This loop hike would lead us into the Elwha valley and then to its upper drainages. It was the perfect combination of forest walking and alpine views. The trek is not for the novice, because of all the elevation one must gain and the river ford; which must be timed in perfect conditions.
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)|
|Found this at the opposite bank of Remann Cabin, hiding behind some alder. Similar, but smaller flagging marked the way through the questionable sections of primitive trail. There is also no water from the bottom, till around 4,000' and that maybe seasonal.|
|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: Vibram Footwear & Gossamer Gear backpacks.
Related: Bailey Range via Dodger Point
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.