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  1. 2 points
    Chris, Randy and I sat at a local brewery, a map of Olympic National Park spread across the table. We had climbed in the Olympics for decades, but now we were attempting something different – a thru hike from one side of the park to another. You might have thought planning to cross using established routes would be simple, but it was proving anything but. “Even the freaking rain forest is on fire.” Chris traced a route with his finger. The Pacific Northwest was suffering through one of its hottest summers on record, and our choices were dwindling. Park rangers had nixed the north-south high route, telling us the Elwha Snow Finger – the path leading from the mountains to the central river valley – had disappeared with climate change. Descent would require a rope and rack of climbing gear. As Chris noted, the western exits were threatened by the Paradise Fire, burning for months in the upper canopy of the Queets Rainforest. After a month of planning we decided to come in from the east, up the Dosewallips River Trail, over 5800-foot Hayden Pass, and then out to the north, along the Elwha River. Even this route reflected the consequences of a changing climate and aging park infrastructure. We’d be out for six days and travel 60 miles, but 11 miles of that total would be on what were once access roads. A 310-foot section of the Dosewallips River Road had washed out in a flood in 2002, and cost, competing views of wilderness, and the likelihood the river would continue running higher essentially meant the road – the traditional eastern approach to the park – would never be rebuilt. We would end our trip the same way. On exiting the trail system at Whiskey Bend, we needed to trudge six miles along a road that was frequently blocked by flooding and was crumbling away one chunk of asphalt at a time. The trip began, then, with our staggering along the Dosewallips Road. The temperature topped 90 degrees. The steep rise to the abandoned ranger station angled us into the sun’s glare, bleaching the road bed white and burning the outline of my pack along my shoulder blades. Drenched with sweat, we dropped our packs at the base of a towering cedar. I sucked in a breath and looked at what remained of the ranger station and campground. The place felt haunted. The river’s white noise might have blended with voices, as families came to picnic beside the sparkling water. Now plywood covered the windows and doors of the park service buildings. Modesty at the toilet was provided by a shower curtain hung where the door had once been. Waist-high grass swayed, overgrowing the picnic tables, and the informational signs – “Dosewallips Trailhead/Mountain Wilderness” – and a host of others had been blown over, the plastic facings shattered and their bases smothered in weeds. On the trail at last, we fell into a familiar line: Chris leading, Randy next, and me anchoring. Our goal was camp on Deception Creek, 8 miles and 1500 vertical feet away. Our time on the sun-drenched road had wasted us. Even sheltered under the cedars and firs, I couldn’t catch a full breath in the heat. We dropped onto the mossy carpet beside the trail at ever-shortening intervals. At each stop we’d gulp water and then guiltily check our bottles, evaluating whether what remained in them would last till camp. Finally, mercifully, a bear wire appeared, tracing a line from a fir’s branches to the ground. The camp was just below the trail, a big dusty circle with the creek trickling quietly along one side and the river giving a full-throated roar on the other. I dragged myself down the path and walked out beside the river. The Dosewallips cascaded by in blue-white arcs smooth as Chihuly glass. We had 13 miles behind us and 47 left to go. “These long hikes, you get faster each day,” I said over dinner. Randy, ever the cynic, caught Chris’ eye and bobbed his head my way. “Does he ever stop lying?” “Well, the weather is supposed to break soon,” I replied, trying to fight the leaden mood exhaustion brought on. But the next morning supported Randy’s negative world view. The trail climbed the valley, popping out of forest and into meadows of head-high grass and Russian thistles, the plants holding heat like a sauna and disguising chuckholes deep as tiger traps. I remembered the first book I’d ever read about the Olympics – a 1970 edition of the Olympic Mountain Trail Guide by Robert L. Wood – and thought how this day contrasted with his telling. Mt. Fromme, described as “crowned with snow cornices”, now shimmered at the valley’s head, a series of naked