Fall on the Dosewallips – 2017

With a brief break in the rain/snow in early November, I decided to spend the night at the campground adjacent to the Dosewallips Ranger Station. I got to the Case Creek washout a bit before noon and for the first time ever I found no other vehicles at the trailhead. Was no one else foolish enough to be out this weekend? It was still snowing lightly when I set out on Friday, and even after it quit the trees continued to drip for most of the afternoon. The first mile, between the two washouts, was pretty spectacular with the leaves falling all over the road. It was tempting to take pictures around every corner, and sometimes more often. It was a scene I don’t recall having seen before. The falling leaves continued all the way to the campground, with snow covering them over much of the last mile. The campground was empty apart from a few birds and I setup and nestled into my hammock surrounded by warm quilts and just meditated through the afternoon and the next morning. 

By Saturday noon, when I broke camp and left, it was threatening to snow again, but much of the previous snow had melted, at least along the road. I met quite a few people day hiking in as I was going out and hope they enjoyed it as much as I did. I haven’t done much hiking in the late fall, but it was definitely something I plan on doing again.

One of many scenes along the road on the way in. Looks like something out of a Thomas Kinkade painting.
Another of the many gorgeous spots along the road on the way up the Dosewallips.
The road up above the falls was mostly snow covered on Friday, although much of it had melted by Saturday noon.
Looking down on the Dosewallips at the slide just above the falls.
The trees above the falls were beautiful with a light dusting of snow.
Camp setup alongside the river at one of the walk-in spot, one of the few with good trees and a view.
The view looking downstream while nestled snug in the hammock.

Dosewallips in Full Bloom

I took advantage of last week’s good weather and made a trip up the main fork of the Dosewallips. The trailhead for the Dosewallips has been pushed back another mile by the washout on Case Creek and it appears to be a permanent closure of the road at that point. As I headed up the road I encountered a trail crew on their way out. They had spent the past few days clearing the trail up to Deception Creek. That was my destination for the night so I was glad to hear that. Other than the trail crew and their pack train I met very few people, and none after the ranger station. The 15 miles to Deception Creek was pleasant and I enjoyed the walk. The campground is not in great shape, but I got my usual spot, hung the hammock and settled in for the night.

Thursday morning I set out to day hike up to Dose Meadows. I found the trail to be easy to follow but the going was a bit slow. There were close to 60 logs across the trail, including one that was a good 6 foot in diameter. The last half of the way also had quite a bit of patchy snow. Neither of these were a big deal, but did slow down the pace. I do think this was about the best time to be up there. The bugs were minimal, the flowers were marvelous, the views were stunning, the bears were out, and the people were not. The 11 mile round trip to Dose Meadows took most of the day, but I was not in a hurry and spent a lot of time gawking.

Packed up Friday morning and headed back down the river, meeting my wife just below the ranger station and walked the rest of the way out with her. All in all it was a very good trip and highly recommended.

This is the waterfall along the road just before the ranger station. There appears to be a number of places along the upper river that are very similar, but all you can seek are brief glimpses.

 

There are quite a few creeks that cross the trail and dump into the Dosewallips. Some of them have bridges, some have logs, and some require you to rock hop.

 

This waterfall is on the Upper Twin Creek. I believe it is called Calypso Falls, but the sign is missing now so I am not sure. It is a very pretty fall and the spray wets the bridge crossing just below it.

 

There are a number of waterfalls that can be seen in the distance. This one is midway between Deception Creek and Camp Marian. It is on the far side of the river and not marked but can be heard and glimpsed through the trees.

 

While the trail runs fairly close to the Dosewallips between Bear Camp and Dose Meadows, you seldom get more than a peak at it.

 

Looking out over the big meadow a mile from Bear Camp. I was expecting it to be pretty wet, but the foliage was all dry with just a few spreading streams to contend with.

 

This is taken from one of the camp sites at Bear Camp, looking down river. I stopped there for a snack and could have set there all day.

 

Dose Meadows was quite colorful. The Glacier Lilies along with another yellow flower covered a few spots in the meadow. I also say what looked like a field of Avalanche Lilies in the distance. The campground to the left was mostly snow covered but the meadow itself was completely melted out

 

The last few miles into Dose Meadows had quite a bit of patchy snow in the wooded areas. The trail was generally pretty easy to follow though. None of the patches were so long that you couldn’t see the trail at the other end.

 

The shelter at Bear Camp is in good shape and with a new metal roof. Someone appears to have been using one of the bunks for firewood though. It seems so needless with so much down wood around. Plus I believe Bear Camp is in the no fire zone, yet there was a fire ring out in front.

 

The picture is a bit blurry but this is one of the bears I saw in the big meadow a mile down from Bear Camp. I saw three there altogether. This was the closest, about 100 yards away. When it finally saw me it turned and hightailed it into the brush.

