30+ Days in the ONP:
The Bailey Range Traverse has been on my bucket list for a few years now. In fact, all my trail training for the last 8 months was inspired by it and I used glimpses of it's peaks for motivation while in various locations of the park earlier in the year.
The goal for this section of the route was to enjoy it's beauty, but to do it in a timely fashion. Secondly, to do it as minimally as possible without compromising my personal safety.
The only footwear that I wore were my Luna Sandals for most of this route and Vibram Five Finger Seeya's which I used for a good section of snow traverse.
My gear consited of Gossamer Gear Backpack and Shelter, Sawyer Squeeze Filter screwed onto bottled water container and other small items. The pack came in just over 9 lbs baseweight, by adding ice ax and bear can it was over 12 lbs.
This traverse crescents around Mt. Olympus and can also be seen all the way across the horizon from the visitor center at Huricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park.
After leaving the Sol Duc area, the trail turns into a traverse until after you drop down the Elwha Snow Finger. This body of snow is also where the Elwha River starts.
|Mt. Olympus from the Cat Walk|
|Bus out from Port Angeles - Hitch up the Sol Duc Road - trailhead by 11am - first night at Eleven Bull Basin - second near Mt. Ferry - 3rd Chicago Camp on the Elwha - 4th near the North Fork Quinault Trailhead to hitch first thing in the morning|
With some research I knew the basics of this route. Had also talked to a handful of other backpackers that have completed the route in there life.
Even tho the basic route was laid out for me; there still was some gray areas in my mind.
Therefor had 2 route finding issues were the map was pulled from my pack and descisions needed to be made on which path would be the best for me.
Now that those areas have been adressed. The second time through there should be more smooth.
- 11am start after the Bus and Hitch
- First night at Eleven Bull Basin
- Hard side hilling around Cream Lake
- Second night near Mt. Ferry
- looked at map when snow travel section began
- almost ran down the 'Snow finger'
- Third night at Chicago Camp
- exit North Fork Quinault
|Above Heart Lake - watching a Helicopter fly out human waste|
|Leaving the High Divide Trail and heading down the Cat Walk abandoned trail - wearing my Luna Sandals Leadville Pacers with MGT upper|
|first views of my route - Cat Peak (left) - Bailey Range (center) - Mt. Olympus (right)|
|The Olympic National Park sign that says it all|
|This guy is my role model - headed out to the Cat Walk - he is currently Thru-Hiking the Pacific Northwest Trail - wearing an old Gossamer Gear Backpack - rerouting because of the Elwha Dam Closer - chose the hardest route through the heart of the Park - the only Human I seen for the next few days|
|Time to head up and off the maintained trail - lovely Autumn color starting to show on these Blueberries - nice and steep|
|First views of Mt. Carrie and the Cat Walk (right)|
|looking into the heart of the Bailey Range from atop the Cat Walk. Two days later I would be in the back of this photo.|
|on the Cat Walk - looking inbetween Cat Peak and Mt. Carrie - one can see the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the distance.|
|on the Cat Walk - lots of steep up and downs to scramble over.|
|looking west - down into the Hoh River Valley - Mt. Olympus (left)|
|traveling around Mt. Carrie - Traversing a handful of steep gullies - had to climb straight down this one - lots of loose dirt.|
|as the Sun goes down - entering Eleven Bull Basin - camp for the night with few bugs, Black Bear grazing and streams of cold water.|
|as the Sun sets - enjoying a hot dinner - views of Mt. Olympus (left) and Hoh River Valley (center) - notice the Autumn color glowing in the light.|
|saying goodbye for now - last sliver of sun sneaks behind the High Divide area - looking down at the Hoh River Valley as it snakes its way to the ocean.|
It was a challenging day to say the least. I got a late start to the trailhead and had chosen a destination for the first day that was very far away. Not having traveled in a section of this area before, I was not sure how long it would take.
Most of my time was consumed on the Cat Walk and traversing all the gullies on Mt. Carrie. I was sure to have good footing with each step since traveling alone does not allow me to make a mistake.
I was not expected back in the modern life for almost a week, so it would have been some time before someone started looking for me.
At Eleven Bull Basin a black bear was spooked out of my camp spot. As I ate my dinner, the bugs ate me for theirs.
After sunset the wind really picked up. I climbed out and put my shelter in 'storm mode' so that being blown off the side of the mountain wasn't an option.
|Morning at Eleven Bull Basin - sunrise bouncing off Mt. Olympus - all while I enjoyed a calm breakfast - was a windy night.|
|one of the many waterfall filled gullies to cross after leaving camp.|
|back at which I came - looking back at 11 Bull Basin as light fills the cool air.|
|wore my Vibram Seeya for the first part of the day - many steep sidehilling sections in my route .|
|No Name Lake near Cream Lake - Hoh River Gravel Bar below that - start of the 'fun' sidehilling section.|
Cream Lake area is known for causing route finding issues with Backpackers. Many ways through this area. Everyone tells me not to drop down to the lake to soon or risk bushwhacking Slide Alders.
After some thought I chose to stay high for as long as possible. That was not an easy task on the body however. Steep Sidehilling , Gully hopping and low crawling under trees.
I was told to look for a rock slide and follow that down to the lake. Next time this route is traveled; I will be choosing door number 2 of 3.
