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My Olympic National Park Trip (Warning: 32MB of pics!)





ocalhoun
Okay, so a little while ago, I spent two weeks camping and hiking in the Olympic national park.
(Not affiliated with the Olympic games -- it's a US national park in the northwestern corner of Washington state.)
(I also went to a my little pony convention while in the area, but that's a topic for another thread.)

I was tent camping the whole time; not all that primitive, but I wasn't really there for the camping -- I was there for the hiking. The camping was just the easiest/cheapest/best way I had to facilitate the hiking.

Anyway, how about we get on with some pics... 'Cause there's a LOT of 'em!



Here's the first pics from my first hike, which was in the Elwah valley.
These two just kind of show what the forest in that area looked like.
The trees in these two pics, despite being small by Olympic standards, are all well over 100ft tall, probably pushing close to or even over 200ft in a struggle to get up to the sunlight.


A little strikingly red plant on the side of the trail.


A centipede who crossed my path.


The first day, I got all my gear together and was doing great... until I realized I hadn't packed any food at all.
Luckily, there were lots of blackberries and salmonberries along and around the trail, so I could just forage as I went along.


A truly massive slug crossing the path. I've seen slugs before, but never more than even a quarter of this size.



A bridge over a little waterfall/cascade down the mountainside.
The second pic is from the bridge looking up.


The first view of the Elwah river. That log sticking out over the cliff is bigger than it looks -- it's four to five feet thick.


The forest begins to look more like a real rainforest.



A couple great views of the Elwah river.
In the first pic, compare the size of the bigger logs in the river to the size of the trees on the bank.



A bridge over the Elwah about 6 miles into the trail. I turned back soon after crossing, since the trail was 20 some miles long; there was no way I would reach the end and get back in one day.


Some strange plants along the path.



More of just showing off how awesome this forest looks... very primeval.
(Come to think of it, primeval might be a very good word for it. Because if its remoteness, it wasn't visited by humans much until very recently, and because of its geography, it's the northern-most forest to have never been covered in glaciers during the ice ages. It probably hasn't changed much in millions of years.)


The downstream view from the bridge as I go back over it.


Camp for the first few days. It was probably my favorite campground there -- close enough to a town to go get things, and very well built and maintained, but still small and quiet.


A waterfall only a few miles from my first campground. Would have never known about it, but the guy I bought firewood from told me about it.


A frog I noticed near the waterfall.


A massive tree stump near the waterfall. (My backpack next to it for scale.)
The hollow area inside goes down into the ground seven or eight feet or so... if I jumped into it, I wouldn't be able to see out.


The road to the campground, with the clouds clearing enough to get a view of the mountains.


A delicious invention of mine at camp... roasted marshmallow with a slice of banana.


A view along the road up towards Hurricane Ridge.




Some views from the end of the road at Hurricane Ridge.


A deer in the alpine meadows in that area




Some of the flowers from the high altitude meadows.









Some more great views as I climb up higher.
The last pic is of Mt. Angeles -- My hiking goal for this day is the ridge just to the right of it.
Unfortunately, the climb all the way to the peak is too technical for me with the gear I'm bringing with me on this trip.


A view of the nice trail I'm following. Later on the main ascent though, it goes through a grueling series of switchbacks that take me up a couple thousand feet in altitude with no downhill or even level portions at all... just all uphill. (My right knee would be complaining about this day's hike for the rest of the trip.)


The trail at this point almost made me lose my balance. The way the ground and trees slope create a bit of an optical illusion that kept making me think I wasn't really standing straight up.








Breathtaking views southward from the ridge near Mt. Angeles.
The last pic includes a hawk riding on the thermals generated by the sun hitting the nearby cliffs.


A panorama of the view Northwards from the ridge next to Mt. Angeles.
Look closely, and you can see Puget Sound and the islands in it, and beyond that, Canada.


An Olympic marmot on the north face of the ridge. -- More pics of it later.


A mountain goat also on the north face of the ridge, but pretty far away. It didn't stay visible long.


Since the sun was beating down and it was actually pretty hot on the south face where I had been climbing, I was out of water by this point. Luckily, the north face still had patches of old, but clean snow. I just scooped some up into my water bottle, and it soon melted on the way back down, giving me nice cold water to drink.



A couple more pics of that marmot, who I saw again when it came back out as I climbed back up.
It was making loud barking calls that echoed all through the mountains. A mating call I guess?


A tree where mountain goats have been sharpening their horns.


A chipmunk on the way back.


A bunch of ants spotted on one plant along the trail.



A couple more examples of the abundant flowers in the area.


A portion of the trail following the exact peak of a ridge.
Notice how the plants are different on each side, since one side faces north and the other faces south.


A buck lounging in the soft grass below the trail.



A blacktail deer near my car at the beginning of the next hike. The blacktail is a variety of deer I've never seen before.



A couple pics of another blacktail deer along the trail.
I hike slow and quiet, so I get to see such things a lot more than most hikers.


An open meadow along the trail. This trail is near Hurricane Ridge, but at a much lower altitude. It's still at a much higher altitude than the Elwah trail though.