cliffs that seemed to float, detached from the earth. Near tree line, Dose Meadows opened before us, acres of grass and lupine burning with light. At Woods’ writing, the meadow had teemed with wildlife, marmots, deer, and bears among throngs of backpackers, but we hadn’t glimpsed an animal, human or otherwise, in a day and a half, the three of us alone on the once-popular trail. A boot path led around a low dirt hill to another gorgeous site on the Dosewallips, the river here placid and shallow. Once the tent was up, Chris and I hastily repacked for our side trip up Lost Peak. We might be thru-hiking, but peaks rose all around us, and the climbing bug couldn’t be easily shaken. “You sure you’re not coming?” I asked. Randy stood beside me with a book under one arm. “Swear to god, man, just two miles up. No farther than that.” But Randy snapped his book open, and the two of us headed up the Lost Pass Trail, so primitive and steep we had to kick our boot edges in to hold the slope. We reminisced along the way. One goal of this trip was to slow life down and refocus. “I feel like the last twelve years went by like a dream, Doug,” Chris said. “Like I lost them. Where’d they go?” Once, we climbed three weekends a month, but we all settled down and had kids, and while their young lives flew by, our trips to the mountains had become rare and manic in turn. Harsh alpine country surrounded us at Lost Pass. We headed toward a rounded dome to the east, kicking over talus and through krumholz. The mountain was parched. Heather snapped as we pushed through, and every broadleaf alpine plant was burned a brittle red. Lost Peak was a rubble pile about 100 feet higher than the dome, and we scrambled the boulders to the top. We looked back the way we’d come. The river’s canyon wound away, slopes darkening with firs until everything vanished in the haze. Randy was still reading when we returned, reclining against a log in the meadows and bathed in sunset light. The scene was blissful, and, next morning, the universe picked that same joyous tune. High clouds rolled in and the heat wave broke. For day three we’d maintain our basecamp, go light to Hayden Pass, and then follow a climber’s trail to Sentinel Peak. The river breathed its last beneath a final bridge, just a sheen of water trickling down rock steps. We hiked through tundra and followed the looping switchbacks to the pass, just a sharp notch in the ridge. A strong trail south wound up Sentinel, crossing talus basins and squeezing through clumps of alpine firs. Views opened on the rock slabs just below the summit – far off, the smoke plume from the Paradise fire and, nearer, clouds building behind Mount Anderson, a tortuous ridge-run away, its twin summits separated by a glacier and a rock pillar thrust skyward like a knife blade. We settled back in camp early. I’d planned on an afternoon nap, but we shoveled down snacks and chattered away, and I couldn’t keep my eyes closed, afraid I’d miss the next story though I’d heard each one a dozen times. That evening, a buck stepped from the shadows across the river, the first animal we’d seen in four days out. Heedless of us, he lowered his head to drink, his neck and shoulder muscles rippling. He picked his way soundlessly through the brush, glowing in front of that dark forest like Zeus come to earth in animal form. The next morning we hiked to the pass again and took the Hayes River Trail down, coasting nine miles to the banks of the Elwha. The views of Mount Anderson’s intimidating glaciers disappeared. We navigated a trail washout, and shortly after that entered a gentler world. Hikers appeared in clusters. The forest rose and moss painted earth and blow downs a delicate green, every image softened as though viewed through a gauze-covered lens. On the porch of the Hayes River Patrol Cabin we took a break before strolling to yet another perfect river camp. Compared to the Dosewallips, the Elwha was mellow, its water clear and the gravel-lined bottom symmetrical as though a pool boy had taken a rake to it. Our final two days of hiking had a dreamlike quality to them after the battering we’d taken at the outset. On day four, the valley broadened as we passed the Elkhorn Guard Station, deciduous trees draped with moss in a scene out of the Mississippi bayou. After one last camp, on the Lillian River above the Elwha, we passed increasing numbers of hikers and reminders of the human history in this valley: the weathered cabin grandiosely named “The Elk Lick Lodge” and the equally-dilapidated Cougar Mike’s Cabin a couple of miles further up the trail. Half an hour past Cougar