Barefoot Jake

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

Autumn Ridgeline Hiking in Olympic

Autumn ridgeline walking in the Olympic Mountains can be a beautiful experience, if you time the weather and peak color.  Typically Olympic Elk can be viewed in the alpine during these months and black bear can be found trying to fatten up before winter, but not this year (Because of record setting drought).

For this trip we would be experiencing autumn in Seven Lakes Basin, which can be a very touristy backpacking destination; if you do not catch it right.   To avoid the crowds we decided to spend a few days off trail and do a little peakbagging in the Bailey Range.

During the campsite period of our trip.  The weather often turned to less than optimal conditions.  We spent most evenings in thick cloud cover and even some wind with rain.   I was glad to have checked the weather before heading out the door.  It literally rained the night before our trip and started up again, just after arriving back at the trailhead.   The Park's webcam can also be a powerful resource, to avoid bad weather.

These are some photos from the 4 day adventure.

olympic national park
Autumn views of Mount Olympus

Autumn in Queets Basin Trip

A friend and I went on a six day backpacking trip into Queets Basin, Olympic National Park.  This was my first trip into the Queets during the autumn months.  A few weeks previously I was just in this same area, photographing the landscape with smoke from a nearby wildfire.

Queets Basin has a three day approach with the route we chose.  Being that remote in the Olympic Mountains, really lets a person enjoy the glacier carved landscape that much more.  The steep and rocky terrain, really makes carrying professional camera gear a challenge.  I will forever cherish these adventures for a lifetime, though my own documented images.

The moonscape basin is a huge area for the solitude motivated hiker to explore.  It was created by receding glaciers and erosion from sometimes permanent snowfields in higher elevations.  The Olympic Peninsula is in a record setting drought, so this gave us a chance to walk the higher elevations snow-free and photograph things that are usually buried under feet of snow year around.

The only disappointing factor of this backpacking trip, was the low amounts of wildlife that were seen at higher elevations.  My guess, it was a direct affect of the record drought.  There was no food sources in the mountains, this late in the season.  Im sure there is a lot of hungry animals in the valleys, trying to find a food source before winter.

Warning: Land navigation, map and compass reading skills necessary for this hike. Previously, a backpacker could use the Elwha Snow Finger, which is described in the Olympic Mountain Climbers Guide. This is no longer possible because of the lack of permanent snowfields. The experienced hiker must through, up and around the Snow Hump to stay safe. Being inside the narrow Elwha hallway, leaves the hiker exposed to rock fall; which could be fatal.

snow finger
Day 2 consisted of lots of this