This trail also had a rich variety of wildflowers.



A couple small streams along the trail.


The waterfall where this trail ended.
...Which was kind of strange, since this trail was named 'deer lake trail', and there was no mention of a waterfall on the map... and no sign of any lake along the trail. *shrug*
Still, a very worthwhile hike, and a pretty spectacular waterfall.


An interestingly burled cedar stump along the trail back.


The next day's hike took me to the top of another mountain. Unfortunately, it was pretty foggy this day, so the views are not as spectacular as some previous ones... but they're still good.
The plants next to the trail are roped off because this is a popular trail and the plants at this high altitude are very slow to recover from any damage... It's hard enough to live in such a harsh environment when you don't have tourists stepping on you!



This trail also had some nice flowers along it.




Some views from the top of this mountain.
The last pic is of Hurricane Ridge and Mt. Angeles.
The ridge between the two highest peaks there is where I was previously.

I then went to a very remote place near the coast, Ozette.

The Ozette river going into Lake Ozette (which isn't visible through the fog, but you can tell it's there because of the empty area with no trees.)



A couple examples of what the trail between Ozette and the coast looked like.


Some interesting moss along the trail.


Some nice colorful fungus along the trail.


No, it isn't a trick of the light... This fern leaf is completely, absolutely white. I have no idea why.


I know I'm finally near the coast when I can see a gap in the trees ahead.


A mushroom on a tree collecting dew droplets in a very pretty way.




Made it to the coast finally.
(This day would be another very hard hiking day... 3 miles to the coast, 3 miles south on the cost, then 6 miles north, then another 3 miles back to camp.)
Anyway, here's some pics of what the coast looked like.

The coolest thing about the coast was the tide pools. Luckily, I got there at low tide, so I got to see a lot there.


Some nice starfish and anenomies.
(Sorry, apparently neither me nor my spellcheck know how to spell that word.)




This particular species of starfish was very abundant in this area.


A crab in the pools. The crabs were the hardest to get pics of, because they would see me and run and hide.


A strand of kelp covered in hermit crabs. The hermit crabs were also very abundant here.


This is what I was climbing and scrambling through to get a good look at the pools.


On the cliffs near the beach, there was a tree growing upside down.


A hole through the seaside cliffs. I would be forced to go through it on the way back because the tide rose and made it impossible to go around.




A small stream flowing over the cliff side caused the whole cliff in this area to be covered in this bright green moss/algae.


A bed of small mussels and barnacles on the rocks. I had to watch my step carefully to avoid crushing things like this.


Another small stream flowing into the Pacific. This time, along a sandy beach, so it made this pretty cool delta pattern.


One of the many strands of kelp washed up on the beach. This one was more whole than usual, making it a good example.
(Sadly, kelp beds made of plants like this are very much in danger. Overfishing of certain fish species has caused a population boom of their prey: sea urchins. The urchins eat the roots that attach kelp to the sea floor, destroying the kelp beds, which is very much a shame since those kelp beds are home to many amazing creatures. ... Just another example of why I think overfishing is actually one of the most urgent environmental problems we face today.)


A forest giant that got washed out to sea in the spring floods who knows how long ago.
It is wider than I am tall -- my backpack is next to it for scale.
The whole coast is lined with driftwood from the nearby forest, some of it as large as this.


I don't know what this is, but it looks cool! ^.^


A crab playing at 'If I can't see you, you can't see me'... and also some limpets, I think they're called.



A couple more crabs, in interesting colors.


Another view of the coast, this time showing some of the forest in the fog.


Not the best picture, but I included it instead of tossing it out with the many rejects because it included the only example I saw of this creature.
Is that a scallop?


Being forced to go through the hole on the way back. It actually reminded me of caving a little... even smelled like a cave.


Finally, the fog lifted a little.


A couple dried up starfish on the beach.


Apparently deer like to take vacations to the beach as well. ^.^


A wide area of rocks and tide pools.


Yo dawg, I heard you like logs, so I put a log in your log so you can log while you log!

Next, I went back inland, to Crescent Lake.

A small stream flowing towards the lake.


A view across the lake as sunset approaches.



What photographer could pass up a nice sunset over a nice lake like this?


Sunrise the next day. (After I camped next to the lake.)



A (very lazily put together) vertical panorama looking at the lake in the morning.



The water in this lake was astoundingly clear... as in aquarium clear.
In the first pic there, you can clearly see a sizable fish swimming below.
In the second, (if you look past the reflection in the water) you can see the chain keeping the floating dock in place as it goes all the way to the bottom, perhaps 50 or 60 feet down.
Even in 60 or more feet of water, I could see the bottom as clearly as if it was right in front of me. I just wish I had a boat so I could get in deeper water. They said the lake was up to 900ft deep, and it would be interesting to see just how far I could see in that water.


A view of the lake from a different shore.


A cool tree on the way to a waterfall near the lake.


The creek flowing away from the waterfall I'm headed to.


The waterfall at the end of the trail, pieced together in a vertical panorama, since I couldn't get the whole thing in one shot. It is very tall; just look at the full-size tree stuck at the top of the falls.