Mike’s came trail’s end at Whiskey Bend. We swung around the road damage and hiked the pavement the final six miles to one last barrier, the gate closing the road to traffic. There we encountered a scene of intentional destruction, all in service of this beautiful country we’d just traversed. I dropped my pack and followed my friends onto an overlook platform. Across the river, a matching platform was filling with tourists exiting a bus, but on our side we stood alone. A century ago, the Glines Canyon Spillway had been erected to dam the Elwha at a cleft between rock walls. Now the dam was gone, removed in 2014 to restore the river and allow a vanished ecosystem to be reborn. In all honesty, it didn’t look like much – the spillway was just two weathered cement walls caked with moss, old metal channels hanging loose above the rushing water. Back in the direction we’d come, manmade Lake Mills had drained. The ground it once covered looked like a construction site, braided channels flowing through a mudflat and patches of scrub. But the point of it, I told myself, was what this scene symbolized. With the park’s roads crumbling, the high country parched and the forest on fire, at least this attempt was being made to return one river valley to its pristine state in a way everyone could enjoy, whether or not they chose to hike the whole darned park to get there. Information: As the park service says, “Wilderness Camping permits are required for all overnight stays in Olympic National Park wilderness (backcountry) year-round.” All of the areas on this trip were considered “non-quota”, which makes getting a permit easier, but the process is still fairly complicated and appears to be changing from an in-person or phone in to an online system. Best recommendations are to check out the wilderness sections of the park website, call the park at (360) 565-3130, or stop into a wilderness information center at Hoodsport or Port Angeles. One possible complication is that the Hayden Pass Trail was damaged (fire again) in 2016, and right now the NPS doesn’t recommend it. If it is not reopened, you might consider taking the primitive Lost Pass Trail north and exiting at Hurricane Ridge. Best Time to Go: Obviously, the weather has been warming, but from the end of July through September, weather in the Pacific Northwest remains as close to perfect as you can imagine. While it’s always a necessity to pack rain gear, days are long and nights are temperate. Getting There: The Dosewallips River Road leads west off Highway 101, just north of the tiny town of Brinnon, Washington. If you’re coming from the Seattle area, the coolest way to make the trip is via the Edmonds/Kingston ferry (reserve your spot through the Washington State Ferry system), and then take Highway 104 till it ends at Highway 101, at which point you head south toward Brinnon. Maps and Books: Olympic Mountain Trail Guide by Robert L. Wood – last edition available out in 1970 is the book I still use for general park info since the author knew every trail well. A lot has changed, but for the basics, with reliable info on backcountry camps and distances, it’s still great. If the idea of bagging a few peaks along the way appeals to you, be aware that the Climber’s Guide to the Olympic Mountains is known to have some interesting route descriptions for obscure peaks. The guide lists both Lost Peak and Mount Fromme as Class 1, trail all the way to the top, excursions. Lost was a thrash that became a light scramble at the summit; Fromme appears to be a Class 2 that begins with a steep unpleasant stomp through krumholz. Most of the other allegedly 1.1 climbs in the Dose Meadows area are probably of a similarly mixed character. The book does give an overview of all of the approach trail systems, so it has its uses. There’s also a newer Falcon Guide, Hiking Olympic National Park by Erik Molvar. For navigation, the waterproof and tearproof National Geographic Trails Illustrated Olympic National Park Map is suggested.
  2. 1 point
    Yep, that is exactly the loop I did. I did it over four nights/five days. I stayed at dose meadows two nights and did a dayhike up to sentinel peak and just took it easy. I also stayed at cedar lake on my way in and went cross country to gray wolf pass, but I wouldn’t recommend that for novice hikers. If you stick with the trails, you’ll be fine. I might suggest doing the trip over four nights anyways — make the day after dose meadows east and camp at upper Cameron. The climb up grand pass is absolutely brutal and the way I hiked it had me climbing lost, Cameron, and grand passes in one day.
