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olympichiker77
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olympichiker77
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PostTue Aug 03, 2021 9:41 am 
I've been wanting to do this loop for years, but never made a plan to do it. Well last week I just decided to last minute. I had a free weekend, weather looked okay, and I felt ready...

But I was not really ready.

Day 1
Made it to the North Fork TH in the afternoon around 3:00, sweltering in the heat. The lush trail was a quite a bit narrower and brushier than I was expecting (compared to the east fork). I passed a few groups heading to Wolf Bar, but after that I was hiking alone. Those 12.5 miles to my camp at Sixteen Mile were rough, and my feet were already blistered. I set up my camp in the dark and crawled into my sleeping bag. This is when I realized two things: I brought the wrong charging cable for my battery pack, and I conveniently forgot to bring a map. Well there goes my navigation and sense of time. Great.

Day 2
With the remaining battery on my phone, I got myself up at 07:00 and started the climb up to Low Divide. The wet brush helped cool me down as I ascended. At the start of the Skyline trail, I took a break to refuel and check the route ahead of me before my phone died for good.

The forested ascent was steep but not too bad, with occasional views across the valley. The open meadowy areas were gorgeous, dotted with groves of large, curvy trees. The landscape here is very different from anything I've seen in the rest of the Olympics. It was around that point that I heard the sound of bark being ripped off a tree about 50ft from me. Well I look up and there's a huge bear staring at me. I just start talking to it in a normal voice, and eventually I'm serenading it. That does nothing, and the bear is blocking my path so I raise my trekking poles and start clacking them together while singing louder. Next thing I know he's gone but I have no idea where he went. I cautiously walk down the trail still making noise, only to notice that the bear is now walking parallel to me just up the hill. Luckily I'm walking faster than him and eventually he's out of sight.

The next portion of trail to Lake Beauty was amazing, but my blisters and chaffing were getting worse and every step was painful. Not knowing how far I'd gone, I was relieved when I finally saw Lake Beauty down below. I set up camp with a view of Mt. Olympus from the tent, and immediately went for a swim in the not too cold water. The lake really lives up to its name. It must have been pretty early still, because the clouds cleared and the temperature rose quite a bit. Mosquitoes were bad, and they just kept whining around my tent all night. It never really cooled down, which surprised me. I was hot all night and I only slept for maybe four hours.

Day 3
I woke up feeling the combined effects of complete solitude, dehydration, and pain all over my body. I just wanted to go home. Even packing up camp took a lot of effort that morning.

The trail started off okay until the first obstacle: Moonscape. Not knowing which way to go, I started heading down into the valley. I saw what looked like a trail near the waterfall down there, but upon closer inspection I decided the trail wouldn't be that evil and that was probably a game trail. That turned out to be a really good call. I just kept climbing up and up and eventually I saw another cairn. Okay, that wasn't so bad I thought. The rest will just be normal trail...

The Kimta burn area was hot and open with very faint tread. It was going well though until this one small creek crossing where I somehow ended up on a game trail. I was in denial though, and continued on until I realized that I definitely was not on a trail anymore. I started to head down the steep hillside since I saw a nice bench that looked like where the trail would be. I veggie belayed for about 10 minutes before getting cliffed out. One of my two water bottles fell off the edge and probably made it to the valley bottom. Starting to feel a little scared, I headed to the next major creek crossing in hopes that I could see the trail from there. More veggie belaying, this time a lot longer. Cliffed out again. I sat there for awhile trying to hold it together, but I knew I needed to move. I was past my breaking point, but my adrenaline powered me straight up. I just kept climbing and climbing to where I could cross the creek. Not long after that, I came across a horizontal line cutting through the rocky slope. This was no game trail, but the real thing. There were tears of joy, and I apologized to the trail for calling it evil 100 times previously. I picked up the pace and was almost running down the trail. With this new energy, I suddenly had the idea to make it all the way back to the car that day instead of Three Prune (where I had planned on staying). The motivation of late night fast food in Hoquiam and the somewhat traumatic experience I just had were enough to propel me all the way down. I ate nothing except for several handfuls of blueberries, huckleberries, thimbleberries and salmonberries. I ran into three hikers near the Elip Creek junction and realized how happy I was to see people. It had only been 48 hours since I had seen another human, but it felt like eternity. Maybe I'm just not cut out for intense solo hikes.

Descending from Three Lakes took all my remaining energy (which was essentially nothing). By the time I reached Irely Lake it was pretty dark, and the deep mossy forest made me feel like I was already asleep and dreaming. That last mile and then road walk back to the car was just one extremely painful step after another. I don't even know how I had the energy to drive, I just did. Next thing I know I'm chowing on McDonalds in Aberdeen at 11:30. Finally made it home at 2am.

It's only been a day but the bad parts of the trip are already starting to fade like usual. It was such a short trip, but it felt like forever. Someday I would like to come back to this place, and not alone.

Pics: I took a few from my phone, but mostly from a Nikon Coolpix P900. Very little pics while hiking.

