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Jeff Pod.
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PostTue Nov 28, 2017 7:49 pm 
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I know this trip report is late, but I figured it was worth sharing our experience in the Olympics. Myself and my hiking partner (Carolyn) had never backpacked in the Olympics before and we were coming from California and Michigan to check out these mountains as I grew up in the Seattle area. This actually is the first trip report I have ever written...so bear with me.


We spent some time earlier in the year researching some off trail routes through the Olympics and stumbled across the Climber’s Guide to the Olympics Guidebook, which identifies a few high alpine traverses in the park http://www.climbersguideolympics.com/traverses We thought it could be interesting to map out all the routes and then try and connect them all via more off trail and trails. The general feel of the route was a South to North traverse of ONP piecing together some trails and off trail sections from the Skokomish-Hamma Hamma and the Dosewallips-Dungeness sections of the guidebook, then traversing back North to South via the Bailey Range Traverse and some other sections. We had a timeframe of 14 days to be in the wilderness.

Here is a map of the traverse on CalTopo https://caltopo.com/m/128K and our Projected Itinerary https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1xavIHaQvZUNdvigQmy-ZbGniERRZEJCDiqNsPQsz60A/edit?usp=sharing, and a short guidebook of a bunch of information that we put together (hasn’t been updated since the trip..so not accurate!) https://docs.google.com/document/d/1T4kPY5oPiiCABzSQ7g-6kw0crPO4sOodTFbPZyqAzfc/edit?usp=sharing


The route was ambitious, and I even spoke on the phone with Barefoot Jake who said it was impossible...and it was….we changed our itinerary multiple times during the trip. Although, it seems, for us, one of the best parts of backpacking is being able to put yourself out there in uncomfortable positions and then have to be flexible and navigate challenging situations in those moments. I will do my best to recount the days in a succinct and thorough manner. Thanks for getting this far already.

If you don’t want to read this whole trip report here is a map of our actual route as we carried a SPOT with tracking the whole time. https://caltopo.com/m/NTHU

Follow this link to see our photos! https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/123id-fW_pfzTqevbYI7BuWr3Amd3V2L8?usp=sharing

Day 1 - Graves Creek TH to Sundown Lake via Sundown Lake Trail
The first day we woke up bright and early at our friends place in Seattle and started our drive out to the trailhead. We stopped by the Lake Quinault Ranger Station to pick up our permits and tried not to sound too crazy to the ranger as we told him our 14 day itinerary. Once we made it to the trailhead we were eager to get on the trail. We started out strong and enjoyed our walk across the bridge from the Graves Creek TH. We made our way up the moss overgrown forest above Graves Creek and then turned off and up the steep trail to Sundown Lake and got in around dinner time. We went to sleep with anticipation on what the next day held.

Day 2 - Sundown Lake to Murdoch Lakes via Six Ridge Trail &  Black and White Lakes Way Trail
The second day we quickly made it up to Six Ridge Pass and began our multiple descents and ascents on the ridge. We lost the trail in a few spots, saw two black bears along the way, and eventually made our way onto the ridge top. We loved the views towards Lake Cushman from the ridge. We made our way down to the Skokomish River found a beautiful crossing and started the slog up the way trail to Black and White Lakes. Black and White Lakes marked the beginning of some of our off trail. We hastily made our way up and over the ridge and walked into Murdoch Lakes as the sun was setting. It. Was. Beautiful.

Day 3 - Sundown Lake to Upper Duckabush Camp via Mt. Skokomish contour, Great Stone Arrow & First Divide
Third day, well, we were behind our schedule and that was okay, and there was no way we were going to make it over Mt. Steel after we spent the whole morning bushwhacking from Murdoch Lakes down to the base of Mt. Skokomish. I see why folks go from the Gladys Divide down,  it looks like much less bushwhacking. Then, we started our trudge up over Mount Skokomish, jumped in a tairn towards the top...so cold... traversed down towards the Lake of the Angels, traversed over to the Great Stone Arrow, and then traversed on the ridge (avoiding the Hagen Lake drop), hit the First Divide, and walked into the dark on the trail down to Upper Duckabush Camp. Phew! What a day! Tired legs after that one, and I am sure the folks that were camping at U. Duckabush as well thought we were a little crazy.

