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It was wet last night, and a small army of determined chipmunks tried to get into my food bag (my trusty Ursack, tied to a nearby tree). Their efforts were to no avail, as they got nothing, but they did leave a fine trail of rodent droppings all over the top. Ack!

The route uphill from OHS is a fine trail, and my mood is greatly improved from last night. The route is easily sloped and simple to follow, with enticing side-trips to beautiful Lower and Upper Boulder Creek Falls. Opening up to blooming meadows, the trail affords enticing views of Mt. Appleton and the adjacent Pass , where I will spend the night after a leisurely day uphill. The spotty rainclouds are a smidge disappointing, but the trail is almost entirely free of snow. Due to the misguided advice from the Elwha Ranger Station ("Appleton Pass might still be socked in with snow... be careful!"), I quickly determine that my ice axe will serve as little more than deadweight strapped to my pack. Ahh, c'est la vie (such is life!), I'd rather be prepared and not need it, y'know. As it is, I barely touch the snowy stuff for five miles up.

I reach Appleton Pass (just-over 5000') by mid-afternoon.

After reading the ominous signpost ("Bears are active in this area... use bear wires to avoid being maliciously mauled to death by creatures with huge claws and big, pointy teeth!" ... or something to that effect, I don't recall exactly), I wander along the ridge and find a cozy spot next to Oyster Lake where I set up camp amidst the quickly enclosing rain. I am alone for the moment, although I'm later joined by an avid kayaker carrying a dry-bag (not such a bad idea in this weather) and four soggy greenhorns approaching from the other side of the pass. I eat under the tarp, listening to the soothing "plop, plump, plop" of drops from the subalpine firs under which my camp is strung. Deer are about tonight, a small herd of them, grazing about the pass, seemingly inattentive to the proximity of the others and me. I watch a young fawn chase a snowshoe hare away from behind a bush, and a young buck (the only one that seems cautious of people) tend to its small harem. I give them their space, content to watch. After a round of pleasant conversation with my camp neighbors, it's off to bed. Tomorrow I cross the pass from the Elwha River drainage (which I won't see again for three weeks) and head into the Sol Duc Valley.