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Ancient Ambler
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Ancient Ambler
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PostSat Feb 18, 2012 4:42 pm 
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Revised 02/29/12 to include the recollections and comments of one of the leaders of this trip in 1965, whom I’ll refer to as “LB”, who was 18 years old at the time.  I was put in contact with LB by staff at Camp Parsons who read this TR when originally posted on February 18, 2012. LB and I have exchanged a number of emails since then.  As you can imagine, it is difficult to remember things that happened so long ago, and I really appreciate LB’s willingness to share his recollections and perspective on the trip.  LB’s recollections of the first days of the trip (before we reached Camp Pan) differ in some respects from mine, but for the most part our recollections are similar, especially concerning the Camp Pan and Queets Basin episodes. If anything, this exercise in recollecting incidents from the distant past has demonstrated to me how tenuous memory is:  while some things remain crystal clear, others are veiled in a kind of fog or are totally lost.  The few photographs I had from this trip were quite helpful in stimulating memories; I only wish I had more of them from ensuing years.   In this revised version of the TR, I’ve added LB’s recollections and comments in bold italics at the appropriate points in the narrative.

WARNING:  many more words than photos! But there are some old pix.

1965 Trip from the Hoh to the Dosewallips, via Blue and Hoh Glaciers to Camp Pan, Queets Basin, and Mt. Anderson and out the Dose

In the summer of 1965 when I was 15, I went on a two-week, west-to-east traverse of the Olympic Mountains that included glacier travel, dangerous weather, summit-bagging, steep side-hill bushwhacking and many of the other joys and miseries of backcountry travel in the Olympics.  That trip, and a few others like it, has a lot to do with why I am still going into the mountains now, almost 47 years later.

Some who heard about this 1965 trip have suggested that I write up a report, but I resisted, and not only because I sometimes have trouble remembering what I did last week, to say nothing of 47 years ago.  From lotus54’s excellent report on his 1981 Bailey Range traverse, I saw that a retrospective trip report might work if you had a bunch of great photos like lotus54’s.  I had none, but I did remember taking some photos along the way back in 1965, so I started looking for them.  When I finally did find the long-lost negatives and scanned them, I had only 9 viable photos, thanks to my frugality in taking only a 12-shot roll of film with me in 1965 and to photographic ineptitude that resulted in several double-exposures. The few photos I had, though, were enough to bring back some memories and to spur the recollections of my cousins who were on the same trip.

The following report represents our combined recollections of a trip done long ago.  The overall route depicted is accurate, but I am less certain about where we camped some nights. The trip was offered by the Boy Scouts out of Camp Parsons, so I hoped to find some old records at Boy Scout headquarters in Seattle to flesh out my memories.  I got an incredulous chuckle when I asked for records from that long ago.  I was also unable to find records on this trip at the Camp Parsons museum.  To nail down the dates of the trip, I decided to correlate my recollections of the weather on the trip and the weather depicted in my photos with August 1965 weather data from nearby weather stations.  I believe the following dates are reasonably reliable, but if anyone reading this has any information to the contrary or in addition to what I’ve reported here, please let me know.  My memory for such remote events is far from infallible. (LB:  “I’m sure you are correct.  It wouldn’t have been earlier or later.”)

Sunday, August 8, 1965.  We arrived at Camp Parsons from Seattle on Sunday afternoon.  Boy Scouts from this 160 + acre camp on Hood Canal near Brinnon had been heading out into the Olympics since the 1920s.  Most Scouts who came to Camp Parsons stayed in the camp for the whole week, as I had done when I was 12.  On the mess hall wall, where it was visible at every meal, was this refrain from Kipling’s “The Explorer”:

“Something hidden. Go and find it.  Go and look behind the Ranges-
Something lost behind the Ranges.  Lost and waiting for you.  Go!”

Kipling’s verse grabbed my attention, and the next summer, 1963, instead of staying at camp I did my first one week hike into the Olympics out of Camp Parsons, a trip on which we climbed Mount Anderson via the Eel Glacier.  After that, I didn’t have much interest in staying at Camp Parsons, wearing a Scout uniform, or doing merit badges; my main goal was to get out into the mountains.  Those of us who were going on one-week or longer Olympic hikes out of Camp Parsons usually stayed in camp on Sunday night and on Monday morning got into the camp’s surplus school bus that took us to the trailhead for our week in the Olympics.  For this two-week trip in 1965, we needed to learn and practice some mountaineering skills.  My recollection is that we practiced knots, belays and ice axe handling on Sunday afternoon.  Our group numbered 15 to 20 boys, with an age range from about 14 to 18, and three adult leaders with mountaineering experience.  Sunday was a good time to start getting to know our fellow party members as we learned and practiced our mountaineering skills. 

