Showing posts with label Mt. Olympus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mt. Olympus. Show all posts

Sol Duc Divide in Autumn - 30+ Days in the Olympic National Park Section 6

Start at the beginning of story?

  Several months ago while snow and rain were still falling in the lowlands of western Washington, I received an email in my inbox from Grant from Gossamer Gear.

  He expressed that he would be in the area for a hiker conference and was wishing to check the Olympic National Park off of his bucket list.

  In a return email I let him know that I would be finishing up my trail series '30+ Days in the ONP' around that same time.

  This would be a  perfect way to finish this trail series.  Since Gossamer Gear has supported me so much in my adventures this year,  I was honored that he asked and of course, I agreed.

Gossamer Gear backpacking
Just crossed over Spread Eagle Pass which is a section of the Bailey Range Traverse - Grant showing off his custom Black on Black 2012 Gorilla 

Returning to the Bailey Range - 30+ Days in the ONP Section 5

Start at the beginning of story?

  Last year, while backpacking Solo Across the Olympic National Park a nice man picked me up hitchhiking.

  During the 4 hour car ride back to Port Angeles.  We exchanged hiking stories and email addresses.

  Through the year we exchanged several messages and started planning for a late summer adventure into the Bailey Range.

  He expressed that a trip with his wife through Montana and variable weather would leave the dates flexible.

  The last email exchanged a few days before we hit the trailhead expressed that I had just returned from this area on a Solo Trip.

  He was ready to go since the weather window looked really promising.

  I of course was all ready to go back.  This time on a mission to find Autumn color and shoot some video.  Not walking such long days would also allow me time to enjoy some beauty in the heart of the Olympics.

  So off we set with a few days worth of food on our backs.  He being a traditional backpacker with a big load and heavy boots.  Me with a recently field stripped pack which put me at an 8 lbs base weight and minimal Sandals.  My VFF's were also worn for the sections of rock scrambling.

  Together, with one goal: to arrive into the Bailey Range, explore Ferry Basin and go look for Olympic Elk in Cream Basin.

Dodger Point
Last Sunset for the summer of 2012.  The next morning an Autumn frost fell like clockwork.  Views of Stephen Peak, Ruth Peak, Mt. Carrie and the Northern Bailey Range

Solo Bailey Range Traverse - 30+ Days in the ONP Section 4

Start at the beginning of story?

  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 which I used for a good section of snow traverse.

  My gear consisted 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 Hurricane 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.


mount olympus
Mt. Olympus from the Catwalk

North Bailey Range Traverse: 30+ Days in the ONP Section 1.a

Note:  This is first of August, during a heavy snow year.  We did not follow the route in the Olympic Mountain Climbers Guide to the letter.  My partner had comfort level issues on the steep snow fields about Mud Lake and the Col on the W. slope of Mount Appleton.  We ended up traversing around these, on a not so fun route following elk trails.

 An idea came to mind while sitting in a winter storm aboard my old Sailboat residence.  Why not set up a summer long route with a 'Thru-Hike' feel in the Olympic National Park?

  So as the storm raged on for the next 48 hours; a route itinerary was established within my physical limitations.  

  Doing most of the routes in 2011 solo I have come to learn my physically and mental limitations.  Knowing that something like this would push both of them to the edge; a self wrote training program went into immediate effect.  

Mount Appleton
Snow covered Mud Lake cuddled into Mount Appleton

Minimalist Hike on Mount Olympus

  As a young boy looking at an Olympic National Park Map its hard not to notice the mountain in the center of the Olympics.

  Then in the recent 5 years it has became an obsession of mine to put feet on her ice.  Even at the point of my computer wallpaper being an image of the raw beauty of the snow-capped rock.

  In the evolution of my own personal minimalist journey.  I wanted to do it as close as the first Human to step foot on the mountain.

  All within trying to keep basic safety; since I'm no pro at Glacier Travel.  Knowing my limits I have however am very safe person.  When your feet are that close to the earth; in this case Ice.  Your neurological system is at such a heightened state; I am less likely to take stupid chances.

  Saying that I left the Trailhead with a Net Weight of 21 lbs 6 oz on my back.  This would be everything needed for a 3 1/2 day trip for roughly 50 miles.  This included lightweight winter gear made of Tyvek, Glacier Travel Rope, 1 Carabiner and Harness.

mount olympus
first view of the Blue Glacier of Mt. Olympus from the above Moraine

30+ Days in the Olympic National Park

 Update - Adventure complete

 In need to free myself from Modern Conveniences such as Internet, Electricity and Ect.  To get away from breathing Auto Exhaust almost every direction I turn.   My time in an Urban Environment is mostly dodging Crazy Texting Drivers or Drug Addicts asking me for Money.  Its enough to drive anyone nuts.