 

I only saw a single Peppermint Stick, but there were a number of other similar plants rising up out of the soil.

 

There is quite a bit of moss along the trail. Here it just forms a thick carpet, unbroken by any other vegetation.

 

The Ground Dogwood was pretty thick in places. A bit further up the trail it was just getting started.

 

The Jeffery’s Shooting Stars are one of my favorite wildflowers, and there were plenty of them in bloom.

 

The Avalanche lilies were out in force, although there were not too many large patches,

 

I don’t think I have ever seen as many Trillium, my favorite wildflower, as I did on this trip. I saw hundreds of them in the last five miles.

 

Even the old and dying Trillium blooms are pretty.

 

I love it when the trail wonders through a flower garden, this time Glacier Lilies.

 

I don’t know what these are, but there were a whole heap of them in bloom.

 

This is another prolific but unknown flower that was blooming all along the trail.

 

Pulking up the Dosewallips

I have occasionally thought about spending some time in the Olympics during the winter months, but two things have always stopped me. I get cold easily, and I did not have a vehicle that could handle the snow. One of those problems was solved when my 25 year old pickup gave up the ghost and was replaced with one having 4WD. And the problem with cold was just going to have to be overcome.

I hiked up the Deer Ridge trail a few weeks ago and spent the night up near Deer Park. And I have to say that it was beautiful. While I carried an extra 20 pounds of clothes and shelter/sleep gear, it was worth it to be able to experience the high country under a foot or two of snow. And I did manage to stay warm, although it was touch and go with my hands.

Deer Ridge
Home for the night near Deer Park
Deer Ridge just east of Deer Park.

And so I made plans to go up the Dosewallips earlier this week after Sunday night’s snowfall. And this time I would try out a small homemade pulk. For those who don’t know (which included me until recently), a pulk is a sled that you can pull behind you, loaded with all your stuff. Rather than carry 40 pounds, I could just pull it over the snow. My pulk was a small sled I bought at Fred Myers with a couple of 6′ PVC poles and a hipbelt from an old backpack. The sled was fastened to the hipbelt with a 1/4″ nylon line strung through the PVC pipes.

Pulk version 1.0

The road walk up the Dose was a mile longer now since the road is blocked off just before the parking lot at Case Creek. So now it’s closer to 6.5 miles to the campground at the Ranger’s Station. But that was OK; it gave me more opportunity to try out the pulk. And I learned a lot about it on the trip up Monday and back down Tuesday.

The first, and biggest, lesson I learned is that it is very sensitive to weight balance. Because I did not know what to expect, I had all my gear in a backpack and just put the pack into the sled and tied it down. Unfortunately that made it top heavy and it flipped over; a lot. Eventually I took everything out of the pack except for my hammock, tarp, and quilts, and put the rest of the gear into a large garbage bag and strapped it down onto the sled. Buch better!

I also decided that my poles were a bit too long, the sled was a bit too small and having the poles directly fastened to the sled and hipbelt would probably be better. So version 2.0 is now under construction. Hope to be able to get back out in the next few weeks and spend a little more time up in the snow. It really is lovely up there; and using the pulk allows me to carry more clothes and better shelter, allowing me to enjoy the trip more. The only downside so far is that I need to stay on snow the whole time; a long approach to snow will be a problem. I also don’t know how to handle fording and steep traverses, but I am confident I will eventually get that worked out.

The Dosewallips road, somewhere above Elkhorn.
Hanging in the snow. While I like the hammock, I think the tent is better for winter camping. Easier to stay warm as well as more convenient to keep stuff close by and warmer (like water bottle and fuel cannister).
This is a shot of the campground at the Ranger’s Station.
The Dosewallips River flowing by my campsite.
The trail upriver from the Ranger’s Station was buried in snow. There were tracks from someone exiting that morning, but the pulk track managed to cover all other tracks.

Across the Olympics via Quinault and Dosewallips

As a part of my preparation to tackle a 500 mile stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail through the High Sierra in California, I decided to take a few days and hike across the Olympics. The original plan was to be dropped off at the North Fork of the Quinault, cross Low Divide, down the Elwha to Hayes River, over Haden Pass, down the Dosewallips, over Constance Pass and out the Upper Dungeness, a 5 day, 75 mile trip. Unfortunately the ford on the NF Quinault at 16 Mile was more than I was willing to handle, so I ended up backtracking and went up the East Fork instead, over Anderson Pass and out the West Fork of the Dosewallips.

20160607_140045After a long drive and late start, the goal for the first day is to get at least as far as 16 Mile, although Low Divide would have been better. The trail up to Elip Creek is fairly mellow, and then start to gently climb up to the ford at 16 Mile. There are lots of trees down, but the trail itself is in good shape. There are also a number of creek crossings without bridges and I ended up fording one of them, mostly because I no longer trust my balance on wet rocks.

