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Doug Howe
Owner Trail  

Trail Diaries
(2000 Archives)

  Travel Log:
October 21, 2000

Destination Staircase Ranger Station Olympic National Park. On this crisp fall morning we started our journey to enjoy the fall colors of the Hamma Hamma valley but on our way we remembered a place that would give us just as much pleasure in our walks in the woods at Staircase Entrance To the Olympic National Park on the Northwestern end of lake Cushman above Hoodsport, Washington. As fate would have it the park fee time of year, was over and there was one car in the parking lot when we arrived, much to our pleasure! We took the Staircase loop trail it is a 2-mile long loop trail that follows the river rapids up stream then crosses the river at the 1.2-mile mark and returns on the other side of the river.

  Unfortunately the bridge was damaged in the previous winters snowfall and as of this date it has not been repaired, the center section is missing, this was very disappointing on two counts. One the loop is not a loop without the bridge, two it makes you wonder about funding that the park service has to deal with, how can we as a people let our access to our beautiful natural resources be so under funded that a bridge span cannot be repaired until the next funding year? I do not know a lot about what is the reality of fiscal management in the Federal Government but it makes you wonder!

  That rant being said the walk we took was very pleasant it is a walk through not just big trees but huge trees i.e. the so called big cedar that has fallen is 14 through at the base and there are many Douglas firs towering over you 8 to 12 feet through and 250 feet high + (puts us humans in a unique perspective huh!) some of these trees are over 600 years old and the little ones the (the ones 3 to 6 feet in diameter are 2 to 300 years old they are the older trees children. We walked leisurely along the path smelling the fall leaves and the mosses hanging from the trees, and in the background a constant shush and roar of the nearby North Fork of the Skokomish River. As we arrived at the bridge we took some pictures and chatted briefly with some others that had found there way up the trail to enjoy the adventure. As we meandered back through the giants it felt good on this Saturday to get out and stretch the legs and feel the magic of the forest. (Pictures will be coming soon!)

October 1st-5th. 2000

Destination Oregon coast and hikes on the beach we spent 5 days in Cannon beach Oregon Ha you say tourist town, and if that is what you go for that is cool too, but we went to walk on the beach and walk on some trails some that maybe some of the Corp of Discovery walked on almost 200 years ago, yep Lewis and Clark Hiked down to an area close to what is now Cannon beach to trade for whale oil and meat, from there salt works camp 7 miles to the north. So as adventurers we walked and enjoyed the beautiful weather it was great 65 degrees and clear. We went to Ecola state park to enjoy some sunsets and walk on the Indian trail to Indian beach. The sunsets were breath taking and the herd of Elk made our visits to the park complete, I even ran across some tracks of a larger animal it looked like cat tracks to me, if I was a hungry cat elk would probably taste pretty good. There was one great bull in the herd and he was very protective of his harem, and the lead cow always had an eye on us. 

  July 30th- August 3rd, 2000

Destination Klahowya Campground on the Sol Duc River 18 miles east of forks Washington. Suzanne and I departed our comfortable home at around 10 am to beat the campers leaving heading home. My mission on this trip was to get away from the daily routine of city life (albeit a small city it still drains the soul) and enjoy the outdoors and do research for this web page and plan hiking expeditions for the next summer (week long trips traversing the Olympics). In the mean time we settled into our camp and began to relax no phones no TV or computer just candlelight and open sky. The campground was almost empty when we arrived much to our pleasure the place still looked as we remembered from our last trip here 8 years ago, Dense timbered campground with the look of the rainforest, green and lush. The weather was warm and nights dropped into the low 50s. Having worked here in the summer of 85 I new all to well how that could change in a matter of hours but usually August held up well.

  Day 1:  Our first night we slept well except for the mattresses would lose there air not good (woke up to pump up mattresses twice) made for a little soreness do to the new surroundings. We enjoyed a fresh coffee and talked of what adventure today would bring.

