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Hesman
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PostSun Oct 11, 2009 7:50 pm 
It was a treat to hike up the North Fork Soleduck Trail to the North Fork Shelter and back to see the absolutely beautiful fall colors. The Big Leaf Maples and the Vine Maples were turning colors, along with several ground plants like the vanilla leaf. With the dry weekend forecast, a low water level on the North Fork Soleduck (for the need of fording the river twice) and the trail recently cleared of downed trees, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to hike up the trail. I tried to sign my folks up to go on the hike to no avail, but I did have some luck signing up Goats Gone Wild. Day 1: We met at the North Fork Soleduck trailhead at 8:30AM on Saturday the 10th and began hiking up the trail. Since it was a bit on the nippy side we charged up the trail to get warm. Just as we got warm from hiking, we arrived at the first ford of the river. We poked around looking for the best spot to ford and decided that where the trail came down to the river would be the quickest. We put on our wading shoes and waded across like mad fools. It was bleepin' cold...more than bleepin' cold...IT WAS DOWN RIGHT COLD. After crossing the river the trail wandered along the valley bottom for 2 miles through plenty of Big Leaf Maples and Vine Maples turning glorious fall colors. It was heavenly. Then the trail climbed up and away from the river bottom and contoured along about 100 feet in elevation above the river through some beautiful fir forest, with very little undergrowth. After hiking for another 3 miles we came to the second ford we had to do and fortunately this one was not as deep or as wide as the first. After this ford we wondered what the trail would be like since the two trail guides I read and ONP's trail condition's site said it was in very poor condition with 11 crossings of the river. The two trail guides need some updating because we followed the trail to the T from the second ford to the shelter and only crossed it 3 times. There were plenty of orange metal tree tags and cut logs to follow, so we knew we were on the right path. On my drive home the next day I wondered if the trail had become altered over the years to eliminate all the other river crossings. This is because I saw no evidence where there was trail tread, cut logs, flagging or orange metal tree tags to indicate we had to cross the river 11 times. Each of the 3 crossings we were able to cross on logs or rocks. I was also impressed with the easy ability we had in following the trail between the second ford and the shelter; contrary to the reports on ONP's website and the trail guides stating it was extremely hard to follow. We reached the North Fork Shelter in no time and found it in very good condition, having been refurbished by volunteers in November and December 2000. We explored around the shelter and could not located long ago abandoned section of trail that continues up the side of the ridge to the top of Happy Lake Ridge. We knew the trail had be built long ago going past the shelter, but not all the way to the top of the ridge. We were unable to locate any old cut logs or trail tread. We knew it would have been unmaintained for several decades, but still we were perplexed at not seeing any evidence that it did exist at one time. We had planned on having a fire at the shelter to keep warm since it was to become cold during the night. There was some left over bits of cedar from rebuilding the shelter and some firewood in the shelter. We knew we would not have enough wood to burn that someone had stored in the shelter, so we collected some more wood from the woods surrounding the shelter. There was an axe in the shelter, so I chopped up some cedar and soon had a warm fire burning. The fire kept us very warm for about 4 hours before we let it burn down for the night, since we were tired and decided to crawl into our sleeping bags. We were thrilled with the dinning table arrangements in the shelter. There was the usual cooking table and then there was the built in table. Super deluxe. I might as well mention the deluxe privy too. Day 2: We woke at about dawn to a cold morning since it had cleared up overnight. We ate breakfast and packed up our stuff and began hiking down the trail at about 8:30 in the morning. It was cold enough that if we stopped moving we became cold rather quickly. We retraced all our footsteps from the previous day, well maybe, not exactly, but we made our way down the trail towards the trailhead. We made it across the first cold ford, which was colder than the day before. Where the trail returns to the river about half way between the 2nd ford and the trailhead we stopped to eat lunch. With the sun shining, the light made for quite the fabulous foliage show on the next two miles of the trail after leaving our lunch spot. The last ford was very cold and colder than the day before. Much colder. Enough said. We quickly hiked the last mile of the trail to warm back up. One final note: One more trail marked off on my map. up.gif biggrin.gif Second final note: I think this is the first TR for the NF Soleduck on NWHikers. Day 1 pics:
Vine Maple Fall Colors
Vine Maple Fall Colors
Cascade
Cascade
Vanilla Leaf
Vanilla Leaf
North Fork Shelter
North Fork Shelter
North Fork Shelter
North Fork Shelter
North Fork Shelter Sign
North Fork Shelter Sign
Deluxe North Fork Privy
Deluxe North Fork Privy
Day 2 pics:
Vine Maple Colors
Vine Maple Colors
North Fork Soleduck River
North Fork Soleduck River
The Lone Pano:
North Fork Soleduck
North Fork Soleduck

