A Quick Trip Up the Elwha

It had been two whole weeks since I had been out into the Olympics so I decided it was time to pay a visit to the Elwha. The goal was to make it to Hayes River and base camp there for a couple of days with a day hike on up to Chicago Camp on day 2. It took a bit longer than planned to get up to Whiskey Bend but I was able to be on the trail a bit after 9:30. The trip up to Hayes River was uneventful and mostly pleasant, although I was having some issues with a foot. The trail was in very good shape with only a single log down across the trail, apparently a recent arrival since the trail has been recently cleared. It was close to 5:00 by the time I got to Hayes River, but since I only had to share it with some squirrels I quickly setup, cleaned up, ate dinner and chilled until bedtime.

Chicago Camp is about 9 miles further up the trail so I got an early start. The reported slide just up from the bridge was there, but the trail was well established across it and not an issue at all. Up to Camp Wilder the trail had 7 down tree and was a bit brushy but was overall in pretty good shape. From there to Camp Chicago there were another 21 or 22 trees down and at times the brush was so thick the trail was not visible and you had to walk by feel. The only real challenging part of the trail was the 100 yards or so prior to the log over the first crossing of the Elwha, a trail that was not built, but rather tramped along the side of a bluff, sometimes barely clinging to the hillside. When I got to Camp Chicago I found that a 5-6 foot tree had fallen across the Elwha, hopefully providing a bridge for years to come.

After lunch I headed back, visited with the volunteers who had arrived at the patrol station, then to camp for the night. Up early in the morning and back on down to the truck. In contrast to the trip in when I saw 15 people and 4 the next day, I encountered 45 on the way out, including a group of 10, one of 8 and another of 5. So glad I am able to go during the week. It ended up being a very good trip and my foot survived the 50+ miles of walking in 3 days so I was happy.

The sign at the Whiskey Bend trailhead.


Bridge over Hayes River. This is a relatively new bridge.


Bridge over Godkin Creek. I had forgotten about this bridge so was somewhat surprised to see it. It looks somewhat new so may have been placed since I was last here a few years ago.


The currently log over the first crossing of the Elwha. It appears to have once had a handrail but that has mostly been destroyed by another log falling on top of it.


This 5-6 foot log over the Elwha at Chicago Camp will simplify this crossing for years to come.


This old log between the two Elwha crossings has a series of pegs driven into it. I assume that someone came along and counted rings, putting in a peg every 100 years. If that is the case, then this tree was over 1300 years old.


What I though was an interesting view of the trail up around the bend.


Walking through a carpet of flowers. There were a few places like this where the Ground Dogwood was thick.


The low spot in the brush is about 5 feet tall and marks where the trail is. There was one stretch about 50 years long that was like this.


Queen’s Cup lilies were pretty common the last mile or so before Chicago Camp.


Quite a collection of Shelf Fungus on this old log.


A pretty creek across the trail.


A fern garden with Bracken, Sword, and Maidenhair ferns.
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