I love to go a-wandering off the beaten track,
and as I go, I love to sing, my knapsack on my back.
Val-di-ree, Val-di-rah,
Val-di-ree, Val-di-rah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha
Val-di-ree, Val-di-rah,
My knapsack on my back.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Home Lake and Del Monte Ridge, July 31 - August 1, 2017

A lovely two-day hike up the Dungeness River to Constance Pass and Del Monte Ridge. Great weather, abundant flowers, and terrific views.

I had hoped to leave home Sunday afternoon and hike to Camp Handy Sunday night, but I was reluctant to leave because my parishioner John Steller was near death. I had visited several times and anointed him with oil the day before, but I didn't want it to look like I was abandoning him and his family. I talked with his wife, Janet, and she assured me I should go. I contacted Dick Scott, a retired priest, and he said he'd be glad to visit at the time of death. So I felt free to go on Monday morning.

I left home at 7:15 am and started hiking at the Dungeness River trailhead at 9:00. The morning was cool and pleasant and the first few miles reeled off easily.

I love the grove of huge firs on the lower part of the trail.

A photo taken with the camera timer.

By mid-morning I was sweating up the inclined trail to Boulder Shelter. Three vigorous and fit women in their fifties passed me at the river crossing. Two women in their seventies passed me, then I passed them. Then a group of five hikers passed me while I was resting. When they stopped for lunch I pulled ahead of them and kept going. Quite crowded on the trail.

\As I approached Boulder Shelter, I started seeing wildflowers. They were out in full force this time of year. These are harebells.

A field of flowers near Boulder Shelter.

As I progressed up the valley, the trail eased up and I began to see ahead to the skyline and the pass. I was quite tired by mid-afternoon and went slowly. I crossed a rocky-strewn slope and entered the last incline to Home Lake. I arrived about 4:00. I met a man in his fifties and his teenage daughter who were camping at the lake and had a pleasant conversation.

As the sun was setting, the side of Mount Constance began to glow with sunlight. I grabbed my watercolors and made this painting, swatting away mosquitoes as I painted:

My camp overlooking Home Lake.

As the sun began to set, the alpenglow on the ridge to the East was lovely.

The next morning I awoke by 6:00, had breakfast, and started up to the pass by 7:00. There were flowers everywhere.

Switchbacks on the way up to the pass.

 At Constance Pass.

Looking off to the South, I could see the back side of The Brothers.

From the pass, I continued up the ridge, with the views increasing at every step. It's wide open tundra, easy going.

From the ridge, I could see the entire Dosewallips drainage including Anderson Pass, Lost Pass, and Hayden Pass. Grey Wolf Pass was hidden behind the ridge, but I could look down on all the trails I have hiked.

Wandering in the alpine. I felt free and elated to be in the high country.

Fields of flowers.

"The joy of the universe came rushing to meet me and I embraced here. Yes, yes O yes!

I started down the moutain and arrived at my camp at 9:20. I took a half hour break and started out at 9:50.

Home Lake see from above. You can just see the first wisps of smoke coming into our area from the fires in Canada. The smoke would last for a week before it cleared away.

There were fields of flowers on the way out.

Big flowers against a dark background.

Had lunch at Boulder Shelter and continued down the trail This is just below Boulder Shelter. Returned to the car at 4:10 and drove home, stopping for ice cream and coffee.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Hoh River to Bogachiel River, July 17-18, 2017

This hike was tougher than I anticipated. I got completely worn out. Still, it was a lovely trail and I had almost complete solitude.

I left home Sunday afternoon at 2:45 and drove to the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles, arriving at 4:15. When I asked for a permit to the South Snider/Jackson Trail, the severe young woman ranger said, "Why do you want to go there?" She said it was in horrible shape with 140 down trees and route-finding necessary in places. I asked for a permit anyway.