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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RodF
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PostMon Oct 12, 2009 7:01 am 
Park trail crew (Dave Skinner) cleared the trail all the way to the shelter this year, for the first time in several years. (Last year, they only cleared the first mile to the first ford, and I brushed/limbed up towards the second ford. The year before, they cleared 5 miles, almost to the second ford.) At that time, the trail had been completely washed out at the second ford and there was a ~5 foot vertical scramble out of it to regain the trail. The trail then climbs the south slope, and then switchbacks east for ~1/4 mile and returns to the stream, where there was an extensive washout and big log jam. For the remaining ~2 miles to the shelter, one could find only fragments of the trail on alternate banks, exactly where the Custom Correct map depicted they should be. Apparently the Park trail crew has done extensive work on rebuilding this entire section! The old trail departs the stream at the shelter, and begins climbing due east. It is very faint for the first 100 yards or so, and I found it where the slope steepens and there's a very definite cut for the tread and many old cut logs (as well as many more recent uncut windfall across it). Backtracking, it appeared to start above the new privy and below the higher old privy site on the hillside north of (behind) the shelter. Note added Sept. 2013: Easiest way is to follow the shelf upriver from the shelter and begin a climbing traverse. New windfall at first ravine about 200 yards past the shelter - simply have faith, scramble up the stream bed 20 feet, around above the windfall rootball, and regain the trail. Trail is then easy to follow (although more than a hundred windfall are on it) 1.5 miles climbing steadily through four switchbacks to ~4300 ft elevation, where trail construction ended in 1940. Way trail continues past a post in rock cairn, then fades out at ~4400'. Good steady gradient, well planned trail. Custom Correct map depicts it more accurately than USGS map. Continue climbing traverse 1/2 mile south through forest to lowest point on ridge at ~4900' and hit Aurora Ridge Trail just over its crest, 1 mile north of Boulder Lake. This route is easy to follow going up from the shelter, but likely difficult to locate coming down from Aurora Ridge. Be forewarned that in 2012, a hiker who attempted find it coming down but missed the trail got cliffed out, broke an ankle, and had to be airlifted out by S&R [link to newspaper article]. So plan to go up, not down, this route.

"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

vibramhead
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bobbi
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bobbi
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PostMon Oct 12, 2009 7:09 am 
what a great trip....despite the cold......doubt if i want to ford the river though! lovely photos especially 'at the first ford' and 'vine maple fall colors' up.gif congrats on the first NWHikers TR of North Fork Soleduck (Sol Duc, i prefer biggrin.gif )