  So 6 months ago I decided to spend most of my Summer in the Wilderness.  Biggest chunk of that I am going to be doing an over 300 mile mostly 'Off Trail Traverse of the Olympic National Park'.  I am very excited about this Trip.  Training my Body and Planning for the last few Months.

Mt. Olympus - Photo by my Hiking Buddy - Nivaun - This image was taken on his Bailey Range Traverse and I suggest you read his Trip Story.   He is also planning on join me for this Adventure.

Sea to Summit - Olympic National Park

Note:  Total Travel expense - $3

 A friend was coming from out of town for some Backpacking Adventure Time in the Olympic National Park. The original plan was to go into a River Valley for a few days with the hope of seeing Roosevelt Elk and Black Bear.  Keeping an eye on the weather I suggested a better plan.   How about an Epic 'Sea to Summit Weekend'?

sea to summit olympic

Backpack through Olympic National Park - Elwha & Skyline Trails

  This is an older trip, but it was such a landmark in my adventures that I thought I would document the Trip.  At the time it was the longest Backpacking Trip that I have ever completed.  It was also the longest and most harsh terrain that I have ever walked across with Vibram Five Fingers.   I will also note that the night before we left on this Adventure I broke a 104 degree Fever.  The first night of the trip I woke up with the inside my Sleeping Bag soaked with sweat.   I'm sure my body was still fighting the Fever.  The first 3 days I was really dragging.  I'm sure it had something to do with not being properly hydrated.

port angeles outdoor gear
Photo by Jeremy Johnson
  Day 1:  We got dropped off at the Whiskey Bend Trail Head by my partners Wife.  I remember the day being warm and the bugs were light.  Took a few breaks with snacks adventuring down the Elwha Valley.  Lots of Photography and passed different groups heading out of the Elwha from various adventures.

elwha trial

  Stopping at Elkhorn to talk to the Rangers.  Both of them asking  about my Footwear and the GoPro that I was wearing.  One of them also commented about my Partners camera.  They kindly took the time to snap this photo below.

elwha trial
Photo by Jeremy Johnson

     Day 2:  Breaking camp that we set up in the Horse Camp above Elkhorn that sits right next to the Elwha River.  I remember having low energy levels venturing down the valley.  There was no lack of water crossing numerous little streams.  At the time day 2 was the most miles I ever walked in Five Fingers.  We stopped into Camp Wilder and walked to the river to get water.  After lunch and water refill we continued toward Chicago Camp.   We also Forded the Elwha River between Camp Wilder and Chicago Camp.

elwha trial ford

  While approaching the Campsites next to the River at Chicago Camp we scared a Black Bear out of the area.  I remember eating dinner with one eye always into the tree line.  That was the first Bear I've seen in some time and had me a little on edge.

Chicago camp

  Day 3:  We awoke I would say around 3am to the sounds of heavy Rain Drops hitting the Tent.  I really regretted the fact that I had to climb out of my warm sleeping bag to break down camp.  Knowing that I would completely get drenched for how hard it was Raining.  At the time I never carried a Poncho, but I have since them never leave home without one.
  Once camp was broke we made a small ford of the Elwha once again at Chicago Camp.  Since the rain the river had rose around 12" since the day before.  It still only was just over the knee so it wasnt too bad.
  Not much Photography was done this day since it was raining so hard that all the pictures turned out to be a blur on my GoPro.

low divide

 It didnt take us to long to get up to the Low Divide Camp area, but by the time we did.  We were completely soaked from head to Toe.  75% of the day was spend listening to the rain just pour on the top of the tent.  Making sleeping a thing to get usto, but quickly took a handful of naps.  Dozing in and out of consciousness most of the afternoon.

  Day 4:  The rains stopped through the night and after the fog burnt off.  The sun started to peak though the cloud cover with the first views of Mt. Seattle.  We took this time to lay out our gear to get it dry as possible with the time allotted.

low divide camp
Photo by Jeremy Johnson
     After a short walk out of the Low Divide camp area and passing though the Horse Gates.  We got our first Mountain and flower covered meadow views.  This was a huge moral booster after staring at trees and water for so long.

skyline primitive trail

  We made our way through various Basins and creek crossings.  Seattle Basin was most memorable for me.  Taking a few breaks for snacks and I remember washing my Five Fingers in Seattle Creek that flows out of the the Basin.

skyline trail

skyline trail olympic

  Something I will never forget is crossing a almost Paper Thin like Snow Bridge.  Because of the steepness of the surrounding area we decided to go up and over it.  Thinking about it I probably should of dropped below it and bushwhacked back to the Trail.  We were lucky not to get injured.

