Mancation | April / May 2016

On this trip my hiking partner ending up being Adriano - usually (actually, more accurately stated as exclusively) my wife plays that role but on this occasion she ended up taking a trip with her Mom and Sister to Ireland, so that left me on my own to find a stand-in hiking partner. It just so happened that Adriano fit the bill and was up for the adventure.

Since the timing  (4/27/16 - 5/08/16) of our trip was not going to fall during the ideal (for me September, early October) backpacking season I opted for Olympic National Park as its trail system (in my opinion) is one of the best and most diverse of all the NP's.  I anticipated the snowline to be somewhere around 3500' - 4000' and when we arrived and received the ranger trip /trail condition report it was in fact right around 3500'.  Although many of the passes were not traversable (without an ice axe and crampons - which I was not bringing) it still allowed us some pretty good hiking opportunities.

Another issue was Olympic NP experienced a 100 year storm system(s) that rolled through the park late last year and earlier this year causing some historic damage.  This was unfortunate as many trails were washed out and/or  had significant tree blowdowns and bridge failures that made many of the trails either impassable or were so obstructed it made trial navigation so burdensome that choosing certain trials would have been an effort in futility.  For instance, the Enchanted Valley had 115 (yes - that was a counted and confirmed number) downed trees on the the trail and these trees are big, 4 foot diameter type).  Needless to say we stayed away from the trail and area.  Unfortunately, because of the extensive trial damage throughout the entire park, our trail options became significantly limited but good options were still available, just not as many as we would have liked.

There she is with her travel partner.  He does not talk as much as I do!

Our start and fist basecamp, Port Angeles and close by is the WIC (Wilderness Information Center) were we will pick up our backpacking permits.

Our hotel ended up having some pretty nice views of the strait/harbor and the Olympic range.

It's a bit deceiving because the weather is not usually like this but we were not complaining.  No disappointment from us.

Here is a view from Ediz Hook and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Good view of the sea stacks and that's not sleestack (from Land of Lost)  If you know what I'm talking about you are old -  if not, well, Google it.  If my memory serves me right, this is LaPush - made famous by the movie "Twilight"

We decided to watch the sun sink beneath the pacific horizon and we were treated to quite a spectacular sunset.

And the next day...Great weather again.

Staying in this thing was an experience in and of itself.  They put the toilet in what I can best describe as the size of a fox hole.  No kidding but you had to know some expert yoga moves to use it.

Quarters were a bit tight but we were desperate for a room so it had to do and was not that entirely bad.

Beautiful skies - what a treat.

My prints.

The sun is directly in my eyes and Adriano took forever to take the pic, hence my grimace.

I actually saw the Domino's pizza oven car.

Mt. Rainier from Tacoma, Commerce St.

Mt. Saint Helens - You can really see the impact of the damage caused by the eruption in 1980.

You are looking at the trial or what is left of it.

Wish I could have secured a better shot.  We saw plenty of elk along the Hoh river trail.

More trail damage.

My first snake I have ever seen in the Olympics.

More trail damage.

What's going through my mind?  There has to be a better way...

Adriano looking so relaxed.  But what is up with the John Travolta shirt zipped down?

Just cruising down the trail and enjoying the sights.

By this point the trail damage was starting to become a little bit annoying.

It's really hard to contemplate how lush and green it is in the rainforest area of the Olympics.  The photos just do not do adequate justice.

More of that green I was talking about.

Awesome meadow camping available here.

The Hoh had some amazing views along the river.

I'm thinking, "so what will be the least path of resistance"?

A trail crossing.

Just chilling out.

A result of me telling him to provide an epic pose.  I told him to be respectful and zip that shirt up.

I would say this photo represents the average size tree we would come across obstructing  the trail.  It  slowed our progress in what normally would have been some pretty fast hiking time along the Hoh, given it's relatively flat elevation.

Someone was playing tricks on us!

And here is another one.  Trail crews were not going to be dispatched  until May 1st.  Most of, if not all of the trail systems had no maintenance/clearing performed, we were on our own to crawl, climb and detour around these downed mammoths.