  Today we drove into Forks and then headed out to Rialto beach to take some pictures and survey the trail head on our way there the fog was beginning to settle in on us the closer we got to the coast. When we arrived at Rialto beach it was as beautiful as it always is. The fog shrouded the small islands and mist wisped through the trees leaving smoke like tracers as it passed, the steady rhythm of the sea crashing into the shore set the mood of what was really in control of the scene, mother Nature. Their were surfers, hikers children playing, couples strolling along the beach it was about 70 degrees pleasant in the fog bank I took some pictures of the small islands and some flowers along the trail. Suzanne and I walked along the beach enjoying the peace and the power of the sea.

  Day 2: I awoke Early to a flat mattress decided to get up it was 5:30 am still dark I stoked up last nights coals still hot after about 7 hours of no fuel and the fire crackled back to life. I started some coffee and thought about fishing, fortunately I brought my rod and as soon as it was light enough, perfect for trying my luck. After finishing my coffee, I grabbed my pole and a couple of lures and headed to the river I donned my water socks and waded into the stream what the coffee didn't do, the cold river did, woke me up! I began casting down and away from me and worked the rooster tail lure for about 30 minutes nothing, so I changed lures to one of my favorites a black and white rooster tail (I had been using a green one) I let go of the lure to take the rod out of my pocket I had put it there to keep [it out of the water and before I could get the rod by both hands a bullhead hit my lure right at my feet I brought him in and released him, I thought to myself wow this could get good. I began casting and 3 cast in I had a bite 4th cast I hooked into a small cutthroat about 9 inches long he fought hard, I brought him in and unhooked his lip and let him go back home I cast for about another 10 minutes and bang a rainbow about 8 inches I then released him too. After about 2 hours I walked back to camp very satisfied that I had caught two fish.

Suzanne and I spent the day exploring around the campground the pioneer interpretive trail and various other trails along the river etc. We made a plan for our third day to go to hurricane ridge and picnic. Today the weather was wonderful 77 degrees and clear absolutely gorgeous. We watched the fire and forgot about the world we left behind, and then we blew up our mattresses and fell asleep to the sounds of the river rolling past our camp!

Day 3:  Today we headed to Hurricane Ridge, high above the city of Port Angeles. The view is absolutely breath taking on a clear day to the south and west is the Olympic Mountain range you can see almost all of the peaks from the interpretive center looking down the Elwha valley with virgin timber carpeting the smaller valleys and drainages. To the north you can see Vancouver Island, Port Angeles and the Straits of Juan de Fuca. To the east the Cascade Range Everett, Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier and as far as the skies will allow you. Today was just one of those days were visibility was awesome. The meadows were blooming with Indian paintbrush, and different kinds of lupines and avalanche lilies. We hiked down one of the shorter trails and watched the ptarmigans and tourist check each other out. We found a great spot to have our picnic and fighting the deer flies and gnats we enjoyed our lunch. I pulled out my gps and took a reading for future reference when we traverse the Olympics next year taking the Elwha trail to lake Quinault. We spent a good part of our day exploring around the Ridge, and thought it would be wonderful to see the sunset, but we will save that for another trip. We headed back to our beloved camp. I took out my rod again and caught two more trout too small to keep so back to the river they swam happy to be unhooked and away from the deadly air. We again took the pioneer interpretive trail and took some pictures of a mountain blueberry full of berries and the mossy trees in this lush green second growth forest (yes it had been logged and naturally reseeded long ago from the size of the trees about 60 -65 years). Some of the old stumps were still present with the old springboard notches still (check out my hiking staff it is 6'4" tall, huge tree was once here)

  Day 4: Last day of our vacation and it is always sad to leave, (except for the mattresses we gave them the heave ho into the dumpster and decided air mattress not the way to go) we broke camp and cleaned our area and left it better than when we came. As a hole the trip was exactly as we planned the only exceptions were the mattresses and the out houses whew man ripe on those hot days, they do have flush toilet facilities but at that time they were down, the campground also has a good water supply, for 12 bucks a night it was a good investment. After packing we took a last look and promised to come back much sooner and more often, we drove away with joy in our hearts and a sadness of leaving your home for an extended period, even though we were going home. We took the coast highway 101 route, through Kalaloch, Quinault, a beautiful drive through Hoquiam and Aberdeen and home.