Monday, August 9, 1965.   I recall Monday being devoted to learning and practicing as well.  We’d be travelling across miles of glacier on this trip, including the Blue, Hoh, Humes and Eel glaciers and we were doing so after a lot of snow had melted, so we had to learn our knots and practice using the oak-shaft ice axes the Camp provided. (LB: “Probably ash shafted. A small point but I recall when we were purchasing these we debated whether to go with the less expensive ash shaft or hickory. We went with the less expensive.”)  I have vague memories of crevasse rescue exercises and prussiking up the Goldline climbing rope from the float on the water level below the camp’s elevated pier, as well as doing some sitting belay practice.  (LB:  “I do recall we were very concerned about getting the group grounded in the basics. I’m less sure about training on Monday which would have been unusual.  Two other possibilities come to mind that would be consistent with conducting that training and arriving at Camp Pan on Wednesday evening (thus being consistent with the weather reports in the TR).  They are: 1) we may have asked hikers to come in for orientation on Saturday, August 7, trained all day Sunday, departed Monday the 9th (taking two days to travel up the Hoh to Glacier Meadows; or 2) We may have met hikers on Sunday, oriented and trained that day, continued training on Monday morning and departed in the afternoon for the trailhead campground or Happy Four (5.3 mile) where we might have spent the night. This would have allowed us to get an early start and perhaps reach Elk Lake (14 miles) on Tuesday. In this scenario, we would have left us 3.5 miles (1700 ft el. gain) to hike on the Wednesday morning before ascending Blue Glacier to Glacier Pass. 

I suppose it is possible that on Tuesday we hiked the full 14 miles to Elk Lake  or some other spot short of Glacier Meadows after a 4 hour bus ride. It just seems like it would have been a bad idea given heavy packs and the intent to begin glacier travel the next day.  I hope I’m not being a revisionist historian here. This is one point where I’m not certain.”  Note: My recollections, and those of my cousins, concerning the first few days of this trip, prior to arrival at Camp Pan, were rather hazy, so I appreciate LB’s recollections).
     

Tuesday, August 10, 1965.  (Hoh TH and up the Hoh Trail)  We loaded up our food and other gear for the trip and climbed into the Camp’s old surplus school bus for the long ride out to the Hoh trailhead. (LB: “At the time we viewed that bus as a great improvement over packing kids into the back of a surplus truck or talking other Parsons staff into driving us to the trailhead.  I think it was the following summer that the bus’s brakes overheated coming down from Hurricane Ridge…another adventure still crystal clear in my memory.  We did come to a stop at the bottom. I recall that “T” was at the wheel, “J” sat on the floor pumping the hand brake and I lead songs trying  to distract the hikers [a la the Titanic, I suppose…come to think of it, that might have been the song we were singing.])    We were packing food for about one week.  Upon reaching the Elwha River at Chicago Camp, we’d be met by a horse packer with the food for the remainder of our trip. (LB: The packer was Tex Hutto, if memory serves.)We had blue sky and sunshine overhead on our first day on the trail, and the hike was long and hot.  I had saved up my money, visited REI’s old store on 11th Avenue on Capitol Hill earlier in the summer, and purchased a huge REI aluminum-frame Cruiser Expedition pack to replace the wood-frame Trapper Nelson I’d used the two previous years.  I’d also bought a REI McKinley down sleeping bag, with a cotton/synthetic blend cover that was supposed to be very durable.  I was ready to go, but the pack was awfully heavy and the first day of hiking was tough.   

As we were passing the Olympus Ranger Station some miles up the trail, there was a ranger on the porch with a transistor radio that somehow had picked up a radio signal and was playing Bob Dylan’s iconic song, “Like A Rolling Stone”, which had just been released that summer.  “Like a Rolling Stone” by Dylan is a great song no matter how you cut it, but ever since that hot August afternoon in 1965, it’s had special significance for me.  I don’t remember anything about how far we made it that day or where we camped that first evening, nor do my cousins.  All we can remember is that it was a very long, tiring day, and our packs were very heavy, as they always seem to be on the first day of a multi-day trip.  I doubt we made it all the way to Elk Lake.  Maybe we made it to Stove Hill Camp, about 12 miles out from the trailhead. (LB:  See comments above under Monday, August 9)