NF Quinault from Sixteen Mile
NF Quinault from Sixteen Mile
First creek crossing at start of Skyline trail
First creek crossing at start of Skyline trail
One of many waterfalls on this trip
One of many waterfalls on this trip
Perfect break spot
Perfect break spot
Hi Bear
Hi Bear
Mt. Noyes in the distance
Mt. Noyes in the distance
Lake Beauty!
Lake Beauty!
The best spot
The best spot
Impressive backdrop
Impressive backdrop
Rarely seen view of Mt. Meany
Rarely seen view of Mt. Meany
The classic shot
The classic shot
Olympus
Olympus
The lake lives up to its name
The lake lives up to its name
Out to the Pacific
Out to the Pacific
Layers and layers...
Layers and layers...
Lush meadowland below the lake
Lush meadowland below the lake
Still reflections
Still reflections
It's a mirror
It's a mirror
Sunset over the Valhallas
Sunset over the Valhallas
Moonscape cairn
Moonscape cairn
Tree in the moonscape section
Tree in the moonscape section

zimmertr, ozzy, RumiDude, seawallrunner, olderthanIusedtobe, RAW-dad, neek, IanB, meck, reststep, awilsondc, flatsqwerl, Sculpin, RichP  bobbi
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Double_E
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PostTue Aug 03, 2021 3:52 pm 
Yowza.  Nice work!  up.gif  biggrin.gif
I've done the Elip-Threelakes loop; wanna do the entire Skyline loop eventually.

Yeah this basically aligns with everything I've heard/read about it.  Stunningly beautiful but very easy to get off track in some places, and lots of brush, etc etc.  Glad you made it out OK in the end!

Thanks for the report; great pics and info!!

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Ski
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PostTue Aug 03, 2021 5:19 pm 
excellent. up.gif

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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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meck
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PostTue Aug 03, 2021 8:28 pm 
Love those pics  up.gif , sounds like fun times smile.gif

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*Just say NO to Rent-Seeking, don't give up the concept of "ownership"*
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forest gnomehilkND m.
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Joined: 24 Apr 2003
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forest gnomehilkND m.
Forest nut...
PostWed Aug 04, 2021 6:01 am 
Wow I have to review this one with the newbies...and read this in detail..after the part where it looked like the would be a trail down there..getting cliffed out....yowza..please tell us you still had a sense of your location to the actual trail!.. (insert  lol.gif )

This is a great read, don't get me wrong...

ANYBODY have a beacon for this brother hiker who is paying his dues??

Please tell me your life is worth 300$..hahah..

Great reading bro!...we need more honest reports like this that remind all of us of our early hiking dues paying trips!!

And I'll leave out the time we went to the wallows ...and gnomie forgot his pants..

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Malachai Constant
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Malachai Constant
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PostWed Aug 04, 2021 7:15 am 
Used to do Elip loop in late October every year stayed at lodge and did as day hike. Came back for dinner and watched World Series on big screen. Then they closed the bar and pool spa and prices went way up. Did the Skyline the next Summer planed to. Camp at 3 prune the first night, when we got there a Mother Bear was hanging out with 3 Cubs. Kept walking on ridge got real dry ended up camping on slope of Kimta near some springs. One gully was a bit dicey with loose dirt. Trail got sketchy with lots of lost man cairns to confuse the unwary. A bit of a scramble at one point. Passed Lake Beauty and camped at low divide. Hiked out the Quinault the next day. Very tiring long weekend.

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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olympichiker77
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PostWed Aug 04, 2021 3:43 pm 
I have a SPOT but using it wasn’t even on my mind. I knew the direction I had to go. But yeah next time I’m not gonna be stupid and remember a map

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Malachai Constant
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Malachai Constant
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PostWed Aug 04, 2021 6:41 pm 
Maps are not real good for the Skyline trail in the alpine region, or at least they were not good.

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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RumiDude
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PostWed Aug 04, 2021 7:49 pm 
Map, compass, route description, calibrated altimeter, and just pausing often to consult them are what is required on the Skyline Trail. In my mind it is a GREAT place to be alone. Never met anyone on the Skyline.

Great photos!

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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Riverside Laker
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PostWed Aug 04, 2021 8:53 pm 
Here's another trip report about the same time: https://trailcatjim.com/mt-christie-quinault-skyline-loop-2021/

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forest gnomehilkND m.
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Joined: 24 Apr 2003
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forest gnomehilkND m.
Forest nut...
PostThu Aug 05, 2021 7:24 am 
The map problem in that area sounds like the pastyten areas...not helpful in specific areas..

The way u wrote this was great!..now I remember which trail and how other trip reports were mentioning how many game trails there are & confusing it can be!

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bobbi
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bobbi
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PostFri Aug 06, 2021 8:12 pm 
thanks for coming back alive!!  I'm glad you got some photos!

my husband and I along with another couple did the loop a few years ago, but clockwise.  it was a great trip!


http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8012428&highlight=skyline+trail

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bobbi ૐ

"Today is your day!  Your mountain is waiting.  So…get on your way!" - Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss
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silence
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silence
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PostSun Aug 08, 2021 1:58 pm 
Nice writing and great photos ... inspiring, yet intimidating as Skyline has always been. Tried it back in mid-Aug 2009, but turned back because of extreme heat and lack of water and shade. Way to get 'er done!

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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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ForbinsAscent
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PostTue Sep 07, 2021 5:44 pm 
I did this loop over the holiday weekend and will post a TR after sifting through photos.

But I wanted to say that the trail route on my phone's app that uses Open Street Map data was impressively near-perfect for the entire Skyline trail. Even in the moonscape, when losing track of the trail 10 yards away, I could put myself right back on it using the (free) Maps.me app that uses Open Street Map. (Caltopo and others also use the same data.) The only places where the app was slightly off was where the trail had been recently re-routed with new cairns, though you could still see the old path that matched the app.

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