Forum Index > Trip Reports > Enchanted Valley Weekend Trip July 12-14, 2019
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olympichiker77
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Location: Bainbridge Island
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PostThu Mar 19, 2020 10:20 am 
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Self-isolation recently has definitely been giving me things to do indoors! Being trapped in my apartment in downtown Montreal has let me reflect on last summer and the amazing places I went to. Last July I went on my first family backpacking trip (surprised it didn't happen sooner). For some reason we picked the weekend with a good chance of rain, and I chose the destination. I've always heard that Enchanted Valley is a magical place, and I figured the trail would be doable for everyone.

After a 4-hour drive and a hearty Denny's breakfast in Aberdeen, we started our journey around 11 from the trailhead. Bugs were sure out in full force, and the parking lot was packed. The first few miles to Pony Bridge were relatively uneventful. The trail was very wide and we passed a lot of people.

Mossy rock face near Pony Bridge
Mossy rock face near Pony Bridge

After the bridge, the crowds died down a little and the trail now stayed tight to the river. Everything was so green and lush, with ferns and moss covering the forest floor. The gentle trail was occasionally interrupted by abrupt ups and downs but otherwise very steady. There were also quite a bit of very large cedars and sitka spruces trailside. They really make you feel small.

Quinault Rainforest ferns
Quinault Rainforest ferns
Spotted: Sooty Grouse
Spotted: Sooty Grouse
Trees are our friends
Trees are our friends
More gentle trail
More gentle trail

At O'neil Camp, we took our first food break but it had to be cut short due to the relentless biting flies. We pressed on passing through more scenic groves of trees with some views to the other side of the valley.

This looks like something out of a fairy tale
This looks like something out of a fairy tale

We had just passed through the gate when we spotted a herd of elk. I had never seen elk before even though I had previously spent 2 weeks in the Hoh River Valley. We were detected very quickly but I was fast with my camera.

Uh oh we've been spotted
Uh oh we've been spotted
Off they go
Off they go
There were quite a few more than in this picture
There were quite a few more than in this picture

Since we arrived late in the valley, the only available campsite was next to the privy. There wasn't much left in us after the 13+ mile journey in, so we quickly made dinner and went to sleep.

Morning came with fog and cool temperatures. Surprisingly, there had been no rain yet and the bugs seemed to have just vanished. There were even no mosquitoes! When we were all awake, I convinced everyone to make the journey to White Creek Basin. I had previously hoped to make it to Hart Lake, but given everyone's energy levels I knew that wasn't going to happen.

Morning in Enchanted Valley 1
Morning in Enchanted Valley 1
Morning in Enchanted Valley 2
Morning in Enchanted Valley 2
Ledges in the fog
Ledges in the fog

Off we went, following the Quinault River up to its headwaters. This section of trail is even more beautiful, with glimpses of the steep rock face across the valley and Mt. Anderson. White Creek was very full, and the crossing was on a small slippery log. Easy with poles, but still fine without if you're okay getting your boots wet.

This section of trail is gorgeous
This section of trail is gorgeous
Upper Quinault
Upper Quinault
Slippery log crossing of White Creek
Slippery log crossing of White Creek

We made it to the junction with the O'neil Pass trail and headed south. From here on we didn't see a single person. This is my ideal trail: not heavily travelled, coated with pine needles, sparse trees, narrow and winding. Soon enough, we emerged out of the forest and into the grand White Creek Basin. This place is magical. I really wanted to camp here.

Almost to the Basin
Almost to the Basin
Anderson Glacier closeup
Anderson Glacier closeup
Entering paradise
Entering paradise
I wish we would have camped here
I wish we would have camped here
Across the valley to Mt. Anderson
Across the valley to Mt. Anderson
Looking up White Creek
Looking up White Creek
Wildflowers at White Creek Basin 1
Wildflowers at White Creek Basin 1
Wildflowers at White Creek Basin 2
Wildflowers at White Creek Basin 2
Anderson West Peak has now emerged
Anderson West Peak has now emerged
Another grove on the way back
Another grove on the way back

After our return to camp, I decided to explore around the valley a bit with my dad. I had been eyeing those waterfalls on the west side and imagined a large pool at the bottom perfect for swimming. All we had to do was cross a couple braids of the river. No big deal (or so we thought). Walking through the river in our crocs was fine, but then we entered an extremely dense, never-ending thicket of slide alder in a knee deep swamp. We blindly trudged through muck for a while until finally we reached the other side. And what do I see? The waterfall I had my eye on was no more than a trickle splashing into a small shin-deep pool. Disappointment. However, on the way back we surprised 15+ elk that were just chilling in the slide alder swamp. It doesn't seem like people venture over to the other side of the valley much. We couldn't find any sort of boot paths but a lot of elk trails.

Evening light
Evening light
Enjoying our last peaceful night in the valley
Enjoying our last peaceful night in the valley

The rest of the evening was very relaxing. An ideal campsite was free so quickly moved camp. While enjoying a nice fire, we watched the evening fog slowly envelope the valley. A few deer also decided to pay us a visit.

The next morning brought clear skies and mild temperatures. We said our goodbyes to the valley as we prepared for our long hike out.

Morning glow
Morning glow
Closeup of west side waterfalls
Closeup of west side waterfalls
Leaving the chalet
Leaving the chalet
Leaving the valley
Leaving the valley
Back through the grove
Back through the grove
A Downy Woodpecker?
A Downy Woodpecker?

Enchanted Valley really does live up to its name. Next time I will for sure be going to Hart Lake and Lake LaCrosse.
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Nancyann
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PostThu Mar 19, 2020 11:37 am 
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Lovely, thanks for sharing. One of the trails on my short list for the Olympics I am looking forward to visiting some day!
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RodF
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PostMon Mar 23, 2020 8:54 am 
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Thanks for sharing this wonderful summer hike and its superb views.  White Creek Basin is indeed a sweet spot.  Best wishes to you in Montreal!

(p.s. the prominent glacier west of Mt. Anderson is named Linsley Glacier.)

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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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HermitThrush
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PostTue Mar 24, 2020 4:42 pm 
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What a great trip. I need to get out in that area. Thanks for sharing!
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Jake Robinson
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PostTue Mar 24, 2020 6:01 pm 
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The Enchanted Valley/Mt. Anderson area is somewhere I've wanted to go for years, but for some reason I've never gotten around to it. Thanks for the reminder that I really need to go. Awesome photos and report! Sounds like a special trip.
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