A very wide cedar next to the trail.
Hopefully the (comfortably wide) trail next to it will give a sense of scale.)



Cascades along a different creek.
For the second pic's angle, I had to put my camera on a timer and hold it out on the end of my walking stick.


Another stream along the trail to my next waterfall.


The biggest waterfall I found while there, Sol Duc Falls.
This shot is another pieced-together panorama, since I couldn't get a full shot of it.
The waterfall is so powerful that it sprays the walkway above it with a constant mist.


The view downstream from the falls.


A panorama of the top of the falls from the walkway next to it.


I, of course, couldn't resist leaving the trail; here's the view from the rocks at the top of the falls.


The view from the top looking into the falls.
If you look at the first pic of the falls, you can see where I must have taken this picture from... Kind of a precarious place, and falling in would be very, very bad for one's health... but I was careful.


Just past the falls, there were lots of great blueberry bushes... but this time I had packed my own food, so I only ate one or two. ^.^


A couple more big trees next to the trail.

Next, I headed to the Hoh river valley.

One of the biggest trees in the park, a stika spruce
The sign claims this one to be over 12ft wide at chest height and over 270ft tall.
Astoundingly, it is NOT the biggest tree in the park. There are bigger ones out there!
One thing I found impressive though it the age of it -- estimated at 500 to 550 years, it predates european settlement on the continent.

Now hiking in the Hoh rainforest.

I thought it was cool here how two trees fell across the trail, but over it so they didn't have to be cut out of the way.







Some pics of the really cool vegetation of the temperate rainforest. There's no other place like this in the world.


A few trees growing out of the remainder of a nurse log. The seedling trees can't compete on the forest floor, so they almost always grow on top of old fallen logs. The logs later rot out, leaving lines of trees with roots like this.


A deer in a meadow along the trail.


My camp in the Hoh rainforest, where I stayed 3 days.


A pretty cool tree leaning out on one long root.


Another pic just showing off how lush the rainforest is, even in the middle of the 'dry' season.


A nice closeup of a spider near the trail.


Finally got to the Hoh river; here's a nice panorama of it.


A tree with pretty cool roots.




Some deer near the trail.
(Again I reflect on the misfortune of most other hikers who hike so noisily that they'll never see anything like this.)
In the last pic, you can see a buck approaching a couple fawns just barely old enough to no longer have spots.
Soon after, the doe came back and chased the buck away from her fawns, but I couldn't get a picture fast enough to get that on camera.



A stream through the rainforest.


A neat portion of the trail where it passes between two big fallen logs. At the end of the logs, the logs bend upward while the trail dips down beneath the one on the left.



A couple more pics of the cool moss so heavy in the area. In the first pic, you can see what it looks like from directly below, draping on either side of the branch, but not underneath it.


Another big slug, this one a striking jet black.





Perhaps one of the coolest things I saw there, as I came up to the Hoh river again, just across the river there was a big herd of elk laying on the gravel bar.
The longer I watched them from across the river, the less they seemed to like me, and eventually they all got up. They didn't go far though; they stayed within sight, just they went from resting to eating.



Another doe with two fawns I found near the campground.
The fact that many of the does here have two fawns each probably means that the deer are having a good year. In lean times, they only have one each.
(Which is just an automatic biological thing. When a doe gets pregnant, if she's well fed, she'll get pregnant with twins, but if she's hungry, she'll only get pregnant with one.)

Now moving to the coast again, not Ozette, which is at the northwest corner, but along the more southern coastline:


It's even foggier today, and the waves are bigger, too.


Out of the fog, a big outcropping presents itself, connected by a thin strip of sand that obviously gets covered in high tide. Can I risk going out there and getting trapped by the tide?


Luckily, the awesome new GPS I got for this trip can tell me what the tide is doing!
It looks up what the tides are predicted to do in the area closest to the location it's in from its own internal database, so it can give an accurate prediction automatically no matter where you are.
It says the tide is going down and won't be back up again for hours, so I can safely go check out the rock. ^.^


Speaking of that GPS, it's pretty awesome. Came with topo maps of all the US, and has lots of cool features like the tide predictor I showed previously.
(Besides being rugged and waterproof, which I require of all my equipment.)
If I care to spend the extra money, I can even put areal photo maps on it... which I may do sometime.


A better view of the rock outcropping as I get closer to it in the fog.



A couple of the tide pools around the base of the rock.
In the second one, there's a great example of the starfish's ability to regenerate. One of the two there has grown an extra leg, while the other has one leg that is still stubby, not fully regrown yet.


I wasn't able to go all the way around the rock though; the tide wasn't low enough yet, and I didn't want to wait there several hours for it.


Some more outcroppings. That island in the middle seems like the perfect setting for a pirate movie. ^.^ Of course there's treasure hidden in that cave there, right?


The mainland barely visible through the fog.


This was the only one of these I saw the whole time; I'm glad I manged to get a good picture of it.
I recognize this type of creature (some type of crustacean), but I forget what they're called.




A few cool pics of coastline.
The last one is a clearer view of the outcropping I went to.

I then went on a nighttime hike through the Hoh rainforest; that was pretty cool.







