Sleeping with Olympic Marmots

I definitely have to note two hikers that helped me piece together this horseshoe route (positive vibes). Wouldn't have done this section of walk if it wasn't for their help. It was very challenging both physically and mentally - which is the stuff I like (at times). Also want to 'be thankful' to the Olympic Mountain Climbers Guide for being vague about old route descriptions. I learned that the mountain is always changing, so something that may have been walkable at one time, can turn into slide alder and devils club hell - caused by years of rockslides and avalanches. Doing this in spring, during a moderate snow year, has its own challenges as well. To a conventional hiker, I would suggest ice axe and at least microspikes to repeat this path during similar conditions. Being a minimalist hiker, I used none of those things - but know from years of snow travel to wait until later in the day before traveling on icy slopes that don't get much sun.

If you are interested in recreating this route, privately email me and I would be happy to share more details. I have chosen not to put the exact path traveled on this site, because of how fragile and mentally/physically difficult some of these areas are to visit.


Editor's Note: Article part of an extended trek in the Olympic Mountains.

Obstruction Point Trail
After food resupply, my friend Torry was kind enough to drop me off at the trailhead and even walk with me for a bit. What a nice guy. We hiked the main ridgeline, visiting three summits along the way, before parting paths.












Badger Valley
Always choosing a high route, this was my first time walking through Badger Valley. What a beautiful place. Little creeks running through open meadows. Marmots playing and whistling in the area. Perfect place to spend the afternoon. The access road to this area was closed, making it a twelve mile walk in. I would have the whole valley to myself.

Olympic Marmot
After setting up camp and enjoying dinner by the lake, I decided to explore the meadows. Looks like I will have neighbors tonight. This could be a reality TV show - one without commercials and no need for DVR.



Moose Lake
Bedroom view. Nothing to be heard, but the sound of marmot whistles and deer hooves scampering through alpine meadows. Tomorrow would be a big day, up three snow filled mountain passes.

Cameron Pass

avalanche lilies
After dropping down into the next valley and following a creek back up to its source I was greeted with thousands of wildflowers. This made each step feel like walking in a fairytale.
cameron basin
Always love this area every time I visit. Its like walking onto another planet. Very peaceful place to spend a hot summers day drinking water and watching the clouds pass by.




cameron pass
Second climb of the day. Trying to figure out which is the best line to go up. The Park Service suggests crampons and ice axe for this pass. I'd be doing it in 4 oz. slippers. Ended up being a steep and icy ascent. More challenging than going up Olympus in sections. Unfortunately, this would not be the most challenging part of the trip.

lost basin
While descending the pass I was greeted with more wildflowers in the meadows below. Words cannot explain the feeling of walking alone through a place like this.
sentinel peak
Sentinel Peak in evening light from the same camp. The the group I was leading would ascend Sentinel Peak a few months later, during their seven day trip in the Olympic Mountains (later page/post).


avalanche lilies
Delicate fields of Erythronium montanum (avalanche lily, white avalanche lily), surrounds my sleeping quarters.

Lost pass
View of camp.

Avalanche lilies
Enjoyed a peaceful night in the mountains. 

Olympic Marmot
Maybe this guy could detect the early winter the Olympics would have later in autumn.


Olympic sunset
Sometimes I like to stare into the sunset and see what there is to be found.







Decided to call it an early day and chose to sleep at this high camp to watch sunset. Tomorrow I’d get an early start. Little did I know the day would prove to be the second most-hellish day of all summer. But, for now I would enjoy this peaceful time and appreciate the small moments. Here is Mount Claywood in the evening light from my bedroom.






Part of the 'Walking through the Seasons' Trail Series
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Updated by Barefoot Jake in July 2015