  3. 1 point
    Got it, that makes more sense. If you can get permits for it, a loop from Deer Park Campground, up Gray Wolf River to Falls campsite, on to Gray Wolf Pass, to Dose Meadows campsite, up Lost Pass to Cameron Pass (nice campsite in Cameron Basin below the pass) and then Grand Pass and Grand Valley, then back to Deer Park via the ridge east of Obstruction Point. About 50 miles total and not very crowded at all, with spectacular scenery. I did it in late August and there were no bugs to speak of.
  4. 1 point
    Some great suggestions in here. I'm a bit confused by your request -- are you looking for a loop (hike that starts and ends at the same trailhead) or a thru/point-to-point hike where you start at one trailhead and end up at another (requiring a shuttle/two cars/other arrangements to get back to starting point)? For loops, I would suggest looking at options in Olympic National Park and maybe North Cascades National Park, both require permits so go check out the websites and figure out your itinerary. You could also do point-to-point hikes there as well, with hiking on the Olympic Coast being an option if you wanted to do another coastal trip. Both are great. The Loowit Trail around Mt. St. Helens is fantastic, but is probably only a 3-4 day trip at most (around 30 miles, but with no camping in a 12-mile section which throws off equal-mileage days a bit).
  5. 1 point
    I would not categorize the Mt Hood TT as a high insect problem area. I have been up there during all seasons without any concerns. Of course there is probably a window of problem time in some areas but there really aren't any areas with standing water to breed mosquitos. The way the snow is pilling up now in the Cascades I would bet that August will be the perfect time to go, however, August is also a popular time. But crowds are not a huge issue since the 40 mile trail does stretch out well so you can choose to camp with others or find solitude. Bugs are definitely a problems in the Sisters and Goat Rocks area, but I would not include the Timberline Trail in that category.
  6. 1 point
    I would highly recommend the Timberline Trail around Mt Hood. One of the best loops in America with all aspects of the Pacific Cascades. I do the Timberline Trail every year. Here are my last two TT treks: https://adventurecontinues.org/2018/09/11/timberline-trail-revisited-2018/ https://adventurecontinues.org/2017/08/19/timberline-trail/
  7. 1 point
    I bought a dehydrator. I am on a third batch of pork loin jerky. It is good and only $3 a pound from CostCo. I seem to be making very hard style jerky so each batch I go smaller with the size so it is easier to munch. One of their big pork loin makes about two quart bags of jerky BTW. I dry rub, dehydrate then after it is dried I paint on a wet sauce and dry again. Something like a steak sauce, Tobasco or an oyster sauce seem to work well. I am now looking to make my sauces as well since I'm eating fairly Paleo these days.
  8. 1 point
    There are a ton of routes in the Sierra that would work for this. And if you stay off the John Muir Trail you won't see many people or bears. Emigrant Wilderness, Yosemite, SEKI, or the Ansel Adam Wilderness...pretty great hiking there. We have lots of routes and trip reports on our website; backpackthesierra.com
  9. 1 point
    Yeah, Iooks like the dividends have been calculated / applied but the rest of the page wording just hasn't been updated quite yet.
  10. 1 point
    I'm only getting about $5 this year. I don't know whether to be sad about the $5 or happy that I did not spend very much this past year I'm at a good spot for gear, the only thing I need is new shoes, so maybe the dividend will just sit in my account for a while.