I just love how the moss on the trees looks when I take a flash photo in the dark.
It highlights the texture of the moss and ferns while making the rest of the rainforest look dark and mysterious.


This one still creeps me out. I didn't see that bright reflection of light until I looked at the pictures later... but it has to be something watching me from in the trees... And this is cougar country...



These nocturnal crickets were common on the trail, but I only ever saw them at night.
Due to their color, strange proportions (the antennae are more than twice as long as the whole bug), and their habit of jumping on me rather than away from me, I began to refer to them as 'creepy crickets'.


A nocturnal frog.


Here I found a creepy cricket, a (normal size) slug, and a 'giant mosquito'* all in one place.
*'Giant mosquito' is a misnomer, since they are not actually mosquitoes, but that is what they're commonly called.


A slug and a creepy cricket in the same place, comparing the size of the two.
In the dark like this, the jet black type of slug actually makes sense.

I then went back to another section of the coast.

Driftwood on the beach.




Lots of cool rock outcroppings at this beach.


Heading back to the forest from the beach.



The sunlight playing around in the trees and the sea fog.


A really interesting cedar tree.


Oh, and did I mention it's huge?


Here's a panorama of it. That root sticking up on the left is high enough that I can walk under it very comfortably without stooping at all.


Some interestingly eroded rocks at another section of seashore.



When the fog completely lifts, this place actually begins to look like a real beach!

I then went to the Quinalt river.

An interesting spider I found on a rock in the middle of the Quinalt river.


My campsite, right on the edge of the river.






Some pics of the Quinalt river right around my campsite.


The view out the back window of my tent.
It was neat camping right next to a river, but that made it pretty cold at night.


A massive hollow log next to the next trail I went on.
Look closely, and you can see a little point of light coming from the other end.


This burned-out tree is still standing as a hollow shell. It also must have been massive when it was alive.


Finally, I found one of those big slugs in a more natural habitat for it, rather than in the middle of the trail.


A huge root system from a fallen tree. I'd guess this root ball is as much as 25 to 30 feet tall.


Some nice ferns growing along the trail.


A neat frog I managed to get a good picture of.


This boardwalk across a swampy section has seen better days for sure!
Better watch your step!


A bridge (mostly) made of one big log.


Lake Ivanna, which was a lot different than most of the other lakes nearby. It's shallow and grassy, while the others are all deep and clear.


There were many tiny baby toads like this along the trail.


A pure white slug... is this one just albino, or is this another normal color for them?


There are two fish in this picture; one a catfish near the bottom end of that log.
Can you spot the other fish? It isn't easy.


A neat example of convergent evolution -- this plant looks a lot like a fern... but it isn't. It just uses that same style because it's a very successful strategy in the low-light conditions here.


Another big slug... probably the biggest I saw the whole time.



A couple waterfalls on the side of the trail.



A couple pics of a snake on the side of the trail. I had seen several of these so far that day, and was glad I finally found one who would hold still long enough for a few pictures.


Some trees hanging over the edge next to the Quinalt river.


There's a woodpecker right in the middle of this photo... not the best photo, but these guys are hard to photograph, since they move around so much.


And the final picture, another deer I spotted off to the side.


...And there you have it; that's much of what I did while I was gone.
I hope you enjoyed reading about it.
Afaceinthematrix
I have done a similar trip myself. I love that area. I don't do any of my big trips there because it is not even remotely remote enough. There are way too many people and roads. However, it is a beautiful area and I do love going there. When I do go there, I don't use a tent, though. I use my jungle hammock.



By the way, those elk that you saw are called the Roosevelt Elk.
Josso
Nice pics took me a while to get through those. I had to look up what a Marmot was

Quote:
I don't do any of my big trips there because it is not even remotely remote enough


Ya from looking some of those trails I would not enjoy it as much. I like the freedom of 0 people about.
ocalhoun
Josso wrote:
Nice pics took me a while to get through those. I had to look up what a Marmot was

Quote:
I don't do any of my big trips there because it is not even remotely remote enough


Ya from looking some of those trails I would not enjoy it as much. I like the freedom of 0 people about.

It wasn't as private as I'm used to either; I'd occasionally pass people on some of the trails.
...But only the more well-used trails and only in the busier times of day.

And some parts of it were pretty remote. Heck, I wasn't able to get up close to any of the big mountains and see the glaciers like I wanted to because the only way to get there would be several days of hiking, and I could only do day hikes. (Because my tent and other camping stuff was too heavy.)

Normally, too, I would go off-trail most of the time. But this was unfamiliar territory, so I mostly stuck to the trails this time.
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
I use my jungle hammock.

I'd like to have one of those, but I just have to work with what I've got.
Quote:

By the way, those elk that you saw are called the Roosevelt Elk.

I know. ^.^ I just wasn't being very specific.
Afaceinthematrix
ocalhoun wrote:
And some parts of it were pretty remote. Heck, I wasn't able to get up close to any of the big mountains and see the glaciers like I wanted to because the only way to get there would be several days of hiking, and I could only do day hikes. (Because my tent and other camping stuff was too heavy.)


