Forum Index > Trip Reports > Dosewallips Road to the ranger station 12-04-2018
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Ancient Ambler
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PostFri Dec 07, 2018 11:40 am 
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We're coming up on 17 years since the Dosewallips Road washed out about 5.5 miles downriver from the ranger station,  and a forecast for clear, cold weather made it right once more for DaveB and me to hike this road that is turning more into a trail with every passing year.


Arrived at the road end, now 6.5 miles from the ranger station, and started walking.  Soon arrived at the cutbank washout, where we took the bootpath at the toe of the cutbank, after determining the rock-studded cutbank was stable.

Dosewallips cutbank washout
Dosewallips cutbank washout

Note that rain or sun can sometimes loosen the dirt bank's hold on its protruding rocks, causing them to fall and roll down toward the bootpath.  Better to be on the upland bypass trail when that is going on.

A bit before reaching Elkhorn campground, we detoured out to the bridge to get a look at the Dose:

Dosewallips from bridge
Dosewallips from bridge

Took a look up a frosty moss covered cliff toward the sky:

trailside frosty moss cliff
trailside frosty moss cliff

Dose Falls was almost all white-water.  Here's a look at the top of the falls from the road/trail:

Dose falls
Dose falls

There was no snow on the road, though there is snow on north facing slopes perhaps 800 feet above the road.  Not far past the top of the falls, there are inviting views up the river toward the high ridges north of the river.

Dosewallips River 1
Dosewallips River 1
Dosewallips River 2
Dosewallips River 2

The ranger station has taken a hit from a tree, which does not appear to have been repaired.  A hand-lettered sign on the door advises the reader that all valuables have been removed from the ranger station, mice infestations are present, and anyone caught inside the building will face felony trespass charges.

Dosewallips ranger station
Dosewallips ranger station

Things seemed OK at the various campsites, though some seem to have accrued more than their share of picnic tables.  No one was camped in the campground.   Downriver from the campground there was a nice sunlit ridge above the frosty, shaded valley:

Dosewallips campground view
Dosewallips campground view

As it turned out, the low, late-season sun never reached us in the valley bottom, though we got a decent view of sun on the peaks south and southwest of the washout about one mile away from our vehicle.

view south from former TH at cutbank
view south from former TH at cutbank
early sundown from Dose trail
early sundown from Dose trail

No other cars at the road-end in the morning or afternoon.  No other hikers encountered on the road/trail.   A fine day for a 13 mile hike in the Olympics.
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Hesman
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PostFri Dec 07, 2018 12:35 pm 
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Nice!

Did the Dose earlier in the year. Pushed/rode my bicycle on the way in for a quick ride out.

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RodF
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PostSun Dec 09, 2018 3:06 pm 
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Ancient Ambler wrote:
Soon arrived at the cutbank washout, where we took the bootpath at the toe of the cutbank, after determining the rock-studded cutbank was stable.

Dosewallips cutbank washout
Dosewallips cutbank washout

The putative reason for not reopening the road by armoring the riverbank here is that the cutbank was providing "a valuable source of spawning gravels".  This was true briefly from 2002 to 2005, soon after the washout occurred.

But this had ceased to be true by 2007 and for the decade that has passed since.  This photo very clearly shows that the river channel has moved back away from the base of the washout and alder have become established along it.  This bootpath has been there, little changed for the last decade.

There's no reason not to armor and raise the bank, reopen the road right where that bootpath is, and restore access to the once very popular Dosewallips trailheads and campground.  That's what was proposed in 2004 at a cost of $140,000 and alas was shouted down.

Visitation to the Dose backcountry trails and its many campsites dropped by over 70% immediately after the washout and has remained that low ever since.  And as a result all too many visitors are crammed into fewer nearby destinations that remain accessible, such as lower Lena Lake, the Quilcene (Camp Mystery, Marmot Pass), Mt. Townsend and upper Silver Lake.

It doesn't have to be this way.  Olympic National Park doesn't have to be inaccessible to most, not the Dose nor the Elwha, either.

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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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RumiDude
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PostSun Dec 09, 2018 3:36 pm 
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RodF wrote:
There's no reason not to armor and raise the bank, reopen the road right where that bootpath is, and restore access to the once very popular Dosewallips trailheads and campground.

As well as the Elkhorn Campground

RodF wrote:
It doesn't have to be this way.

And that is the real shame in all this.

I always enjoy getting back on the Dose. Thanks for the TR and photos reminding me I need to plan a trip on the Dose.