  May 26, 2000

     The South Fork Skokomish River Trail. Thom and I disembarked Shelton around ten in the morning, on a drizzly spring morning, our objective was to check accessibility to the upper trailhead and check the conditions of the early stages of the trail. Another one of our tasks was to light a campfire in a camping area with no resources, other than a knife and a match (one match that is). We have done this many times some out of keeping our skills sharp and others out of necessity.

When we arrived at the trail head Dave Craig a forest service employee pulled up, he talk with us about the trail conditions and that he had stopped by to check reports of bridge damage over the Skokomish river lower trail about a mile south of this trail head. You can access the lower trail here and at Brown Creek. We walked up the trail about a mile and then turned around and went to the Laney Campground this being memorial weekend it was well on its way to full. We stopped and took some pictures of the Church Creek Gorge; it was beautiful even on this overcast day.

We went down the road to a camping area and decided to try our hand at our one match challenge. It was raining we were by pine creek, the wood was wet and we needed a fire, we looked around and found a piece of wood and began whittling away, (first rule be patient if you only have one match!). We built a small pile of dry chips and some small twigs and much to our pleasure we found trees with pockets of dried pitch. When we got our shavings and pitch ready it was time. I lit the match and put it on the chips the rain was coming down I covered my little fire and it slowly sprang to life. We were successful we burnt some of the debris left by careless campers and put the fire out and headed home. It was wet but fun day!

    April 30, 2000

Today I embarked on a short journey to a quiet place in the mountains by a lake to reflect and see the reflection of my thoughts in the clear green waters. The place is called Spider Lake it is approximately 24 road miles north of Shelton Washington.

  I began my day a little later than normal around 7 a.m. and traveled to the Hood Canal Ranger District; up the Skokomish river valley and up the hill I went past the (now closed and dismantled) Camp Govey Logging Camp and Reload. The Fir Creek Ranger Station is still there and in use in the summer months by Forest Service workers. Six miles later there is a fork in the road and the low road takes you to Browns Creek Campground and other places we will explore in another edition.

I took the High road and eight miles later I was above Spider Lake and noticed no one was there my heart smiled this was perfect. A lightly overcast sky did not take away the emerald green I saw through the stand of trees between the lake and me.

I rustled together my camera and a few of my thoughts and hiked down the first steep incline to the trail that circles the whole lake I began walking and as the lake came nearer I could here in the trees the woomph woomph woomph of the mountain blue grouse as they competed for there spring right to territory and mating it goes on all season long. I stop long enough to do my best impression of the sound and get a response and then I chuckled and move on. About 1200 yards into my journey I find a quiet place just to sit and listen and watch as the sun begins to break I see the reflection of trees in the lake the wind is not blowing it is about 55 degrees but I feel warm in the spring time sun. My thoughts drift and spend some time daydreaming and remembering a friend who loved places like this.

  I pulled my camera out and took some of what I saw. The trilliums up here are still blooming and the trees are beginning their new growth and it is very peaceful. I did not hike the whole trail around the lake but what I did travel on seemed in good shape other than the sign at the trail head being gone either stolen by someone or used as fire wood by uncaring people. The trip was well worth the drive and I hope you enjoy the pictures and try it out for yourself oh yeah there is fish :)

    April 22, 2000

Suzanne And I planned a drive up to the Hamma Hamma river recreational area to check out the spring conditions of the campgrounds and trail heads of the Lena Trail #810, Mildred Lakes trail, and the Putvin Trail.

  It was a cool spring day with cold showers but it felt warm when we arrived at the Lake Lena trailhead and campground the Hamma Hamma river was clear and running hard the green blue water and white foam of the rapids reminded me of many of a trip up to this area just to get away.