Not really. I doubt that it was really as remote as you thought or that some of the glaciers - which you could see - were several days of hiking away. To put it into a little perspective, Olympic National Park is 1,442 sq miles. That means that it is about 38 by 38 miles (assuming, of course, that it's a square - which it isn't. I'm just trying to give you a little perspective). Now land measurements are taken as flat and "as the crow flies" ergo if the land is mountainous then it is technically much larger as walking goes. Olympic National Park isn't really what I would call mountainous. Yeah, it has mountains, but it isn't insanely mountainous. So it really isn't that much bigger than that.

Now let's consider where I usually go to for a week or two every summer (I actually just got back last week). I go to the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. The Sierra Nevada is 24,370 sq mi. So already we have an area about 17 times larger. Now, it isn't all national park - but the vast majority is. Also, the nice thing the Sierra Nevada is that it receives millions of visitors a years but almost all of them are confined to Yosemite Valley, Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park, and a few other places. As far as the backcountry goes, most of them are confined to a few small popular trails such as the JMT and Rae Lakes Loop. Stay away from those several popular areas and you really are pretty remote. If you do the cross country off trail trips, you may go a week without seeing anyone. The more important fact is that the area is so large and it is extremely mountainous and so it really is much bigger. How many of these mountains in the photograph have people in them?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sierra_Nevada_%28U.S.%29
(look at the photo at the top; I didn't want to post it here because, quite frankly, this page has too many photos as it is)

The funniest part about the whole situation is that I've been to far more remote places in Canada. As remote as the Sierra Nevada can be (if you know where to go), it still has nothing on Canada.


Quote:
I'd like to have one of those, but I just have to work with what I've got.


I understand that. This equipment can be expensive. However, this is where I spend most of my "free money" and I only buy the best equipment for this type of activity because when you go to places where you most likely won't see people for a week and you're 3 days away from the closest road, then equipment failure can, quite literally, kill you. The bad thing about this hammock is that when you're above tree line you must be innovative to set it up. The best thing about the hammock is the shear usefulness of it in bad weather. I've been in crazy storms and it holds up much better than a tent. The other thing that I like about it is how light it is. I've gotten to the point where my backpack weighs, including a weeks worth of food, my hammock, sleeping bag, survival gear, etc., only 40-45 pounds (depending on how much water I'm holding at that point).
ocalhoun
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
And some parts of it were pretty remote. Heck, I wasn't able to get up close to any of the big mountains and see the glaciers like I wanted to because the only way to get there would be several days of hiking, and I could only do day hikes. (Because my tent and other camping stuff was too heavy.)


Not really. I doubt that it was really as remote as you thought or that some of the glaciers - which you could see - were several days of hiking away. To put it into a little perspective, Olympic National Park is 1,442 sq miles. That means that it is about 38 by 38 miles (assuming, of course, that it's a square - which it isn't. I'm just trying to give you a little perspective). Now land measurements are taken as flat and "as the crow flies" ergo if the land is mountainous then it is technically much larger as walking goes. Olympic National Park isn't really what I would call mountainous. Yeah, it has mountains, but it isn't insanely mountainous. So it really isn't that much bigger than that.

Okay... but when the trail up to the least remote glacier is 27 miles (one way!)* over mountainous terrain and has somewhere between 4000 and 7000 feet in elevation change (one way!)... it just isn't conducive to day hiking.
I can do pretty good, but 50+ miles over rough terrain and huge elevation changes within one day is out of my league!
My longest day while out there covered 18 miles or so, mostly along the beach. Sounds easy, but it was mostly soft sand, shifty rounded gravel, driftwood, and/or big rocks, so that was actually a very grueling hike, especially since my knee was still weak from the ascent/descent near Mt. Angeles a day or two prior. When an 18 mile round trip wears me out, I know better than to attempt one three times as long!

To get into the interior of the park, you just have to backpack.
(And actually, while there, I got an idea of what I want to do with my horse. I want to train her to be a pack horse, led by hand. I'll do 'backpacking', except with the horse carrying the heavy pack, which should make things easier. I just have to do three things with her: teach her to walk as slow as I hike, desensitize to various scary things on trails, and teach her how to either hobble or use a picket line overnight.
I'm thinking of doing this same thing at Yellowstone next summer, or the one after that, and maybe I'll have her ready for it by then.)

*You're quite right that the trail is not a straight-line distance. It curves all over and sometimes has switchbacks to reduce the slope... at the cost of greatly increasing the distance.
Afaceinthematrix
ocalhoun wrote:
Okay... but when the trail up to the least remote glacier is 27 miles (one way!)* over mountainous terrain and has somewhere between 4000 and 7000 feet in elevation change (one way!)... it just isn't conducive to day hiking.
I can do pretty good, but 50+ miles over rough terrain and huge elevation changes within one day is out of my league!
My longest day while out there covered 18 miles or so, mostly along the beach. Sounds easy, but it was mostly soft sand, shifty rounded gravel, driftwood, and/or big rocks, so that was actually a very grueling hike, especially since my knee was still weak from the ascent/descent near Mt. Angeles a day or two prior. When an 18 mile round trip wears me out, I know better than to attempt one three times as long!