Wednesday, August 11, 1965 (Hoh trail and on to Camp Pan)   Breakfasts on this trip were usually oatmeal cooked in boiling water in a Number 10 Tin suspended over a fire.  The oatmeal was flavored with whatever embers, ash or other debris fell into the cooking can, together with some raisins. (LB: I think we did vary this with Roman Meal and cornmeal mush.  It was pretty dreadful but it was free government surplus.  We tried to keep the costs down on these trips.  I think we didn’t charge more per week than the cost of a week at Parsons, $24.50.)  I’ve had a tough time getting interested in oat meal as a breakfast item ever since.  On this second day of our trip, after breakfast, we headed up to the terminal moraine of the Blue Glacier, tied into our climbing ropes, and began traversing the Blue Glacier toward Glacier Pass, the narrow pass that separates the Blue Glacier from the Hoh Glacier.  Our destination for the day was Camp Pan, a desolate rock outcropping surrounded by glaciers at the 5600 foot level on the south side of the Hoh Glacier, almost directly north of Blizzard Pass. (LB: So it has a name!  If I ever knew that there was a name to this outcropping, I’ve long since forgotten but never will forget the camp).  Our plan was to camp there, get up early on Thursday morning, head up the Hoh Glacier, climb Olympus and return to Camp Pan for another night, before heading over Blizzard Pass toward Queets Basin.


Blue to Camp Pan map
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Blue to Camp Pan map

I recall no difficulties crossing the Blue Glacier, Glacier Pass or the Hoh Glacier, other than there being no wind at all and the temperatures being blazing hot by the time we crossed the Hoh Glacier in the afternoon.  I have learned over the years that the combination of no wind and a markedly hotter day than preceding sunny days can be a bad omen in the Olympics, a sort of calm before the storm, but I was too young to know that then.  We climbed up the steep glacial slope and gratefully found our spots on rocky Camp Pan.

For what is coming, you need to know that we carried no real tents.  The leaders had a 9 foot by 12 foot coated nylon tarp, visible in one of my photos.  I recall using a black plastic tube for shelter, which came with rubber balls and metal brackets to which lines could be attached.   The rubber ball was placed on the inside of the “tent” at the point you wanted to attach a line.  You would bunch the plastic around the ball, then slip one end of the metal bracket over the ball-bunched plastic, and tie a line to the other end of the metal bracket.  You could then run the line out to a stake, rock, ice axe or other point of support, and  in this fashion establish support for your “tent.”  You could also run a line through one end of the open tube all the way out the other open end of the tube, and support the tent roof that way, which provided you with an open tube and plenty of ventilation to prevent condensation.  This was wonderful in theory, if the theory included lots of trees to tie off to and gentle breezes that allowed rain to fall in a perpendicular, as opposed to horizontal direction.  My cousin remembers that these black plastic tube tents were what we were requested to purchase and carry on this trip, though I don’t remember that. (LB:  “I recall our 9x12 tarp, the ball and hoop connectors, and black plastic Visqueen, I have forgotten the tube tent. I don’t think we asked that hikers bring tube tents but I suppose we might have.  Whatever it was, it wasn’t adequate”.)

So, as the afternoon turned to evening, we set up our shelter, ate some dinner, and thought about climbing Mount Olympus the next morning.  By any measure, Camp Pan is a spectacular camp site  (LB:  “!!!!!”), and here are a couple of views taken from it in the evening of August 11, 1965.


Glacier Pass from Camp Pan Olympus August 1965
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Glacier Pass from Camp Pan Olympus August 1965
Upper Hoh glacier from Camp Pan August 1965
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Upper Hoh glacier from Camp Pan August 1965

The Glacier Pass photo was taken looking northwest and the Hoh Glacier photo was taken looking west from Camp Pan.  Those who have done some travelling in the high Olympics and experienced the awful weather they can inflict might be alarmed when looking at these photos.  The clouds are thickening, and there’s obviously some weather coming in from the southwest, which is where you don’t want it to be coming from if you’re in an exposed position like Camp Pan.  But I didn’t know that then, and just snuggled into my down bag inside my black plastic tube shelter, excited by the prospect of heading up Mount Olympus in just a few more hours. (LB: “I can’t remember just when we started getting concerned. It may have been at this point [when the clouds started coming in as depicted in the photos]. We did triangulate our position on the rock and get compass bearings on Glacier Pass in anticipation of getting socked-in.  I recall at some point in the late evening that we discussed contingency plans if the weather made the climb impossible.  Little did we know what the night would hold for us and what our condition would be in the morning!“) 

Thursday, August 12, 1965 (Camp Pan)  Perhaps late in the night of August 11 or maybe in the very early hours of August 12, the wind came up and the rain started.  I have no idea now if the wind started gently and rose steadily from that point, or whether we were slammed almost immediately by tremendous gusts.  By the time the weak, thin light of dawn seeped through the scudding clouds and driving rain, we had been buffeted by strong winds and torrential rain for hours, and the roaring of the wind was accentuated by the furious snapping and flapping of our plastic tube shelters and the leaders’ tarp.  I don’t remember much of that day except being cold and wet, and occasionally staring bleakly across the Hoh Glacier at the south face of Mount Mathias towering above us, plastered with fresh snow just a few hundred feet higher elevation than we were, when the mountain was visible at all given the almost unending clouds, icy precipitation and wind raking the area.

