Barefoot Jake

Melted Elwha Snow Finger

The Elwha Snow Finger is known for as the start of the river. Located at the 45-mile mark at the river's source. It was formed by years of avalanches to create a permanent snowfield in-between Mount Barnes and Mount Queets, Olympic National Park. The snow field was once almost 4 miles long and in the summer months formed permanent snow tunnels over the mighty Elwha.

 The landmark is best known for its description in hiking books, as a description to the Bailey Range Traverse. Until recently an explorer could trek off-trail from Elwha Basin to Dodwell-Rixon pass which an entrance into Queets Basin.

This mountaineering path is now melted, leaving a traveler to use other means to avoid walking through the dangerously narrow hallway. Hiking bellow an area that was once protected by a snowbridge, leaves a person exposed to higher amounts of rockfall, from a continuously changing landscape. Please keep that in mind in future treks into this area.

The only part of snow left in the whole area in the summer months is what is known as The Big Snow Hump. It is a permanent glacier like chunk of ice, that was formed from heavy and dense avalanches at the confluence of two separate shoots. The hump is now only a fraction, of its once massive size. It will be curious how long it takes for even it to melt, in the upcoming years.

I'm no scientist, but it's doubtful that the permanent snowfield and glacier will ever return. I now call this area The Elwha Snowless Snow Finger.

elwha snow finger
The Elwha Snowless Snow Finger in 2015

2015 Year in Review in Olympic

It was an interesting year on the Olympic Peninsula. There was a lot of things I photographed, that have never been capture before in the mountains here. I'm lucky to be able to witness them with my own two eyes.

Record low snowpack in the earlier months of 2015, lead to snow-free alpine hiking. I was able to be above 5,000' this last winter; without any skies or snowshoes. That is a first for me.

Then later in the summer months, a record drought in the Olympic Mountains lead to a never before documented wildfire that burn most of the year. This lead to very pour air quality, for most of the people living here.

Moving towards winter again, we received record setting rainfall, with many rivers leading to flood stage quickly; because there was no snowpack to hold the water in the mountains. I heard several stories of hikers getting trapped behind creek crossing, that had turned into flash flood torrents, because of this very reason.

Consider checking out my Olympic photograph album. There is lots of great photos in there from this hiking season.

Winter: Record Low Snowpack

mount anderson
Mount Anderson under record drought

Olympic Peninsula Drought is Over

The record setting drought is officially over on the Olympic Peninsula.  It was a long, hot and dry summer here in the rain forest.  I'm so relieved that precipitation is back and here to stay. No wildfire known to man could survive the amount of rain we've had the last few weeks.

The North Shore of Quinault got over 9 inches of rain the last 24 hours, and its still falling.  Mother nature has returned the rain forest back to its natural state.  I feel pleased to see it and find the sound of rain so relaxing.

I've been keeping my eye on the Hurricane Ridge Webcam and noticed snow falling randomly in the last couple of weeks. This is a sign of the season to come. Look forward to seeing my first snow flakes in the upcoming weeks ahead.

I'll share with you a few photos I took on my wonderings, during the late autumn months here on the peninsula.

The creek runs swift

Waking Up in a Storm

Woke up on the South Olympic Coast to the sound of the pitter patter of rain on our tent.  We walked in the night before with packs on our back and it was not morning.  The wind and rain steadily increased as the dim light trickled though the forest.  You see, the sun was mostly blocked out by storm clouds; just as the weather forecast predicted.

There is nothing better than the sound of a storm just outside your door.  Even better when the the door has zippers and its a very thin panel of fabric.  Its funny how that makes all the difference when there is wind.  A small piece of fabric can prevent or keep you out of stages of hypothermia.

South Olympic Coast