skyline trail snow
Photo by Jeremy Johnson 
skyline trail snow

    Coming up out of a Draw headed uphill with a light breeze in our faces.  I was at the time leading and came around a hair pin section of trail.  Scanning my eyes up to see a big black object standing about 10 yards ahead.  I quickly yelled and spooked a medium size Black Bear of the Trail.  This was the second of the Trip.
  It was late in the afternoon while we made the last push before our destination for the night of Lake Beauty.   A few miles before the lake i recall navigating some tight and washed out sections of trail.  This took us some extra time and energy climbing down roots n rocks.

skyline trail

  Arriving at Lake Beauty to make camp and take a much needed freezing cold Bath.  I yelled as I plunged into the water for how cold it was.  Getting semi clean was worth the trouble tho.  The bugs were also bad at the Lake.  Looking down at pant leg to find 15+ mosquito's that were trying to feed through my clothing.  Views of Mt Olympus and the Valhalla's made it all worth it tho.  I plan on being back in 2012 to enjoy the views again.

lake beauty

lake beauty

mount olympus skyline
Photo by Jeremy Johnson
   Day 5:  After a much needed Sleep.  We arose just before Sun up to get a warm Breakfast into our Belly and begin Hydrating.  Climbing out of Lake Beauty I remember thinking that my Legs weren't as good as shape as I thought they were.  What a way to start the Morning than a steep grade.

     The trail side hilled for a bit and then began the 'Moonscape' portion of the Skyline Trail.  It was slow going navigating up and down the hillside.  Cairn's made it easier than just relying on Map only for Navigating this section.  I remember the feeling of Sharp Rock under my Feet and Hot Sun over our heads.

skyline trail

  It was some time before we reached the 'Trail' again.  I was relieved since my feet were feeling the fatigue of the lack of conditioning. The image below is permanently burn into my memory.

skyline trail

  While taking a break in the Pass above.  I flipped open the hood of my pack to watching my Thermarest in slow motion fall out.  It quickly picked up speed to hopping over a series of little sections of exposed Rock. It lucky stopped about 5 feet from dropping off a pretty good cliff.  I climbed down and had to retrieve that.
  The day pushed on as we head toward our destination of Three Prune Camp.  We arrived just as the sun was dropping behind the Mountains.

  Day 6:  I slept like a Rock that night.  We awoke again before the sun came up to shove down a quick Breakfast.  I was excited for a big meal of Real Food and a hot Shower.  We passed a grazing Bear in the Meadow a few minutes out of our Camp.  That would make 3 total in this trip.
  I remember being generally sore all over and this section of Trail was covered with loose River Rock for Miles.  This really tested my balance and my Feet.

skyline trail

skyline trail

  Arriving at the Skyline Trail head later in the afternoon.  Pretty smelly and tired.  I remember the feeling of real accomplishment completing this Journey.   When I was a young boy I pinned a Park Map onto my wall in my room.  I usto day dream about crossing the Olympic National Park someday.   Here I was reaching my dream.

skyline trailhead

Footwear, Camera and Hiking Guide used.

Overview/Disclaimer/Photo Rights:  This Trip will forever be in my Memory.  This being my first real accomplishment in the Backpacking World.  You should train your feet for months/years before attempting this type of travel with Heavy Pack.  I have since cut my Pack Weight in Half.  Some of the photos above are not owned by me.  All rights for these photos go to Jeremy Johnson. 

Snowshoe Hurricane Ridge - Olympic

 Received an email a few nights ago consisting of an invite to go Snowshoeing up at Hurricane Ridge.  Of coarse I jumped on the chance to spend time in the Olympic National Park.  Its been a few weeks since I've done anything eventful in the park and I was going nuts.  I also wanted to try out my new 'Barefoot' Snowshoe set up and only one way to find out if your gear works, is to get some Trail Time in.

obstruction road

  Putting a shell over the top my Vibram Five Fingers and then inserting feet into Snowshoes.  This would depend on successfully having strong feet and ankles.  Also having a high tolerance to the cold with the feet is extremely important.  Since there is minimal protection to the feet with spending hours on the ice and snow.

obstruction road

  It was so nice to feel the cold air in my Beard and stretch the legs.  Since the snow was mostly firm, made good time to our destination.  All was good with my set up until I tried to side hill traverse around 'Steeple Rock'.  The hard plastic binding began to dig into my toes.  It was rather unpleasing at that point.  I need to either modify the bindings or  try another manufacturer with a different binding.

obstruction road steeple rock

  Wasn't much a view once we got toward the top.  Clouds had us pretty socked in for the view.  So we decided to head back.  In the winter it seems to get dark way to early.

obstruction road

snowshoe hurricane ridge

  On the way back I spent much of my time reflecting and doing Photography.  Seen Birds, female Grouse, Squirrel and lots of Rabbit tracks.  The closer we got back to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, the more it started to clear up.

snowshoe hurricane ridge

  Rising out of the Tree Line we caught the tail end of the sun dropping behind the Carrie Glacier and Mt. Olympus.  20 minutes or so was spend doing photography in completely crisp Twilight Mountain Bliss.  My Mind and Soul needed the feeling that one receives when looking at breathtaking views that the Olympics provides in the Winter.

snowshoe hurricane ridge

snowshoe hurricane ridge

snowshoe hurricane ridge

FootwearCamera and Hiking Guide used.

