believe you can obtain the required bear canisters (for the raccoons). Be sure to ask for the Wilderness Trip Planner map as it shows the campsites, impassible headlands, low tide passage areas, and fresh water locations. They will also provide you with a Tide Chart and explain how it works for the area you’ll be visiting. Note: I was told fresh water must be boiled or filtered, that chemicals will not work sufficiently (to kill a bacteria?).
  • The tide maps are available from the Visitor Center and are posted at most trailheads and ranger stations. If unfamiliar, take time to learn how to read. (link)
  • Nearest resupply is Forks.
  • Link to my other jaunts in Washington

WA – Olympics – Ozette Triangle

This coastal trail was recommended by Cameo, a local gal I met during my Deer Ridge Trail hike. She called this a local’s favorite so even though it wasn’t on my itinerary, flexibility and deviation from any type of plan are key components of my current lifestyle.

When it comes to coastal hiking, I’m a bit green, although I backpacked the southern section of the Lost Coast trail a few years ago. Learning about tide charts, overland trails, headlands, coves and points, it was something I was looking forward to experiencing and gaining much needed skills for a more challenging hike on my itinerary.

Since I was hiking this loop (triangle) in a day, I decided to start on the trail to Cape Alava. My rationale was that I would arrive near low tide and have a few hours to hike the beach leg prior to high tide limiting access. I could then relax and enjoy the beach for as long as I wanted on the south end before returning to the trailhead.

Both inland legs of the trail were probably 90-95% boardwalk. I loved the feel and look. So much variety and you couldn’t help but feel like you were in a fairyland.

Much of the flora added to the feeling.

Cape Alvala is the official begin/end of the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) with this section of trail being beach walking. Most hikers use the Ozette trail for entry/exit.

Cape Alava

Notice the rocky shoreline, tides out which means lots of tide pools. Low tide was at 7:49am, this photo was taken at 10:00am.

I believe this is Tskawahyah Island, a protected and sacred American Indian site.

Crazy how those trees grow, a bit like the old flattop haircuts.

Racing the tide, I didn’t have much time to beach comb and search the tide pools, but I did find a few treasures.

There was a lot of garbage on the beach, most too large to be collected without equipment. You could tell a lot came from cargo ships and fishing vessel. I’ve also heard we are starting to see debris from the Tsunami.

The amount of large driftwood logs on this beach is telling of high tide.

Many petroglyphs can be found in an area called Wedding Rocks. Since I hadn’t researched details in advance I didn’t spend much time searching; however, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a few.

These tide warning signs indicate areas that should not be accessed during high tide, which on this date was 2:30pm (photo taken at 11am)

With the sun in my face, I wasn’t able to get any good photos of Sand Point, but this gives you an idea.

You can tell this rock is easy to get around during low tide, but dangerous during high tide. Notice the peek-a-boo hole?

 

Date Hiked: 5/7/16

Road Trip Day #78

Resources:

Jan’s Tips:

  • The NP campground at Lake Ozette (second largest natural body of freshwater in western Washington) provides for convenient overnight car camping. It’s a $20 per night, no-reservation CG. There are a couple other nearby options if this is full.
  • According to my Trimble Outdoors Navigator app, this was a 12 mile, 1900′ elevation gain/loss trip.
  • Don’t expect complete solitude. Given my early morning start I had the first and second legs to myself, saw a few campers along the beach, but encountered a parade of hikers on the third leg (from Ozette to Sand Point). A ranger told me while there is a quota system, there can be upwards of 200 people camped on the Sand Point beach during the summer. There were at least 50 cars in the parking lot early the morning after my hike, indicative of the number of overnighters.
  • If you want to camp on trail, you’ll need a permit. You can either stop at the NP Visitor Center in Port Angeles or the Ozette Ranger Station for self-registration. You can obtain bear canisters (for the raccoons) at both locations (I believe). Be sure to ask for the Wilderness Trip Planner map as it shows the campsites, impassible headlands, low tide passage areas, and fresh water locations. They will also provide you with a Tide Chart and explain how it works for the area you’ll be visiting. Note: I was told fresh water must be boiled or filtered, that chemicals will not work sufficiently (to kill a bacteria?).
  • The tide maps are available from the Visitor Center and are posted at most trailheads and ranger stations. If unfamiliar, take time to learn how to read. (link)
  • Nearest resupply is Port Angeles.
  • Lake Crescent is between Port Angeles and Ozette Lake and looks to offer plenty of detour opportunities.
  • Link to my other jaunts in Washington

WA – Olympics – Deer Ridge and Blue Mountain

Accessing the Olympic Peninsula from the north starts with adventure #1, a ferry ride.

How’s this for a front row seat?

It’s been several years since I’ve been to a coastal environment, so of course the first photo I had to take was the flower I associate with the pacific coast.

Rhododendron

It pays to have friends in many places and in this instance my friend Jake, a long-time peninsula dweller, helped me plan an awesome itinerary for the Olympics. My wish list included views, wildflowers, challenging and varied terrain. This hike ticked all the boxes.

During the summer, you can drive to Deer Ridge which is home to a nice campground (Deer Park) and the hub of many trails. But why drive, when you can hike? The hike begins at Slab Camp (a misnomer since it’s really a parking area with a few primitive sites) and follows a well signed, excellent condition trail to Deer Park.

Wildflowers kept me entertained as I began my hike.

As did views of the snow covered mountains.

Some of the trail reminded me of the PCT with a few long easy traverses.

Bright spots of color along the trail were a welcome sight.

Nearing Deer Ridge, a few patches of snow were evidence that it’s still spring in the high mountains. AND, no surprise with such a namesake, DEER were hanging about on these slopes.

Upon reaching Deer Park, the potential views from atop Blue Mountain were a temptation I couldn’t resist.

Rainshadow Trail to the top of Blue Mountain was hidden under snow so it was a good day to practice snow hiking skills.

and a good day to enjoy creating your own route.

Views like these made the additional ascent and miles worthwhile.

The topographic ridge marks were distinct and unusual.

You could see the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the town of Sequim. On a clear day, the views would take you to Canada.

In a few more weeks you might have been singing some of those Sound of Music lyrics.

Photo credit: Holly

Someone has a sense of humor. Do you see the well groomed smiley face?

There was a dangerous snow cornice at the top, just waiting it’s turn to fall . . . or for some two or four legged friend to take one step too many.

Always love finding survey markers.

The reward!

Bonus: Meeting Holly, a new friend and adventure buddy. We shared some miles and smiles, or miles of smiles:)

 

Date Hiked: 5/5/16

Road Trip Day #76

Resources:

Jan’s Tips:

  • The access road into Slab Camp is USFS and thus available for free dispersed camping.
  • According to my Trimble Outdoors Navigator app, this was a 13 mile, 4000′ elevation gain/loss trip.
  • Don’t expect complete solitude. On this date, I shared the trail with maybe a dozen other hikers but we were all quite spread out so it didn’t feel crowded in the least.
  • If you want to camp on trail, you’ll need a permit. Take a detour to the NP Visitor Center in Port Angeles.
  • Take a trip to Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center for outstanding views.
  • Resupply in Sequim and consider the 11-mile round trip walk on the Dungeness Spit to the Light House.
  • Link to my other jaunts in Washington