Needless to say, our plastic tube shelters did not provide much protection from this weather.  By evening, I was shivering uncontrollably.  One of my cousins remembers a fire, with boys crowding around it so that we could warm one side of our bodies while the other side froze.  There are a few trees on the rock outcrop that is Camp Pan, but I don’t remember a fire.  If there was a fire, we probably burned whatever silver wood had accumulated over the centuries from the few trees that managed to grow in that hostile environment.  There were no restrictions on fires in the alpine back in 1965, and we had reached a real emergency situation, obviously.  I’ve often wondered in retrospect what was going through our adult leaders’ minds as this onslaught of awful weather continued unabated, hour after hour after hour. Miles of glacier travel to get to Glacier Meadows and the long hike back out the Hoh.  Or more glacier travel up to Blizzard Pass and down over the Humes glacier, then a tough cross country effort to Queets Basin, which is about as far from anywhere civilized you can get in the Olympics.  And all of that backcountry being pounded by the same storm that had us pinned down on Camp Pan.  There were few, if any, good options.   


(LB:  It’s hard to remember exactly what was going on in our minds so many years ago.  Here is what I remember:

We were awake in the night as the storm raged and wondered if we all were still stuck to the rock. I recall getting up and checking the shelters in the dark.  I recall having a hard time finding or putting on my boot.  Once on, I did a fair amount of stumbling and crawling to make the rounds. The shelters were there but in poor shape.

“T” was not coherent in the morning.  His air mattress had deflated in the night and as a result he spent a good deal of time in a pool of icy water. When he did get up, he was trying to walk around without boots, mumbling, and then just sitting.

“C”, another assistant leader, and I were aware that our immediate job was going to be survival of the group and that meant finding out who, like “T”, was suffering from hypothermia. Several seemed to be. A fire was required.  Several attempts were made without success. Eventually, we coated the soaked twigs of those ancient trees with a gelatinous fire starter that we later dubbed “napalm in a tube” and had success coaxing a little heat out of a meager supply of fuel. I have tried unsuccessfully to remember if we had a stove on this trip.  I don’t think so.

I recall that some hikers doubled up in sleeping bags at some point. I’d like to think that it was as soon as we suspected early stage hypothermia, but I’m not sure.

We discussed the various options once “T” had warmed up and was functional again.  I think those options included the possibility of back tracking out the Hoh river valley, sending two of the leaders back for help, and going on to Queets Basin where there would be a more sheltering landscape and a fuel supply.  But during that first day of the storm we knew that we had only one option; restore or maintain body temperature, eat, and brace ourselves for more of the same. As the TR states, there were no good options.  It is worth noting that “T” and “J”, the leaders of Parsons hikes, did routinely have contingency plans in mind and discussed them with their assistants. On several occasions, I recall the original plan being modified because of weather or injury. I’m not so sure that those plans considered a storm of this magnitude with the leader incapacitated for a time. Thinking back on that day now, I remember questioning: “Am I thinking straight?”  “Is “T”?” “Should we be making any evacuation decisions now?”  “T” was a charismatic individual who I trusted to make good decisions in the backcountry. During the time he was incapacitated, I began to feel the burden of leadership more so than I had ever felt it before.


Going into the second night of the storm, one of my cousins, whose wool sleeping bag was sopping wet, remembers us getting into a sleeping bag together to try to keep ourselves warm through mutual body heat.  I have a vague recollection of that, but I believe that by then I was in a hypothermic confused state and don’t remember much more.  Several in our group suffered some degree of hypothermia on Camp Pan.  My cousin remembers seeing two of the adult leaders struggling to help the third adult leader to his feet and supporting him there while the wind raged around us.  I don’t think I saw that, and I’m glad I didn’t. As the second night of the storm dragged on, our prospects were bleak if the weather did not turn soon.

Friday, August 13, 1965.  (Camp Pan to Queets Basin)  By dawn on Friday, August 13, the wind subsided, though there were still some fitful gusts, and the torrential rain had stopped.  It was very cold, and the cold was accentuated by wind gusts that were finally diminishing.  Looking south up the glacier toward Blizzard Pass, there were a few breaks in the clouds.  The shortest, safest route to more sheltered terrain and a lot of wood for warming fires would be over Blizzard Pass, down the Humes Glacier and into lower Queets Basin.  Our leaders had us pack up hurriedly, with those who had not suffered hypothermia asked to take on some of the load for those who had. 

