Hurricane Ridge Winter Camping

For this adventure a friend and I decided to to a camping trip in the mountains above Hurricane Ridge.  This was done as a late season backpacking trip at the end of October.

We looked at the weather forecast and came to the conclusion that the weather would be fair for this trip, but it was going to be a really cold at night.  The drive to the trailhead was short, since we both life in Port Angeles.

The walk up from the road is relatively short, but is very steep for a trail.   Legs really start burning when you have the weight of overnight gear on your back.

autumn olympic
Frost on Fall Color

The goal for this trip was to watch sunrise and sunset from the Olympic Mountains.  This would perhaps be our last chance, before the winter snows began to fall.

  Klahhane Ridge is the predominate landmark that tourist see from Port Angeles when visiting the area.  It runs east to west and connects to Mount Angeles.

port angeles waterfront

  We arrived at our campsite an hour before dark.  The clouds protected views of Mount Olympus and the Bailey Range that night.  I crossed my fingers for them to lift.

  After a short time, the sun began to fall behind the mountains to the west.  The temperature and windchill also quickly fell.  My Suunto registered lows of 17F degrees (not including windchill) that night.

 After dinner we decided to escape the wind in my buddies shelter.  It was cold enough, that the condensation from our body heat, formed a ice layer on the inside tent walls.  

frozen tent
Frozen Shelter Walls 

suunto core
Suunto Reading

  The next morning after a cold, windy and heavy frost night, we arose an hour before sunrise to worship the sun. The sun was to be our only heat source that morning.  I paced around camp to await for its arrival.

  A heavy frost fell over the mountains overnight.  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, made for a crunchy sound under my feet.  I found it quite interesting that 2 inches of needle ice formed around my body; as I slept that night.  

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 bodies with its rays.  After a short time, we lay our gear out to thaw and dry out; before walking back to the trailhead.

hurricane ridge sunrise

  After a warm breakfast, we began the trek back to the car.  It was defiantly a unique experience traveling on a trail in such conditions.  Mix of fields of permafrost, needle ice and clear ice; made for slippery walking down the mountain.

vibram ice trail
Needle Ice

Updated on April 2015

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