There was no water up high and took me a few hours to get down to Cream Lake. Fun - FUN!
|the Cream Lake maze (below) - looking across to Ferry Basin area (my route).|
|steep sidehilling above Cream Lake - can you see any trail?|
|got really tired of sidehilling - chose to drop down this drainage to Cream Lake - not the best place for exposed feet - all the rock was very lose and crumbly - this was steeper than it appears - looking across to the Ferry Basin area (my route).|
|rock slide area started to level out a bit after a slow descent - views of Cream Lake below.|
|Creek that feeds into Cream Lake - spent some time here drinking water and soaking the feet - the bugs also had lunch (me)|
|climbing up a drainage that leads to Ferry Basin out of Cream Lake - wearing my Luna Sandal Leadville Pacers once again - I ended up walking in the creek for a bit - felt great on a hot day.|
|looking back from which I came - atop the drainage above Cream Lake area - in the distance the sidehilling section that took me most the morning can be seen - YUCK!|
|a section of game trail can be picked up from here - easier walking grounds from here - views of Mt. Ferry.|
|the lovely Lake Billy Everett area.|
|dream like falls feeding into Lake Billy Everett.|
|view from camp of Mt. Olympus's Hoh Glacier - first time seeing it - amazing!|
|bedroom view - Gossamer Gear Spinnshelter - views of Mt. Olympus's Hoh Glacier.|
I had originally planned to try to go a little further on the Traverse the second day. However the time and energy that it took to navigate the Cream Lake area. I was spent and ready to call it a day near two little tarns on the shoulder of Mt. Pulitzer.
Knowing better than to stay the night next to water. Especially without any bug protection, but my trusty Headnet.
Payed the price that night as I dozed off to sleep. About 20 mosquito's near my face and ears made it a little difficult to fall asleep.
A light breeze in the morning made breakfast very enjoyable however. Can't beat a view like that.
|views under Mt. Pulitzer - love the Autumn colors turning - next stop - climbing Pulitzer Pass (right)|
|ascending Pulitzer Pass.|
|views of Ludden & Mt. Scott from Pulitzer Pass.|
|Looking southish. Mt. Dana and Mt. Wilder. (center - right)|
|looking back at Mt. Pulitzer in my Seeya - getting ready to cross several small Glaciers|
|crossing some Snow and Ice|
|looking back from which I came - had a few steep and icy pitches|
|looking down and across - after the first snow ascent|
|looking south - can see the route which I must travel this afternoon - right up the middle|
|lots of loose rock to travel on - decided to scramble up to the right onto the 'spine'.|
|'Gonna be there for awhile? Grab a Snickers!' lol|
|looking back from which I came - you can see the High Divide (way back there)|
|looking down at the Mt. Childs Glacier crossing.|
|crossing the Mt. Childs Glacier in Five Fingers - you can see some Ice peeking out. Cool!|
|looking back from which I came - across the Mt. Childs Glacier.|
|lots of Spines|
|looking back from which I came - lots of snow - just walk through the notch.|
|looking ahead to Bear Pass. Mt. Barnes (left).|
|looking over to Mt. Olympus from near Bear Pass - would like to do this route someday to get onto the mountain.|
|looking off this cliff - Goldie Drainage below. Yikes.|
|looking down at Bear Glacier.|
|Looking down into a snow covered Queets Basin - views of Mt. Barnes (left) , Mt. Noyes, Mt. Meany and Mt. Queets.|
|looking down the Upper Queets River Valley.|
|looking back from which I came - view of Bear Pass - got tired of looking for a way down - just made my own path.|
|looking down the Elwha Snow Finger from Dodwell Rixon Pass - my route to descend from the Bailey Range.|
|time to cross over the Elwha Snowhump which is down the Snow Finger - this is about 2 stories high.|
|descending the Elwha Snow Finger and Snowhump in Vibram Seeya's|
|looking back from which I came - a few 1,000' descent down the Elwha Snow Finger.|
|Snow Finger melting off into the Elwha River - thoughts of falling through a snow bridge may have crossed my mind once or twice. About to enter Elwha Basin.|
|Was happy to see this - meaning it was time to climb through the brush on the Elwha Basin Primitive Trail.|
|ascending up the Elwha Basin Primitive Trail - full of Devils Club - watch were you grab.|
|Elwha Basin Waterfalls as the snow melts away.|
|reached the Elwha Trail intersection - again|
|Down in the Elwha Valley - third night at Chicago Camp - Gossamer Gear Spinnshelter.|
After being on the snow and moving fast; all that was on my mind was drinking water.
After a bath in the Elwha River; spent lots of time shoving my face.
Not looking forward to walking down the Quinault Valley again; since just traveled on the trail a few weeks before. I was no hurry to go to bed.
Once dark I climbed into bed. Where a friendly mouse joined me through the night. Even ran across my face as I slept.
|Low Divide, again - crossing over from the Elwha to Quinault Valleys.|
|fording the Quinault River at '16 mile' crossing.|
|the rugged North Fork Quinault Trail|
|walking the North Fork Quinault Trail in my Luna Sandals - describe this trail? Rocks, Roots and Rocks.|
|mission accomplished - time to walk 5 miles of road before I got a hitch down to Highway 101.|
To be continued........
Special Thanks to & Supported by:
- Volunteer's and the ONP Trail Crew's
- Rod Farlee
- Jay Landro
- Deborah Rigg
- Gossamer Gear
- Vibram Five Fingers
- Luna Sandals
- GoPro HD
- Cock-a-doodle Doughnuts in Port Angeles
Disclaimer/Comments: One should train their feet for some time for this type of trail conditions.
Biking, Hiking or Backpacking in Minimalist Footwear takes strong feet. Since as we aged wearing shoes have lots most of our natural foot muscle. Give you body time to adjust to this type of Footwear before attempting anything you see on this Site. Don't forget to Follow Me; I like to use the Hashtag #BarefootBackpacking - Tweet me your Questions.