From the Elwha to the Hoh

Day 1, Aug 6, 2018

Sue dropped me off this morning at the road closure on the Elwha. From there it is an eight mile road walk, on a mostly paved road, followed by two miles on the trail in to Boulder Creek. Just prior to the washout is a sign pointing to the trail that bypasses the washout, and I took it. When I got to the other side I saw that there was actually a temporary bridge across the washout. So the detour was unneeded. Not sure why the signs are still up for the detour. After passing the ranger station about two miles in, the road begins a pretty steady climb until shortly before the end. It was a fairly easy trek though.

When I got to Boulder Creek, I set up camp and then went down to the hot springs. I climbed into the biggest pool but could only handle about 15 minutes. After that I walked down to the creek and jumped in and scrubbed off the days grime and the sulfur smell. Then back to camp to chill, eat dinner, and then chill some more until bed time.

This is a view back down towards the Glines Canyon dam that was removed a few years ago.
One of the ‘hot springs’ at Boulder Creek. These are man made pools built near fissures where hot water is coming out. This is one of the best of the pools, and thee one I spent 15 minutes in.
Boulder Creek campground used to be a front country sitee many years ago. And it still has a large number of camping spots. This is the one I usually grab.

Day 2, Aug 7, 2018

Up early this morning and on the trail around 6:30. I was only going a bit over five miles, but someone last night told me there were lots of people at Appleton Pass, and I wanted to be sure to get a spot where I could hang. When I got there I had the place to myself, until after 4:00. The other reason for leaving early was to beat the heat on the exposed climb up to the pass. The day ended up warm but not uncomfortably so.

The trail today was generally good although there were a number of trees down across the trail. There was one large meadow and several smaller ones where the trail was hidden by the flowers. It was pretty, but they hid a multitude of tripping hazards. I am set up by Oyster Lake, a small stagnant tarn, but scenic. The only good water up here comes from a small spring down below the tarn. I went down to get water and ended up falling. I thought at first I had restrained my ankle, but thankfully it was OK.

After I had camp set up I followed the ridge trail on around and up to a very scenic high spot. Spent some time there and took lots of pictures. The flies are thick with little breeze, so I spent a good share of the afternoon in the hammock reading and meditating. And listening to the constant insect drone and flies hitting the screen. It was a very relaxing afternoon.

After dinner I went down to the spring to clean up. I found a small pool, dropped my stuff, and then turned around and saw a small bear heading my way, about 50 feet away. He was eating something in the stream and unaware of me. I backed off the stream a bit and started talking loudly to it. Eventually he saw me and moved to the other side of the streamlet and on up the hill. Of course my camera was back in camp, so no pictures.

This is a picture of the lower Boulder Creek waterfall. There is another one just up the trail, but it was harder to get a picture of.
One of the meadows up near the pass has a large patch of fire week growing.
One of many small streams that come tumbling down the mountain side. Some are from snow melt, which is still ongoing, while others are from springs. All of these little streams combine together to form Boulder Creek, which is in turn a tributary of the Elwha River.
The is Oyster Lake. Not sure how it got its name, other than maybe its shape. It is a stagnant tarn, but in the valley below it is a spring that provides the only fresh water at Appleton Pass. This picture is taken from near my camp. The peak just beyond the lake is about 15-20 minutes away from camp and is easy to get to. I spend time there each time I come to Appleton Pass.
This is a view down the Boulder Creek drainage from my scenic high spot near the lake.
Looking the other direction one can see Mt Olympus peeking out. It became much more visible the next day from the High Divide.

Day 3, Aug 8, 2018

Had a long day ahead of me so was up and out early. The day started with a 2.5 mile, 2000 foot descent down to the Sol Duc river. Then regained all that lost elevation over the next four miles up to the High Divide. Seems like the builders of the Sol Duc trails really liked steps. There was a lot of steps in the climb to High Divide. Heart Lake is a pretty little lake just below the divide. I stopped there to fill up the water bottles and have a snack before going on.

The views from either side of the divide are great. Mt Olympus is showcased on one side. The 7 Lakes Basin fills the other side. I stopped at Bogachiel Peak for lunch and was awed by the 360 degree views. The turnoff to the Hoh is just after Bogachiel Peak. This trail drops pretty steadily for over 6 miles. It goes past Hoh Lake near the top, and then, with a couple of exceptions, drops pretty steadily down, from over 5000 ft down to 1000 ft.