  11. 1 point
    Spacious silence and cool, dry air. The sun is always warm in California, even in the dead of winter. Winter time is the off season here in Death Valley National Park, but I can’t imagine why. Boasting the hottest recorded temperature on Earth, it seems funny that most of the park’s visitors come in the summer. If you want to feel some serious, otherworldly heat, then pay us a visit in July! However, if you come to explore at any other time of the year, California’s mild and pleasant weather can be almost guaranteed. Spring is especially nice in Death Valley, when the warm nights return, and the wildflowers occasionally bloom for miles. If you stop by in winter however, you will probably find ample solitude on the trails in the area. At higher elevations in winter, there will be snow and ice towards the top of the mountains, but usually not very much. Cold, crisp air awaits as you hike higher, complete silence, and most likely, isolation. Starting from the charcoal kilns area, deep in the Panamint Mountains you will know when you’ve arrived, because these strange, stone, beehive-like structures will suddenly appear in the pinyon pine forest. They will certainly bring a moment of fascination. Most people don’t realize Death Valley has forests at the higher elevations. As the road winds higher into the mountain range, trees will suddenly appear. Any further up from here it becomes 4 wheel drive only. That road will lead to the trailhead for Telescope Peak, another great day hiking option. The charcoal kilns are a very cool landmark to check out. In the 1800s they would burn the pinyon pine forest here to make coal, and send it for fuel to the nearby mining boom-towns. I used to live in Death Valley and I fell in love with the park. The Panamint Mountains were my great backyard. When I would get some time to myself I’d wander up into them and enjoy their majestic silence. The hike here took place in January, and the conditions were icy, but without too much snow. The hike didn’t require any special gear, or any special permits. Just drive up into this lonely land and see what’s out there. The Wildrose Trail will generally have less snow on it than the Telescope Trail, so can be a good option in winter. I felt refreshed at the beginning of the hike as I left the charcoal kilns, taking my camera along and meandering around a few scenic corners, before heading straight up! This was the most challenging part of the day as I climbed through the forest, but was the perfect warm-up in the sharp, high desert air. The charcoal kilns are already at 6,800 feet of elevation. Coming from the bottom of Death Valley, I left the warm weather behind having driven literally from sea level, and would climb to over 9,000 feet high on this 4.2 mile, one way hike. It wasn’t too far before cresting the ridge, and I looked down to the first sweeping view of Badwater Basin in the valley. This, I could tell, is where the great scenery would begin. The rest of the hike was much easier than the first part of the ascent. Now I got to stroll along the ridgeline, taking in the view of Telescope Peak behind me. Telescope is Death Valley’s tallest mountain, and has an incredible ridgewalk as well. Trails in this area are great options for day hiking the Panamints. After the mellow ridgewalk, I encountered one final push to get to the summit. This is where the snow and ice began, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle. I was actually wearing sandals as well! I wouldn’t completely recommend this, because my toes were getting cold, but I generally love sandals for desert hiking. Just don’t hit a cactus! Finally, the summit awaits. I sat there and froze for a very long time, writing in my journal and wandering around that place which feels on top of the world. I took shelter in a pinyon pine tree to each some snacks, surveying the colorful, mirage-like desert all around. No matter the elevation, the sun always feels warm around here. Another great thing about Death Valley is you can hike in the bright moonlight, so I didn’t feel too rushed to get down knowing the moon would be showing up tonight. Still, it’s always a good idea to bring a flashlight or headlamp and the 10 essentials. Upon arriving back home in Death Valley later that evening, the warm air was a welcome greeting. Information: There is a free campground at the beginning of Emigrant Canyon Road, and at the junction of Wildrose/ Emigrant Canyon Road. They are reserved on a first come basis, and are often crowded or full most times of the year (except winter). Free camping can be found on the BLM land at the bottom of Wildrose Road in Panamint Valley, on many dirt side roads, and roadside camping/sleeping is acceptable there as well. Backcountry permits, day hiking or camping, are voluntary in Death Valley, and can be filled out at the two visitors centers – one in Lone Pine, CA, and one in Furnace Creek, CA. Check with a ranger about snow condition before attempting a hike, and be prepared with all your own water. It’s up to you how much water to carry because it is heavy, but 2-4 