Day 4 - Upper Duckabush Camp to Anderson Pass via Ranger Pass (Not) & Trail
The fourth day we were stoked to be checking out the Lake LaCrosse basin and possibly getting close to Mount Anderson and maybe over it via Ranger Pass...which didn’t happen. We took the trail to Lake LaCrosse and climbed the grassy slopes up to Ranger Pass. We struggled to find a way down even though we read multiple trip reports of people going over Ranger Pass. We cliffed out, got scared, climbed some 5th class moss back up to the top. We were demoralized and decided to walk around on the trail after a pick me up jump in Lake LaCrosse, so refreshing. That night we stayed near Anderson Pass in the forest and we were feeling tired, hungry, and not sure if we were going to make it on time for the folks who were going to meet us for our resupply at the Elwha Ranger Station.

Day 5 -  Anderson Pass to Cameron Pass via PNW Trail & Lost Pass
This day we awoke knowing that if we want to get anywhere close to making it to our resupply we were going to have to do some mileage. Because we couldn't make it over Mt. Anderson, we knew we had to walk around. We walked down the W. Fork of the Dosewallips  and then up the Dosewallips River. We turned right up to Lost Pass and then up to Cameron Pass where we saw an incredible sunset over the Olympics and got our first true view of Mount Olympus. This section held some beautiful forest walking through areas that we labeled Fairy forest, as we figured fairies would live in the deep moss….

Day 6 - Cameron Pass to Port Angeles Hotel via Grand Pass & Lillian Ridge

We were supposed to make it to Elwha Ranger Station this afternoon where my very gracious parents brought us a resupply box that we sent them earlier that month, but there was no way we would make it. We started the morning off with a hike over Grand Pass and then were excited to try the Lillian Ridge Off - Trail section in the guidebooks. Turns out there is a way trail for most of the way and we were loving the views of Mount Olympus and Hurricane Ridge. The 360 views from this ridge were incredible. We hit the Hurricane Ridge road and felt so worked that we walked up to some other backpackers that were packing up their car and they were willing to give us a ride into Port Angeles. Where we got a hotel, showered, ate a nice meal, and slept in a bed.

That was the first half of the trip. We. Got. Worked. But we knew our bodies would be in shape for this next section of the trip over the Bailey Range and then some. Although the plan didn’t go accordingly we loved every trail we walked on and there are trails there for good reason. Once again, we were practicing the art of flexibility and mental toughness. Major shout out to my parents who drove out to meet us with our resupply box we sent and took us to dinner.

Day 7 - Happy Lake Ridge Trail to Blue Lake via Happy Lake Ridge Trail & Bailey Range Route

We were feeling refreshed because we were carrying less trash, had showered, and had a whole new stock of snacks. Exciting. We got a ride out to the Happy Lake Ridge Trail. The trail up to the ridge was steep, but once we were on top of the ridge the views were beautiful! We were loving the mellow walking and views over to the part of the Olympics we were just exploring. We came cruising into Boulder Lake and some clouds were rolling. We followed a faint way trail on the start of the Bailey Range Traverse to Blue Lake where the clouds rolled in and we got our first and only rain of the trip. We curled up, ate chocolate, and enjoyed the sound of the rain on our mid.

Day 8 - Blue Lake to Swimming Bear Lake via Mt. Appleton contour and Way Trails
We were excited today because we were getting closer to the start of the true Bailey Range. We strolled past the stunning Mud Lake and had some route finding issues over into the next basin...but we figured it out after some loose talus walking. We made it onto the South Side of Mt Appleton and contoured all the way to Appleton Pass (side hilling galore for sure & that was only the beginning!) We hit the pass and walked up the trail to the point where we were able to continue to follow the way trail up a pass and eventually around and down to Swimming Bear Lake. What a beautiful trail with an amazing view of Mt. Olympus coming into full frontal view. We jumped in Swimming Bear Lake and a herd of mountain goats wandered into our camp that evening while we all ate a million blueberries.