I arrived at the Hoh River car campground about 6 pm and made camp. Did the Saturday night NY Times crossword puzzle. Didn't finish one quarter. Met a nice young couple from Michigan traveling around the country visiting the national parks, from Key West to here.

Up early, I drove to the entrance station and started up the trail at 7:15. It was a clear, cool day, lovely for hiking.

The Hoh River early in the morning.

Leaving the car at the trailhead.

After crossing a flat bench, the trail ascends steeply in a series of switchbacks. It was grueling work, but, contrary to the lady ranger, the trail was clear of down trees. A trail crew had cut it out nicely, at least up to 2,800 feet elevation - about three miles. The lower slopes of this trail pass by huge douglas-fir trees, towering behemoths.
A huge fir behind me.

After three miles, numerous trees that had blown down over the trail. Every blowdown means you have to stop, clamber over or under, and then proceed. It slows you down considerably. Some are huge.

Because the trail gets little use, the tread is soft with duff, mosses, and fronds. It felt quite friendly.

I had lunch on top of the ridge among big trees, then I started down the switchbacks to the Bogachiel River. I was tired and the day was long. It seemed to take forever to get to Tumwata Creek. When I finally got there, I was so tired that I wasn't thinking clearly. I tried to jump from rock to rock, but I misjudged the distance and fell in the creek, soaking my right side up to my chest. My hiking stick started floating downstream and I had to run to grab it before it floated away.

I readjusted my pack and started downstream because I thought the river was just ahead. I stumbled through the brush and stream debris, having a terrible time of it. If I was thinking more clearly, I would have searched for the trail on the bank and it would have been easy. I finally made it to the river and collapsed on the bar. I was so tired I took a nap. When I woke up, I looked for a campsite but couldn't find anything. I decided to walk towards the Bogachiel Camp ford and find a campsite on the way.

The trail along the river is dead flat through meadows and spruce trees. Because it's so lightly used, it's overgrown with ferns and grasses and occasionally disappears, requiring some reconnoitering to find it again.

I arrived at the ford about 6:00 and decided to camp on the river bank. There were lots of mosquitoes and the breeze coming from the river kept them mostly at bay. I made dinner and finished the crossword puzzle. Very tired but happy to be on the river.
My camp on the bank of the Bogachiel. I slept like a baby, waking up in the night to brilliant stars across the sky. The Big Dipper and Cassiopeia were visible over the ridge to the North.

Sunrise on the Bogachiel.

The next morning I got started at 7:25, stiffly. The walk back to the junction was easy, but starting up the switchbacks was torture. I took them slowly, taking lots of breaks -- a ten minute break every 30 minutes. Around noon I reached the ridgetop and flopped down for a 45 minute lunch. Then it was down the switchbacks on the other side, with my thighs burning and my feet sore from pounding. I finally reached the car at 6:15 -- almost an 11 hour day!

I put on my clean socks and soft shoes - luxury - and drove to Forks, where I had a huge hamburger at the Blakeslee Bar and Grill. It was OK, not great. I started home, being careful about my driving because I was so tired. About 9:30 -- dusk -- I was entering the Seven Cedars Casino area, and I hit a small deer. It appeared out of nowhere and I had no time to react. The impact broke the left front fender, bumper, and headlight, and killed the deer. I pulled over in shock and called 911 to report it. The car could drive OK, so I drove home, arriving by 11 pm. A long day.

My poor car.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Labor Day hike up the Bogachiel River, September 4-6, 2016

After hiking the Hoh Rover to its headwaters two weeks ago, I wanted to hike the Bogachiel River to its headwaters also. They're parallel rivers on the west side of the Olympics.

So Guy and I dropped off my car at Sol Duc Hot Springs and drove around to the Bogachiel trailhead where I started up the trail at 6:20 on Sunday evening.

At the trailhead

The lower trail is flat and easy to walk.

Looking up the Bogachiel in the evening light.

I hiked for an hour until I came to a campsite just off the river. It came  at just the right time.