Elwha Trail Loop - Dodger Point Primitive Trail in Winter

 Trip Report from 1/4-5/14

 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?





Olympic Hot Springs Road
8 miles from my door step, Mount Fitzhenry greats us into the Park. 






Elwha Trail
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. 
Elwha Trail
Old horse bridge on the Elwha Trail. 
Elkhorn Elwha Trail
Classic Elkhorn pose.
Elwha Trail
Campfires are a luxury during the long cold nights of winter. 
Elwha Trail
Next morning.  Locus Gear Khufu & Gossamer Gear Spinnshelter. 
Elwha River
Elwha River after a 19F degree night.
Remann Cabin Ford
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)
Remann Cabin Ford
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. 
Dodger Point Primitive Trail
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. 
Dodger Point Primitive Trial
Breaking into the alpine.
Olympic Mountain Snow
Ice cream snow, don't make for easy hiking.
Dodger Point Primitive Trail
Starting to get the views now, looking SE.
Dodger Point
Looking W, Bailey Range and Mount Olympus.
Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, Olympic National Park
Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, hardly snowpack at all. 
Mount Angeles
Mount Angeles.
Mount Olympus
Mount Olympus peeking over the shoulder of Mount Ferry.
Mount Claywood
Mount Claywood. 
Cameron Pass
Cameron. 
Lost Peak
Lost Peak, Wellesley Peak, Lost Pass and top corner of Thousand Acre Meadows. (left to right)
Mount Dana
Mount Dana
Chimney Peak
Chimney Peak. 
Mount Anderson
Mount Anderson. 
Dodger Point Trail
Descending.  Views of the Bailey Range and Mount Olympus.
Ruth Peak
Descending as the sun drops.  Views of Ruth Peak.
Vancouver Island
Views of Vancouver Island. 
Stephen Peak & Ruth Peak
Descending as the sun sets.  Views of Stephen and Ruth Peak. 
Dodger Point Trail
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.

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