Saturday, July 7, 2012

Crossing the Olympics: Dose to Enchanted Valley

With the weather forecast looking promising, and the need to keep out in the woods for a while, it seemed like it was finally time to head back out in the 'the park' (the Olympics that is).  I was wanting to be able to walk for several days, in preparation for my August PCT trip, so that generally means I am going to have to cross a pass or two.  I decided to go over Anderson Pass on this trip, mostly because it has been over 25 years since I have been up into it, or been in the Enchanted Valley.

Wednesday morning my wife and mother-in-law dropped me off at the road washout on the Dosewallips road and I headed out.  The 5.5 mile road walk is looking less and less like a road all the time as the forest is reclaiming all but a narrow strip through much of its length.  I used to really wish they would get the road fixed, but now I think of it more as just an extension of the trail.  The trip up to Diamond Meadows was fairly uneventful and only saw 2 parties of 2 each on the trail during the day.  Plus 6 more coming down past Diamond Meadows as I was setting up camp.  One of the earlier groups had come through Anderson Pass and I got some good info from them.  The 6 had come through LaCrosse Pass and were pretty heavily loaded.  I heard later that there were actually 12 of them but I missed the other half.

All ready to go from the Dosewallips trail head.

Rabbit stew anyone?

The mighty Banana slug.  Saw quite a few of these monarchs of the forest floor.

A colorful spot along the road walk.

This is a part of the area that burned about 3 years ago.  It is coming back nicely.

I wonder if the NPS would consider renting out this little summer cottage?  It seems not to be used for anything else since the road washed out.

The high bridge across the Dose.  As far as I know this is the highest bridge in the park.  You can feel it moving as you walk across it, although not as much as its predecessor.

The view looking down from the high bridge.  Looks like 100 feet or so.  Makes you really thankful for the handrails.

The Diamond Meadows campground.  This big open area can handle  several groups with  room for another at the edge of the meadow, several more on the hill to the right and a few more in a spot just up the trail.  Could probably easily accommodate 8-10 parties, complete with a privy and 2 bear wires.

Thursday morning I left camp about 7 and headed up stream.  The crossing of the Dosewallips required you to pick out a route across a jumble of logs, none of which appeared to go all the way across.  I believe it took me three logs to make it.  Patchy snow started just past the crossing, although only one large patch on a steep slope presented any real obstacle.

There are multiple braids in the Dose here and it takes several logs to get from one bank to the next.  

Just below Honeymoon Meadows there was a very large blow down, probably 100 yards long.  I had to take the pack off for part of this and pass it under logs and then either crawl after it or find a way around or over; quite a mess. 


The trail goes right through the middle of this mess, for the next 100 yards or so.  It is on a steep slope so it is hard to go around, leaving over or under.

I love Avalanche lilies.  Hit the first patch of them just above the big blow down.


I didn't like the looks of any of the logs across the Dose at Honeymoon Meadows so I ended up fording there, up to mid-thigh in one place, but not too bad.  The lower meadow was mostly snow free, but the snow started in the upper meadow and continued most of the way up and over.  The only real exception was a series of switchbacks in the woods; they were clear enough that I could mostly follow the trail.  


Honeymoon Meadows just after fording the Dose.  Looks good here, but just over the small rise in the middle of the picture, the snow starts.
I am not the most proficient navigator in snow country so I had Backcountry Navigator on my phone to help me out.  About every 10-15 minutes I would pull it out to check my position relative to the trail.  About half the time I was right on and the other half I was a bit above the trail.  I eventually made it up into the pass, a real sense of accomplishment.


The view from Camp Siberia

Anderson Pass; finally!


Heading down the other side was a real adventure as well.  I was probably half way down before I saw any evidence of a trail.  I ended up just cutting down the steep slope in the general direction of the trail until I came out into the clear and started finding periodic sections of trail.  

Toward the bottom of the pass was the debris field from a large avalanche, probably 1/4 mile across and 1/2 mile long.  The trees looked like pick up sticks just tossed all over.  Quite fun crossing that mess.  Once past that the snow diminished enough that the travel became easier, and by the time I hit the O'Neil Pass trail the snow has mostly disappeared.

I had not remembered all the waterfalls falling into the Enchanted Valley.  While there were not any I saw with massive amounts of water, they were falling many hundreds of feet, and pretty frequently.  I could see about 8 of them from my campsite alone.  I did manage to see a couple of bears just above the camping area and a couple of deer that wandered through the next morning.  Also experienced my first mosquitoes of the season, although not to terrible.

One of the waterfalls in the upper valley.

Caught this picture just as he put his head back down to graze.  Good sized bear just about 50 feet of the trail.  More interested in eating than in posing for a better picture.

Not sure just exactly what he was eating, but it must have been good.  He was slowly mowing his way across the meadow.

Some of the waterfalls across the river from my camp at Enchanted Valley.  None of them had a large flow, but there were lots of them.  This is 3 of the 8 I could see across the way.

The Chalet / Ranger Station 

I have grown fascinated with the world of mushrooms.  These were growing out of the cut end of an old log by my camp.  There were just about fingernail sized.

Are you looking at me?

There were 4-5 other camp sites occupied that night, and one of them beat me out in the morning although I never saw them.  The most amazing thing to me on the trip out was the number of people coming up the trail.  I do not believe I had ever encountered so many people in the back country before.  In the first 6.5 miles I encountered 3 day hikers and at least 3 dozen backpackers heading for the Valley.  One group of 10 and another of 8 were both planning on going over Anderson Pass the next day so I talked with them for a while.  I suspect I encountered nearly 100 people on the trail before I got to the trail head and pickup point.  It was really crazy, especially from the Pony Bridge out.


A very interesting bridge across the Quinault just below the Valley.  No passing allowed.

What looks like abstract art is just what is left of an old tree.  The rest of it has rotted away.

The base of a fallen Red Cedar.  The base is nearly 30 feet across.  The trail  zigs around  it here.

There were a few places along the East Fork of the Quinault that looked almost manicured.; like walking in  a county park.

One of a small stand of big old Red Cedar's.  This one appears to have a diameter of 8-10 feet.

If you look closely you will see an elk print with a deer print on top of it.

If you blow this picture up, you will be amazed at the number and types of bugs pollinating this Cow Parsnip.  They were just swarming over it.

Looking back up the gorge under the Pony Bridge.  The bridge is hard to see here, but it is at the center and toward the top of the picture.

The Dosewallips trail end is just over 34 miles away.  It appears like the road above the washout is now considered a part of the Dosewallips trail.

All in all a very good trip, although I did fight with a pulled calf muscle for the last day and a quarter.  Backcountry Navigator worked well until I changed the battery on the phone to start the third day; it was lost after that.  Fortunately I didn't need it for navigating the trail out of the Valley.  SPOT tracked along OK, although the heavier tree cover down low blocks it a lot.  Going stoveless is getting easier, finding a better variety for dinner.  All of the rest of the gear seems to be working pretty well so I think I am about ready for a much longer trip.

If you are looking to head out over Anderson Pass it should be easily doable now, so long as you can handle the navigation issues.  I made it with trail runners, micro-spikes and trekking poles.

3 comments:

  1. I would curious for you to share your Gear List.

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    1. The gear list I posted at http://aclayjar.blogspot.com/2012/04/sample-gear-list.html is still pretty current. I added Micro-spikes and a light down coat for this trip and swapped the full length under quilt for a 3/4 quilt and a pad. There have been a couple other minor tweaks but nothing of significance.

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