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The Quinault drainage is the only one where I have ever noticed Shamrocks, and in places they are quite profuse.

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The Quinault also has some rather large trees. Note the size of this cedar compared to my trekking poles.

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This was my second bear of the first day, and last of the trip. He kept a pretty close eye on me as the trail curved around his position. I assume he had a berry patch staked out and didn’t want to leave it.

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The bigger creeks on the North Fork were of two varieties. The ones with a broad valley generally required a ford or rock hop. The ones passing through a narrow canyon had a bridge over them. This steel bridge was the most robust of the half dozen bridges between the trailhead and 16 Mile.

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Trapper Shelter, about 8 miles up, is right on the trail, just past a fairly large blowdown. It was in better shape that I have seen it in the past, and could easily serve as a emergency shelter with 5 shelves/bunks and a nearby privy.

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The 12 Mile Shelter is not in quite as good a shape. All I could find of it is the roof, and had to look carefully to even find it. I remember sheltering in it once during a rainstorm, but that will never happen again.

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The primary advantage of a hammock is comfort. But it also makes finding a spot to spend the night, at least below treeline, much easier. Without fording the Quinault, there were no nearby tent sites. But there were lots of trees, and it was just a matter of finding a couple of them the right distance apart with little undergrowth between them.

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This is the ford at 16 Mile. On the far side are the campsites. Also on the far side is a stick stuck into the gravel near the water’s edge, along with a similar one laying down on the near side; it appears to be someone’s attempt to mark the best location for a ford. I dropped my pack here, put on my 5 Fingers, and went wading. Long before I was anywhere near across the water was up past my legs and heading toward my waist. I tried several other places up and downstream, but was unable to find a place where I was comfortable with trying to cross with a pack. I opted to spend the night at the crossing and see how much it went down during the night. Unfortunately it only went down a few inches, and knowing the Elwha ford at Camp Chicago was usually about the same, I decided to turn back and tackle the journey through the Enchanted Valley instead.

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There were quite a few flowers in bloom along the North Fork, including this clump of Ground Dogwood / Bunchberry.

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While the North Fork does not have as many impressive waterfalls as the Enchanted Valley, there are some jewels if you are watching closely enough.

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I was dreading the long road walk from the North Fork to the East Fork trailhead. But there was an off duty ranger at the trailhead who offered to take me to Graves Creek, or at least to the washout. That saved 8 miles of road walking.  Notice that the Dosewallips Trailhead is listed as 34.3 miles away. Atop Anderson Pass is a sign that says the Dosewallips Washout is 16 miles away. So the trailhead listed here is actually the washout. It appears to be permanent enough that the signage is being changed to reflect it.

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The East Fork flowing under the Pony Bridge. I opted to spend my second night here, getting me within an easy day’s journey from the Anderson Pass area.

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I have only been up the East Fork a couple of times, once 30 years ago, and again just a few years ago, but coming down it from the Dose. I knew there was a washout and bushwhack somewhere past O’Neil Creek, but it still caught me off guard. I came to a detour and dutifully followed it, but mistakenly thought that it was the O’Neil Creek that I was walking along, following flags and cairns. So when I came to this log across the creek, I crossed it and then followed to creek back to the trail. It was strange that the detour trail was so obscure on the far side, but I stupidly thought little of it for a while. Eventually though I got out a map and realized that it was actually the Quinault and not O’Neil Creek, so I backtracked to this log, looked across the river and saw another flag beyond where I had crossed. So I sheepishly crossed back across the river and carefully followed the flags, eventually crossing the river twice more before getting back onto the trail. Not what I was expecting, and proof that it really is important to pay attention.

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The East Fork Quinault meandering along.

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This stretch of the trail wanders through what looks like a park. Oh wait; it is a park.

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This old giant fell long ago, but is still pretty majestic. This rootball, from left to right (or right to left) is about 25 feet across. It fell across the trail, which has been rerouted around it. There is even a little spur trail visible in the picture that allow one to get far enough away from the tree to take its picture.

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Same tree as above but from the side. Even in death, this old tree is giving life to a new generation of trees as a nurse log.

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Sword ferns are pretty common in the Olympics, but seldom do I run into a bed as large as this one. The picture does not begin to do justice to the number and size of these ferns. It’s like a nursery.

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This is a most unusual bridge across the East Fork, just below the Chalet. It is a large rectangular metal beam, with the tread and handrail bolted on. I cannot recall another bridge in the park built like this; although I’m not sure why it’s not more common. At least where there is a nearby ford for horses.

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The Enchanted Valley Chalet, or Ranger Station. This was moved back from the river last year (or maybe 2 years ago). Still not all that far away though.