liters should be sufficient for a colder, shorter day hike. Of course if you bring more, you can always drink more! Books & Maps: Hiking Death Valley: A Guide to its Natural Wonders and Mining Past by Michel Digonnet. This book is more than just a hiking guide, the author knows Death Valley very well and explains its rich and colorful history along with the descriptions of the hike. He will also tell you the many unique plants and animals found in the region, as well as more obscure hikes off the beaten path. This guide includes hidden gold mines to explore and descriptions of how to find them. This guidebook is one to constantly return to whenever planning a hike in Death Valley. Hiking Western Death Valley National Park: Panamint, Saline and Eureka Valleys by Michel Digonnet. This book provides a closer look at the trails on the west side (the best side) of the park. Death Valley and the Amargosa: A Land of Illusion by Richard E. Lingenfelter. A fascinating read for anyone interested in Death Valley, or who is familiar with the park, this book will convey all of its history. There are many stories, some grim and some funny. From the lost Mormon wagon train that accidentally discovered Death Valley and gave it the name... to the many prospectors and con-men who called the place home. It’s a long and highly informative read, and an excellent series of stories about this haunting land. Death Valley National Park Trails Illustrated Map, National Geographic. This is the only map I have ever needed when exploring Death Valley. It has clear topography lines and the beautiful coloring of the map makes it fun to look at and easy to read. It has info on the side about trail suggestions and concerns about hiking in the park. Getting There: If traveling from the east, take CA hwy 190, the main road through the park. After passing Stovepipe Wells village, drive 10 miles further and you will find Emigrant Canyon Road on your left. Take that turn, and drive for about 25 miles straight to the Wildrose trailhead at the charcoal kilns. The road will turn to dirt 5 miles before the kilns. These same directions can be used if traveling from the West on CA hwy 190. After you pass Panamint Springs village your turnoff is 22 miles away on the right. If traveling from Los Angeles area however, you will be coming into the park from the south. In this case you can take the back route in... After leaving the town of Trona and cresting the Slate Range Pass, you will drop into Panamint Valley. Take the right turn for Wildrose Road, 15 miles after Slate Range Pass. This will connect you to Emigrant Canyon Road, take a right turn there, and drive just 8 miles to the charcoal kilns. When exploring the region, it is fun to take both roads, Emigrant Canyon and Wildrose Road, to make a driving loop out of it. Best Time to Go: Hiking the Panamint Mountains can be done any time of the year. My favorite time is December, because the air is very clear that time of the year, but the temperatures can be quite cold. The only time the hike should be avoided is immediately after a high altitude snowstorm or during one. This information should be found out at the visitor center, or at least by gazing up at the snow level on the peaks. Springtime snow is very possible in Death Valley. The best time to do the hike is on a rare cloudy day…In the summer, this hike is an excellent escape from the hot weather, and temperatures will still be mildly warm at the summit. In the spring, vast meadows of wildflowers sometimes bloom in the Panamint Mountains.
  12. 1 point
    Cool, good to know those are posted. I'm considering a new tent to replace the MSR Hubba I've been using since 2012, but haven't totally decided whether or not to do that this year or try to squeeze another season out of it. Still going fairly strong, just had to patch some mesh earlier this year.
  13. 1 point
    Hi all. I'm new to the site and to the hobby in general. About a year ago my wife and I went on a crazy (but medically prescribed diet) and decided to get more active. We started taking walks, which led to "hiking" (aka walks on trails) and things quickly progressed. We started car camping, and 65lbs later we joined the Sierra Club and signed up for the Wilderness Basics Course (WBC). We went on our first Sierra Club car camp trip a while ago and last week was our first ever overnight backpacking trip. We were supposed to go backpacking in the mountains this weekend with the WBC but they postponed because of the snow (we haven't yet had our lessons for snow camping). Anyway, now that I've gone from just collecting everything I need to actually dialing my gear lists in, and shedding weight where I can, I thought this would be a good time to seek out a forum. Unfortunately so many of them, including some of the biggest and most popular, use forum software that looks like its straight out of 1997 and I find that painful. So when I saw one that uses this I jumped on it (I manage another community of 20,000+ members using this software). See you all on the trails!
  14. 1 point
    Welcome to TrailGroove!
  15. 1 point