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danrigsby
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PostThu Jan 09, 2020 6:38 pm 
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Work is sending my to Seattle next week. As such I planned a few extra days for a backpacking trip. Im looking for location suggestions for late Friday Jan 17th and leaving Monday the 20th bright and early.

I know its fairly cold and rainy. So im probably looking for something in the Olympics where its a bit warmer but lower elevation. Im a midwesterner and dont have a lot of experience with mountains. I have only been there once and not sure what might work. Im looking for something 20-30 miles (loop or in-and-out). I considering the coast, but tides are supposedly crazy so ill have to be careful.

Thoughts?
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Pyrites
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PostThu Jan 09, 2020 7:57 pm 
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There are one or two fairly low elevation hikes on the W side of the Olympics. Iíd caution they can be full of puddles on way in, and in a day or two have 30Ē of wet, heavy snow, or in that same day or two, after four or six inches or more of rain, have all the side creeks become impassable. Expecting to be out on a certain day or two, say to be at work or catch an airplane is a bad idea. You want to have extra fuel and food and be able to hang out and wait.

Some shorter walks are possible.

Best.
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danrigsby
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PostFri Jan 10, 2020 6:00 am 
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Good to know. Perhaps another reason to try to stick towards the coast? Camp up high, and hike down during lower tides? Keep tide chart handy to stay ahead.
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Gregory
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PostFri Jan 10, 2020 6:43 am 
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Doing a 20+ round trip this time of year is sketchy for somebody who is new to the Olympics and mountains in general. Our snow level is dropping this week to sea level so just getting to a trailhead could be dangerous let alone finding the trail in the snow for the first time. I would say to research the coast, like you are thinking and appeal to some of the folks here that frequent the coastal part of the park. Unfortunately, works timing sucks. Good luck!
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RichP
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PostFri Jan 10, 2020 7:08 am 
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Yes, plan on sticking to lower elevation trails. Spruce Railroad, Olympic Hot Springs (11-mile walk now?), coastal hikes, Dungeoness Spit, maybe Mt Muller, Mt Walker, river valleys, etc.

Keep an eye here for current reports and conditions. You can narrow the search to Olympic Peninsula:

https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/trip-reports/tripreport_search?title=
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Fullripbrian
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PostFri Jan 10, 2020 8:46 am 
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Have you considered a series of day hikes rather than a traditional backpacking trip?

This generally suits me better during the wet sessson on the peninsula.  I do about 6-8 trips each year out there between November and March.  Usually only backpack on one of those trips if Iím lucky.
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Anne Elk
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PostFri Jan 10, 2020 10:20 am 
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The other thing not appreicated by folks from elsewhere is that it actually takes quite a while to drive to the coast, longer than mileage might indicate since all of the road west of Port Angeles is 2-lane and curvy.  Also, only about 8-9 usable hours of daylight. The day hike suggestion was a good one.

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rossb
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PostFri Jan 10, 2020 10:48 am 
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danrigsby wrote:
I know its fairly cold and rainy. So im probably looking for something in the Olympics where its a bit warmer but lower elevation.

The west side of the Olympics is where it will be the rainiest, even if it is a tiny bit warmer. So something like the How rain forest would work, but chances are you would get rain. Likewise the coast is likely to be very wet. Just to be clear, you might get lucky -- it doesn't rain every day -- but that is where we get the most rain.

You have the right idea, though. Just about all the typical backpacking areas would involve snow camping. The Olympics are a good place to stay low. Maybe the Duckabush? I've never been, but it is relatively low for a long time, and on the east side of the peninsula, so it doesn't get quite as much rain. The problem there (and in a lot of lowland places) is blowdowns. You might find yourself climbing over a lot of downed trees. You would also want to avoid camping if there is any hint of high winds -- this is the season when the trees fall down.

Hard to say, really, so much depends on what the weather is like. If the weather is merely damp, then toughing it out on the coast is a reasonable choice. You'll get wet, but it will be very pretty. With a bit of research you should be able to camp above the tide line, and at worse follow the trails up and over the various beach heads. If it is stormy (like it is now) I would just walk around Seattle.