Are you sure it wasn't 27 miles round trip? At any rate, I know that in that park there isn't an area 27 miles away from a road. There are roads all around that place and the park just isn't very large. Consider its size compared to the Sierras. What did I calculate earlier? About 17 times smaller? What probably happened is that you were 27 miles away at that point, but the trail will curve and go close to a road at some point (even if you can't see the road) and so when you are only 5 miles away there's a spot that's 1/4 mile away from a road. So if you know what you're doing, you can make the trip much shorter. That happens very frequently in national parks because they try to make them accessible. On a side note, if you do Yellowstone, you can get to the most remote spot in the continental U.S. - you'll be about 35 miles away from any type of road (including dirt roads).

Quote:
To get into the interior of the park, you just have to backpack.
(And actually, while there, I got an idea of what I want to do with my horse. I want to train her to be a pack horse, led by hand. I'll do 'backpacking', except with the horse carrying the heavy pack, which should make things easier. I just have to do three things with her: teach her to walk as slow as I hike, desensitize to various scary things on trails, and teach her how to either hobble or use a picket line overnight.
I'm thinking of doing this same thing at Yellowstone next summer, or the one after that, and maybe I'll have her ready for it by then.)


I did look into backpacking into the interior of the park and I would like to. I just don't like how small it is and you'd have trouble finding anything much more than a 4 day trip.

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*You're quite right that the trail is not a straight-line distance. It curves all over and sometimes has switchbacks to reduce the slope... at the cost of greatly increasing the distance.


The switchbacks and such do add distance but what I was referring to is the sheer uphill. Imagine that you go straight over a mountain at a straight-line, then you're still going extra distance because you are essentially doing two legs of a triangle rather than one leg. If you saw the picture, the Sierras are extremely hilly. So if I need to get to a mountain that is 20 miles away and there's no trail, even if I went straight line (which I wouldn't; if I'm climbing I'm taking what I feel is the safest or easiest root) I might go 40 miles...
ocalhoun
Afaceinthematrix wrote:

Are you sure it wasn't 27 miles round trip?

Yes, the distances were quite clearly posted at trailheads... and unless it specifically says 'loop', you know it's one-way distance... and none of the longer trails were loops.
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but the trail will curve and go close to a road at some point (even if you can't see the road) and so when you are only 5 miles away there's a spot that's 1/4 mile away from a road. So if you know what you're doing, you can make the trip much shorter. That happens very frequently in national parks because they try to make them accessible.

Not in this one...
The way the roads are set up, there are no roads through or even terribly far into the park - to drive from one side to the other, you have to leave it and go all the way around.
So, for most of the trails into the interior, the trailhead is the closest point to any road, and the trail will only get further and further from roads after that... No shortcuts here!

Heck, even the park rangers use mules to get around in the interior -- not even any 'authorized vehicles only' service roads available.
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I did look into backpacking into the interior of the park and I would like to. I just don't like how small it is and you'd have trouble finding anything much more than a 4 day trip.

I wouldn't have minded doing a 4 day trip. ^.^
It doesn't have to be super-long to be enjoyable.

...and if you want a real challenge, bring climbing gear and go for one of the major peaks! On one of my hikes, I passed a couple guys loaded down with mountaineering gear obviously doing that.
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*You're quite right that the trail is not a straight-line distance. It curves all over and sometimes has switchbacks to reduce the slope... at the cost of greatly increasing the distance.


The switchbacks and such do add distance but what I was referring to is the sheer uphill. Imagine that you go straight over a mountain at a straight-line, then you're still going extra distance because you are essentially doing two legs of a triangle rather than one leg. If you saw the picture, the Sierras are extremely hilly. So if I need to get to a mountain that is 20 miles away and there's no trail, even if I went straight line (which I wouldn't; if I'm climbing I'm taking what I feel is the safest or easiest root) I might go 40 miles...

Yep, there's that, too... I don't know if they include that in their trail mileage estimates though.
I did, however, quickly learn that the maps they handed out do not accurately represent the trails.
(The trail up to Mt. Angeles, for example, showed one switchback on the map... actually, there were dozens.)
Luckily, my GPS also had the major trails on its maps, and those topo maps were a good deal more accurate than the tourist maps the park handed out.
Afaceinthematrix
ocalhoun wrote:
Afaceinthematrix wrote:

Are you sure it wasn't 27 miles round trip?

Yes, the distances were quite clearly posted at trailheads... and unless it specifically says 'loop', you know it's one-way distance... and none of the longer trails were loops.
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but the trail will curve and go close to a road at some point (even if you can't see the road) and so when you are only 5 miles away there's a spot that's 1/4 mile away from a road. So if you know what you're doing, you can make the trip much shorter. That happens very frequently in national parks because they try to make them accessible.

Not in this one...
The way the roads are set up, there are no roads through or even terribly far into the park - to drive from one side to the other, you have to leave it and go all the way around.
So, for most of the trails into the interior, the trailhead is the closest point to any road, and the trail will only get further and further from roads after that... No shortcuts here!