You would think that all of us would be feeling a huge sense of relief at leaving Camp Pan, but I don’t remember that.  Instead, what I remember is a sort of emotional numbness, a kind of shell-shock.  Most, if not all, of us on that trip had almost certainly lived fairly protected lives up to that point.  Few, if any of us, had ever experienced anything like the protracted fury of that storm on Camp Pan.  The closest thing I can remember experiencing weather-wise up to that point was the Columbus Day Storm of 1963 in Seattle, and for that, I was in the safety of my home, not outside in a wet sleeping bag under a wildly flapping and snapping sheet of black plastic.  Perhaps the best sense of what it was like to be on Camp Pan during the prolonged storm, the implacable and indifferent ferocity of it all, can be gained by reading The Open Boat, by Stephen Crane, though we were never so tantalizingly close to civilization during our ordeal as were the occupants of the open boat in Crane’s story.


Camp Pan to Queets Basin map
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Camp Pan to Queets Basin map

We roped up quickly and ascended the glacier to Blizzard Pass, then dropped down onto the Humes Glacier, descending toward the east.  More and more breaks began to show in the cloud cover as we descended further.  We all began to feel a lot better the more we walked and our bodies began warming up again.  Near the snout of the Humes glacier, we passed scattered metal debris from the mid-air crash of a couple of F89s from 1956.  Off the glacier finally, we descended steep and barren glacier-scoured slopes near one of the headwater streams of the Queets River, following that stream for some distance and then ascending steeply away from the river, up game trails heading toward lower Queets Basin.  The clouds continued to clear, and before too long we reached a perfect campsite in lower Queets Basin, at about the 4000 foot level.  Upper Queets Basin is a barren, rocky expanse with incredible views of Mount Queets, Olympus and the Humes Glacier, but lower Queets Basin is lushly carpeted with vegetation and some scattered trees.  When we arrived there and set up camp next to the stream, sun was sparkling on the water, the ground cover was a deep, inviting green after days of nothing but rock and glacial ice, the Queets glacier was dazzlingly white a mile to the south, and the sky was  a deep blue.  More importantly, there was real warmth in the sun.  We threw our packs down, pulled out our soaking wet gear, and lay everything, including ourselves, out to soak up the sun.

Ever since, Queets Basin has been a very special place for me.  It’s about as far away as you can get from civilization in the Olympics, and when the sun is shining, the creek is sparkling, and a light, warm breeze is rustling the vegetation, there’s nothing like it.  Here are a couple of photos taken from our campsite next to the creek in lower Queets Basin, one looking south toward Mount Queets, the other looking west back toward the Humes Glacier and Blizzard Pass.  (LB:  Your account in this paragraph and those that precede it capture my recollection.  I would add that as a leader, the sense of relief and elation that began with the break in the weather on the rock, built when we crested Blizzard Pass and rolled over me as we descended into the Shangri La of Queets Basin was about as intense as I have ever felt.)



Queets Glacier August 1965
Queets Glacier August 1965
Humes Glacier from lower Queets Basin August 1965
Humes Glacier from lower Queets Basin August 1965

Saturday, August 14, 1965 (Queets Basin)  I don’t remember for certain what we did this day.  My cousin believes that we took a layover day in Queets Basin, still recovering from our ordeal at Camp Pan.  That would be a reasonable thing to do, and that is probably what we did do.  (LB: We did layover.  We dried clothing and sleeping bags and drank hot drinks. I don’t recall if food was running short. It shouldn’t have been given that we were on schedule. I recall watching black bears in the distance.  I’m sure we trampled a lot of heather because we didn’t know any better. I was profoundly grateful that the storm had passed and that we had all survived.) 

Sunday, August 15, 1965 (Queets Basin to Chicago Camp).   One of my cousins remembers this as the day that started with almost no food.  We’d eaten through our food and  had no oatmeal left to cook, so instead, we threw Rye Krisp crackers in boiling water.  Rye Krisp crackers and Pilot Bread were our staple lunch foods, along with canned sardines.  I remember, after a hard morning of hiking, trying to eat Pilot Bread that always seemed to congeal into a lump of salty paste in my mouth.  They were basically big Saltine crackers, incredibly dry, and I’ve hated them ever since.  Rye Krisp was not much better, in my estimation.  So it would not be surprising to find that those items were the last food we had left.  After eating, we hiked up to Dodwell Rixon Pass, descended the Elwha Snow Finger, and picked up the trail again in Elwha Basin, our first trail travel in what seemed like many days. (LB: You were hopefully not aware of this, but we had some doubt as to just where that game trail was and if in fact we had found it.  I suppose that concern shouldn’t have weighed too heavily as we were clearly heading down to the Elwha.  I think the doubt may have been a sign of the fatigue we were feeling.) Near the end of the day, we hiked into Chicago Camp, where the packer and his pack horses were waiting for us, along with our supply of food for the coming week.  I have vague memories of a wealth of food laid out on the bunks in the Chicago Camp shelter,  the prize being a couple of big tins of canned ham.  As those tins heated over the campfire, we teenage boys perched nearby like vultures, eyeing the cooking meat ravenously.  It didn’t last long after it was finally dished out to us.


