Showing posts with label backpacking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label backpacking. Show all posts

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.

Train for Backpacking Trip

  I have a bunch of Backpacking Trips coming up in the 2012 Summer Season.  One of them I will be doing an over 200 mile Traverse of the Olympic National Park.  Most of that Route will be off Trail.  It is scheduled to take me 4 - 5 weeks, with no Rest Days.  My net Pack weight should be just under 25lbs with Bear Can (required in the ONP Subalpine).  I will be Mailing myself one resupply in the remote town of Amanda Park.

  I get asked all the time, 'What type of Training I am doing for such an Adventure?'

  Well I would say that doing your typical 'Gym Routine' would be a huge mistake.  There is no better way to Train for something than just getting some Miles on your Legs.  No Treadmill, Weight Routine, Stepmaster or Indoor Cardio Routine can substitute the Great Outdoors.

  It's not 'Training', the Outdoors is a 'Lifestyle'!

winter cycling

Trekking Poles: Crutches for the Modern Man

 'All things in this site are only my personal opinions.  I suggest things that primarily work for me and my clients on various surfaces.  I am however not a Doctor, so please...No Lawsuits' ;-)

  It is my belief that these devices are leading the Modern Human into a higher risk of injury.  Using these devices as crutches cause Humans to have poor posture and a lower cadence.  Which intern leads to overstriding; this puts the body in an unnatural allignment.

 In order to address this issue futher.  We need to look back into why Man created this device.

  Through the generations in the Outdoor World; we have addapted this habit of carrying more stuff.  A lot
also has to be taken in account that earlier materials just wernt very light; plain and simple.   There is also the fact of the novelty of big chain stores.  Walking into these places just make you want to buy Gear.  That is the way they were designed.  I am personally guilty of this.

Is all this 'stuff' necessary to enjoy and survive in the Outdoors?

random gear store
Gear Shop (I do not own this image)

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. 

Hurricane Ridge Winter Camping

  While you slaves were all working ;-) I looked at the Weather Forecast and decided that I wanted to get out. Since it was late in the afternoon, it had to be somewhere close to Port Angeles. I asked a old buddy if he would like to join. So he agreed and probably later regretted it lol. NOAA called for a 30 degree night at that elevation. I thought that would be good practice for Snow Camping. Little did we know that it would reach a LOT colder that night.

autumn olympic national park
Frost on Fall Color
  I wanted to go to one of my favorite places close to Port Angeles to watch the Sunrise on top Klahhane Ridge.  I figured it would be one of the last times that we could get up in the High Country without walking on deep snow.  Klahhane Ridge is the predominate landmark that Tourist see from Port Angeles when visiting the Park or possibly on a passing Cruise Ship in the Summer.  The easiest way to access the area is via the 'Switchback Trail' on the way to the Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center.  

port angeles waterfront

  Arriving around an hour before Dark just in time to set up Camp.  Clouds protected views of Mt. Olympus and the Bailey Range that night.  As the sun went behind the Mountains,  the temperature and windchill quickly fell.  My Suunto registered lows of 17F degrees (not including windchill) that night.  After dinner we decided to  lounge out of the Wind in my buddies Shelter.  The condensation from the Heat of our bodies quickly froze in the internal walls.  

frozen tent
Frozen Shelter Walls 
suunto core
Suunto Reading

  After a cold, windy and heavy frost night we arose an hour before Sunrise to Worship the Sun.  A heavy frost fell over the Mountain tops like the Gods poured Powder Sugar over everything.  All the water in the ground got pulled to the surface and froze to form Needle Ice over the whole ridge.  Walking on this surface was a trip.  I found depths of 2" of Needle Ice over the Dirt and Heather Meadows.  

hurricane ridge campsite
Frost over Camp

frost gear
Frost on Pack Cover

frost tree

frozen dirt
Needle Ice and Dirt
  Sunrise was a blessing from the Gods.  We warmed our body's with its Rays and started thawing out or Gear.  Right before Sunrise I noticed a thin sliver Crescent Moon that almost appeared like an Eclipse of some kind.  I wish i had a camera with zoom lens to capture it.

hurricane ridge sunrise
Sunrise 10/25/11

  After a warm breakfast we began the trek back to the Car.  It was defiantly a unique experience traveling on the Trail in such conditions.  Mix of fields of Permafrost, Needle Ice and Clear Ice.  A nice long warm shower felt good followed by a cup of Hot Coffee.

vibram ice trail
Needle Ice

FootwearCamera and Hiking Guide used.

Disclaimer:  Being in these Conditions with Vibram Five Fingers is NOT suggested.  I am Barefoot year around and have my feet trained for such Temperatures.     

7 Lakes Basin Autumn Adventure

  Fall is starting swing into full gear with all the leaves turning and animals going into Primal Mode.  This is one of my Favorite times of the Year to get Outside.  My original plan was to venture into Ferry Basin (in the Bailey Range), but looking at the weather forecast I chicken out.
  So I settled on a Plan B option which was to venture into 7 Lakes Basin.  If the weather held enough I was to exit Heart Lake/Sol Duc Park.  Which is the 'High Divide Loop'.
  My plan was to Bus out to Lake Crescent where it was to drop me off on Highway 101 and then walk the Sol Duc Road until someone felt sorry for me enough to give me a lift to the Trail Head.

clallam county transit

Solo across the Olympic National Park 2011


the following are straight out of my Journal 

Day 1 - Deer Park to Grand Peak 
  Started off getting dropped off at Deer Park by my GF. It was a sunny warm day and I knew I would go through lots of water. I didn't see a soul for the first 5 miles. After that I seen at least a pair of hikers every half hour. It was a popular day in the Grand Valley. I ended up running out of water for 3 hours. That Sucked.