Heck, even the park rangers use mules to get around in the interior -- not even any 'authorized vehicles only' service roads available.


That map pretty much shows my point. Looking at their scale, which isn't too detailed, you can see that even in the middle of the park, you are never more than about 10-12 miles from one of the roads on the side. Therefore, I am confident that there must be a shorter version than the 27 miles. I don't own a trail map of the park, but it has to go closer to a road at some point because, like I said, it isn't a very large park.

Here are some pictures of a trip that I did a couple of years ago in the Sierras. It was mostly cross country and I didn't see any people during that week because I was far from where the trails went and more of into the technical climbing spots. I went over quite a few mountains and probably made it 50 miles in that week...





I didn't bring any climbing equipment because I didn't do anything too hairy. Besides, I like to rely on my balls and experience more than anything.
ocalhoun
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
Looking at their scale, which isn't too detailed, you can see that even in the middle of the park, you are never more than about 10-12 miles from one of the roads on the side. Therefore, I am confident that there must be a shorter version than the 27 miles.

Again, that's 10-12 miles straight line distance... These trails are not straight lines, and even cutting through cross country won't let you take a straight line. Not only because of the elevation, but because of the cliffs, impossibly steep slopes, and rivers in the way.

I was there you know... all of the trails that led all the way to the places where one might get close to a glacier were 20+ miles, according to the signs at the trail heads.
Those trails are designed for bringing stock through though -- so they sometimes (literally) go to great lengths to reduce the slope. They might go miles out of the way to avoid a steep uphill/downhill section.

Nice hike in the sierras though. That's just the kind of thing I like to do... though I prefer day hikes and elevations not quite so high.
Afaceinthematrix
I know that 10-12 miles is straight line distance - however, 10-12 miles shouldn't turn into 27. Like I said, I highly doubt (I would bet serious amounts of money on it) that you're even 27 miles from a road and, ergo, there is probably a shorter way (even if it is harder). Unfortunately, I do not have detailed trail maps of Olympic NP and so I can never know for sure. However, I do have an abundance of experience with this and will confidently say that I doubt that you're ever that far from a road in such a small NP. I spend quite a bit of time dealing with maps (I deal with maps on a daily basis) and have quite a bit of experience with maps of wilderness areas. I have no doubt that there is a 27 mile hike; I don't think that you're lying to me. I just highly doubt that you're ever that far from a road in such a small park. Therefore, there is a way to make it shorter (even if it is harder). Let me show you two possibilities of how that trail may have worked out (both maps are from points A to C - with B being the alternative starting location.



In this one, you see that if you park your car in B then you could cut off almost the first half. Granted, there might not be a trail to meet up with the real trail and so it might be cross-country. Also, you would have to either know, or have a good enough map and compass (or GPS), to know exactly where to park your car and where to walk to find the trail. This is VERY common. Trails in these small parks often go within a mile of some road but unless you have a map, you'll never know. That's why this park isn't remote enough for me. It's beautiful; I love the park. I'll go for a few days but I wouldn't go on a ten day trip there.

Another common situation (very common in this park) is something like this:



You see, the hike is far enough that you're essentially crossing the entire park. That might easily be 27 miles but by the time you hike 27 miles you're close to a road on the other side. There might even be a trail coming from C that's 1/3 of the distance! Often, if you goal is only to get somewhere (and you want a trail), you need to study the maps carefully because there might be a shorter or easier trail from the other side.

In the Sierras, I like going to a place called Rae Lakes. I can come from one direction and go through a very nice place called Paradise Valley and it's probably 30 miles (mostly uphill) and so I'll go it in 2 or 3 days (depending on if I'm taking it leisurely or not). I like that hike. However, if I just want to get to Rae Lakes, then I'll come from the other direction, go over two passes, hike about 12 miles and probably gain 5,000 or 6,000 feet of elevation, but I can make it in one day.
deanhills
FANTASTIC photos Ocalhoun ..... thanks for sharing those with us. My favourites were all the waterfall scenes, mountains, the trees and cloud cover.

Almost thought you were going to eat the slug as that came just after your report about no food. Wink

The water of the river you camped at looked absolutely clear .... did you drink from it? Great collection of photos and a marathon trip quite obviously. Well done!
ocalhoun
deanhills wrote:

Almost thought you were going to eat the slug as that came just after your report about no food. Wink

Ick!
No, I wasn't that desperate!
I'll go a day or two without food before considering that!
(Although there were plenty of them... assuming they're not poisonous or something, they'd be an easy meal... and who knows... maybe it's possible to get them palatable if you cook 'em right?)
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The water of the river you camped at looked absolutely clear .... did you drink from it?

On occasion, yes... Actually, I suppose most of my water bottle refills happened at streams along the trail.

...And I didn't filter it... and you know what? I didn't die, and I didn't get sick.
Either A - I've built up a tolerance to anything bad in the water or B- the risk of drinking unfiltered water is greatly overstated.
...I'm tempted to guess 'B'... after all, what do you think all the animals drink out of... and do they get sick and die all the time from bad water?
Afaceinthematrix
ocalhoun wrote:

...And I didn't filter it... and you know what? I didn't die, and I didn't get sick.
Either A - I've built up a tolerance to anything bad in the water or B- the risk of drinking unfiltered water is greatly overstated.
...I'm tempted to guess 'B'... after all, what do you think all the animals drink out of... and do they get sick and die all the time from bad water?


