The North Fork Skokomish trail is one of my favorites in the Olympics. It was actually the site of my very first solo backpacking adventure some 30 years ago; one that has been repeated numerous times over the following years. In part its because it is the closest to home and hike-able pretty much year round. But it’s also just a nice trail that makes for a good walk in the woods.
This trip out was intended as both a relaxing time, and a shakedown for my August PCT trip. I originally planned on going with a friend, but that fell through so I took off with just me and my thoughts, something I enjoy. The plan was to hike from Staircase up to Nine Stream, set up camp and then head on up to First Divide, or as close as I could get. Snow travel and navigation is something I am still working on so I was looking forward to getting some practice on somewhat familiar territory. Then back to camp for the evening and a quite morning before heading back home.
I left the parking lot about 9 AM and headed on up the trail. I had a new camera, a Canon SX260 HS, to play with so made frequent stops to take pictures of flowers, bugs and anything else that took my fancy. The trail was in good shape until the bridge across the Skokomish. From there to Camp Pleasant there were about 5 trees (a couple were pretty large with lots of branches) across the trail, and another 5 or 6 down heading on up to Nine Stream. As I was leaving I met an incoming trail crew heading to Big Log, so much of what I saw may already be cleared up.
I spent about an hour and a half at Camp Pleasant on the way up because of a calf that was giving me grief. I considered stopping there but ultimately pushed on up to Nine Steam and ditched the plan to play in the snow. Other than a couple of tiny patches of snow off to the side, the valley up to Nine Steam is snow free.
I had the camp to myself when I got there so found my favorite spot between two trees on a small bluff overlooking the river and settled in for the afternoon and evening. Even though I didn’t get to play in the snow, sitting on the river bank watching the water flow by was very relaxing and needed. The weather was pleasant with some sun and semi warm temps, and no bugs to speak of.
When I got up the next morning I saw at least 4 elk grazing in the trees just across the river. I grabbed the camera and put its 20x optical zoom to the test, and was very pleased with the result. I sat and watched then for close to 15 minutes until they moved out of view.
After a leisurely morning I packed up and headed out, getting back to Staircase mid afternoon. Other than another solo hiker who had come into Nine Stream the previous night, I had the trail to myself until I recrossed the Skokomish bridge. From there on out I met a steady stream of people heading in, including the trail crew and their pack train.
All in all it was a very good trip. My calf held up, the new gear performed well, I learned stuff, and the time in the woods was both physically and spiritually uplifting.
At the North Fork Skokomish trail head. Nine Stream is the evenings destination.
The Ground Dogwood were blooming pretty much everywhere.
The ‘bridge’ across Madeline Creek. That log has been there for a long time.
Madeline Creek as viewed from the middle of the log bridge.
The bridge crossing the Skokomish between Big Log and Camp Pleasant.
There were a lot of Stream Violets blooming along the trail as well. Very pretty, especially in large clumps.
This stream is between Camp Pleasant and Eight Stream. You either ford it or hop across on wet rocks and logs. I hopped across going and forded coming back.
The bridge across Eight Stream. Looks like the same builder as the Skokomish bridge.
A long boardwalk in the woods. There is a lot of water moving under this walkway.
The Vanilla Leaf is in bloom.
The Hosta’s are just starting to come up.
There were a few Fairy Slipper’s popping up around camp.
Siberian Miner’s Lettuce. Lot’s of this around with both white and pink flowers.
A Bleeding Heart poking up on the river bank at Nine Stream.
Still have a few Trillium out, although not near what there was a month ago.
View of the Skokomish just up from Nine Stream. The beach to the right is just below my camp.
An elk grazing just across the river from camp.
Three more grazing elk.
Salmonberry in bloom.
An old dead snag in a meadow just up from Nine Stream. Needs an eagle perched in the top.
Home for the night. On a bluff about 20 feet above the river in the background.
An old slide on the far side of the river between Eight & Nine streams
This guy posed for me just long enough to get the camera out and then he disappeared.
A nurse log about 15 feet above the trail, just upstream from Camp Pleasant.
Official greeter for Camp Pleasant.
Looking down the Skokomish from Camp Pleasant.
Maidenhair Fern. One of my favorite ferns.
The guy to the right is about as big as my thumbnail.
The pack trail bring in supplies for the trail crew.