  The campgrounds were closed but still there were RVs parked inside the Lena Creek Campground. We walked through the campground and found that possibly these people were volunteers cleaning and preparing the campsites for what looks to be a very busy camping and hiking season. The campground makes an excellent base camp for exploring the local trails and lakes.

  The trillions are in full bloom check out the photos we took of these lovely reminders of spring along with the dogwoods blooming it was very refreshing after a long winter. After walking up the Lena Trail and snapping a few digital shots we moved on up the road to the Putvin and Mildred lakes trail heads but 2.4 miles later we found that winter and mother nature had taken part of the road and changed it by cutting a new path through it . I dared not attempt to cross the shallow burm in the creek not for fear of getting stuck but more for Suzanne not wanting to walk home she did not like my adventurous Idea to ford maple creek in My Ford :)

  We debated about walking up to the Putvin trailhead but decided to return to the Lena. We then decided to do some research and headed back to town. There were 10 cars at the Trail head To lake Lena we came across a couple who were prepared for some snow climbing with there boots and ice axes this was a good sign because the snow conditions are very dangerous this time of year in the back country. There were day hikers and all were excited to get to their destination on this day a fair day for hiking.

  Having Experienced The Lena Trail many times in fact it is one hike I use for conditioning myself for the more challenging hikes, as hikes would go I would rate this hike to the lower lake as an easy to medium hike and can be easily done by hikers in fair condition in about 1.5 to 2.5 hours at an easy pace. The trail is well maintained and is one of the most popular hikes I know of in the Olympic National Forest.

  January 28,29,30th, 2000


We arrived at the lake Quinault Lodge at 8 P.M. today. After we checked in we took our bags to our we took our bags to our room and found hiking sticks on the wall branded with the lodges name definitely a good way to encourage people to enjoy the wealth of trails in the area. I thought that was a good sign of things to come on our trip.

  We then went to the lobby to enjoy the evening at the huge fireplace and relax. Suzanne and I browsed over old guest books and talked of the many times we had come here to relax, hike and enjoy nature. We both found the fire mesmerizing and fell into its trance; it reminded me of many nights on the trail around the fire watching the stars. After breaking the spell of the fire we retired to our room for the evening.


We both awoke at 5:30 A.M. we talked about our upcoming day over coffee in front of the fireplace; I was reminded this was to be a relaxing weekend not full of hiking. I assured her this would be the case

It was a clear morning about 28 degrees and an inch of frost on the ground we walked to the lake shore and watched the sunrise and looked into the loop trail that circles the lodge and through the rain forest on a 3.5 to 4.5 mile loop that has many breaks and start points a very nice sample of the areas possibilities. While admiring outside it got cold and so did we. We quickly retreated back to the fire to warm us back up had a good breakfast and headed out down the road.

It is a small country road to the graves creek trailhead and we pass a barn painted with a sign (Wild Ass Ranch) we both chuckled then saw the asses/donkeys in the corral. We laughed as we continued down the road. When we got to the bridge, the gate was closed to the Graves creek trailhead. Snow? Washout? Ok we will go to the ranger station to get more information and decided look for elk grazing in the river bottom like we had many times before.

  The digital camera does not give justice what was seen that day. We arrived at the Quinault ranger station and found it was closed for the season and found out why graves creek was closed. I guess they get hungry this time of year. Then our 2 hour long journey ended back at the fireplace. We went for a brief walk up the loop trail then retired to make entries in our diaries and read a good book.


New day last day time to go home don't want to. I talked with a woman named Ellen she told me that she discovered the Quinault lodge on a hike in early September. She and her Husband had hiked from Hurricane Ridge to Quinault good hike through two valleys she didn't give many details but remembered recuperating at the lodge. The story had a nice ending so we sat by the fire, then reluctantly checked out of our room and came home to watch the super bowl ok so I am weak!

The Quinault Lodge Oh yeah let them know who sent you thanks.

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