Sunday, May 27, 2018

Hoh River Trail Adventure-May 2018

As it began to warm up in the Puget Sound, WA area, I decided to try out some hikes in the area below the snow line.  Since the coming week would be dry and sunny, I decided I would like to hike in the Olympic National Park Rain Forest.  It looked like the Hoh River Trail that would be about a 37 mile round trip would be a great first start for the summer hiking season.

Although I had an America the Beautiful Senior Pass to the Olympic National Park Hoh River Trail, I was surprised to learn that there was now a daily $8 Wilderness Park Fee for camping.  Not only that, at two of the campsites, there was a quota system.  To stay at either the Elk Lake or the Glacier Meadows campsites, I needed to have applied on-line two weeks in advance.  I went ahead and self registered for some of the campsites and would figure out where I would actually stay once on the trail.  Since I did not have cash to pay, and they did not take credit cards, the staff said that I could mail in my payment.

I then started on my hike. The day hikers I was with quickly thinned out as I passed the first two campsites:  Tom Creek and Five Mile Island.  It was a beautiful hike with moss and ferns covering both trees and rocks all along the way with occasional views of the milky Hoh River.

After passing the Happy Four campsite at 5.8 miles in, the Olympus Ranger station at 9 miles in, and crossing a few creeks, I stop to replenish my water bottle.  The water is probably good enough to drink without purifying, but I went ahead and used my SteriPen.

Check how the moss, liverwort, and ferns cover the rocks and trees all along the trail.

I get my first views of the snow capped Olympus Mountain Range from a brief opening in the rain forest.

This is one of several log creek crossings I came to along the trail.

At about 13 miles in, I came to the very high Hoh River bridge with great views of the rushing water below.

I passed by two other campsites at 13.1 and 13.2 miles before I settled in for the night at the 13.3 mile post campsite.  The last few hikers I saw were back at the Five Mile Island campsite.  My campsite was great with a fresh creek just 100 yards up the trail, and a nearby tree where I hung my food bag to prevent critters and bears from snacking on my food.

The following morning, I continued up the trail to Elk Lake.

I came across a number of frogs and this was one of the biggest ones I saw.

Since Martin Creek campsite did not require a 2 week advance reservation, I stayed here.  It turned out that I ran into another hiker who had just left Elk Lake campsite. who was chased out by hordes of mosquitos.

My Martin Creek campsite at about 15 miles in was excellent because it was fairly secluded from the other campsites where two couples were staying, it was within 20 feet of a stream for drinking water, and there were Park Service bear wires where I was able to easily hang my food bag instead of finding a tree branch to hang the bag.  Although there were mosquitos, they were not has thick as at Elk Lake.  Plus it was less than a quarter mile from the Elk Lake campsite.

Most of Elk Lake is surrounded by brushes so the only way to get to it is a narrow trail down to these fallen logs.

The Elk Lake Emergency Shelter has a sign that says "Rain is not an emergency."  I bet when it rains though the Park Service staff does not check on this.

From here it is just 2.3 miles up to the Glacier Meadows campsite.  It was a steep trail past some beautiful waterfalls and cascades.

Then I came to the end of the trail because of a big washout.  From here I climbed down to the river bed and began climbing up to where the snowfield was  and passed two waterfalls along the cascading water way.

Once in the riverbed, I climbed up the rocks beside the bleached log in the center of the picture below and passed the first waterfall.

It was then on to climbing on the right side of the second waterfall using some green belays.

From here, I put on my micro crampons to ascend the two snowfields where I began to unsuccessfully look for the Glacier Meadows campsite.  After two days of searching for the route to Glacier Meadows or the Blue Glacier, I decided the best thing to do was to return to my camp at Martin Creek and then on back to the trailhead the following morning.

The views of the Olympic Mountain Range were spectacular from the ridge-lines while I was searching for the Glacier Meadows campsite and Blue Glacier.

After 3 hours of bushwhacking, relying heavily on green belays, I made it back down to the trail to Elk Lake.

That was a tough slog down the steep hillside filled with trees and shrubs.  At least there weren't many stickers like rose bushes out now.

In the morning, I broke camp and hiked out about 15 miles where I encountered a good number of hikers that were beginning their Memorial Day weekend early as well as day hikers that I began running into near Five Mile Island camp.

It was a bit foggy at the beginning of my hike out.

The bunchberries (dwarf dogwood) lined the trail and even on this moss covered rock.  This can only happen in a rain forest like I have found in the Hoh River Rain forest Trail.

Once back to my car, I stopped on the way home for a big lunch of fish, and clam chowder at the Kalaloch Lodge along the Pacific Coast.

Here is an earlier blog of mine that featured some of my other National Park adventures.