Highs and Lows of 2012

  While writing this I'm patiently waiting for the end of the world. (sarcastic)

  The last few weeks I have gotten in quite a bit of little day hikes in the ONP.  Have not done any overnight trips now in almost 4 weeks.

  Spending a lot of time alone trying to recover from my 'Post Backpacking Blues'.  If you have spent a good chunk of the year wearing a backpack.  Know exactly what Im talking about.

  Walking on an almost endless trail, with no real responsibility and seeing epic sights daily.  Getting away from the modern human lifestyle in the most part.  Spending real time with nature and getting to know your self with each step.   

  Then you come back to 'the normal life'.  Experiencing a huge shock to the system.  I find myself starring out windows watching it pour down rain.  Reflecting back to the most fulfilling year of my life.  

  Looking through 100's of pictures that I snapped along the way.  Wishing I was walking through fields of wildflowers.  With every breath; smelling wilderness in my lunges.

  Waking up in the middle of the night when nature calls.  Gazing above to endless meteor showers on a clear night in the alpine.  Then easily falling back to sleep; like a baby without a worry in the world.

  During my self reflection I thought about allot.  So I decided to list some things here on my blog.

Best views

  • Sentinel Peak:  In a semi remote section of the ONP.  On a clear day you can see most of the Olympics in a 360 panoramic.  Views of the Eel Glacier of Mt. Anderson as well. 
  • Mt. Olympus:  On top of the moraine of the Blue Glacier.  After spending just under 20 miles in the rainforest during the approach.  Getting that first view of the mountain is completely breathtaking.  

Mount Anderson
Looking into the Eel Glacier while making my way up Sentinel Peak. 
Blue Glacier Olympic National Park
The Blue Glacier of Mt. Olympus.

Worst Nights Sleep

  • Lillian Camp:  With details that are out of my control.  I was forced to sleep in the most cold and damp place in the whole Pacific Northwest.  Intersecting two rivers; this area is a cold pocket for all that is moisture.  
  • Cedar Creek:  Because of a 48 hour wind and rain storm.  I didn't get that much sleep in this location.  Sounds of rain drops the size of marbles hitting the tarp and wind ripping though the trees.  Kept me a little on edge.  

Lillian Camp
Damp Lillian Camp
Ultralight Tarp coast
Cedar Creek Camp the morning after a storm.

Best Campsite Views

  • Near Mt. Pulizer:  Views of the Hoh Glacier of Mt. Olympus and the feeling of being completely alone.  
  • Dome Camp:   Views of Mount St. Helens.  Grazing Elk, Mountain Goat visitors, perfect sunset and on the backside of camp.  We could see the Lakes Trail Primitive Route; which kicked our ass the day before. 

Tarp on Bailey Range
Hoh Glacier from the Bailey Range. 
Tarp Mount St. Helens
Dome Camp and views of Mount St. Helens. 

Worse Dinner Place

  • Martins Park:  Dont get me wrong; I love this place.  Just the timing was wrong.  With every breath; ment a mouthful of Mosquitoes.  I would of really had a bad time if it wasn't for my trusty headnet.  I skipped dinner this night because of the fear of being drained of all my blood.     

mosquito attach
The bugs pictured here dont do the experience justice. I suppose Alaskans are teling me not to be such a 'girl' right about now lol 

Best Sunrise/Sunsets
  • Pyramid Peak:  Stayed the night during a snow storm.  Woke early to more snow and a perfect sunset. 
  • Cape Alava:  Watching the sun drop down above the Pacific Ocean in a hottub. 

Lake crescent sunrise
From Pyramid Peak.
Hot tub on coast
Cape Alava in a Hottub.  

Mental Low

  • Cat Walk:  Hiking with a partner with a different hiking style than myself.  Having him stumble on some rocks 48 hours before.  Watching signs of him not being committed; since he was carrying all this broken camera equipment.  Knowing that a turn around and canceling of the route was unavoidable. That moment haunted me for the next few weeks; until I went back and finished the projected route solo. 

dog man
Walking toward the Cat Walk.  Knowing that we would be turning around shortly after.

Greatest High

  • Bailey Range:  Finishing the Bailey Range Traverse Solo.  Starting at Sol Duc on a Bus, spending 3 nights and then exiting with a hitch our of Lake Quinault.  I only slept for 3 hours a night for the next 4 days after finishing that section; such a exciting part of my year.  Those of you that are not familiar with this route.  It takes a traditional Backpacker 6-8 days to do this route. 

toe shoes in mountains
Near the most remote place in the Olympic National Park on the Bailey Range. 
olympic mountain man
Exiting the Bailey Range via Lake Quinalt.  Wearing Sandals and trusty water filter.  I would walk the road for 7 miles before a ride down to Highway 101.

Most Sketchy

  • Bailey Range:  The last gully before Cream Basin; is where I felt most sketched out.  Picture a landslide section full of loose ass rock on the side of a mountain.  Now put only 3 good foot holds on a  20 feet section.  The only place to put your feet is also on loose scree; with no hand holds.  Now go to a place where only a small handful of people travel a year.  Then think to yourself that your emergency contact isn't expecting you for 7 more days.   

cream basin map
Near Cream Basin.  Sketchiest foot steps of my year.

Part 1 of 2 in my year in review posts.

What about you?
  Can you relate to anything above?  Feel free to share your experiences this year in the comments below.  I would like to hear your story.