Day 9 - Swimming Bear Lake to Upper Mt. Ferry Basin via the Catwalk & Mount Carrie Sidehill
Awesome day with somewhat brutal sidehilling. The “Catwalk” was one of our favorite parts of the trip being rock climbers as well, we loved the movement! We lost the trail at some points, but found an awesome route down to Cream Lake, which is amazingly beautiful and I see how it gets its name. Then, we strolled up hard to find trails to beautiful camping at some tairns right below Mt. Ferry. One of our  favorite camp spots of the trip.

Day 10 - Mt. Ferry Basin to Chicago Camp via Lone Tree Pass, Bear Pass, Queets Basin & the Elwha Snow Finger
This day blew our minds. The lakes below Mt. Pullitzer were stunning. We ran into a few other hikers on Lone Tree pass and then made our way into the still snow covered slopes of the middle of the Bailey Range. We kicked some steps up a snow slope and then walked the awesome ridge all the way over to the drop down into Queets basin. We jumped into and lounged by a small lake on the edge of Queets basin and then started down the melting Elwha snow finger...as cautious as we could. I cannot believe we found the cairn that marked the trail to get out of there, so grateful for the people who put that up...thanks! Then we strolled down, hit the trail and made it to Chicago camp at dark and slept amongst the mysterious forest once again!

Day 11 - Chicago Camp to Rustler Creek 2800’ via Martins Park & Mt. Delabarre contour
We woke up and strolled up the trail to Martins Park and realized that getting back to the car at Graves Creek TH would be a tricky. But, we decided to go for it. So, we went up to Christie col (I believe it is called). I used alot of info from Ancient Ambler in this section because of his trip to this area. We were going to climb over Mt. Delabarre and then down to Bretherton Pass, but after much route finding difficulty we ended up dropping down below Mt. Delabarre and making our way down what may have been one of the sketchiest drainages I have ever walked down to Rustler Creek where we posted up on a small sandy spot that we were lucky was there. Here, we truly felt alone, as if we were in the middle of nowhere and no one else had been there, and I think very few people ever have.

Day 12 - Rustler Creek 2800’ to Pyrites Creek Cliff Edge via Rustler Creek, Muncaster Basin & Pyrites Creek
This day we saw some amazing wildlife. In Muncaster Basin we saw four bears, two of which were cubs playing in a meadow. It was a bushwhack intensive day to say the least. I think there was a few moments where we were sure we weren’t going to make it out alive, as we sweated through our rain gear lowering ourselves down cliff edged on tree. We made a poor navigation decision at the end of the day and were lucky to find a flat spot to sleep on while more smoke blew in from the fires.

Day 13 - Pyrites Creek Cliff Edge to Hotel in Olympia via Pyrites Creek & Enchanted Valley Trail
We woke up and were smelling the barn this morning to say the least. We did our best to make focused navigational decisions as we continued to bushwhack through the forest. Alas! We made it to the trail and kissed the solid ground with a path. Then, we enjoyed the leisurely 10 miles out to our car. We were in disbelief, specifically with the last three days of our trip, because it felt as if we were in the wild.

Phew! Thanks for reading. It was a long one, because it was a long trip. We will definitely be back for some more. Please reach out with any comments or questions. Thanks specifically to Barefoot Jake and Ancient Ambler for providing a bunch of resources to create this trip for Carolyn and I!

Jeff P. & Carolyn B.
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RAW-dad
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PostTue Nov 28, 2017 9:02 pm 
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Wow - you guys are beasts!  up.gif  up.gif  That's a really impressive route through some of the best the ONP has to offer.  You blew through some great spots though that are well worth a second, third or fourth look - you'll want to come back!
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Jeff Pod.
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PostTue Nov 28, 2017 9:24 pm 
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RAW- Dad you are correct. We definitely realized that. And we will be back.  wink.gif
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Ancient Ambler
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PostWed Nov 29, 2017 5:06 am 
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Wow!  You and Carolyn took on a huge challenge with your proposed itinerary and accomplished one of the most amazing trips through the Olympics I've heard of in recent years. I really enjoyed reading your TR, and browsing through your photos brought back a number of pleasant memories of prior trips to some of those spots.   Thanks so much for sharing all the info on your adventure!
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Hesman
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PostWed Nov 29, 2017 8:02 am 
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Awesome trip!