Monday, August 16, 1965  (Chicago Camp to Hayes River)   I have almost no memories of this day, nor do my cousins.  Given the remaining itinerary for our hike, I suspect we only hiked to Hayes River and camped there, resting up for the nest day’s long haul up to Hayden Pass and beyond.

Tuesday, August 17, 1965  (Hayes River to Sentinel col)  It’s a long haul, almost 8 miles and 4100 feet of elevation gain,  from Hayes River up to Hayden Pass.  I had last been here in 1963, heading down the trail from Hayden Pass after climbing Mount Anderson via the Eel Glacier on my first hike out of Camp Parsons.  August 17,  1965 was another hot, sunny day heading up a trail that just keeps on going up, mile after mile.  When we finally reached Hayden Pass, we stopped to eat some of my favorite lunch fare, Pilot Bread and sardines. (LB: It wasn’t always sardines.  Don’t you remember the kippered herring? Vienna Sausage?  Try eating it all summer long for several summers in a row.  I still eat oatmeal but, not these luncheon delicacies) I took the opportunity to get a photo from Hayden Pass over toward Lost Pass and Cameron Pass to the northeast, an area I’d hiked with my cousin in 1964. 


Lost Pass from Hayden Pass
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Lost Pass from Hayden Pass

After eating and resting a while at Hayden Pass, we sidehilled the west face and the south ridge of Sentinel Peak to the col between Sentinel and Sentinel’s sister, descending a bit to the southeast from that col to set up a camp that looked south across the Silt Creek valley at our objective for Wednesday, Mount Anderson via the Eel Glacier.


Wednesday, August 18, 1965 (Sentinel col to East Peak Mount Anderson and back)
We arose early this morning to a clear sky and view of our destination, Mount Anderson, to the south across the Silt Creek valley.  From our camp, we faced a difficult cross-country descending traverse across very steep sidehills, complicated by moist ground and lots of slide alder.  The Olympic Mountains Climbing Guide has a reputation for understating the difficulty of some routes, and they call this a “rather difficult route”, which it certainly is.  We pared our pack loads down somewhat, leaving sleeping bags and other gear at our col camp, and set off toward Mount Anderson.  The trick is to do a descending traverse that stays high enough so that you don’t have to climb back up the sidehill when you reach the obvious cliff band that drops all the way down to Silt Creek on a NW-SE axis just to the east of Point 5935 on the Iceberg Lake ridge.


Sentinel to Anderson map
Sentinel to Anderson map

Before too long, we reached the snout of the Eel Glacier and roped up.  It was another hot, windless day, and it was cooking on the glacier.  We were doing the Eel pretty late in the season, and there were plenty of open crevasses.  Nearing the point where the route turns a bit toward the southeast to ascend the glacier spur leading to the east summit of Anderson, we needed to cross a snow bridge.  This was across what was probably a six to eight-foot wide crevasse.  It was very hot, so of course there was some concern about the integrity of the snow bridge.

We had four or five rope teams, as best I can remember, and one or two of them was just kids, no adults.  And almost all of the kids had never done glacier travel before this trip.  As one boy was belaying another across the snow bridge, there was a tremendous crashing noise that sounded almost like an explosion, which echoed across the glacier and seemed to shake the ice.  The kid on the snow bridge had the good sense to keep moving, and the other had good enough sense to keep the belay on, and the snow bridge held.  Once our hearts stopped pounding like jackhammers, we realized that there must have been a big chunk of ice that fell off down inside the crevasse we were crossing.  We checked out the snow bridge carefully before getting the rest of the party across, and proceeded upward, reaching the summit of the East Peak of Mount Anderson early in the afternoon.  From the summit I took a couple of photos, including one looking north over the Eel Glacier, and the other looking west at the West Peak of Anderson, and with Mount Olympus visible in the far distance, giving a good idea of how far we had travelled on this trip.


