Hoh River to Blue Glacier

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Sugar Pine
Posts: 94
Joined: April 28th, 2017, 12:23 pm

Hoh River to Blue Glacier

Post by Sugar Pine » July 17th, 2021, 7:59 am

We just returned from backpacking the Hoh River to Blue Glacier. The Hoh River trail was nice with some large trees and lush forest. Views of the river were too few. The Blue Glacier was absolutely stunning and made the long, steep trek worthwhile. We hiked to both the lateral and terminal moraines, thought the terminal moraine was the more scenic of the two, but glad we did both. We didn't see any other hikers at the terminal moraine.

We backpacked from the Hoh River trailhead to Elk Lake and spent the night. The lake was pretty but lacked good access to the lake (brushy vegetation around the lake). Water can be obtained from streams just before or after camp or by walking out on a log into the lake downhill from the shelter. The camp is pretty compact, close to other campers, but quiet. Unfortunately, the marmots started singing at 4:45 am. :roll:

The trail was not too crowded, but there was a backup at the ladder as a large group was ahead of us, also coming from Elk Lake. On the return, others waited for us to ascend before they started their descent as the ladder is one at a time.

Back at camp, we tried to follow the field guide description "Keep going on the lakeshore trail, and you’ll get a view of Mount Olympus from the north shore." There was a trail above the lake that leads to a couple more unofficial campsites (but quite nice), but then the trail ended. We bushwacked around to the north and found a couple of lovely waterfalls, but no view. If anyone has done this successfully, I am interested in finding out where we went wrong.

We hiked out on Friday and the trail seemed much more crowded, first with perhaps 20 climbers heading to Glacier Meadows Camp and then within ~4 miles of the trailhead with many, many day hikers. We were glad to be heading out as the weekend started.
The Hoh High Bridge was a highlight of the hike to Elk Lake.
More Hoh High Bridge
Elk Lake
Morning fog and view of Elk Lake on ascent
The Ladder
Glacier Meadows Ranger Station - no yurt. We did not see any rangers, except at the visitors' center.
Hiking from Glacier Meadows to Lateral Moraine
Some snow to the side of the trail and 3 slushy fields to cross on the way to the Lateral Moraine
View from Lateral Moraine. No views of Glacier until reaching the top, then opening to a spectacular view. One climber was heading down the rocky slope to the glacier.
View from lateral moraine back to terminal moraine. Field guide mentions a route from terminal to lateral, but we did not try to connect the two, instead hiking back down to trail junction.
Four other climbers were coming down and starting to cross the glacier.
View from terminal moraine
At terminal moraine, we could see water falls into crevasses
Another view from terminal moraine
Mama grouse looking over two baby grouse

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Location: SW Portland

Re: Hoh River to Blue Glacier

Post by bobcat » July 18th, 2021, 9:04 am

At least you got clear days and stunning views. I'm jealous of your pictures!

A couple of points about the Field Guide entry (written by me):

1) I did the hike in a fire haze (giant fires up in BC), and the "view from the lake" was reported to me by some others camped at Elk Lake (frequent hikers of the trail) as part of their general complaint about out of control Canadian fires spoiling their experience. I'll delete it since you were obviously there in perfect weather.

2) May I use a couple of your photos (and delete my fire haze ones) for the FG entry? I'll give full credit to Sugar Pine or whatever moniker you want me to use.

Sugar Pine
Posts: 94
Joined: April 28th, 2017, 12:23 pm

Re: Hoh River to Blue Glacier

Post by Sugar Pine » July 18th, 2021, 5:55 pm

Feel free to use any of the photos I posted.

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