Wednesday, October 20, 2010

High Divide Loop in Olympic National Park

All the pics (here)

Well this past weekend we got out for what will probably be the last backpacking trip of the year before the snow really starts rolling in.

I had to work the previous weekend which was a bummer but the bright side was that I took Friday off as a comp day and so we headed out first thing Friday morning.

After a ferry ride and a bit of driving we had picked up our permit, bear canister for our food, and were on the trail.  The first day was a steady climb up from 2000ft to where we camped at just under 5000 ft over almost 8 miles.  We setup camp just as dusk was changing into full on darkness.  As soon as the sun dropped it started getting really cold.  We inhaled our food and sacked out fairly quickly.

Saturday we took our time rolling out of the nice warm sleeping bags and ate a leisurely breakfast.  By the time we headed up the trail it was probably 10:30 or 11.  This is a vacation right?  We also mixed in a little time spotting animals on the neighboring mountain.  We saw about 18 elk and a lone mountain goat way up on the peak.

The game plan was to explore a spur trail that eventually became a trail that the park service no longer maintains.  The ranger had promised us great views and was he ever right.  Most of the hike we were looking out over the Hoh river valley to Mt Olympus with glaciers hanging off in every direction.  The fall color on the trail was beautiful and we had a great time checking out the scenery.  We went out about 3-4 miles, had some lunch and then had a great hike back.

We made it back into camp before the sun started dropping and learning from our mistake the day before and we made sure to have dinner ready before the sun dropped.  We finished off a bottle of port, cleaned up and hit the sack pretty early saturday before the temps could drop too far.  I would say we were asleep before 9:30.  Ahhhh.....

Sunday we completed the loop back to the car by hiking up the ridge over the 7 lakes basin.  This was a beautiful trail that had some amazing ridge top walking.  On the right was a beautiful basin full of lakes and on the left was Mt Olympus with it's blindingly white glaciers.  The fields all around us were covered in brilliant red and yellows of what I think were blueberry bushes changing colors before going dormant for the winter.  This was the hardest day because we were walking downhill for around 4 hours but it was by far the most scenic.

We had left camp pretty early so we made it back to the car around 2:30.  The treat at the end of the day was Sol Duc hot springs that was just down the road.  We tossed our packs into the car and headed down the road eagerly anticipating our soak in the natural hot springs.  They may smell like sulpher but man do they ever feel good on sore legs.  We soaked in the tubs for about 45 minutes, then showered off and headed back to reality.

An awesome weekend with my beautiful wife.  So glad we were able to get that last trip in this weekend.

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