That is the advantage of day hiking -- it is much easier to pick your moment. I would also not rule out a day hiking trip up in the mountains, if you borrow (or rent) snow shoes. There are some pretty easy trips that can lead to some very pretty views, with just a bit of clearing.
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Malachai Constant
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PostFri Jan 10, 2020 10:59 am 
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One thing rain in the rain forest is not a big deal if you have decent rain gear. The elevation gain is not big so you do not feel like you are hiking in a sauna. Photography is better because harsh light hides the beauty and dripping trees and moss look great. There are seldom long views so the clouds are not a big problem. Fog and mist add a mystical feeling to your walk.

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danrigsby
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PostFri Jan 10, 2020 11:28 am 
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Very helpful friends!
Based on feedback, I am adjusting as such:

- Leave from bellevue around 4:30am and plan to get to pacific coast by 10am
- Hike up from Rialto and do a single overnight on Saturday somewhere. Will get a wilderness permit and have a bv450 bear can (as required)
- Hike back to car (as an out and back) on Sunday, then drive to a hotel closer to the airport w/ maybe a short day hike somewhere

Should be safer and more doable? I will have tides to watch but there is camping up the North beach that high enough off beach not to worry much?
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BigBrunyon
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PostFri Jan 10, 2020 11:31 am 
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It's going to miserable, be ok with that goin' in!

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I ALWAYS camp at the upper lake!
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RumiDude
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PostFri Jan 10, 2020 11:32 am 
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rossb wrote:
danrigsby wrote:
I know its fairly cold and rainy. So im probably looking for something in the Olympics where its a bit warmer but lower elevation.

The west side of the Olympics is where it will be the rainiest, even if it is a tiny bit warmer. So something like the How rain forest would work, but chances are you would get rain. Likewise the coast is likely to be very wet. Just to be clear, you might get lucky -- it doesn't rain every day -- but that is where we get the most rain.

Exactly!  The West-End gets significantly more rain. It can completely wet out the tree canopy so that even standing under a huge cedar tree where you can't even see the sky, the water is pouring through. A person can become completely soaked the first day and the clothes will not dry out over night. And the winds on the West-End are more pronounced, especially on the coast. I love it, but always plan to be out to dry out so I usually only do overnight backpacks.

Right now the Hoh River Rd is closed because of flooding. Mora Rd is now open to Rialto, but that could change. Quinault Rd is flooded. On the dry side of the Olympics, Dosewallips is open but can sometimes blow out the road. Duckabush is open but the trailhead is sometimes not safe to leave an auto. Duckabush would be a great hike as an out and back.

Also just sos yer aware, this is the time of year trees uproot and fall over. I am talking about HUGE trees. The saturated soil and winds are responsible.

Rumi

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rossb
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PostFri Jan 10, 2020 12:31 pm 
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danrigsby wrote:
Based on feedback, I am adjusting as such:   ...

Sounds like a good plan. Just check the weather before you go. If the weather is like this, I wouldn't bother. But if the weather is similar to last week (some rain, but nothing crazy) then it should work out fine. Just have good rain gear (and a good tent, etc.).
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danrigsby
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PostFri Jan 10, 2020 12:48 pm 
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Ya Im not afraid of "uncomfortable": rain, a bit of snow, and temps in the 20s I embrace. Im more worried about a lot of snow or trail flooding out on me.

I will keep Rialto beach and duckabush in mind. A couple of days before I head over, Ill check the weather and call into the ranger to get some feedback.
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bivouacjack
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PostFri Jan 10, 2020 1:32 pm 
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Dan, when I first moved to the NW many years ago, one of the first trips I took was a Christmas overnight trip to Sand Point (Lake Ozette area) during a decent winter storm.
The amount of birds and other shore creatures active in the weather was surprising and the colors and action of the surf was outstanding.
We were quite wet the whole time but what I mostly recall was how invigorating and beautiful the trip was. And, not another soul around.
It looks like next week will be quite cold and still wet which could make it more challenging and very slippery in places.
Be safe, watch the water and tides, and enjoy whatever you do in this corner of Lower 48!
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Forum Index > Trail Talk > Trip Suggestions Near Olympics Mid-January
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