Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Bridges of Jefferson County

It is well known among our acquintances, Tim knows the Olympic Mountains pretty well.  When families (or the Scouts for that matter) want to know about a trail, they ask Tim.  He has hiked ALMOST every trail in the park and has a map that he updates every time he uses a new trail.  There were two sections of trail in the park that he had not hiked, and Labor Day weekend, he talked me into backpacking 30 miles with him!    

Friday evening after work, we drove the Previa to the Dosewallip River and left it so we would have a way home after our 3 day trip!

Day One:  Down, down, down, and then some up...

We began at Deer Park and hiked 4 1/2 miles down, down, down to the Three Forks on the Gray Wolf River.  The beginning of the trail is through a section of the trail that burned about 20 years ago.

See that pass between the two peaks?  
That is where we are heading...  remember, I said it was 30 miles...

It was strange starting a hike going downhill.  It threw off my whole body equilibrium! 
 It felt like my pack was trying to pull me down backwards!  
Usually our hikes start out going up, up, up!

We stopped for lunch at the Three Forks Shelter next to the river.  There was even a nice aromatic outhouse with a view up on the hill.  Always nice to answer nature's call sitting down!


This is the beginning of the section that Tim had not been on: the trail to Gray Wolf Pass, 8ish miles up, up, over towards the south.  I need to mention that I could not find my camera before this trip!  I was upset, since this was probably the only time Timmie would hike this section. I wanted a record of it!  Thankfully Tim's I Phone came on the trip.  This is blurry because I took it....the phone actually does pictures really well.

 Up hill felt good after so much down.  The grade was pretty easy and followed the river.

Once again we were in old growth forest, too far in to be logged easily.  The trees were big!

Since I hike with my head down most of the time, I notice things like this:  
this bracken was bright orange!

This year we bought and used a very light weight tent - 1.5 lbs.  It goes up fast!

End of the first day we stopped for the night at Fall's Camp.  There was a group of 6 guys hiking on the same trail and we played trail leap frog with them throughout the day.  We camped up in the windfall for some privacy.  I get really cold when we stop hiking, so I have to change into dry clothes or I shiver all night.  Dad was a bit sick that night and didn't eat much dinner; so I had my fill of freeze dried lasagna!  Ten miles completed, 20 more to go!

Day Two:  More up!  But first a picture by the burned down shelter.

The sun came out and warmed us up. After a yummy oatmeal and cocoa breakfast we hefted our packs and were on our way.  We went to bed at 8 pm and slept until 9 am so I guess we were tired!  The hardest part about backpacking isn't the hiking; it's tired feet!  So far the feet are doing well--no blisters to speak of!

Basically we followed the river and being a river sometimes it wandered and sometimes smaller tributaries would cross the trail.  By the end of this particular day, we would cross 10 foot bridges, most without handrails, and I didn't fall once!  That's amazing for me!

Yup that's me, don't I look confident from the back?

Hands out means that I was losing my balance.  Something about the water moving under the log, makes my brain go dizzy!

An avalanche caused this damage.  We saw bear scat in this area, but didn't see any bears.  Amazingly, we saw almost no wildlife at all!

I didn't want to ford the river and get wet, so we found this tree a short way from the trail and used it to cross the river.  Usually the logs have been flattened by the trail crews that keep things passable, but this one had not be sawn.  But I made it!

As we climbed up the switch backs, ocassionally we would get views of "the down below".  I noticed this "pyramid" of rock in the forest.  Doesn't it look like a Nephite temple only in a temperate rain forest instead of a tropical one!  In reality, it is probably the caldera of an ancient volcano!  I wish I knew!  I wasn't going to hike back down the hill to find it!

Finally above the tree line, in upper Gray Wolf Basin, we could guess where the pass was.

The head waters of the Gray Wolf River.

The pictures don't show how far away the pass is.  It is close but the last part is steep.

The trail wanted to take us across this short snow field, but one missed step would send you down, down, to the rocks.  So we opted to make our own trail in the loose skree field above the snow and back down to the trail.  When I get tired, I count steps to distract my brain from what I am doing.  At this point I lost count.

That would be the top!  The other group of guys I mentioned earlier, were still playing leap frog with us.  They had shouted for joy when they got up to the sign at the top.

Finally we're up and over Gray Wolf Pass!  No shouting for us, just a gentle woo-hoo!  That peak above my right shoulder is where we started our trip.

The pass is at about 5,500 feet.  Time to go down, down, down!

After a short standing rest, we walked a bit further to find a place to stop, take off our boots and eat some lunch.  The peaks above are Mystery and Little Mystery.

Lots and lots of wildflowers on the south side of the pass above the valley of the Dose.

It was Labor Day weekend, and we were able to enjoy lots of beautiful wildflowers.  

What a pleasant surprize!

Looking West toward Dose Meadows and Mt. Olympus.

The peaks across from the trail, where straight up and looked like a wall.  We could not see any trails on the rugged walls of the mountains in front of us.  The Dosewallip River runs at the bottom.

Tim is now back on familiar grounds.  I wished the end of the day was here, but we still had a couple of miles to go to camp and frankly the trail mix didn't agree with me and I needed an out house.  It was going to be epic!  :)

We are almost to our camp spot for the night.  We are foot sore and I can't wait to get off my feet!
18 miles done, 12 to go-- down hill hurts the feet.  I think there is more friction in the boot on the slant! We spent night two at Deception Creek.  Every camp site was taken, about 13 people total.

Day Three:  deep sigh, more down.  Way too much down...

We stopped for a short break near these falls.  They were really pretty.

This is the ranger station at Dose campground.  A park ranger still lives here in the summer but he wasn't in on this particular day.

By lunch time we had made it to the old campground on the Dose.  The road washed out over 10 years ago and the forest is slowly taking over again.  I think everyone in the family has been here.  We had some soup and bread and treats.  I kinda wished we could just camp here for the night.  It was really pretty and grassy and comfortable and I still had 5 miles to hike to the car-- which was down the hill...

When the river washed the road to the campground out, everything was left behind including picnic tables, out houses, bathrooms and this speed sign.  We tried really hard not to break the speed limit getting down the last 5 miles to the car.  

Here's a picture of Dose Falls.

I learned a very important thing about myself on this particular trek,  as hard as it may be at times, my feet PREFER HIKING UPHILL!  I did it!  I didn't smell great but I did back pack 30 miles over three days in the Olympic Mountains with my sweetie pie--who didn't smell too great either!  The Previa was there waiting for us!  A limo could not have been a more welcome sight!

Of course we had to drive 1 1/2 hours back to Deer Park to get the Corolla and then drive another hour home from there, but at least we didn't have to walk!  It was strange to pass Marc, Jesica and Kyron on their way home from hiking to Camp Handy.  Small world...

Now, where's my hot shower!

1 comment:

  1. HA HA HA. Loved the entry title, Mom. Very smart. :)

    Looks like another amazing trip into the mountains. Wow. The Olympics are truly breathtaking. I mean, I live under the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, and the Olympics still make me catch my breath.

    I love reading about your adventures. Thanks for posting another great entry!!