Eel Glacier from East Peak Mt Anderson, August 1965
Eel Glacier from East Peak Mt Anderson, August 1965
West Peak Anderson
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West Peak Anderson

We lolled around in the sun at 7321 feet on the East Peak summit, drinking in the views.  From this elevation, it was obvious that some marine air was heading in around the Olympics from off the Pacific, so we headed back down the Eel Glacier without incident and completed the long bushwhack on a rising traverse back to our camp below the Sentinel-Sentinels Sister col.  That evening, we got a fire going at our alpine camp, an activity that would raise howls of outrage today but was commonly accepted procedure in the dark old days of 1965.  As the following photos attest, clouds were thickening and some weather was coming in.  Thankfully, we had bagged our peak this time before the bad weather struck.



Sentinel col camp
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Sentinel col camp
Mount Anderson Sentinel col camp August 1965
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Mount Anderson Sentinel col camp August 1965

Thursday, August 19, 1965  (Sentinel col camp to Camp Marion)  I don’t recall exactly where we got to this day from our col camp, but it is likely that we made it to Camp Marion on the Dosewallips trail.  Weather reports for this date from Hoquiam show over ¾ of an inch of rain and a high temperature at sea level of only 63, so the weather in the Olympics was likely bad.  But I don’t remember that either, nor do my cousins.

Friday, August 20, 1965 (Camp Marion to Dosewallips trailhead) I’d like to say I remember something about our final day on this trip, but I don’t.  The memory banks are wiped clean, or perhaps there’s been a capacity overload that makes it impossible to retrieve a memory of a day that is a sort of humdrum trip down a river valley instead of an exhilarating traverse of a high ridge or challenging glacier.  Whatever it is, I remember nothing of this day.  I can take some comfort in the fact that my cousins don’t seem to remember it either.

We can safely assume that we were met at the Dosewallips ranger station by the Camp Parsons bus and that we travelled back to Camp Parsons, where were met by our parents who whisked us back to Seattle.  Soon we’d start another school year, and those wonderful and terrifying days in the mountains would become a distant and fading memory.

Epilogue
There is no way to go through experiences like we did on this trip and come out the other side the same person you were when you started the trip.  When you go out to the very knife edge,  you learn some things about yourself and about life.  I suppose that a rational, adult person looking at the experiences we kids had out there might think any of us who chose to head back into the mountains after such experiences would be insane.  Of course, I’ve continued heading out into the mountains as work has allowed ever since, and so has my cousin.  Perhaps there is something hidden out there, and perhaps I still need to find it.  Other than my cousins, I’ve had no contact with anyone from that trip ever since, with one exception.  Late in the winter of 1969, while a late night party was raging around me in my residential college room at a university in a dreary city on the East Coast, I got a call from the adult leader of that 1965 trip.  He wanted me to work for him as a leader on a number of week-long hikes during the coming summer.  I had to think long and hard about that one, because I already had a good-paying job lined up, and what I would earn as a hike leader would not begin to be enough to cover the costs that were not covered by scholarship grants and loans for my expensive education.  I gave him a call a couple days later and regretfully declined.  I’ve often wondered what would have happened if I had said, “Yes.”
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Phil
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PostSat Feb 18, 2012 5:34 pm 
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AA this is a real treasure, thanks for posting.  I think we could use more of these retrospective reports... photos or not.  This is important history..... hiking and the mountains are changing and it's good to have a sense of that based on information from decades ago.   I was a Camp Parsons kid, too, though in the late 70s early 80s.  Were your week long Olympics excursion associated with the Silver Marmot program?  Mine was.
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CP
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PostSun Feb 19, 2012 10:17 am 
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The hiking program stopped in the late 1960s and did not restart again until 1982 when it was called the Silver Marmot program.  Scouts have been hiking out of Camp Parsons since 1919 and the trans-Olympic hikes were some of the most popular.  We do not keep records of the trip, however there are numerous "scrap books" in the museum that if you spent sometime going over them you may come across a few of these trips.  There are some pictures on the wall of the old Olympic hikes.

I really enjoyed the narrative listed above because it has been those experiences that kept me in scouting and gave me a love for the outdoors.  Unfortunately (or if you are a parent, fortunately) the rules and regulations that the scouting organization have put in place have limited some of the activities that we can do.  Today, if we have a hike go out it is usually five days/four nights and up the Dosewallips (which we dislike as you almost have to hike from Hwy 101 now) the Duckabush or the Big Quil.  Regardless, scouts still have a great time and come back with many memories.

Thanks for the old trip report and a stroll down memory lane.  One of your leaders is probably still working at camp.......
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Snowbrushy
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PostSun Feb 19, 2012 11:35 am 
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Thanks for the backintheday memories.
Thanks for the backintheday memories.