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The north wall of the Enchanted Valley is sheer with quite a few waterfalls cascading down and into the Quinault.

 

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The world’s largest recorded Western Hemlock is just a mile or so upstream from the Chalet, down a little signed side trail.

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This creek, nearly 3 miles up from the Chalet, has a log with a handrail to simplify crossing it. Unfortunately the log has rolled over and the handrail is now beneath the log. The waterfall just above the log throws a light veil of mist all over the area, including the log. Fording had no appeal here, and there was no way I would trust my balance over a wet log. So it was down on my bottom and scootch across. I hung just around the corner from this crossing, in view of a second, bigger, waterfall just below the log.

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One of the largest Columbine plants I have seen in the park.

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Day 4 started out with a pretty heavy and low overcast. But as I approached Anderson Pass, the clouds started to lift and the sun would periodically shine over the East Fork Quinault valley.

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Couldn’t tell if this is the headwater of the East Fork or not. But it is at least an early contributor to the river.

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As I was setting up camp on night three, a trio of day hikers came by, heading back to their camp at Enchanted Valley. They reported that they had been turned back by steep icy snow just below the pass. So of course that played through my mind all night and into the next morning. I had been turned back once already; was a second time in the cards? I had to laugh in relief when I got to it. A single snow chute, about 20-30 feet across that I had to cross twice. Easy peasy.

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Still some snow in Anderson Pass and a bit on the descent to the Dosewallips, but nothing that was too challenging.

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There were lots of avalanche lilies on both sides of the pass.

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The shelter at Camp Siberia looks to be in good condition, except for the floor. And the two big bundles of wood in front of the shelter gives evidence that the floor will soon be replaced.

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Looking across the lower meadows at Honeymoon Meadows toward Anderson Pass. The upper meadows still had a lot of snow, but nothing just a little further down.

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The ford of the West Fork at Honeymoon got just up to my knees. The reported form just above Diamond Meadows turned out to be a pair of big logs, part of a larger logjam. However, just below Honeymoon Meadows, where the river used to run next to the trail, there are a couple of places where the river and the trail are now one.

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I don’t remember seeing any Rhodies in the Quinault valleys, but they were in full bloom in the lower West Fork and merged Dosewallips.

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I always like crossing the high bridge over the West Fork. And this one doesn’t shake like an earlier one did 30 years ago.

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The rapids/waterfall just below the Dosewallips Ranger Station was in full roar. From here it’s just another 4.5 miles down what 16 years ago was the access road to the campground, but now more and more is just another trail. Met Sue at the bottom, hopped in the car and headed home.

Shakedown On the Dosewallips

The trail between Dose Forks and the old Ranger Station. Very peaceful and soothing.
The trail between Dose Forks and the old Ranger Station. Very peaceful and soothing.

I have been slowly working on getting ready for the Sierra portion of the PCT this summer. Got my heart fixed in February, started to run again in March, and back into the Olympics in April. And now, with only two months left to prepare it seemed like a good time to start using the equipment I will use in the Sierra.

The two big changes are swapping out the Ursack for a bear can, and swapping the hammock for a tent and sleeping bag. The bear can will be required over much of this year’s trip, but the choice of a shelter has been hard, and still not firm. I know folks have hung in the Sierra, but at this point I don’t want to have to plan my trip around available trees so am at least preparing to go to ground.

The waterfall on the Dosewallips half a mile down from the end of the road.
The waterfall on the Dosewallips half a mile down from the end of the road.

The trailhead on the Dosewallips is about 2 hours from home. So shortly after 8:30 I was parked at the washout and heading up the abandoned roadbed. This is really a nice walk and took just about 2 hours for the 5.5 mile trip to the official trailhead.

One of the Rhododendron's that was in bloom.
One of the Rhododendron’s that was in bloom.

There were a few Rhodies and Dogwoods blooming, along with a few small flowers and lots of Dandelions. The waterfall near the end was also in full roar. There are quite a few trees across the road, but there was a volunteer ranger working to clear them.

After an early lunch at the campground, I pushed on up toward Dose Meadows. It was a pleasant sunny day, just perfect for a walk in the woods.

In a few places the ground was carpeted with Calypso Orchids.
In a few places the ground was carpeted with Calypso Orchids.

There were a few flowers in bloom, but the Calypso Orchids stole the show. I had never seen so many, with one patch in particular having several dozen clumped together.

The waterfall on the Upper Twin Creek, above the bridge. I believe it is Calypso Falls, but the sign is gone now.
The waterfall on the Upper Twin Creek, above the bridge. I believe it is Calypso Falls, but the sign is gone now.

The trail is a fairly steady climb, crossing a creek every mile or so; most with logs or bridges. But you will eventually get your feet wet. There is also the occasional windfall, but nothing too challenging.

