Elwha and Skyline Trail

  This trip was such a landmark in my adventures.  At the time it was the longest backpacking trip that I have ever completed.  It was also the longest and most harsh terrain that I have ever walked across with Vibram Fivefingers.   The night before we left on this adventure I broke a 104 degree fever.  The first night of the trip I woke up with the inside my sleeping bag soaked with sweat.   I'm sure my body was still fighting the fever.  The first 3 days I was really dragging.  I'm sure it had something to do with not being properly hydrated.

Editors note:  An account of an older trip, before I started blogging. 



port angeles outdoor gear
Photo by Jeremy Johnson





  Day 1:  We got dropped off at the Whiskey Bend Trail head by my partners wife.  The day was warm and the bugs were light.  Took a few breaks with snacks adventuring down the Elwha Valley.  Snapped lots of photography and passed different groups heading out of the Elwha from various adventures.





elwha trial





  We stopped at Elkhorn to talk to the Rangers.  Both of them asked about my footwear and the GoPro camera that I was wearing.  One of them also commented about my partners camera.  They kindly took the time to snap this photo below.





elwha trial
Photo Jeremy Johnson





     Day 2:  Breaking camp that we set up above Elkhorn; sleeping right next to the Elwha River.  I had low energy levels venturing down the valley.

 There was no lack of water crossing numerous little streams.  At the time this was the most miles I ever walked in my minimal footwear.

 We stopped for lucch Camp Wilder and walked to the river to get water.  After eating and water refill we continued toward Chicago Camp.   We forded a river between Camp Wilder and Chicago Camp.





elwha trial ford





  We scared a Black Bear out of the area; while approaching Chicago Camp.   I remember eating dinner with one eye always into the timber.  That was the first Bear I've seen in the wilderness and had me a little on edge.





Chicago camp





  Day 3:  We awoke, I would say around 3am to the sounds of heavy rain drops hitting the dome tent.

 I really regretted the fact that I had to climb out of my warm sleeping bag to break down camp.  Knowing that I would completely get drenched for how hard it was raining.  At the time I never carried a Poncho, but I have since them never leave home without one.

  Once camp was broke we made a small ford of the Elwha at Chicago Camp.  Because of the rescent rains, the river had rose around 12" overnight.  It still only was just over the knee so it wasnt too bad.
  Not much photography was done this day, since it was raining so hard that all the pictures turned out to be a blur on my GoPro.





low divide





 It didnt take us to long to get up to the Low Divide camping area, but by the time we did....we were completely soaked from head to toe.

 75% of the day was spend listening to the rain just pour on the top of the tent.  Making sleeping a thing to get usto, but quickly took a handful of naps.  Dozing in and out of consciousness most of the afternoon.  Wish I would have brought earplugs.





  Day 4:  The rains stopped through the night and after the fog burnt off.  The sun started to peak though the cloud cover with the first views of Mount Seattle.  We took this time to lay out our gear to get it dry as possible; with the time allotted.





low divide camp
Photo by Jeremy Johnson





     After a short walk out of the Low Divide camp area and passing though the horse gates.  We got our first mountain and flower covered meadow views.  This was a huge moral booster after staring at trees and water for so long.





skyline primitive trail





  We made our way through various Basins and creek crossings.  Seattle Basin was most memorable for me.  Taking a few breaks for snacks and I washed my footwear; where the trail joins Seattle Creek.




skyline trail





skyline trail olympic





  I will never forget is crossing a almost paper thin like Snow Bridge.  We could not get around it with heavy packs, because of the steepness of the surrounding area, so we decided to go up and over it.




skyline trail snow
Photo by Jeremy Johnson 





skyline trail snow





    Coming up out of a draw, headed uphill with a light breeze in our faces.  I was at the time leading and came around a hair pin section of trail.  Scanning my eyes up to see a big black object standing about 10 yards ahead.  I quickly yelled and spooked a medium size Black Bear of the trail.  This was the second of the trip.

  It was late in the afternoon while we made the last push before our destination for the night of Lake Beauty.   A few miles before the lake, we navigated some tight and washed out sections of trail.  This took us some extra time and energy climbing down tree roots.





skyline trail





  Arriving at Lake Beauty to make camp, we took a much needed freezing cold bath.  I yelled as I plunged into the water; for how cold it was.  Getting semi-clean was worth the freezing water temperatures.  The bugs were also bad at the lake.  Looking down at pant leg to find 15+ mosquito's that were trying to feed through my clothing.

 Views of south slopes of Mount Olympus and the Valhalla's made it all worth it tho.  I plan on being back in 2012 to enjoy the views again.





lake beauty





lake beauty





mount olympus skyline
Photo by Jeremy Johnson





   Day 5:  After a much needed sleep.  We arose just before sun came up.  Spent a short time getting a warm breakfast into our belly and begin pre-hydrating.

 Climbing out of Lake Beauty was a real leg burner with sore muscles.

  The trail side-hilled for a bit and then began the 'Moonscape' portion of the Skyline Trail.  It was slow going navigating up and down the hillside.  Cairn's made it easier, than just relying on map alone for navigating this section.




skyline trail





  It was some time before we reached the 'maintained trail' again.  I was relieved, since my feet were feeling the fatigue of the lack of conditioning.



skyline trail
 





  While taking a break (in the Pass shown above).  I flipped open the hood of my pack to watching my Thermarest in slow-motion fall out and begin to roll down the mountain.  It quickly picked up speed to hopping over a series of little sections of exposed rock. It lucky stopped about 5 feet from dropping off a pretty good cliff.  I climbed down and had to retrieve the important piece of gear.

  The day pushed on as we head toward our destination of Three Prune Camp.  We arrived just as the sun was dropping behind the high mountain forest.





  Day 6:  I slept like a rock that night.  We awoke again before the sun came up to shove down a quick breakfast.  I was excited for a big meal of real food and a hot shower.  We passed a grazing Blake Bear in the meadow, a few minutes out of our Camp.  That would make 3 total in this trip.







skyline trail





skyline trail





  Arriving at the Skyline trailhead later in the afternoon smelly and tired.  I had a real sense of accomplishment completing this journey.

   When I was a young boy I pinned a Park map onto my wall in my room.  I usto day dream about crossing the Olympic National Park someday.   Here I was reaching my dream!





skyline trailhead





Other Skyline Primitive Trail trips: Backpacking across Olympic National Park - Bailey Range Traverse




Footwear - - Camera - - and Hiking Guide used.





Overview/Disclaimer/Photo Rights:  This Trip will forever be in my Memory.  This being my first real accomplishment in the Backpacking World.  You should train your feet for months/years before attempting this type of travel with Heavy Pack.  I have since cut my Pack Weight in Half.  Some of the photos above are not owned by me.  All rights for select photos go to Jeremy Johnson.