It almost looks like me at Lake Constance in 1967 with a red Cruiser, a tarp, and a crewcut. I have many pic's of Parsons from back-in-the-day with Troop 186. I'll give them to the museum.
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RumiDude
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PostMon Feb 20, 2012 12:01 am 
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That be some good reading.  Thanks for sharing your story and photos.

These kinds of adventuresd, even without the storm/disaster experience, help put life in perspective.  It is almost a spiritual experience.  I only wish these kinds of adventures were made available to more young adults.

Rumi

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Deereguy
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PostMon Feb 20, 2012 9:42 am 
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Ambler, thanks for taking the time to share.  A trip down memory lane.  Parsons counselor 1960.  Those were the best of times.
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furthur
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PostFri Feb 24, 2012 9:55 am 
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AA, long reports usually get my short shrift, but this was read twice--the second time tracing your route on my map.  Compelling narrative, thank you!

Please consider posting it in the main Trip Reports tab for more exposure.

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Ancient Ambler
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PostWed Feb 29, 2012 9:00 pm 
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Thanks very much for your kind comments.  It has been a real treat for me to find my long lost photos of this trip and revive some memories sufficiently to write about the trip, with a welcome assist from the collaborative recollections of my cousins who were on the trip with me.  After I posted this trip report on February 18, I received some contact information for one of the leaders of this 1965 trip from folks associated with Camp Parsons.  "LB" and I have since exchanged a number of emails, including his written memories of the trip, which he agreed to share here.  So I've inserted his memories and coments into the text of my TR where appropriate, using bold italic print to distinguish his comments from mine.  We understandably operate under different constraints today, but I am glad Camp Parsons offered this kind of adventure back when I was in my teens.
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RumiDude
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PostThu Mar 01, 2012 9:10 am 
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Again, more good reading.

I really wish there was some organization which still did high adventure stuff like this for youth, and for a reasonable cost. This sort of thing fosters a love and care for the outdoors which is greatly needed in todays society, IMO.  Part of the issue is simply the decline of summer camps for youth.  This decline is due largely to the increased opportunities for youth in other areas, such as sports and entertainment.  The dynamic of summer vacations has changed dramatically since I was a youth as well.

Anyway, thanks again for the TR and additions.

Rumi

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Lotus54
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PostThu Mar 01, 2012 9:08 pm 
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Great post and pics!

I like reading these old trips, reminds me so much of all the trips I did as a kid.
We did a couple long trips with some horrible dried food. chuck Wagon I think was the name of the company that made it.
Add a bunch of kids that haven't a clue on how to cook and sometimes it was pretty hard to eat it, even as hungry as we were.

I hope to have a bunch more of my 1968 trip across the Bailey Range in the next couple of months.

Queets Basin- you don't need to say more than that.


Mark
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IanB
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PostThu Mar 15, 2012 9:34 am 
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Thanks AA, for an engrossing tale!  The style reminds me of the stories in Paul Crews' book.  If the Olympic recollections from that era of others could be gathered, it would make a fine publication.

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"Forget gaining a little knowledge about a lot and strive to learn a lot about a little."    - Harvey Manning
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Barefoot Jake
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PostThu Mar 15, 2012 2:11 pm 
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Thanks for the backintheday memories.
Thanks for the backintheday memories.

This Trip was very interesting to me and a great read.  Thanks for posting AA.
I like the picture above without the use of a Tent.

What do you think your Pack weighed for this Trip?

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Ancient Ambler
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PostThu Mar 15, 2012 4:36 pm 
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Thanks for your nice comments, and I'm glad you've enjoyed reading about our adventures back in 1965.

Mark, I'm really looking forward to your report and that bunch of photos from your Bailey Range trip in '68.  I've got a photo or two my cousin took when we were there in '77, but that's it, so it'll be really interesting to see your stash of old Bailey photos.

Ian, I'm afraid the demands of my day job would interfere massively with pulling together the recollections of more hikers from that period, though it would be an interesting project.  I'll be getting together with "LB" from that 1965 hike in a few weeks---I'll see how much he remembers of other trips.

Jake, I used a tarp and no tent for a good number of years in the mountains.  I guess the skeeters didn't bother me so much back then as they do now.  "LB" told me in an email the leaders on the 1965 trip had 70 pound packs.  They were trying to keep the kids' packs to 40 pounds, but probably had not succeeded.  So my guess is that I was packing 50 pounds or more, as I was foolish enought to buy the biggest pack I could find and was one of the kids designated to carry a climbing rope. "Ultralight" was not yet on anybody's radar.
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hikermike
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PostFri Apr 06, 2012 7:55 pm 
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Fascinating post from around the same time I began packing...though I was a student at WSU then.  First trips were solo whikle still in highschool.
Trips to Snow Lake where I camped with no one around!  Remember?
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