By the time I got to Deception Creek I was starting to see a few patches of snow and was getting tired, so called it a day after about 13.5 miles and 3600 foot of elevation gain. Set up the tent, pad and sleeping bag for the first since last May on the PCT in southern California, cleaned up a bit in the cold creek, ate dinner and chilled until bedtime.

My ZPacks Hexamid Solo Plus setup at Deception Creek.
My ZPacks Hexamid Solo Plus setup at Deception Creek.

The night on the ground was tolerable until I realized my air mattress had a slow leak. Ended up having to re-inflate it several times during the night. Otherwise the night was uneventful; just the way I like it.

Up early the next morning and retraced my steps back to the truck and then home.

A Lollipop Off the Dosewallips

For years I have been gazing at a map of the Olympics and seeing a loop in the southeastern part of the park.  This loop crosses Anderson, O’Neil and LaCrosse passes and can be accessed via the west fork of the Dosewallips, the Duckabush, the Enchanted Valley, or the Skokomish via High Divide.  Not sure why it has taken me so long to actually pull the trigger on this trip, but finally did it this past week, accessing via the Dose.

I parked the truck at the washout on the Dose and left just before 7AM and headed on up the road to the Ranger Station and then on up the west fork at Dose Forks.  My hope was to get over Anderson Pass and get started onto the O’Neil trail before stopping for the night.  For the most part the walking was easy and the miles just flew by.  I got to Honeymoon Meadows, having seen only 2 couples on the trail and a camp set up at the roads end, and stopped for a late lunch.  I had expected to have to ford just above Diamond Meadows and again at Honeymoon Meadows, but there were a series of big logs at the Diamond crossing, and a bunch of branches laid across at Honeymoon so I was able to keep my feet dry the whole time.

After lunch I charged on over the pass, where I encountered what appeared to be a small trail crew at rest, and then down to the O’Neil turnoff and followed that trail for a couple of hours.  There was an amazing number of huckleberries in the pass, and I ate more than my share of them.  Finally stopped for the night off to the side of the trail where the ground was not too steep and I could get my hammock pitched.

As I was eating dinner a young man from the Portland area came by.  He was doing the same loop, although in reverse and starting from the Skykomish.  we talked for a few minutes and he went on, hoping to get another couple of miles in, although it was dusk by then.  After a 20.5 mile day, I was pooped and in the hammock before 8PM.

Day 2 started early and hit the trail by 7.  About 15 minutes later I ran into a bear having breakfast.  It was pretty cool, except that he was in the trail, about 50-60 feet away, and not inclined to move over and let me go by.  After taking a few pictures and watching a bit, I started talking loudly to it, clacking my sticks together and even blew on my whistle for a bit.  Nothing.  Eventually he started toward me and finally seemed to recognize my presence.  He then turned around and slowly ambled down the trail, with me following behind and continuing to talk to him.  I followed for about 10 minutes before he finally got tired of me tailing him and turned off onto a branching animal trail.  Pretty exciting for me.

An hour further down the trail I started hearing elk bugling and shortly after rounded a corner opening out to a big cirque.  And there stood a big 6 or 7 point bull.  I got a few pictures before he saw me and ran off down the hill.  A few minutes later there was another big bull above me, and then several more down below.  I spotted at least 7 at one time, with the trees seeming to hide many more.  The hills were echoing with their calls.  I must have spent half an hour slowly moving around that cirque, watching and listening to them.

Eventually I got to O’Neil Pass and met a young lady who was making the same trip as the guy from last night.  We talked briefly and then went on, my expectation being that I would see both of them later in the day in the LaCrosse Pass area.

I saw another big bull just above Marmot Lake and then continued on down the Duckabush.  Part way to the ford I met another guy who was making the same trip I was except doing the loop in reverse.  He was going at a much slower pace though so did not expect to see him again. Obviously this is a popular loop to make.

I hit the bottom of the LaCrosse trail at close to 1 and headed up this 3.3 mile 2900 foot climb.  This was the only part of the trip I had never been on, but knew it was steep and dry.  So I dropped down into granny gear and slowly plugged my way up, finding it not to be as bad as I had feared.  Hit the top a bit after 3, had some snacks and started down.  About 1/3 of the way I re-met the gal from O’Neil charging up the hill, and she didn’t even seem to be breathing hard.  2/3 of the way down I met the guy from the previous night, not moving nearly as fast.  Visited briefly with both before continuing down the hill, past Honeymoon Meadows and on to Diamond Meadows for the night.

Slept in the next morning and hit the trail about 8:15 and cruised on down the 12 miles to the truck, getting there a bit before 1 to start the long drive home.  All in all a very good trip.  52 miles of some beautiful country in about 2 1/2 days.  Got to see a bear and some elk, ate lots of berries and only saw about 10 people.  The weather was good and the trail was in good shape.  The only thing missing were the wildflowers, which were well past their prime.

