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ethorson
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ethorson
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PostThu Aug 03, 2017 2:45 pm 
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I repeated a trip done in 2013 to explore the divide between the north fork and main fork of the Sol Duc River, this time allowing another day to find the lakes on the north side.  The route starts about 100 yards down the Sol Duc Trail and heads north straight up the spur to the ridge top.  As before I started at daybreak to make the ascent before it got too hot.

Route finding on the lower part is critical because you can get cliffed out if you end up on the wrong spur.  As elevation is gained the spur sharpens and it is easy to follow, with one detour around a cliff.  On top route finding to the east is easy but the going is somewhat taxing, with lots of ups and downs.  Think Six Ridge without a trail.

There are five lakes in basins on the north side of the ridge, and I was going to try and get to at least one of them.  All of them are not visible from the ridge top.  I was only able to get a view of the most easterly lake be dropping off the ridge to the north to the top of a cliff overlooking the basin.  At this point I decided to abandon my plan to visit the lake since the route looked to be full of cliffs.  After continuing east along the Sol Duc Divide I did find a plausible route to the lake but at this time I had decided instead to visit Blue Lake the next day.

I found a snow patch with water on the ridge at the North Fork headwaters and set up a camp with a view for the night.  The next day I set out for Blue Lake, which is in the Bolder Creek drainage.  I had been there years before on a single day Boulder / Appleton traverse and was familiar with the route.  It was a little more taxing than I remember, probably because I am a lot older and carrying an overnight pack.  Once at the lake I wondered if it was a good idea to try and get all the way to Appleton Pass and out the Sol Duc in one day.  So, after lunch I headed back to the North Fork basin to camp.

The North Fork Sol Duc Basin is a beautiful place with meadows, tarns, and water falls ringed with the rugged west face of Mount Appleton.  I had another great camp with a view, although by this time the smoke from BC forest fires had filtered in and greatly restricted visibility.  The top of the smoke was at about 5000 feet so my view of Mt Appleton was clear.

The weather that night was strange with a warm wind and frequent intense gusts.  The next day when packing up I turned by back on my empty tent and it was not to be seen when I turned around.  A gust of wind had sent it somewhere, and I thought that was over a waterfall and down 500 feet into the lower basin.  After some snooping I found that the tent had been lifted over a patch of trees and was luckily stuck in some branches.

The route for the third day was a continuation of the Boulder / Appleton traverse along the south flank of Mt Appleton to the Appleton Pass Trail.  I had been this way twice before but always get messed up as I approach the trail, mostly because I stayed too high.  This was no exception and ended up with a little deadfall crawling to reach the trail.  It was then an easy trail walk to the Sol Duc Trailhead.

Ascending the spur and Sol Duc Divide

Most easterly lake

On the divide

In the North Fork Sol Duc basin

On way to Blue Lake

Heading back to NF Sol Duc Basin

Wandering in the upper basin

Camp with a view
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Ski
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PostThu Aug 03, 2017 4:09 pm 
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awesome. up.gif

too bad about the smoke up there.  frown.gif

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"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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meck
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meck
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PostThu Aug 03, 2017 5:20 pm 
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Very neat traverse and thank you for posting the info! Good to know it is doable (been eyeballing those lakes for the last year or so on the topo maps)

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*pain is just your body telling you "you're doing it wrong"*
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silence
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silence
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PostFri Aug 04, 2017 7:19 am 
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Another great Olympic traverse Eric!! Beautiful!!

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PHOTOS: https://www.flickr.com/photos/33792231@N00/sets
FILMMAKING: http://www.crestpictures.com/

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RodF
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PostFri Aug 04, 2017 12:57 pm 
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Thanks for sharing your exploration and views, Eric!

Sorry to learn no route was apparent from the ridge down to the N Fk Sol Duc lakes.  Dave Skinner sez route up the N Fk itself goes very well.

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"of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt" - John Muir
"the wild is not the opposite of cultivated.  It is the opposite of the captivated” - Vandana Shiva
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jask
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PostWed Sep 06, 2017 12:14 am 
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Hi Eric, it looks like we almost crossed paths up there as we did the ridge just a few days afterwards (we saw some footprints that must have been yours).  I posted a TR on Sept. 2.
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ethorson
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ethorson
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PostWed Sep 06, 2017 7:05 am 
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Yes, that was me.  As I climbed out of the basin towards Mt Appleton I also noticed footprints and ice ax impressions from an earlier party.
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jask
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PostTue Nov 14, 2017 6:06 am 
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RodF,
I am a bit intrigued about going up the N Fk Sol Duc to get to the basin.  The name Dave Skinner you mentioned sounded so familiar, but I couldn't remember where I'd heard it. Then it dawned on me a few months later it could be the guy I talked to for a 1/2 hr. at Boston Charlie camp some years ago.  I googled him and am certain it was him.  Is he a member and can be contacted?
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RAW-dad
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PostWed Nov 15, 2017 5:57 pm 
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Thanks for the TR and photos.  I figure I was up in that area within a few days of your trek.


I definitely enjoyed the N Fork Sol Duc basin, it has a nice feel of remoteness to it.  Unfortunately, we were behind "schedule" and did not linger. Maybe next summer...
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boomheist
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PostFri Nov 17, 2017 8:43 am 
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Another great trip report, and glad you're still posting. An inspiration to we geezers....
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