Olympic National Park Aug 11-15, 2019

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Olympic National Park Aug 11-15, 2019

Post by cfm » March 28th, 2020, 7:41 am

I had vacation time, and the rest of my family was out of town this week. Had originally signed up for a North Cascades climbing trip but as the date approached the forecast predicted rain with thunderstorms. The climb leader cancelled two days out.... What to do? I looked around and found that the Olympics were going to clear up first, so I headed up there with my guidebooks and a couple things in mind.

Still rainy on the first day, so I stayed at a hotel on Lake Quinault and explored around there a bit:

The giant spruce is alongside the lake near the ranger station:
On the north side of the lake is an old homestead.
A grouse family was also visiting. Mama didnt mind the rain, but the youngsters preferred the front porch.
From there, I wandered down a little nature trail that passes through a grove of huge maples.
Spent the evening enjoying the storms over the lake.
The weather was clearing the next day so I headed up the nearby Humptulips river road to the Humpnoochee Pass trail(this "pass" separates the Humptulips and Wynoochee drainage). Trail was well maintained and even had some early season mushrooms from the recent rains.

About a half mile up this trail, I found a strange thing...What do you think it is? I am calling it a boomer door. It's about 6 inches high. Like the little fairy doors you see in parks around town. Why would some human make a door like this out here? More astonishing is the fact that it's being used. In the second pic you can see I opened the door with my pole and at the entrance was a little pile of freshly cut vanilla leaf. Someone was busy preparing for winter.
The trail ended at an old decommissioned road(FS220), and from here it was a four mile hike NW on the abandoned road to my goal for the night -Elk Lake, just inside the SW corner of the National Park, adjacent to the Colonel Bob Wilderness. Looks so pleasant and easy!
so inviting.jpg
start of FS road 220
I had heard reports that the abandoned road was pretty bad, but I am a confident bushwacking type and had no concerns. Soon I stuck boot in mouth because it was a bloody exhausting nightmare! Took me four hours to travel four miles. It was a combo of heavy alder/vine maple bushwack with some treacherous diversions across sketchy slides where the road had slid away to far below.

Here is a view of my route about halfway along when I was still optimistic. You can see some of the road cut. The lake is just behind the summit left of center. One of the double humped summits on the far left is Colonel Bob:
road ahead.jpg
I ran into a pair of young wildlife biologists. They were collecting data from recorders nearby, with the main focus of monitoring spotted owl habitat. I told them about the boomer door and where to find it. They had no explanation.

Finally found the old trail( it is no longer on maps), and made my way down to the lake just when it started to rain. The area sees little use. There was some remnant tread around the lake, heavily overgrown with huckleberries.
The next day I wrapped up all my wet stuff and just bombed down the hillside 2500 feet to the river road and walked the FS road 4 miles back up to my car at the TH. Cant really recommend this trip but it has some features that I now think back on fondly.
Last edited by cfm on March 28th, 2020, 8:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Olympic National Park Aug 11-15, 2019-part 2

Post by cfm » March 28th, 2020, 7:42 am

The dreary weather was now completely gone from the OP and I headed toward the coast. Had reserved two nights during the best weather and optimal tides. Started at Ozette Lake and hiked the boardwalk trail out to Cape Alava where most people were camped-lots of families. It was also a little stinky here-seaweed and fishy smells. Heading north on the beach it just got prettier and prettier. It was near low tide so I was able to walk around the headlands, and the Ozette River was easy to cross.
Set up camp and relaxed by the beach, the sunset lasted for hours.
The high tide makes the Ozette crossing impassable. I enjoyed sitting at the mouth watching the otters, mergansers and kingfishers.
The next day I wandered further north and also spent some time looking for an abandoned steam donkey.
At the next low tide, I packed up my camp walked south, past Cape Alava, down to Sand Point. The stretch of beach between these two points is part of the "Ozette Triangle" route. It is not nearly as beautiful as the beaches to the north and south. It is loose rocky sand difficult to walk on and the intertidal area is a massive shallow bay full of rocks covered in seaweed. Smelly at low tide. The water at high tide apparently doesn't reach the sandy beach, so it never gets smoothed out. The area was also very busy with campers at every site. Definitely a different vibe from the wilderness feel I had at Ozette River. Went as far south as I could within the limits of the official camping area and camped in the sand which was fun.

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retired jerry
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Re: Olympic National Park Aug 11-15, 2019

Post by retired jerry » March 28th, 2020, 8:11 am

Nice, I've never gone further than Ozette River. Good idea to avoid crowds.

I just happened by Toleak Point about then, spent one night. Total mob scene. Went all the way past Toleak to the end of the beach and found a spot to camp, away from crowds.

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Re: Olympic National Park Aug 11-15, 2019

Post by markesc » March 28th, 2020, 11:25 am

Nice catch with that kingfisher and mergansers!

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Re: Olympic National Park Aug 11-15, 2019

Post by RobinB » March 28th, 2020, 2:03 pm

Cool to see your route around the Humptulips! I've been sort of curious about the southwest end of the Park since enjoying the Six Ridge a few years ago - seems like a lot of nice, uncrowded loop possibilities around there.

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