River at high water
River at high water.
spacer River at normal water
River at normal water.
spacer Footbridge.

Well, our trip went well, at least we think it did!

There was a slight washout at a culvert about two miles (?) before the big washout, and we made it across in a small car with no problems, but since then, I've been told that only high-clearance vehicles can make it across, because of all the rain. Also, on our hike out, there was a tree down across the road about a half mile from the trailhead, but it looked like some vehicles had made it across it - the tree was pretty rotted.

We left on the morning of October 30th, and took the lowland trail (which, by the way, was gone by the time we hiked out). We hiked in as far as the old mining trail about a half mile before the National Park boundary with a hunter (It was the last 2 days of deer hunting season), and shared stories with him about some of the 'hidden' hikes still left in the Olympics.

The old roadbed is still in good condition except towards the last two miles, where a few slides over the years have narrowed the road to barely a trail in a few spots. I had forgotten about that last mile up - I remember barely making it up in my old VW back in the 80's, and walking up it was worse! Lots of loose rock, but the cascading river down that canyon right next to the road was still incredible.

We set up camp in the old campground, planning on doing dayhikes from our little 'basecamp'. We celebrated my friend Marie's 50th birthday with some Cognac, and when we woke up Halloween morning, it was 23 degrees (we actually brought a little thermometer). We dayhiked out to Dose Forks, and I was surpised, and happy, to see so many of the sites closed for revegetation. On the way in, we found that trail crews had constructed a new wood path over a swampy area right before Dose Forks (one of my pictures).

We had planned a day hike up to Anderson Pass, but Wednesday morning was so cold, and we were too lazy to get out of our sleeping bags. We ran into some day-hikers about mid-day in the campground, and they told us we should probably get out of there, because the forecasters were predicting 'torrential downpours'. Well, our ride wasn't picking us up until Saturday, and hey, it's the Olympics! When doesn't it rain?

Well, the rain started that night. We woke up Thursday morning and had to move our entire camp because we were suddenly in a pond - most of the campsites were flooding. Still too stubborn to give up our vacation, we found a high spot, and spent 14 hours in our tent Thursday night. We made the decision to hike out a day early, because it was still pouring Friday morning. The river had risen at least two feet since the rain started, and you can see it in the two pictures that I took from near our camp - one before the rain started, and one a day and a half later. We packed up and headed out at about one in the afternoon.

We had to take the overland trail that skirts above the washout, because, obviously, the lowland trail was under several feet of water. We never realized how dangerous that low trail was until we saw it from above. My only complaint about the high route is that at one point, there's a step down over a log on a switchback, and Marie, who is barely five foot tall, carrying a 35 pound pack, could not get down that without my help - it's too steep. I'm not much taller, and I nearly went face-first into the trail stepping down it.

Since the weather was so bad, there was no one at the trailhead, and as I said, our ride wasn't picking us up until Saturday. So, in the dark, with headlamps, we kept walking, because we stupidly forgot that a cell phone wouldn't work up there!

After a total hike of nearly 10 miles in the pitch dark, in the pouiring rain (we saw some houses with lights on, but there were a lot of 'no trespassing' signs, and lots of dogs barking), we finally saw someone outside working in their garage, and went up their lane to ask for help. He didn't even hesitate. Howard loaded our packs into the bed of his truck, and drove us to the cafe in Brinnon. He dropped us off, after we thanked him several million times (Remember, we had been up there for five days, and we were soaking wet, despite our rain gear!) We each drank a beer after Marie called her husband to come and pick us up.

So, after all of that, I have to say that we had a great time. And Marie will never forget her 50th birthday. Hey, a bad week of weather in the Olympics still beats a good day at work.


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