I have dreamed of doing a trip like this in the Olympics for a long time.

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You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. - Abraham Lincoln
Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened. - Dr. Seuss
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Sculpin
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PostWed Nov 29, 2017 8:37 am 
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Wow!  Awesome trip!  I warn newbies not to expect to be able to go cross-country from one trail to another in the Olympics, but you guys were obviously up to it.

jeffpod wrote:
We took the trail to Lake LaCrosse and climbed the grassy slopes up to Ranger Pass. We struggled to find a way down even though we read multiple trip reports of people going over Ranger Pass. We cliffed out

I know exactly what you did there, because I did it too.  Sitting at Lake LaCrosse, I looked up at the ridge, compared it to the map, and told my wife that the wide, prominent saddle on the ridge was not Ranger Pass, but rather the smaller saddle to the right.  Somehow on the way up, I forgot and we went over the big saddle.  On the other side, it was just as you described, steeper and steeper until we were veggie belaying.  I told my wife to stop and dropped a bit more, at which point I could see that we were totally cliffed out.  Only then did I remember my map reading at Lake LaCrosse.  After going over the correct saddle, it was easy scree down to the trail below Anderson Pass.

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Between every two pines is a doorway to the new world. - John Muir
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HermitThrush
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PostWed Nov 29, 2017 9:21 am 
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Simply amazing. Wow. Good job! And gorgeous pictures.
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Stefan
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PostWed Nov 29, 2017 12:09 pm 
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I am impressed!!!

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Art is an adventure.
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puzzlr
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PostWed Nov 29, 2017 12:48 pm 
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That's amazing. You sure didn't take the easy route, even when available.

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boomheist
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PostWed Nov 29, 2017 7:10 pm 
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Pretty amazing trip. Impressive, for sure. Anderson Pass to Cameron Pass is pretty amazing. Lots of your trip is pretty amazing. Inspiring, too. Well done.
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Nancyann
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PostWed Nov 29, 2017 8:48 pm 
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What a great adventure, a trip of a lifetime! Thanks so much for sharing it with us, beautiful pictures and fascinating trip report! up.gif
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Jeff Pod.
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PostWed Nov 29, 2017 10:37 pm 
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Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has read this or even glanced at it. It is pretty cool to see the community that exists on this forum. Thanks for all the encouragement!
Keep Adventuring!!!! smile.gif  up.gif
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silence
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PostThu Nov 30, 2017 7:15 am 
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jeffpod wrote:
Although, it seems, for us, one of the best parts of backpacking is being able to put yourself out there in uncomfortable positions and then have to be flexible and navigate challenging situations in those moments.

Amazing trip ... so agree with your sentiment. That's what makes it an adventure never to be forgotten. Thanks for sharing your report and photos.

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PHOTOS: https://www.flickr.com/photos/33792231@N00/sets
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Keep a good head and always carry a light bulb. – Bob Dylan
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Gregory
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PostSun Dec 03, 2017 6:40 am 
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Absolutely amazing.Having explored rustler creek I would not want to be in your shoes the last couple of days.Thank you for sharing!
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Luc
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PostTue Dec 05, 2017 5:09 pm 
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Great route and TR!

This is a really good route imo because it gives you some rest (trail) days between the off trail.

I remember being with Dane on our Burke trip years back in the Godkin gravel bar, and had a similar feeling of being more alone (and isolated) than almost any other time traveling the wilderness.

Tying Martins Park to Muncaster is a feat, and best left un-trailed so only the most inspired travelers get there.

Nice work - and I bet you're already nostalgic, even though it kicked your arses wink.gif

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