Hoh Rain Forest via (High Divide) Sol Duc Trail

Went on a hike from the Sol Duc drainage and exited the Hoh Rainforest Trail.  The high country was still covered in spring snow.  This is a dangerous time to hike this area on a warm day, because of spring avalanche danger.  Doing this solo added onto the danger.

Hiking from Sol Duc to Hoh Rain Forest

I would start this adventure by utilizing public transportation out of Port Angeles, Wa. After the bus dropped me off on Highway 101, I began walking up the Sol Duc road; until some nice person gave me a lift. I started the actual trail at the Sol Duc Falls Trailhead, that would take me into the mountains. Made sure to get a wilderness camping permit and bear canister in Port Angeles, because they are required in this area. Then I would walk on snow (because it was spring) across the High Divide and then drop down into the Hoh Rain Forest. Once on the Hoh Road, I got a lift back to Highway 101, where I caught a bus back to civilization. Want to learn more? Complete guides to hike in Olympic National Park.

About My Adventure

The first 7 miles went smooth on my hike.  I ran into a solo hiker that got turned around in the continuous snow up the trail.  He warned me that there was a bridge that was washed out above as well.  Feeling confident, I continued my walk.   Ran into solid snow around 4,500' elevation. That was rather tough, but the snow quality was good for hiking.

Rest of that first day was exhausting, because of hiking with a heavy pack; which held my bulky winter hiking gear. My progress was also slowed by the sun, it felt like being in the microwave and I was the popcorn. After making camp, I went to bed right after dinner.

sol duc park

cat basin
Snow covered Cat Basin

The sun woke me up in the morning, as it came over the mountains from the east.  Raising my head out of the sleeping bag, gave the most breathtaking view.  I would later call this place High Elk Camp.

I would need to wait a few hours after sunrise, so that the icy snow could soften up a bit, before walking on top without crampons.  So I enjoyed a second cup of coffee and the one of a kind views.  Such a beautiful morning.

After a few hours, I set off for Hoh Lake; which was my next campsite.  Day consisted of ascending and descending the ridgeline, where the High Divide Trial was hiding under all the snow.  It was another very warm spring day shortly after starting my journey.

high divide

My route wasn't to risky until reaching Bogachiel Peak.  From that high point it got steep and nasty.  There is several very steep slopes on the spur ridge that runs out to where the lake is located.

 At one point, I had to self-arrest to keep from bouncing off some rocks.  During that moment, I was very glad to have brought an ice axe.   Suffered a bit of ice rash as my arms slid across the snow surface, since I was in my t-shirt. Times like these where I can hear my mother's worrying words, "be careful out there".

 I had lunch on the highest point of the route. It was another breathtaking view.  On that peak I felt the most alone, but it was a good thing. I since crave that feeling almost everyday of normal life.

From the high point I would follow a set of cougar prints for a bit.  The route got too steep for my liking to sidehill on without crampons, so I decided to plunge step straight down to the frozen lake.  I focused on not falling, because there was a risk of drowning, if I did not stop my fall.

I set my Bivy up on the highest point at the South End of Hoh Lake. I'm not going to like, I'm tired.

hoh lake
Frozen Hoh Lake

Before dozing off to an early visit into my sleeping bag, I observed a pair of Mountain Goats above the lake.  A short time after falling asleep, I awoke to the sound of heavy rain falling on my shelter.  I put my ear plugs in and drifted back into my dreams.

hoh falls
Hoh Creek Falls

The next morning, I quickly broke down camp in-between rain showers. After shoving down some breakfast, I began my journey out of the mountains and into the rainforest.

I encountered a lot of snow bridges and steep sections of ice in the forest.  The further I descended, the thinner the snow got.  Eventually I was back on solid ground.  Using basic land navigation skills, I met the trail at the very point the snow diminished.

After a short time, I reached a point where the trail overlooks the Hoh River.  The view was amazing.  However, all the switchback and downed trees to walk down and over, was not.  I reached my next camp early in the day, because I frankly really didnt feel like walking anymore.

This would mean I would have to wake up early the next morning, so I could get out to Highway 101 to catch the bus back to Port Angeles.

Olympus Ranger Station
Olympus Guard Station

I woke up at first light, shoved down food and began to break camp.  I was uncertain on how long it would take to get back down to Highway 101; later that afternoon.  My hiking pace would be fast, in order to make up for that time variable.

 Hike down the Hoh Trail went smoothly.   I ran into a few small herds of Olympic Elk along the way.  Unfortunately trail was super muddy, because of all the rain the previous two days.  Began to see a lot more hikers, the closer to civilization I got.  Made the day interesting tho, made a game out of greeting people I cam across, to make time go by faster.

hoh trailhead
Hoh Trailhead

After reaching the trailhead and washing up in the heated bathroom, I began to walk down the Hoh Road.  A short time later, some guys leaving from their hike were kind enough to pick a stinky hiker up and run me to the bus stop.  Thanks guys!

I ate a full pizza by myself and would rest up for 24 hours, before heading out for another trip into the snow covered Park.

Updated: March 2017

Disclaimer:  Train your feet for several months or years, before attempting to traverse on snow in minimalist footwear.  A high tolerance to the cold  and strong feet are needed.