If you have been following the news this year, you would know there is a record setting drought on the peninsula. A light winter and high temperatures, have left the mountains bare of snow during the spring cycle, and to compound the problem, there has been record low rainfall. Now the summer feels like a desert.
I have a small list of places left that I'd like to visit on the peninsula. Most of them are remote, have steep terrain and a lack of maintained trails. Additionally, my goal is to photograph truly wild and remote wilderness places, so I carry a lot of extra weight in camera gear.
We decided to go for this adventure, with only a few days of planning. We had the fair weather window for off-trail travel, so it was 'all systems go'. The heat and wildfire smoke would be the most challenging aspects for our trip. Being from the pacific northwest, we are not used to functioning under the dry conditions.
The Queets has long been on top of the list of what it means to be in wilderness. Back in spring, a wildfire started roughly mid-valley. We would need to deal with the smoke from that fire, during this trip.
With heavy packs and energy to burn, we set off upriver in the Quinault drainage.
Warning: Land navigation, map and compass reading skills are required. Previously a trekker 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. One must through, up and around the hazards. The melted landscape also leaves the hiker exposed to rock fall; which could be fatal.
|Quinault river under drought|