Once I hit the Hoh River Trail I headed down half a mile to the Olympus Guard Station. There were plenty of camp sites here and I snagged one near the river. Setup camp, ate dinner and then over to the river to cleanup. Felt so good. Bedtimes in an hour. And I am definitely ready.

This is the foot log crossing the Sol Duc near the Appleton Pass trail junction. This is one of the nicest ‘foot logs’ I have seen.
Climbing toward High Divide when I came across this dragonfly taking a break. He posed long enough for me to get a couple of pictures before heading off to much on a few more mosquitoes.
This picture looks back from the High Divide toward Heart Lake. It does not take much imagination to see where this lake got its name.
The 7 Lakes basin is aptly named, although there are actually more than 7 lakes. There is even one named ‘Lake No 8’. This picture from near the western end of the basin shows a bunch of tarns.
The lake on the right is ‘Lake No 8’ and I think the one on the left is Morganrosh Lake. ‘No Name Lake’ is just in front of Morganrosh, but hidden by a hill.
Another picture of My Olympus, taken from atop Bogachiel Peak.
This is Hoh Lake, about a mile below the High Divide and 5 miles up from the Hoh. Very pretty, and it seemed to be pretty popular based on the number of people headed there.

Day 4, Aug 9 2018

I slept in this morning until about 7. Finally got up and headed up the trail to see how far I could get. I had originally planned on going to Glacier Meadows, but was tired so scaled back to Elk Lake. The Hoh trail is pretty flat for about 3 miles upstream from Olympus Guard Station. Then it climbs a bit before descending to a bridge across the river. The bridge is pretty high, spanning a deep but narrow canyon. In one place it almost looked like you could jump across it.

After crossing, the trail climbs steeply for the 2+ miles I did. Just before Elk Lake the trail crosses Martin Creek. Between there and the lake I noticed a tiny frog on the trail. Then 2 more. Then 3 more. I started to count them and was up into the 30’s when suddenly the whole trail came alive with tiny frogs. No telling how many I stepped on. I tried to avoid them, but they were almost suicidal.

Someone had told me yesterday that there was a good view of the glacier just past the lake, so I went on another half an hour, but finally gave up. I stopped for a bit and a young lady came down the trail. It was about 1 PM, and she was headed for the trailhead, 15 miles away. Hopefully she makes it back before dark. She was moving faster than me, so she probably will.

Got back to camp around 4, dropped my pack and headed for the river. It was nearly 90 degrees, and I was very hot and sweaty. After a bath I put my wet shirt back on and that helped a lot. Sat on a log to dry in the sun and ate dinner. Now to relax until bedtime.

This huge Western Red Cedar appears to be in the process of slowly toppling. it was 6-8 foot in diameter, not the biggest I saw, but still pretty immense.
The bridge across the upper Hoh. At this point the river is not very wide, but is deep down a very narrow canyon.
The Hoh rushing through its canyon.
Elk Lake near the end of the trail.
There are several shelters on the Hoh River Trail. This one is near Elk Lake.

Day 5, Aug 10 2018

I was supposed to meet Sue and her friend today a few miles from the Hoh Visitor Center about noon. Of course I left far to early and met up with them about 2 miles out, at 10:30. I got the car keys and went on while they continued on up the trail. I got to the car at noon and had lunch and waited for them to return. After they ate we walked the Hall of Moss, and then headed for home.

Starting from about 4 miles out I had started running into day hikers with a few overnights. By the time I was done it was a pretty solid stream of folks; felt like I fish swimming upstream. Wish some of them had some better understanding of trail etiquette.

Over all this was a very good trip. About 52 miles over 5 days. Lots of scenic country, 2 bear, lots of grouse, hundreds of frogs, lots of sun, some bugs, and a boatload of people. It was also my first time on the Hoh and found it to be very lush. As well as very popular.

It’s hard to tell but this is a picture of a 4 foot log that is decaying and had become a raised flower bed.
The Hoh trail is generally very lush; it is a rainforest after all. This section looked almost like a manicured garden.
Looking up into the branches of an old broad leaf maple. These old maples look like something out of a haunted forest. Lots of character.
I think the tree with the ‘legs’ is a sitka spruce that grew on a nurse log. The nurse log has rotted away, leaving the tree perched up on stilts.

2 thoughts on “From the Elwha to the Hoh”

  1. Hey Ed, I loved the gorgeous scenery. You had quite a trip and lots of memories and quiet time with your Lord. I so enjoyed the beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing. Now I can live it myself thru you and I’m not a bit sore . Haha. Pat Plumb

    Reply

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