This little guy was playing sentry just past the washout.  

This is probably the lowest I have ever seen the Dosewallips.  The falls half a mile below the Ranger Station are normally booming.

The Dosewallips Ranger Station with a pet deer just in front of the sign.  

The low bridge at Dose Forks.

I get a kick out of seeing these insulators periodically.  Left over, I understand, from WW II when there were spotters up in some of the passes looking for Japanese planes.

Looking down from the high bridge over the west fork.  Not sure how far down it is, but it looks to be a 100 feet or so.

The current iteration of the high bridge.  It has been destroyed more than once over the years, but looks much more substantial than it has in the past.  I remember being able to bounce on it while crossing, but not now.

Honeymoon Meadows.  Pretty dry this time of year.

The privy at the shelter just below Anderson Pass, about 10 feet off the trail.  Not for those looking for privacy in their ‘quiet’ time.

Taken from just above the meadow a mile up the O’Neil Pass trail.  I assume the glacier at the top center is on Mt Anderson.

Hammock strung along side the O’Neil trail.  Not a lot of level ground in the area.  But it really doesn’t matter once you climb in.

My hiking partner for part of the second morning.

One of the big bulls in the cirque along the O’Neil trail.

A river of clouds flowing into the Enchanted Valley.  Glad I was higher up.

Marmot Lake nestled in its little basin.  Heart and LaCrosse lakes are on a shelf  up and to the left.

Not many flowers blooming this time of year, but there was a lot of fungus growing.

Just about the only fresh flower I saw on the trip.  All the  rest of them were fading or gone.

LaCrosse Pass, elevation 5566, high point of the trip.

This is the jumble of branches and small trees that you can use to pick your way across the Dose at Honeymoon Meadows.

Massive blowdown just below Honeymoon.  The river is in the foreground.  It happened several years ago, but the scar is still very visible.

2013 Shakedown Trip to the Dosewallips

With the forecast calling for another couple of nice days, I decided it was time to head out into the Olympics for a night, just to shake off the rust and make sure I still knew how to hang a hammock.  I wasn’t looking to go very far so decided to hit the Dosewallips River, hiking from the road washout up to the Ranger Station.

After running some errands Friday morning, I heading for the Olympics and got to the Dose trailhead/washout just before 2PM and started walking.  It’s about a 5.5 mile road walk up to the campground at the end of the road, but it has been just a trail for long enough now that some parts of the road actually are no longer anything but a trail.  Much of it is still pretty broad, but it is a pleasant walk and was accomplished in a bit under 2 hours.  The Dose is running hard and loudly now, but the trail/road was pretty dry; only a couple of small wet spots where water was seeping across the road.

I found one Rhododendron blooming along the road, along with a few Dogwoods, a patch of Columbine and a scattering of Strawberry, Dandelion, Paintbrush and a few other small flowers.  Not a great display, but pleasant nonetheless.  The waterfall about 4.5 miles up was really roaring as well; a really pretty sight.

I found one other guy in camp when I arrived.  He invited me to share his fire with him, but I declined.  I really don’t have much use for campfires normally.  He ran his that evening and again this morning; and then broke camp and left it still going.  Wish I knew his name so I could report him.

If you have not been to the Dosewallips campground adjacent to the ranger’s station, it is a nice destination.  Prior to the winter of 2001/2002 it was a frontcountry campground with about 20 or so sites; each with a fire ring, picnic table and some food storage boxes.  All of that is still there, although the potable water and restrooms, apart from a pit toilet, have been turned off and/or closed.  There are a lot of branches and trees down on the road and sites, but it is still generally clean (unlike Elkhorn closer to the washout), and a great destination.  It also makes a great place to stop when heading out into the backcountry.

A couple hours after getting into camp my hiking buddy, Dwayne, showed up and we had a pleasant evening talking about our kids and the state of the world; watching the river flow by; and watching a pair of Barrow’s Goldeneyes and one of Harlequins swimming and diving.

Spent the night in my new Traveler hammock from Warbonnet, swinging between a pair of trees near the river.  The night was pleasant and the sleep was restful; just something about hanging out in the woods near a river.

After breakfast Dwayne broke camp, put out the neighbors fire, and headed back, while I spent a couple more hours watching the river and praying.  Finally, after a second breakfast, I broke camp and headed back to the truck.  On the way out, I passed 28 people, and 3 dogs, on their way in.  About half were day hikers, but it appears like the campground will be hopping tonight.

