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olympichiker77
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Location: Bainbridge Island
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PostWed Jul 22, 2020 11:09 pm 
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I had been wanting to see the stars lately, so I picked the highest peak in the Olympics that I could comfortably hike to given an evening start. Last summer while at the summit of Baldy, I met another hiker who had bivied up at Gray Wolf, and I distinctly remember him telling me how incredible it was. The idea of camping up there has been on my mind ever since.

At about 3:00 I departed Bainbridge and found myself at the Baldy trailhead about 4:45. There was only one car belonging to a pair of hikers I ran into shortly, and then three cars belonging to a group of people camping at the large site near Mueller Creek. The Maynard Burn trail really sucks with a full pack. Due to the lack of switchbacks, there's almost no good flat spots to take a rest. After passing that one pair of hikers about 1/2 mile in, I was alone for the rest of the journey.

After breaking out into the meadow around 5800', I was looking forward to a nice breeze to keep the flies and mosquitoes from swarming me. Sadly, there was none and the bugs followed me pretty much the entire rest of the way. After hiking almost 3 hours, I finally reached the summit of Baldy at about 7:30. Feeling low on energy, I took my first snack break. I almost made my usual garlic butter pasta, but I wanted to make it to Gray Wolf before sunset.

Constance and others from the meadow
Constance and others from the meadow
Lupine in the evening light
Lupine in the evening light
Last rays of sun shining into Royal Creek valley
Last rays of sun shining into Royal Creek valley

Descending the other side of Baldy was steeper than it looked, although towards the bottom of the
saddle there was a lot of loose scree which allowed for easy plunge stepping. The little peak in the middle provided some surprisingly comforting greenery and wildflowers. Plenty of nice camping spots here, and a small lake maybe a couple hundred feet below to the NW. After this point the trail gets really steep and a bit exposed in spots. The route stays to the west of the ridge line, traversing loose scree at almost the same angle as the slope itself. This was the worst of it though, and as soon as I attained the ridge line the trail was a lot nicer.

What lies ahead...
What lies ahead...
Looking back towards Baldy somewhere after the middle bump
Looking back towards Baldy somewhere after the middle bump
Sunset from camp 1
Sunset from camp 1
Sunset from camp 2
Sunset from camp 2

Pretty much entirely out of energy, I found a semi-flat spot at about 7050'. The sun was just about to dip below the horizon, about 9:15. I ate my pasta in the fading light and peered down on the twinkling city lights of Port Angeles, Sequim, Victoria and the northern I-5 corridor. It was at that moment that I noticed how astoundingly silent it was. No bugs, no distant roar of water, no wind, no birds, not anything. But unlike the silence you might hear sometimes in your house, it felt quite natural and calming, almost surreal.

Throughout the rest of the evening, patchy fog only allowed for temporary windows to gaze at the stars, but wow there were so many. Luckily, at about 4:15 I just happened to wake up and notice that it seemed a bit lighter outside. Sure enough, I look out of the tent and the fog is gone, revealing mountaintop silhouettes gloriously towering over a sea of clouds. From my camp it was a short 10 minute jaunt up to Gray Wolf, where I caught a spectacular sunrise.

Pre-sunrise
Pre-sunrise
My somewhat tilted camp over a seal of clouds
My somewhat tilted camp over a seal of clouds
More sea of clouds
More sea of clouds
Looking southeast from Gray Wolf
Looking southeast from Gray Wolf
Just about time
Just about time
First bit of sun hitting the tip of Olympus
First bit of sun hitting the tip of Olympus
Fromme, Claywood and others
Fromme, Claywood and others
Olympus turning more colors
Olympus turning more colors
Looking back at Baldy
Looking back at Baldy
Looking south along the ridge
Looking south along the ridge
Truly amazing lighting
Truly amazing lighting
More beauty
More beauty
More view + my shadow
More view + my shadow
Looking up at the last little bit of Gray Wolf
Looking up at the last little bit of Gray Wolf
I'm glad I pressed on to get this spot
I'm glad I pressed on to get this spot
Could have stayed here another night
Could have stayed here another night
There's still flowers up there
There's still flowers up there
Kitchen view
Kitchen view
Cool looking fog in upper Royal Basin
Cool looking fog in upper Royal Basin

Left camp at about 6:30 and made it down to the trailhead around 9:15. My knees hate me right now.