Rumi

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"This is my Indian summer ... I'm far more dangerous now, because I don't care at all."
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Dick B
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PostSun Dec 09, 2018 8:26 pm 
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How much of the road washed out? Any reason for not rebuilding other that the rock issue? A gabion wall is used all over the country for flood control, so rebuilding the road shouldn't be terribly expensive. Environmental issue?
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Damian
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PostSun Dec 09, 2018 9:14 pm 
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Excellent report AR  up.gif
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Brian R
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PostSun Dec 09, 2018 10:22 pm 
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Quote:
It doesn't have to be this way.  Olympic National Park doesn't have to be inaccessible to most, not the Dose nor the Elwha, either.

Well said. NPS aside, the US Forest Service has taken a more access-accommodating stand lately in other places--finally pushing back against both NCCC and Pilchuck Audubon objections to repairing the Suiattle Road a couple years back. Well done, IMO.

I'm guessing that especially here, along the Dose, the 1938 grudge match between NPS and USFS dies hard, with the FS folks wondering why they should budget for a road repair that accesses NPS land. 

As for the powers that be at ONP, well, I won't go there.

Edit: Ok, I will go there. ONP feels like it's becoming an outdoor country club for bureaucrats and graduate students. Members only. Eight dollars per night per person?? (If you can get a reservation.) So much for Aldo Leopold's adage about wilderness being a place where ordinary citizens can recreate. Ditto NCNP.
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reststep
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PostSun Dec 09, 2018 10:44 pm 
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AA, thanks for the report.

Dick B, unfortunately in my opinion anyway the Dosewallips Road will probably never be reopened. Some groups are opposed to reopening the road and seem to be able to get court decisions in their favor.

Here is a link to one of many threads on this forum about the washout.

Link

More about the Dosewallips Road here

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"The mountains are calling and I must go." - John Muir
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Ski
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PostMon Dec 10, 2018 2:01 am 
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Thank you very much for the report and the photos, AA.

There are a couple comments above that dance around the issue at hand, but the bottom line is that there is simply a lack of will on the part of the administration at ONP to get the road re-opened.
Tim Davis, who was the project supervisor at USFS (out of the Black Lake office) worked tirelessly to try to get the road reopened, and when the project got the final approval, there were no funds available to proceed with the construction of a new bypass road that would have skirted up around the washout.

In addition to both a National Park Service drive-to overnight campground and a National Forest Service drive-to overnight campground no longer being accessible to the public, the closure of the Dosewallips Road and the subsequent drop in tourist traffic pretty much killed the economy of Brinnon, Washington.

I have no doubt that the folks up at OPA are dancing with glee celebrating the 13th anniversary of the road closure, but they don't own the Park - the people do.
The opening line of the founding legislation that created Olympic National Park starts with "For the benefit and enjoyment of the people..." I think it's reasonable to assume that the United States Congress meant all of the people when they wrote that language - not just a select few who are content with walking miles of gravel-surfaced roads.

I would posit that given the opportunity, the current administration at ONP would be happy to sit on their hands for another 13 years and allow the road to Olympic Hot Springs to remain closed as well.

It took them almost four years to fix two-tenths of a mile of road on the 2180-010 in order to allow vehicle access into the Queets, and I was calling them on an average of twice a week.
How many phone calls do you think it will take to get the Dosewallips Road and the road to Olympic Hot Springs fixed?

wink.gif

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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RodF
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PostMon Dec 10, 2018 12:09 pm 
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Ski wrote:
Tim Davis, who was the project supervisor at USFS (out of the Black Lake office) worked tirelessly to try to get the road reopened, and when the project got the final approval, there were no funds available to proceed with the construction of a new bypass road that would have skirted up around the washout.

Correction: the 2010 Dosewallips Road Washout Environmental Impact Statement, which proposed the bypass alternative, has never been approved.  It remains "on hold" today.  A decision has never been issued.

(If it had been approved, it would've been "shovel-ready" eligible for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) "stimulus" funding.)

A new source of funding, the Federal Lands Access Program, is available.  It was created as part of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act in 2015, funded by the Federal gas tax.  (And there is plenty of talk in Congress about increasing infrastructure funding, and none about cutting it.)

Funding isn't the problem.  No decision is the problem.  Threat of lawsuit alleging the washout was a "valuable source of spawning gravel" per the 2005 NMFS letter was the excuse.  But the washout ceased to be a source of gravel a decade ago.

I apologize for commenting on this in the Trip Report section.  It's just that Greg's photo (backed up by USFS' own monitoring of the washout) makes it so obvious this emperor of an excuse has no clothes.