Crossing the Olympics: Dose to Enchanted Valley

With the weather forecast looking promising, and the need to keep out in the woods for a while, it seemed like it was finally time to head back out in the ‘the park’ (the Olympics that is).  I was wanting to be able to walk for several days, in preparation for my August PCT trip, so that generally means I am going to have to cross a pass or two.  I decided to go over Anderson Pass on this trip, mostly because it has been over 25 years since I have been up into it, or been in the Enchanted Valley.

Wednesday morning my wife and mother-in-law dropped me off at the road washout on the Dosewallips road and I headed out.  The 5.5 mile road walk is looking less and less like a road all the time as the forest is reclaiming all but a narrow strip through much of its length.  I used to really wish they would get the road fixed, but now I think of it more as just an extension of the trail.  The trip up to Diamond Meadows was fairly uneventful and only saw 2 parties of 2 each on the trail during the day.  Plus 6 more coming down past Diamond Meadows as I was setting up camp.  One of the earlier groups had come through Anderson Pass and I got some good info from them.  The 6 had come through LaCrosse Pass and were pretty heavily loaded.  I heard later that there were actually 12 of them but I missed the other half.

All ready to go from the Dosewallips trail head.

Rabbit stew anyone?

The mighty Banana slug.  Saw quite a few of these monarchs of the forest floor.

A colorful spot along the road walk.

This is a part of the area that burned about 3 years ago.  It is coming back nicely.

I wonder if the NPS would consider renting out this little summer cottage?  It seems not to be used for anything else since the road washed out.

The high bridge across the Dose.  As far as I know this is the highest bridge in the park.  You can feel it moving as you walk across it, although not as much as its predecessor.

The view looking down from the high bridge.  Looks like 100 feet or so.  Makes you really thankful for the handrails.

The Diamond Meadows campground.  This big open area can handle  several groups with  room for another at the edge of the meadow, several more on the hill to the right and a few more in a spot just up the trail.  Could probably easily accommodate 8-10 parties, complete with a privy and 2 bear wires.

Thursday morning I left camp about 7 and headed up stream.  The crossing of the Dosewallips required you to pick out a route across a jumble of logs, none of which appeared to go all the way across.  I believe it took me three logs to make it.  Patchy snow started just past the crossing, although only one large patch on a steep slope presented any real obstacle.

There are multiple braids in the Dose here and it takes several logs to get from one bank to the next.  

Just below Honeymoon Meadows there was a very large blow down, probably 100 yards long.  I had to take the pack off for part of this and pass it under logs and then either crawl after it or find a way around or over; quite a mess. 

The trail goes right through the middle of this mess, for the next 100 yards or so.  It is on a steep slope so it is hard to go around, leaving over or under.

I love Avalanche lilies.  Hit the first patch of them just above the big blow down.

I didn’t like the looks of any of the logs across the Dose at Honeymoon Meadows so I ended up fording there, up to mid-thigh in one place, but not too bad.  The lower meadow was mostly snow free, but the snow started in the upper meadow and continued most of the way up and over.  The only real exception was a series of switchbacks in the woods; they were clear enough that I could mostly follow the trail.  

Honeymoon Meadows just after fording the Dose.  Looks good here, but just over the small rise in the middle of the picture, the snow starts.

I am not the most proficient navigator in snow country so I had Backcountry Navigator on my phone to help me out.  About every 10-15 minutes I would pull it out to check my position relative to the trail.  About half the time I was right on and the other half I was a bit above the trail.  I eventually made it up into the pass, a real sense of accomplishment.

The view from Camp Siberia

Anderson Pass; finally!

Heading down the other side was a real adventure as well.  I was probably half way down before I saw any evidence of a trail.  I ended up just cutting down the steep slope in the general direction of the trail until I came out into the clear and started finding periodic sections of trail.  

Toward the bottom of the pass was the debris field from a large avalanche, probably 1/4 mile across and 1/2 mile long.  The trees looked like pick up sticks just tossed all over.  Quite fun crossing that mess.  Once past that the snow diminished enough that the travel became easier, and by the time I hit the O’Neil Pass trail the snow has mostly disappeared.

I had not remembered all the waterfalls falling into the Enchanted Valley.  While there were not any I saw with massive amounts of water, they were falling many hundreds of feet, and pretty frequently.  I could see about 8 of them from my campsite alone.  I did manage to see a couple of bears just above the camping area and a couple of deer that wandered through the next morning.  Also experienced my first mosquitoes of the season, although not to terrible.

One of the waterfalls in the upper valley.

Caught this picture just as he put his head back down to graze.  Good sized bear just about 50 feet of the trail.  More interested in eating than in posing for a better picture.

Not sure just exactly what he was eating, but it must have been good.  He was slowly mowing his way across the meadow.

Some of the waterfalls across the river from my camp at Enchanted Valley.  None of them had a large flow, but there were lots of them.  This is 3 of the 8 I could see across the way.