Part of the steep and eroded section of trail
Part of the steep and eroded section of trail
Baldy Gray Wolf saddle greenery
Baldy Gray Wolf saddle greenery
More greenery
More greenery
And some beautiful Lupine
And some beautiful Lupine
Small lake down below
Small lake down below
Heading back up to the bump
Heading back up to the bump
Nice break spot
Nice break spot
Mystery and Deception with a speck of Indian Paintbrush
Mystery and Deception with a speck of Indian Paintbrush
Back up Baldy
Back up Baldy
Sea of clouds retreating slighty
Sea of clouds retreating slighty
Almost back up
Almost back up
Flowers near Baldy summit
Flowers near Baldy summit
Tyler Peak in the fog
Tyler Peak in the fog
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cascadetraverser
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PostThu Jul 23, 2020 6:47 am 
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Very cool!  Thanks for the TR...
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silence
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PostThu Jul 23, 2020 7:01 am 
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Nice!

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PHOTOS: https://www.flickr.com/photos/33792231@N00/sets
FILMMAKING: http://www.crestpictures.com/

Keep a good head and always carry a light bulb. Bob Dylan
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geyer
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PostThu Jul 23, 2020 7:15 am 
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What a treat to wake up to!
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Hesman
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PostThu Jul 23, 2020 7:16 am 
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Hiked up to Baldy with a day pack once, and the trail was still a grind. I will imagine it like going up the Lake Constance trail with a heavy pack.

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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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Galadriel
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PostThu Jul 23, 2020 8:03 am 
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Great trip report - this one is on my to-do list.  Did you carry all your water? Was there still snow to melt?
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olympichiker77
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PostThu Jul 23, 2020 8:34 am 
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I ended up bringing all my water but I did notice a few small snow patches along the edge of the ridge line around 7000'
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ozzy
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ozzy
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PostThu Jul 23, 2020 9:02 am 
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rocker.gif  Damn what a beautiful sunrise!! I love those views when all you can see is a sea of clouds with mountains above!! You're perseverance definitely paid off. Oh btw I believe I was the hiker from last year you talked to!! That summit bivy was awesome! Cheers!

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Milk is for babies. When you grow up you have to drink beer. -Arnold
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Jake Robinson
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PostThu Jul 23, 2020 10:13 am 
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Great idea to camp on the summit! This brought back memories of doing this hike with my parents ~10 years ago. I remember that scree...luckily we only had day packs. Brutal to haul all your overnight gear and water up that, but what a payoff. Special place...I bet that was a great experience being up there alone and seeing all the colors and stars. Thanks for all the nice photos.
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RAW-dad
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PostThu Jul 23, 2020 4:20 pm 
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up.gif  up.gif  up.gif Nice pics! Thanks for sharing.
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Geezer
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PostThu Jul 23, 2020 5:16 pm 
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Love your photos.  Brings back memories.  Have done that overnight trip three times in the past. Since I put in all that hard work to get up to Greywolf, I figured I would also tag Walkinshaw.  Not sure about others, but for me the Tyler peak trail is not nearly as difficult as the Maynard Burn trail.
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clerr
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PostThu Jul 23, 2020 6:40 pm 
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wow that was an amazing trip report! pictures were 100%!
blowout.gif

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You'll never yeet if you don't make the first step
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chrisinakmtns
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PostFri Jul 24, 2020 7:42 am 
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Incredible photos and to report. I love those kinds of trips.
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