A friend had some time off work and was willing to go on a winter journey. He has been day hiking with me now for 3 year, but has never done an overnight type trip. It was time for him to step into the world of backpacking, even tho the conditions weren't what a beginner should really experience. Temperatures ranged from 19 to 32 degrees through the trip. Tho it was winter, could not pass up the chance to be in the alpine, the cold weather also made for pristine air quality. This means no haze in the air for photography!
This was my first overnight trip for 2014. I was on a mission to get back to Dodger Point, last time the weather had us pretty much socked-in. Olympic Mountains have a super low snowpack this year. Happy to still be able and take advantage of that fact. Could this mean early alpine season?
|8 miles from my door step, Mount Fitzhenry greats us into the Park.|
|A separate group of trail runners greet us at 5 mile mark, two of which are my old clients. Its good to see them out enjoying the outdoors. Note: everyone is in minimal footwear.|
|Old horse bridge on the Elwha Trail.|
|Classic Elkhorn pose.|
|Campfires are a luxury during the long cold nights of winter.|
|Next morning. Locus Gear Khufu & Gossamer Gear Spinnshelter.|
|Elwha River after a 19F degree night.|
|After breaking camp and 1.5 upriver hike at first light. Fording the Elwha River in our underwear at the Remann Cabin crossing, this will give us access to the Dodger Point Primitive Trail. (see video)|
|Few hours past and into the snow now. Getting a first look at Mount Pulitzer. Looks a lot different than when we were there a few months ago.|
|Breaking into the alpine.|
|Ice cream snow, don't make for easy hiking.|
|Starting to get the views now, looking SE.|
|Looking W, Bailey Range and Mount Olympus.|
|Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, hardly snowpack at all.|
|Mount Olympus peeking over the shoulder of Mount Ferry.|
|Lost Peak, Wellesley Peak, Lost Pass and top corner of Thousand Acre Meadows. (left to right)|
|Descending. Views of the Bailey Range and Mount Olympus.|
|Descending as the sun drops. Views of Ruth Peak.|
|Views of Vancouver Island.|
|Descending as the sun sets. Views of Stephen and Ruth Peak.|
|Partner decided he would rather not stay out another night in the cold, so we headlamped out for 5 hours back to the trailhead late that night. (see video)|
Short Video of the Trip
Gear featured: Footwear & backpacks.
Overall it was a great trip. I really enjoyed this loop, plan on doing it again in the autumn months. This is a super rare trip to be done in winter, because of low snow pack and cold temperatures. It was done without the aid of snow travel equipment, in fact, both parties wore only Vibram FF and socks to protect ankles from the ice while post-holing. The Elwha River ford can only be done with the temperatures are cold enough for the level and volume to be low. You wouldn't want to try this in late autumn through late summer or the water could be high enough to make a ford impossible.