  I mad it to Grand Peak 2 hours before sundown. Just in time to eat and watch the Sun go down. I'm the only one up here besides for 2 Mountain Goats that I scared off.



Day 2 - Grand Peak to Dose Meadow
 Got woke up by little critters last night. In the morning there were little paw prints all over everything outside my head. Broke camp just as the bugs were waking up and started off just as the sun was coming over the Mountains.


  Descending I found myself in a Basin surrounded my whistling Marmots. The trail was narrow and rocky. My feet and body are tired.


  The best views were all the way from Lower Cameron Basin to Lost Pass. One could spend a year in Photography in those areas.

onp basin

  It was a warm day today and i drank around 9 liters of water. The bugs at me alive too. A few hours before dark I arrived at Dose Meadows. Where low and behold was a camp full of hikers I knew from the internet.

Day 3 - Dose Meadows to Hayes River Rangers Station on the upper Elwha 
  Started off the day well rested. I slept next door to the bunch I knew from online. Had lots of conversation and breakfast. I set off for Hayden Pass.


  It was a gradual climb I reached the finial 500; where I encountered 3 x 100' snow fields. The snow was soft and i made use of my Ice Axe to help keep my balance. Th view from the Pass was very lovely.


  So if Bigfoot existed?! He would live on the descent from Hayden Pass to Elwha River. What a LONG ass 9 miles. Side hilling the whole way. Mix of high flower filled meadows, swamps and pine needle Forest.


  I arrived 2 hours before dark to find Hayes River Ranger Station completely empty. No other Rangers and No other Backpackers to be found. So i choose a plush side on the Elwha River where i took a much needed Bath.


Day 4 - Elwha to Martins Lakes/Low Divide
  I didnt sleep as well last night. I also didnt see anyone today. Ended up traveling for 12 hours up the Elwha, Low Divide, Martins Park and back to the Low Divide.



  I was going to stay up at Martins Lakes, but not having a weather forecast, visually looking at dark clouds and feeling the temp drop. So my gut told me that it was going to Rain. I hope I'm wrong. I didnt want to get caught scrambling down this narrow section of trail in the middle of a Storm.


  I'm staying at a sweet spot on a gravel bar on the Low Divide. Tomorrow across the '16 mile Ford' and if I cant make a hiker friend. I'm going to hold up on a Gravel Bar to have a fresh day of Hitch Hiking.

Day 5 - Low Divide to NF Quinault Rd
 Woke up at Midnight to find that the dark clouds had gone away and the bright stars were out. This was a good sign. I arose to find a heavy due had fell and wanted to break camp before the bugs woke up that ate me alive the night before.

  'My plan was that I was going to try to hustle the 17 miles down to the service road. Hopefully make friends with a day hiker and Hitch a ride back to Highway 101 so that i could catch the 4 o'clock Bus back to PA. My Plan B was to walk to the drive up campground below and try to Hitch to Highway 101 and Hitch Hike from there to Forks.'


  So off i set descending the Quinault River side of the Park. Was a narrow, rocky and rolling trail. Lots of streams, waterfalls and sections where it looked like millions of gallons of water came down. So much water comes down into that section of valley, ripping earth apart with such a force. I would not want to be up there in the winter when it storms, thats for sure.


  I came to the part of the River Ford that everyone had been talking about online and had me worried in the back of my mind for weeks. That there was a small chance I could get stuck on the other side for a day if a storm hit and river level rose. Even tho there was a Log I could shimmy across, I decided for the standard route. The water was Ice Cold, even more cold than the Elwha River. The rocks were super slimy and I was glad I had on my VFF for a good grip. On the south side of the River the water was the deepest. It camp a little above my knee camps and it felt like a burden was lifted when I made it across safe.


  Continuing down the Valley I didnt see my first Backpackers till around 8 miles left. That was the first Backpackers I seen for 3 days. I greeted them shortly and continued on since I was on a time schedule. 3 miles left I talked to one pair of day hikers that told me there wernt many cars in the parking lot below. That made me sad, but I told myself that I should never give up and continue on anyways. I made it to the Trail Head 15 minutes later than what i set as a goal that morning in the Low Divide. I snapped this picture, used the nearby Restroom and started walking briskly down the Road.


  I arrived at the lower Campground to find the whole place empty. So I decided to sit by a near log that was lying next to the road to do some thinking and i was exhausted. Not shortly after I sat down, low and behold a lone hiker appeared walking down the road from the Skyline Trail Head just down the Road. After a short conversation I asked him for a lift to Highway 101 and he told me that he was going back to Port Townsend. So he could drop me off in Port Angeles on his way through. How is that for some LUCK? I was very thankful and I always will be.

 Full Blog of Pictures HERE

  Overview: Pack Lighter, go back to stay the night in Martins Park and you should never Backpack alone. It is very dangerous game