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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goats gone wild
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goats gone wild
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PostMon Oct 12, 2009 11:55 am 
RodF wrote:
The old trail departs the stream at the shelter, and begins climbing due east. It is very faint for the first 100 yards or so, and I found it where the slope steepens and there's a very definite cut for the tread and many old cut logs (as well as many more recent uncut windfall across it). Backtracking, it appeared to start above the new privy and below the higher old privy site on the hillside north of (behind) the shelter.
Ah ha! So that's where it was hiding. I poked around there a bit but didn't go high enough. Then I followed the river for a couple hundred yards upstream, first high and then low, scanning all over. Obviously I was scanning the wrong place. doof.gif lol.gif I should have asked you where to look. doh.gif Yep, just as you describe it, RodF. There appeared to be new, intensive tread work done recently at the third crossing (at the big log jam) on both sides of the river. I wondered if perhaps a volunteer group had come in and helped (as I found a red boyscout scarf near here?) Also, I thought it was built by strong men, as it looked like pretty labor intensive work. Not sure how long it will hold though, as the bank is loose gravel and steep and might erode. Actually, on the return at this section, I found it just as easy to keep to the river itself and hopscotch over a few logs rather than do the ups and downs of the new trail. Of course, it was also very low flow; this probably would not work in the winter. Then again, who is going to get past the first ford at the height of flow . eek.gif I love this trail. Thanks for the work you did on it, RodF!! up.gif up.gif up.gif up.gif up.gif All the recent brush work really made a difference in staying on track, cruising along and enjoying the walk, and not having to pay much attention to where the trail goes but just taking in the fall colors and listening to the river. Very relaxing. Also liked that the trail was moss and pine needle covered--which made it super soft on the tootsies. The 9 miles just flew by. It reminded me some of the upper Queets, where sometimes you feel like you are not so much walking a trail, rather you are following a path of least resistance. I can see why Dave Skinner adopted it--just like he adopted the Queets. Seldom visited, primitive, a bit wild. Definitely a place to get away from it all. And the letter he posted inside the shelter (originally built in the 1930s) gave thanks to whoever tarped the roof and put in a support beam in place to keep it upright until it could be rebuilt. Awesome! If I ever get to meet Dave Skinner, I will thank him personally. And next time I see Gary Peterson, I will know to thank him as well. There was one other person who helped restore the shelter, a man from Port Townsend (I think) whose name I can't remember. Anyway, they did a great job, right down to the toilet seat in the privy. hockeygrin.gif up.gif The only downside to this trail is not much sign of wildlife. Saw very little evidence for elk--and only around miles 1&2, one old deer print, a few new cat scrapes and several old cat scats, an occasional squirrel and a few birds. Oh, but we did hear a hooting and hollering owl about 8:30 PM, when we had our little fire. Thought maybe he was with the Volunteer Owl fire department and was sending out the call. Thanks for another wonderful trip, HJT. Your timing was impecable. up.gif up.gif Will post pics later. As bc knows, it takes a long time to post pictures from Forks. embarassedlaugh.gif biggrin.gif

.....leaving me wanting to return over and over in what ever capacity that may be, even if one day my knees are too old and I can only see the mountains from my porch. Jason Hummel
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silence
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PostMon Oct 12, 2009 12:54 pm 
you guys rock up.gif beautiful pix as usual HJT .. you inspire me winksmile.gif i wasn't even aware of this trail till goats brought it up ... as usual both of you open my eyes to new oly adventures .. thx a bunch!

PHOTOS | FILMMAKING Keep a good head and always carry a light bulb. – Bob Dylan
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RodF
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PostMon Oct 12, 2009 8:09 pm 
Goats', there are LOTS of elk in that valley in winter and spring. I didn't do much work on this trail - we were mostly in scouting, hoping to find a fortuitous big cedar or fir windfall that might become a replacement footlog near or within 1/4 mile or so downstream of the first ford. Spent a day searching, but no luck! So I suggested we put a cable footbridge there, but the Park said they couldn't approve one unless it had a full engineering/safety analysis. (I guess the concern is the >70' span and >15' height above the river, which is what would be required to survive floods there.) The North Fork Sol Duc was (and would be again) a great late spring/early summer hike, if it weren't for the first ford being a bit challenging until late summer - that stops most people who'd otherwise do it. (I carry my waders in, since its only a mile.)

"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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ScottM
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PostMon Oct 12, 2009 8:36 pm 
Love the pano shot. Never had a lot of interest in this trail since it seemed like it was a low elevation go nowhere trail but your pictures have changed my mind. A grand shelter and deluxe privy and something tells me that this trail probably doesn't see a lot of people each year. Its great that work looks like it is getting done on it so it doesn't become one of those "lost fragments" of a bygone era.

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Bruce
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PostTue Oct 13, 2009 7:03 am 
Foot Log
We put this in 2002 Dennis Elziner, Dave Skinner and a fellow named Lloyd. It ended up 180 degrees from the end fallen and, like a prayer also ended up in the almost exact spot of the previous log. (First Crossing) It was anchored on each end with cable. However it was taken away.
DSC00006
DSC00006
Dennis
Dennis
DSC00007
DSC00007

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Larry
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PostWed Oct 14, 2009 7:35 am 
Bruce: Probably Lloyd Lougheed from Montesano?