B. I usually filter my water because while the chances of getting sick are extremely small, the consequences are large (I knew someone who got Giardia and essentially lived on a toilet for days).

However, you have to realize that most of the sicknesses that you can get are caused by other animals (their droppings and urine). Therefore, if I'm 12,000 feet above sea level - such as in those pictures - and I see a very nice lake that has an outlet (so that I can get running water - which is preferable) and I can clearly see the snow patch right above it that is feeding that lake and there's no way most animals can get that high in elevation then I will drink it without a filter. However, if I'm next to a river then I will always filter it because you do not know what happens upstream. I remember one time I was sitting at a river pumping water with my small little MSR water filter and about 50 feet UPSTREAM I see a deer walk out into the river, stop too look at me, and then urinate. This was only 50 feet upstream from me.

As far as the odds of getting sick, they are extremely small. It obviously depends on the quality of the water but even then, if you drink water that has Giardia in it there's still only a small percentage (I don't remember the exact percent, but it was just a couple percent) of getting Giardia and then if you do get Giardia, there's only a 1% chance or so (don't remember the exact number) that you'll show any symptoms. Ergo, about 99% of the time it will pass through your system without your knowledge (you could have it now) and that's if you even get it in the first place which is a super small chance.

As a rule of thumb, if I'm unsure then I will purify it. Pumping a liter of water only takes 2 or 3 minutes and dropping in a Micropure tablet is even easier.
Vanilla
Awesome pictures! I hope you had companion during the night hikes. I would be scared as hell since I'm afraid of the dark. Dark AND inside a forest? No, thank you! I also loved the color of the water! One thing I must say about temperate forests is that they look very organized and neat... Tropical rain forests look like a mess with foliage and color exploding everywhere. Not saying that I prefer one over another, just comparing. I would love to see a temperate forest myself!

I think these giant slugs look like banana slugs... And if they're banana slugs, they're edible. Just saying. Wink
ocalhoun
Vanilla wrote:
Awesome pictures! I hope you had companion during the night hikes. I would be scared as hell since I'm afraid of the dark. Dark AND inside a forest? No, thank you!

And in cougar/bear country. ^.^
But, to make things a little less nerve-wracking, I was armed and had a very good flashlight.
(Animals are actually easy to spot at night with a flashlight. They're going to be looking at you of course, and their eyes will reflect the light.)
Oh, and coming from another area that had the same critters, I was aware of their behavior patterns, so I knew what to look for. 99% of the time, bears will just run away. Cougars too, but if they are going to attack, they always attack from above or behind... just keep a close watch on the branches overhead and check behind you frequently, and you're pretty safe from them.
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I also loved the color of the water!

That's from the glacier-melt... that's what gives it the awesome color. ^.^
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One thing I must say about temperate forests is that they look very organized and neat... Tropical rain forests look like a mess with foliage and color exploding everywhere. Not saying that I prefer one over another, just comparing. I would love to see a temperate forest myself!

You'll have to go there then, I guess. As far as I know, that's the only one.
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I think these giant slugs look like banana slugs... And if they're banana slugs, they're edible. Just saying. Wink

^.^ Good.
Even then though... there were a LOT of food sources in that forest (lots of berries, good fishing spots, pretty abundant wildlife)... I would probably save the slugs for a last resort!
Afaceinthematrix
ocalhoun wrote:

And in cougar/bear country. ^.^
But, to make things a little less nerve-wracking, I was armed and had a very good flashlight.
(Animals are actually easy to spot at night with a flashlight. They're going to be looking at you of course, and their eyes will reflect the light.)
Oh, and coming from another area that had the same critters, I was aware of their behavior patterns, so I knew what to look for. 99% of the time, bears will just run away. Cougars too, but if they are going to attack, they always attack from above or behind... just keep a close watch on the branches overhead and check behind you frequently, and you're pretty safe from them.


The nice thing about Olympic NP is that they probably haven't had a cougar attack in decades (actually 1996). The reason why they will be so rare there is that humans are not preferred food and there's plenty of their preferred food.

I live right next to a state park. I go hiking there daily. Occasionally I see a bobcat (maybe once every 5 years), coyote (maybe a couple of times a year), and deer (about once a year if I'm lucky). About ten years ago I saw a mountain lion. I freaked out because my first thought was, "What does this thing eat? There's no prey here" and so I naturally thought that I might be on the menu. Luckily it ran away. In Olympic NP you see deer and elk everywhere and so I wouldn't worry at all; it wouldn't even cross my mind.

I also wouldn't worry about black bears because I've seen hundreds (literally) and have never had one fail to run away from me after I followed protocol (made loud noises, acted big, etc.). Grizzly bears do worry me a little and if you go to Yellowstone (where they have hundreds of grizzlies) you'll be required to hike with bear spray (although, as I've already told you, I've heard that wasp spray is just as effective and much cheaper).
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