The Chalet / Ranger Station 

I have grown fascinated with the world of mushrooms.  These were growing out of the cut end of an old log by my camp.  There were just about fingernail sized.

Are you looking at me?

There were 4-5 other camp sites occupied that night, and one of them beat me out in the morning although I never saw them.  The most amazing thing to me on the trip out was the number of people coming up the trail.  I do not believe I had ever encountered so many people in the back country before.  In the first 6.5 miles I encountered 3 day hikers and at least 3 dozen backpackers heading for the Valley.  One group of 10 and another of 8 were both planning on going over Anderson Pass the next day so I talked with them for a while.  I suspect I encountered nearly 100 people on the trail before I got to the trail head and pickup point.  It was really crazy, especially from the Pony Bridge out.

A very interesting bridge across the Quinault just below the Valley.  No passing allowed.

What looks like abstract art is just what is left of an old tree.  The rest of it has rotted away.

The base of a fallen Red Cedar.  The base is nearly 30 feet across.  The trail  zigs around  it here.

There were a few places along the East Fork of the Quinault that looked almost manicured.; like walking in  a county park.

One of a small stand of big old Red Cedar’s.  This one appears to have a diameter of 8-10 feet.

If you look closely you will see an elk print with a deer print on top of it.

If you blow this picture up, you will be amazed at the number and types of bugs pollinating this Cow Parsnip.  They were just swarming over it.

Looking back up the gorge under the Pony Bridge.  The bridge is hard to see here, but it is at the center and toward the top of the picture.

The Dosewallips trail end is just over 34 miles away.  It appears like the road above the washout is now considered a part of the Dosewallips trail.

All in all a very good trip, although I did fight with a pulled calf muscle for the last day and a quarter.  Backcountry Navigator worked well until I changed the battery on the phone to start the third day; it was lost after that.  Fortunately I didn’t need it for navigating the trail out of the Valley.  SPOT tracked along OK, although the heavier tree cover down low blocks it a lot.  Going stoveless is getting easier, finding a better variety for dinner.  All of the rest of the gear seems to be working pretty well so I think I am about ready for a much longer trip.

If you are looking to head out over Anderson Pass it should be easily doable now, so long as you can handle the navigation issues.  I made it with trail runners, micro-spikes and trekking poles.

Up the Dose

It’s already the first of June and it had been nearly 9 months since I spent a night in the woods.  But that failing was overcome this weekend.  I was invited out by a couple of young men I had not seen in several years and I jumped at the chance to hang out in the woods and get better acquainted.

I headed out Friday morning early, forgoing the normal long run, and hit the washout/new trailhead on the Dosewallips at about 9:30.  The other guys were coming along later so I set off up the trail/old road.  There was only one other vehicle at the washout, and I met him coming out fairly early; I enjoy being the only person out on the trail.

The weather was really great for hiking, dry, cool and somewhat overcast.  The spring flowers were blooming very nicely along the road and I wasted lots of time taking pictures.  Once I got onto the trail proper there were not nearly as many flowers blooming, but I did find a few.

It was also interesting to see how much the forest is recovering from the recent fire.  There are still a few burnt snags visible, but if you are not looking for them you might easily miss that it had been recently burned.  It is greening up very well through there.

I setup the hammock at Dose Forks and then headed up toward Deception Creek, looking for some snow to play in.  But, alas, I grew weary of the search before snow was found.  I got up to Hawk Creek and turned around; heading back to Dose Forks.  The trail was in great shape as far up as I went.

Shortly after I got back to camp the other guys showed up and we spent a pleasant evening around the campfire.  I am not really a campfire kind of person, but I have to admit that I did enjoy the experience of sitting around the fire and ‘bonding’ with the guys.

The Dose was up as high as I had ever seen it; and its roar made for good sleeping.  Not another sound could be heard through the night.  Peacefully slept the night away snuggled up in my down cocoon.

Got up around 7 this morning and spent the next 4 hours eating, visiting and breaking down camp.  The other guys were spending a couple of additional days in camp so I headed out alone and got back to the truck just as it started to rain.

All it all it was a very good trip, visiting with Jesse and Carl,  shaking the rust off, getting familiar with some new gear, and working on going stove-less.  I am going to need to get back out and do this again real soon!

Lots of Columbine 
Why did the Banana Slug cross the road?
Plenty of Paint Brush
Lots of Sedum as well
He posed so nicely for me.
A small field of white flowers
The waterfall just below the Ranger Station
Dosewallips Ranger Station
Calypso Falls on the Upper Twin creek
There were quite a few Fairy Slippers above Dose Forks
Mushrooms pushing their way up
Guess who was the most comfortable?
Looking up the Dose from the Dose Fork bridge
There were still quite a few Rhododendrons in bloom.
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