I might look happy about this but trust me, I'm not.

Tuning fork tree.

Great campsite we did not end up staying at.  Should have grabbed a spot in this meadow but we pressed on.

This is a great example of nature repurposing itself.  It's hard to discern from the pic but that is a downed tree with about 6 trees that rooted into it and have grown from its' trunk.

It was a pretty narrow spot to pitch the tarp but we made it work.  You can see the bear canister on the right side of the tent.  I really like the freedom bear canisters allow you but they can be cumbersome to pack and the added weight penalty (about 41oz) is no fun.

Nice sandbar and shot of the range.

Here is a wide angle view.

More trail damage.  Here we had some difficulty crossing the washout and locating the trail on the other side.  It ended up being about a 20/30 minute delay.  If it was only once, no big deal but this situation would repeat itself multiple times throughout the trail becoming a norm and not an exception.

And another example.

As you can see - I'm not exaggerating about the tree damage - so many blowdowns and tree root failures, they seemed endless.  All I can say is the trail crews have a lot of work on their hands.  I really admire the men and women that have the thankless job of clearing the trails and maintaining them.  I've never done such a task but it does not take much imagination to realize what hard strenuous work it is.  Makes a backpackers/hikers life on the trail so much easier and enjoyable -  a clear unobstructed path...

The drop is much worse in person.  This pic does not do it justice.

"grantitegearleopardac58 - Love that pack.

The camp was supposed to have (kind of like saying "the trail should be here") an operational bear hang.  I always bring rope with me to hang just in case and it paid off  this occasion as the only thing left of the bear hang was the cross wire, so I used the PCT method to hang it. Unfortunately, my mind went to total brain death as I could not recall how to tie a clove hitch - even if my life depended on it. That ended up being a pretty embarrasing moment and thankfully you can't see the knot I used around the stick.

Nice campsite just above a dried out river bed.  Adriano thinking and admiring, "man - Ric nailed the set-up on this tarp - what a taut pitch, I could have never accomplished that"!

 The tarp setup with a Tyvek ground cloth - it was a bit slippery.

Here is a rear pic of the tarp - The tarp covers enough square footage so that our packs can fit under the covered portion.  I love the Gossamer Gear Spinn Twin and it is my go to shelter.

Camp site along the dry flood bank.

Campsite - tentless.

Really enjoyed this winding trail.

More trail damage.

Cold, cold river crossing. It had to be done but felt really good after a long day of hiking.

I probably did  not need to remove the pants but it looked much deeper and in the past when I have decided to leave them on - it always ends up being near waist deep.  I just can't seem to win on this.

Right about here I'm feeling the effects of the that cold water.

This one was a doozy!  More Travolta going on as well!!

We had to dry our gear out on this day.

The weather turns so fast in the Olympics (that's really no different than any mountainous area).

We were contemplating crossing the river to check out the other side but it was moving a bit to fast for us and we decided to play it safe.

Our second day was a bit weather challenging but nothing too bad.  Yeah the sun really never came out and we dealt with some slight rain, but all in all not really too much to complain about.  It's the Olympics and what you are seeing is nothing out of the ordinary.

Nice time lapse video shot by Adriano.

Just a small sliver of blue sky.  It did not last long.

Coming out from the North Fork (Quinault).  My first time in this part of the park and I tend to come back and explore the area in much more detail and mileage.  Now, off to Rainer for some mountain viewing since we heard the weather was going to be ideal.  It was not originally planned but we thought what  great opportunity to see the mountain on a clear day.

Near Longmire Lodge.

It lived up to it's splendor.

Backpackers off to Muir base camp on a training run.  Muir is a popular site for the last haul to reach the summit (according to these folks in the photo).

Looking into the valley.

Wide angle.

The start of the Nisqually river.

Rest and relaxation at Quinault Lodge

A beautiful day in Port Angeles.  In the distant, you can see the Olympics.