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goats gone wild
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PostTue Oct 20, 2009 12:00 pm 
N.F. Soleduck Shelter Heros
N.F. Soleduck Shelter Heros
Bruce, thanks for posting the picture of the foot log. Too bad it washed away. That water is cold! bawl.gif lol.gif The last time I was up there (many moons ago), there was an old foot log that looked exactly like it. I think I have a picture of it somewhere on 35 mm film. lol.gif Finally getting around to posting my pics from the trip. Compared to HJT's, they're not much. But hey, it was beautiful up there, so I must share.
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 004
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 004
N.F. Soleduck - Enjoying the walk.
N.F. Soleduck - Enjoying the walk.
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck Shelter - Built 1930's, revamped 2000.
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck Shelter - Built 1930's, revamped 2000.
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck Shelter - Hes enjoys the view.
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck Shelter - Hes enjoys the view.
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck - Old Forest Service signage
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck - Old Forest Service signage
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck - shake splitter
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck - shake splitter
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck - That's one way to get across.
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck - That's one way to get across.
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 011
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 011
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 012
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 012
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck - old date
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck - old date
"West King"
"West King"
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck Shelter- dry wood supply
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck Shelter- dry wood supply
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck - Contemplating an icy ford.
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck - Contemplating an icy ford.
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 018
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 018
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck - Privy, complete with toilet paper.  WOW
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck - Privy, complete with toilet paper. WOW
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 020
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 020
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 021
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 021
(oh, and we cleared that branch off. We used the old butter knife (aka saw) that we found in the shelter.
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck - Woods near shelter
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck - Woods near shelter
N.F. Soleduck - Something smells good!
N.F. Soleduck - Something smells good!
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck  Shelter- Handmade ladder
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck Shelter- Handmade ladder
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck - Old candle holder for lower bunk
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck - Old candle holder for lower bunk
Solid construction
Solid construction
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck - Shoe shot
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck - Shoe shot
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 028
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 028
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 029
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 029
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 031
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 031
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 032
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 032
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 033
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 033
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 034
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 034
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 035
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 035
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 036
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 036
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 037
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 037
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 038
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 038
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 030
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 030
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck - Walk along the bedrock
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck - Walk along the bedrock

.....leaving me wanting to return over and over in what ever capacity that may be, even if one day my knees are too old and I can only see the mountains from my porch. Jason Hummel
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forest gnome
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PostWed Dec 11, 2013 8:44 am 
well in the one high- river shot I assume this is not a late june trip?? great report, thanks the shelter looks great...all those people doing their thing in the olympics....AMAZING!

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NWtrax
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PostWed Dec 11, 2013 10:40 pm 
it would be great to start out a fall high country trip on the NF. so many appealing scenes within the photos you shared from the area. thanks for the details on the terrain above the shelter Rod. Hes I really miss the regular wonderful Oly reports from you and Goats. hope you both are well

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RodF
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PostThu Dec 12, 2013 1:47 am 
It is a gorgeous valley, NWtrax. Dave Skinner and I cleared the trail in late August & early September 2013. 184 significant windfall and 3 rootballs were removed, tread rebuilt through 5 rootball tearouts, a washout and a slide (altogether, about 400 feet of new tread). It took us 9 gallons of gas, 2-1/2 gallons of bar oil, two trips and 11 days. I should post a trip report - working with Skinner is a rewarding (& exhausting) experience!
HJT wrote:
After this ford we wondered what the trail would be like since the two trail guides I read and ONP's trail condition's site said it was in very poor condition with 11 crossings of the river. The two trail guides need some updating because we followed the trail to the T from the second ford to the shelter and only crossed it 3 times.
The last 2 miles to the shelter were really wiped out by floods in 1999, so maybe people found it was easiest to walk up the stream and cross it many times on logs? Dave Skinner then (in 2001?) reopened the original trail with its 5 crossings. After the trail was hit again in 2005 by flood which caused a slide just past the first crossing, he built new trail across that slide, and also built a new trail segment to eliminate the last two crossings. (You can still see the red metal tags and follow the original route of cut logs at those last two crossings.) In short, those "11 crossings" should've been 5 then, and are now 3.

"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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RodF
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PostThu Dec 12, 2013 2:16 am 
goats gone wild wrote:
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 030
October 2009 N.F. Soleduck 030
About 4 miles from the trailhead, one enters a small meadow with spring-fed stream, site of an old horse camp. This is one of the two gates used to block the trail just below the meadow, so stock could graze unteathered without heading "back to the barn". It might date from 1930-33, when the shelter was built, or later for trail maintenance?

"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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