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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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Ski
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PostMon Dec 10, 2018 12:29 pm 
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Well, I stand corrected, Rod.
My statement above is based on what Tim told me on the phone at the time, so I'm a bit puzzled. huh.gif
There's no reason why the bypass option couldn't be done. Tim had two different teams of federal geologist go and do redundant testing for "stability". The number of trees taken out was minimized in the plan. The bypass would have zero effect on the river. You and I (and several others) established that that the proposed bypass route does not, in fact, go through "old growth" timber (as McNulty and Scarborough falsely claimed) but rather a cut-over section of second-growth. No valid reason for not fixing it. Just a matter of doing it.

(Your last link is mixed up there.)

BK

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"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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Tomlike
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PostMon Dec 10, 2018 2:19 pm 
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Great pics!  I went up the Dose in October and caught the tail end of the golden maple trees.  From what I recall, the section of road up the steep hill near the falls is in pretty terrible shape as well, among other stretches.  Seems like it would require lots of work beyond the main washout to get it opened back up
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reststep
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PostMon Dec 10, 2018 2:33 pm 
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Link to the NMFS letter I think RodF was referring to here

Kitsap Sun article here

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Ski
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PostMon Dec 10, 2018 3:29 pm 
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^ ... and the proposed bypass route made the issues raised by NMFS a moot issue. The letter from NMFS addresses issues on the earliest (and long-ago abandoned) proposal to locate the road down along the water's edge, shown as the "boot path" in AA's photos above.

Again, Davis told me he had two separate teams of federal geologists go up there and do redundant soil stability tests in the area of the proposed bypass route.
Again, it's been clearly established by on-the-ground observations of cut stumps and remnants of steel cable that the bypass project area is not "old growth", but rather a cut-over stand of second-growth.

There are no valid arguments supporting continued closure of the road.

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"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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Anne Elk
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PostMon Dec 10, 2018 4:08 pm 
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AA - Nice photos!  up.gif I've never been up the Dose later than early/mid October - with no sun hitting the valley it must have been pretty frosty all day.  In your post, you said,
Quote:
Arrived at the road end, now 6.5 miles from the ranger station, and started walking.  Soon arrived at the cutbank washout

The last time I was there, you could drive right up to the protective berm at the washout.  Has the FS moved parking  further back?

My last visit to the area was  in May of 2012, my first time back since the washout and fire.  Most visits in past years from the early 80's thru the 90's were  to visit my favorite place, Lake Constance.  I was curious to see how far up the trail the fire damage went.  I returned again in 2013 with a bike.

My past understanding of the reasons the road hasn't been restored appear to be inaccurate from comments here; e.g. the claim that the bypass would take out too many old trees, and shoring up the road was too difficult/expensive.  First I'd heard of the fish habitat claim. I'm going to read the links in detail soon.

After my 2012 recon hike, I began to have 2nd thoughts about restoring the road.  It was one of the most magical semi-rainy day hikes ever.  I saw so much more than in the past, zooming by to get to the TH, and the vegetation along the road all dirt-covered. My companion and I were alone all day...it was great.

I now lean toward being ok with the road not being restored for vehicles, especially if there are no other such limited access areas in ONP. The argument for restoration is that  this road closure is limiting access to the campgrounds and TH's for weekend visitors and over-crowding other places.  I think within a year or two of a road restoration, you'd have over-crowding in both places with no discernable delta in the places now getting over-used.  Having one access road that's only usable by bikes and hikers seems a positive, an additional alternative with a preservation bonus.  We now have several more miles of quiet river valley with a relatively gentle, easy grade; an added value for certain visitors, when you think about it.

One idea I had re a solution for folks squawking about  restricted access was for the NPS to run some kind of small-scale shuttle concession from the far side of the washout to the campground to haul people and gear. It could be done. 

The only thing I have to go on to argue the point is what I experienced on that first return visit (photos below).  I'm willing to give up the convenience of driving right to the Constance TH for the added wonderfulness of this road devoid of cars.

2012 visit to the Dosewallips Road & lower Constance Trail:

Road washout
Road washout
Forest reclaiming the Dose road
Forest reclaiming the Dose road
Interesting fungi
Interesting fungi
What kind of birdie laid that?
What kind of birdie laid that?
Roadside rhodies
Roadside rhodies
Road view #2
Road view #2
Ghost forest of burnt trees near Constance TH
Ghost forest of burnt trees near Constance TH
Forest growth returning near Constance TH
Forest growth returning near Constance TH
Where Mt Constance meets the road
Where Mt Constance meets the road
Road view #3
Road view #3
View from above road washout - Mt Jupiter?
View from above road washout - Mt Jupiter?

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"There are yahoos out there.  It’s why we can’t have nice things."  - Tom Mahood
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