Overview/Disclaimer:  I am a professional Barefoot Athlete.  I would not suggest anyone go Snowshoeing without Boots.  Unless you would like major Foot and Ankle injures.  It is also very possible to give yourself Frostbit without insulating your feet and failing to keep your Core Temperature up.   I love getting out Snowshoeing, but quite honestly I've never gone out with some type of pain to my feet.  I've wore work type boots, ski boots, Running Shoes and this time VFF's.  I am on a quest to devise a system to be pain and hot spot free.  I will come up with someone or just start skiing more :-)

Backpacking Cat Basin

I wanted to get back into the Sol Duc - High Divide and see how much snow has melted. I also wanted to scout out into the Cat Basin which is one of the main entrances into the Bailey Range. A trip that I originally planned on doing at the end of August. So I asked my buddy Jay to join me, because trips are always more memorable when you share them with someone. Plus he always wanted to go up the Sol Duc.

We got a late start on Friday, since work ran long. We didnt get started up the trail until around a hour before sundown. Headlamp hiking is something that Ive grown a custom to and do not have a problem with it. We made good time not using any headlamps until the last hour of the hike. Funny how your eyes adjust pretty good in the woods if you give them a chance. We made camp at '7 Mile Bridge Camp' where we could have fresh water, hot fire and enjoy some adult beverages before continuing up the trail first thing the next morning.

7 mile camp
*photo 1 of 3 by Jay Landro

The next morning after a good breakfast we broke camp and headed to see how much snow was in the higher elevations above us. The log bridge that was disabled during the winter months was being repaired by a trail crew. They were putting a new massive log across and they were not finished 'setting' the log into place. That is a plus since a month before i had to Ford the river up stream.

sol duc basin

Route finding was easy going, since it was a clear day and the trail was in part melted out almost all the way to Heart Lake. After hopping a few streams, we refilled water at Heart Lake it self. The lake was still partially melted over.


After some Ridge travel and chatting with a ranger. We made camp and had lunch in the same Meadow I stayed in last time in the snow. Which was melted out all most completely this time. After ate lunch I took off solo to scout out as far as I could with daylight the Cat Basin. Because of snow fields and lots of fresh scree fall because of the snow melt. I was unsure where the 'trail' was so i took off just traversing my own route across the middle of Cat Basin. After going across a ridgeline finger i found the tarn that has been in lots of Mt Olympus post card pictures that ive seen in lots of stores across the state.

cat basin

After assessing my line of travel. I noticed that i was below the trail at least 500' up the hill. So up i climbed on game trails, getting foot hold on Marmont holes and rocks. Shortly after I crossed a snow field that had me having Mt. Deception flash backs for how steep it was. But on I traveled. I decided to shoot for this notch in the ridgeline. At that time I made the decision to turn back for the sake of how much time i had left to play before my partner would think about calling SAR. From there I decided to try to stay as high on the ridgeline as possible to make my travels easier. Which later turned out to be a mistake because it got to steep and rocky for me to travel on foot. I did however get onto a ridge top that gave me views of Haigs Lake, Mt. Appleton, all the way down the Sol Duc Valley, Sol Duc Basin and Mt. Olympus.

sol duc valley

haggen lake

olympic clouds

sol duc basin

Coming back was a steep descent from atop the high ridge peak. At times i used all my limbs to travel down. I headed straight down toward the tarn that i seen before, because I knew the 'main trail' was down around the side of it next to a single little camp sit tucked up next to some trees. I saw 2 Marmonts and a Male Mountain Goat that followed me from a distance all the way back to camp. The goat did not approach us or come within closer than 100 yards.

olympic mountain goat
*photo 2 of 3 by Jay Landro

pyramid shelter

bivy sack camp
*photo 3 of 3 by Jay Landro

The next day after breakfast and a steady wind all night that woke me up a few times. We broke camp and headed off the High Divide/Cat Walk. Made really good time descending stopping at Heart Lake to fill our water and had a super steady pace all the way down the Sol Duc Valley. Stopping only for a few pictures and to chat with Rangers.

Over all it was a good trip. Found out that in the right amount of snow. A whole lot of snow can melt out fast. I also found out that Vibram Five Fingers can handle a serious amount of scree travel and traversing, since i did a lot of that this week. Of coarse when used with proper stride and posture.

vibram treksports

I will be back to the High Divide this season, but will not be doing the Bailey Range this year because of conditions. I am however going to do my Plan B trip at the end of August. So you will just have to wait and see where i head to next.

*All Pano's by Jay Landro (click to enlarge)