Friday, July 1, 2005

44 miles

Olympics Hike Itinerary:

Start at the north fork of the Quinault (river)
Day 1: 9 miles to Trapper shelter (originally planned on 6.5 miles to French Creek camp)
Day 2: 4.2 miles to 16 Mile camp (originally planned on 6.7 miles)
Day 3: 5.9 miles to Chicago camp
Day 4: 8.3 miles to Hayes River camp
Day 5: 8.2 miles to Mary's Falls camp
Day 6: 8.4 miles to Whiskey Bend camp on the north side of the Olympic National Park

I've been back for over a week, but haven't made the time to write up this trip. Looking back, the hardest part was coming back to my 'real' life. To, work and traffic and people.

I haven't been on real backpacking trip for a number of years. I think it's something I need to do once a year, like my dad's been doing for so long--one of these summers I'll join him and Tom--Emily and cousin's Heather and Matt have joined him during his treks. I am very thankful to my parents for exposing me to the great outdoors. Though I live in the city, I am 45 minutes away from the mountains (hoping for decent snowfall this winter), 3 hours away from the coast, even 3 hours away from dry and hot dessert climate. Ah, Washington is a beautiful place.

Anyhow, things I learned on this hike: bug nets, rain gear, extra/dry socks, and good hiking boots are very important! Plan our meals better--Darren and I each carried maybe 5 pounds of extra food, too much for a 6 day hike!

The Quinault and Elwha River areas are beautiful! Eventually I'll scan some of my pics so I can post a few (I took my 35 mm camera, didn't want to risk the digi on this trip).

Day 1. Started off on the wrong foot. It was raining. :( We drove through some *very* heavy rains on the way (thanks Erna Rae for the ride!). Both D and I got very little sleep the night before taking care of last minute necessities. I think all of us had thoughts of 'what did we get ourselves into' at the beginning. It was beautiful, green, but wet. One of my feet got wet at our 1st bigger stream crossing. No biggie. Came to our 1st 'river' crossing. Moving fairly fast, but it wasn't very wide. There was a log which Paul crossed easily. I was going to cross 2nd, but it was higher than I felt comfortable with (I have a mild fear of heights) and looked too slick for me, so I decided to ford the river. While I took off my boots and changed into sandals, Darren crossed the log. I was worried, but Paul hadn't had any issues and Darren made made it across without any issues. I find out after the fact, both of them thought it was stupid of them to do it--it was very slippery, wet boots and a wet log, not a good combo. Darren got about halfway across before he realized it wasn't a good idea, but what can you do at that point, but continue. Anyhow, I forded the river, water came up to about my knees, made it across no problem. Hurried to change back into my boots as it was drizzling and a couple had just shown up at the other side of the river--Paul and Darren were worried they'd try to cross the log and fall and didn't want to deal with the consequences (they opted to wade across as well--don't worry, we aren't that mean). We figured Francis camp should be popping up soon. We were wet and tired. We came across a sign which said Francis camp, a small cleared area next to large upturned roots. We weren't impressed with the depressing 'camp' and kept going. After a couple more miles came to the Trapper shelter. It wasn't pretty, but we were happy to have a roof over our heads. Rain pretty much stopped, but we couldn't relax for too long as the bugs were on you if you were sitting still. Thank goodness for those head nets we brought! We drank our Oly's (Paul insisted we bring along some cheap beer though Darren grumbled), we didn't want to carry them any further, plus after the day we had, we deserved it! We laid out our wet clothing as best we could, dined and chatted about the trip so far. One of Paul's boots was having issues--the heel was coming apart. He had put some shoe goo on the sides, but that ended up coming right off, along with more of his boot! If the weather kept up, we thought we might have to turn around after another day--that lodge at the Quinalt entrance was sounding mighty fine! At least we had a short hike tomorrow--we wouldn't worry about cutting our trip short until then.

Day 2. Woke up with large blisters on my face! Spider bites. Not having a mirror handy, I just assumed they were large mosquito bites (had already gotten a number of those the night before). At one point Paul asked if they felt okay--they didn't hurt or itch or bother me. Darren kept telling me not to touch them. When I realized they were actually blisters I was fairly grossed out, but there really wasn't much I could do at this point. It sprinkled off and on today. It seemed we really might have to turn around tomorrow, but the scenery was beautiful and we were further out

Day 3. Short day mileage wise, but not short on effort! Basically 3 miles up a steep grade then 3 miles downhill. We took a number of water breaks and the 3 miles up wasn't as bad as I was expecting. Paul had been going on yesterday how Day 3 would be the worst. It was a nice feeling at the top to realize the worst was over with. The top of the pass was more meadow, less trees. I kept my eyes out for bears. We passed a manned ranger station, ranger said 3 or 4 bears had passed by just 30 minutes earlier. I bet we sent them scurrying when we stopped and had our lunch--such loud and stinky humans! Passed a couple small lakes, Paul and Darren fished, but no luck, I was just happy to rest my legs a bit. Then, onto the steep downhill. Paul wasn't kidding when he said it just drops, you turn a corner, and the trail just goes down and down... Big ol' waterfall in the distance. By the time the trail flattened out again, I was definitely ready for camp.

Day 4. Last couple miles were hard on the feet.

Day 5. Again, the last couple of miles, I couldn't wait to be done.

Day 6. Home stretch! Paul's shoe was flapping for the last 5 miles. Both Darren and I think we heard some sort of large animal moving along with us down this hill side at one point. That kept us going at a brisk pace. We passed a number of people out for day hikes which means the trail head was close and eventually we're done. Take off the boots, change into comfortable and semi-clean clothes, spy on the deer in the parking lot (a doe and 2 spotted fawns), and rest until Tina arrives. She brought doughnuts! I was worried we wouldn't even make it down the mountain with Tina driving so fast around those dirt/gravel tight corners. As Darren, Paul and I had been going on about fried chicken all week, we stopped at a KFC on the way home--not a big surprise, but it didn't really hit the spot and it was hard on the belly.

Check back for an update for Days 3-6.