Hiking Across the Olympic National Park
I walked alone across the Olympic Mountains during summer. This was an above average snowpack year, so there still was a bit of snow on north facing slopes; at higher elevations. I got dropped off at the north, and then hiked southwest over several mountain passes. This route features some amazing landscapes. Want to learn more? Trail guides to Olympic National Park.
Update: Check out a more recent backpacking trip across the Park
Day 1: Hiking from Deer Park
Started off my trip by getting dropped off at Deer Park by a friend. The condition were warm and sunny. I would need to pack a lot of water, since there would be none available for most of the day. My pack was way too heavy. Traditional backpacking gear; including bear canister, ice axe, microspikes and a weeks worth of food. Really takes a toll on your body.
I arrived at my destination two hours before sundown. It was the most beautiful sunset. There were two mountain goats grazing for salt near my campsite. I was so tired, barely had the energy to stay up for sunset, but boy; was I glad I did.
Day 2: Walking to Dose Meadow
Got woke up by little critters through the night, ended up putting in my earplugs to get some rest. In the morning there were little paw prints all over everything outside my head. Broke camp just as the bugs were waking up. Started down the trial, just as the sun was coming over the Olympic Mountains.
Descending I found myself in a wildflower filled high basin. In that basin I observed Olympic Marmots for awhile. They were very playful. On the way down the south slope of the pass, the trail was down was narrow and rocky. My feet and body were already tired from the day before; because of walking with a heavy pack on hot rocks.
Even thoough I was already tired, I spent the afternoon photographing from Cameron Basin to Lost Pass. That area is very beautiful. I also seen some other hikers a few hours a head of me in the distance.
It was a warm day to be in the mountains, ended up drinking around 9 liters of water. The bugs were out thick too. A few hours before dark, with a thread of energy left in my tanks, I arrived at Dose Meadows for the night. Where I met some hikers already in camp near the river.
Day 3: Up then down to the Elwha Valley
Started off the day well rested. I slept next door to the bunch I knew from online. Had lots of conversation. Right after breakfast, I set off solo for Hayden Pass.
It was a gradual climb I reached the final 500', where I encountered three 100' very steep snowfields. The snow was soft and i made use of my ice axe to aid my ascent. Once on top, the view from the pass was very lovely.
The descent down to the Elwha was a very long walk. There were beautiful wildflowers in the high meadows and then after that; only old growth trees. Ended up being a rather boring walk.
I arrived to my next camp two hours before dark. There was no ranger to be found at Hayes River Ranger Station. I was hoping to get a current weather report off their radio. I chose a lone campsite near the river. Before dinner, I decided to climb into the river for an evening bath.
Day 4: Upriver to the Low Divide
I didn't sleep overnight. That made low energy hiking all day. Ended up traveling for 12 hours up the Elwha, Low Divide, Martins Park and back to the Low Divide. It was way too much hiking for one day with a heavy pack. I was very tired all day.
I was going to stay up near Mount Christie, but reading the clouds, I decided not to chance it with the incoming weather system. Chose to stay down lower, with greater tree protection for the night.
I slept on a gravel little bar near the Low Divide Ranger Station. It was a peaceful night and even got to see the stars, that were out bright.
Day 5: Hike to Quinault
My original plan was to walk out the Skyline Primitive Trail, but my energy levels were low. I decided to go with a plan b and walk out the North Fork Quinault Trail instead. I would have to really make some miles, if I was to make the bus in Amanda Park that afternoon.
The trail down as a narrow, rocky and rolling trail. Lots of streams and waterfalls to be seen. I vowed to never walk this trail again, for how it treated my feet.
I arrived at the 16 Mile River Ford, which was on my mind for days. This ford can be dangerous after heavy rain or during a heavy snowmelt even. Wondered for days, if I was going to be able to get safely across. Would not be fun, if I got stuck on the other side of the river, if the mountain conditions changed rapidly.
The conditions were right, so I safely made it to the south side of the river. I could feel a huge burden lift, after the ford was over with.
Continuing down the valley, I did not see my first hiker for the last three days, until the finial 8 miles. I was very tired arriving at the trailhead. Ended up doing interval running, if I was going to make my bus. The trail ended up taking more time than I planned.
After walking the road for a bit, I was completely whipped out, so I decided to sit on a log near the road. Not shortly after I sat down, low and behold a lone hiker appeared walking down the road from the Skyline Trailhead, he walked slowly up the road. After a short conversation I asked him for a lift to Highway 101 and he told me that he was going back through Port Angeles anyways on his way home. So he agreed to give me a life all the way back to my house. That was very lucky for me! I was so grateful for the lift!
Video of Hiking Trip
Overall I learned a lot during this trip. After this hike, I began shaving weight out of my backpack. Swore an oath never to carry a heavy pack ever again!
Updated in March 2017 by Barefoot Jake