MIKE MacFERRIN'S OLYMPIC SOLO TREK....July 15, 2004


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I awake this morning under a slight drizzle. My gear isn't soaked, but everything is noticeably damp. After a delightful breakfast on the riverbank (whole-grain Enertia Trailfoods oatmeal with extra butter and sugar... yum! ), I pack my gear and ford the river back to the Bogachiel Trail. I half-expected the water to be frigid, but it seems not to be so bad. Perhaps it really is warmer. Or, perhaps my toes are simply getting acclimated to frequent dips in cold water... it's an encouraging thought.

With the exception of a few large trail washouts (Mineral and Mosquito Creeks being notable), most of the lower Bogachiel River Trail is well-maintained and easy to follow. In fact, several sections look very recently maintained, with spiffy piles of dry sawdust and freshly cut logs, complete with rerouted sections and new gravel over old mud-pits. After stopping to explore a large campsite riddled with a half-dozen identical, empty tents, I pass a gallon jug of gasoline (seeming out-of-place here) and an empty "STIHL" bag lying empty beside it. Moments later the mystery is solved, as I hear the piercing rip of a chainsaw further down the trail. I soon pass two gentlemen, part of a trail-crew, busy at work rerouting a section of trail that clearly doesn't need any work.


I want to remark that this section of trail is fine... that perhaps fifteen miles upriver they would find the overgrown, weedy mess of woodland trail in urgent need of repair. But I know it'd be a pointless venture... trail crews have always been famous for over-maintaining the first few miles of a path (where the dayhikers roam), and quite frankly I enjoy the difficult, remote sections of trail better, just the way they are. So I smile and nod, affirming their toil, and continue downriver.

I pass several sets of dayhikers today, being less than five miles from the trailhead. I also spot two new sets of mountain lion tracks, both distinctly different from the trail I spotted yesterday. By mid-morning it's obvious that I'll finish the trail today, a day early, and I know that Cate will not be here to pick me up until mid-day tomorrow. I eat lunch at the trailhead, hanging out, hoping to hitch a ride back to the highway from a generous stranger. A family of five pulls up in a motor home, and although they're friendly enough, they seem wary of this lone smelly, shaggy backpacker at the trailhead. I pick up my gear and start walking, West down the Undie Road, back towards Highway 101. Eventually, a small car comes down the road behind me, and I push out my thumb with a broad, friendly smile. An older couple from Forks (where I'm headed!) stop... they'd come to pick berries for the morning, and are headed back to town. Sure, they can give me a ride... hop on in! It's nice to know I'll have an extra day in town to run errands and resupply before heading out to the coast on Saturday [July 17th].

Once back in town, I say hi to Cate, who seems unsurprised to see me early ("People always seem to finish that trail early"). I stop by the Towne Motel for a wonderful $3 shower, dinner at the Forks Coffee Shop, and before long am off to bed, asleep on a rooftop porch, watching a paraglider sail through the skies above this tiny logger's town. Leg one of my journey is over, and so far, everything has been grand! I look forward to traversing the legendary Olympic Coast next week. But for now, surrounded by civilization once again, a laundry list of "ToDo:" errands swims through my head... an obvious symptom of an over-developed world. Life in the backcountry is simpler... and I'll be back there soon enough.