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Phil
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PostSun Aug 29, 2010 7:00 pm 
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I had a great dayhike this weekend exploring the canyons and brush of the North Fork Skokomish.  I've been around this river more than any other I think, there's just so much to be experienced there. 

This time wanted to explore possible routes for crossing between east and west sides of the river around the canyons between Four and Six stream, and wanted to take another shot at viewing Honeymoon Falls on Six Stream.  There's some history to this idea that I'll summarize.  The Oneill party cut a mule trail up the west side at the end of the 19th century, and this route remained a popular one into the 20th century, with locations like Honeymoon Falls being destinations.  Robert Wood wrote about this in "Men, Mules, and Mountains".  Early 20th century maps posted over on the History forum show the west side Oneill trail, and even a crossing that isnt on maps today. However, road construction and then trail construction on the east side made the west side trail (the Oneill trail) obsolete.  Today the Oneill trail ends at Four Stream.  Back in the 1970s-1980s the boy scouts designated the Oneill trail a memorial trail and marked it with aluminum tags some of which can still be seen today. A few years back I bushwhacked the Oneill trail route from Four Stream to its junction with the Six Ridge trail, but never got to a place where Honeymoon Falls could be viewed in its entirety (I just got to its top), and didnt find ways to move back and forth across the river in the way that is described in the old records.  Thus my objectives for this day.

Drive from Shoreline started at 4am, hiking began at 6:40.  Made it to Spike Camp as quick as I could and then left trail to check out the canyons.   Glades of ancient trees in this section, a pleasant surprise.  Had been going for about an hour when I heard these noises up slope in a more rugged section.  Sounded like tree limbs being snapped, and percussive wood-on-wood smacks.  One big noise about every minute for 5 minutes while I paused to see if I could see the source.  First thought was that squirrels were knocking down cones,  but I was hearing wood being broken and the sound was large.  Maybe a bear tearing up a tree?  Some other person in the brush messing with me?  Whatever it was, I had places to go so I got back on course, pausing often to look over my shoulder. 

I reached the canyon zone but the stream bed I was following turned into a nasty gully and the slope ended with a good 15' drop to the river bed.  So I paralleled the river on elk trails or maybe an old boot path looking for access points.  Found a bouldered creek drainage that went right down to the river......easy.  The creek bed put me just below the extreme canyons where Five Stream enters the Skokomish.  Looking upstream I could see the river walled in by rock 
skokcanyons1.JPG
skokcanyons1.JPG

, so I figured that getting to 5 and 6 stream wont be done directly (this fact suggested by the historic accounts but I wanted to see for myself).  Had my water sandals so I could stroll up and down for a few hundred yards.  Was a great lunch spot.  Found this little boulder perched on a flattish stone. 
eggrock2.JPG
eggrock2.JPG

After my break I found that I could ford the river pretty easily and I made my way up to the west side and then up an embankment, aiming to follow the Oneill route north as far as I could that day.  Followed the course of the river, generally, and as I got closer to Five Stream it got more and more precipitous and the brush nastier.  Here and there noticed the orange tags I had seen before in my last trip through this area. 
OTtag2.JPG
OTtag2.JPG

Ran out of time so Honeymoon falls will have to be seen another day. 

I wanted to return via the old Oneill trail route so that meant more thrashing through brush.  Some steep jungled slopes to negotiate.  Better to stay high on these sections but I was wanting to survey the terrain close to the river.  Looked like mostly more rough canyons 
deep.canyon.JPG
deep.canyon.JPG

but at one point I made it down to an amazing grotto where the river took a few quick turns through boulders and mini-cliffs.  Deep blue-green pools.  Something like Pony Bridge area of the Quinalt, or the area of the Gray Wolf just upstream of the washed out bridge, but more picturesque and more elaborate, water slower. 
grotto1.JPG
grotto1.JPG
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grotto2.JPG
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grotto3.JPG
grotto4.JPG
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grotto6.JPG
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grotto7.JPG
grotto7.JPG

Lingered here for pictures then went back to the west side for more brush crashing.  Rather than fight with brush all the way back I decided to try to make my way back by walking directly in the river or along the gravel bars as much as I could.  Was able to do so all the way to the Staircase rapids, 1.5 - 2 miles walking the river!  The river walk may have been the best part of an already great trip.  You get these new perspectives on the river valley: towering earthen cliffs where the river has collapsed its banks, seeing the entire valley slope to slope, views up and down the valley all the way. 
beaverburn1.JPG
beaverburn1.JPG

Many people as you get close to rapids area.   Got back to the truck around 3pm and home before 6pm.   

Peak moments:
- Standing knee deep in the shimmering water of the Skokomish viewing the full expanse of the river valley, blue skies and sun, light breeze, towering black and silver trees up the slope of Mt Lincoln, Copper Mountain downstream capped with dark clouds.
- Finding and getting to the blue grotto.


eggrock.egghead2.JPG
eggrock.egghead2.JPG
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ScottM
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PostSun Aug 29, 2010 7:18 pm 
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Great hike.  I love your sense of adventure.  I think of times past when early day explorers crashed brush on the path to discovery.
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Sore Feet
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PostSun Aug 29, 2010 8:35 pm 
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Very cool.  I'm curious about the O'Neil route as well, not just for access to Honeymoon Falls but also because the O'Neil party also discovered a 100+ foot waterfall on the Skokomish itself about 2/3 of a mile upstream of the confluence with Six Stream that seems to have, thus far, eluded any and all other documentation.  The canyon in there looks pretty significant too.

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Bryan Swan
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Waterfalls - www.waterfallsnorthwest.com
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Phil
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PostMon Aug 30, 2010 7:50 am 
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Thanks everyone.

Bryan re: possibility of a large falls just up from Six Stream, have you seen this kayak report that appears to cover the river gorge from Seven Stream to the campground?

http://www.oregonkayaking.net/rivers/nf_sko/nf_sko.html

When I traveled from Six to Seven stream on the west side along the O'neill route years back I stayed high above the river to avoid the gorge ..... so not close enough to see first hand.  Would be interesting to survey the east side of the river gorge between Spike Camp and the bridge, maybe its not as precipitous as the west side.
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Pyrites
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PostThu Jun 18, 2015 4:16 pm 
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That report about the kayaker's is as scary as reading similar about first descent down Tshletshy. Like jumping off a cliff while stitching up a parachute.
Wonder if it was same group.

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puzzlr
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PostThu Jun 18, 2015 4:45 pm 
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That grotto area looks really cool, at least when the river is at low flow. I bet it rages during runoff.

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silence
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PostThu Jun 18, 2015 4:59 pm 
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up.gif

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PHOTOS: https://www.flickr.com/photos/33792231@N00/sets
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meck
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PostFri Jun 19, 2015 3:34 pm 
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Very cool Phil!  Love those grotto shots (makes me want to go for a swim!) [guess I should check the thread date a bit more carefully.... but still some very cool pics!]

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Phil
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PostFri Jun 19, 2015 10:35 pm 
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meck wrote:
guess I should check the thread date a bit more carefully.... but still some very cool pics!]

Thread necromancy for certain!  lol.gif  Every year I put this area on my list to explore again.  This year would be great with the low water.  Could walk right across the river in key spots.
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