The Hikers and the Hike

Trip Start Jul 15, 2009
Trip End Jun 01, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Washington
Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hello from the Olympic Mountains!  This trip across Olympic National Park from the Quinault Northfork Trailhead to the Elwha Whiskey Bend Road Trailhead is an incredible hike.  Total mileage for the hike was approximately 45 trail miles and included walking through the middle of the park from south to north.  The entire hike took us about 5 days and 4 nights, the weather was calm and mild, sunny and 75-80 degrees F every day of the hike.  We camped at Lake Quinault the first night and then walked up the Northfork of the Quinault River to the headwaters.  We then crossed Low Divide and walked down from the headwaters of the Elwha River to Lake Mills. 

This is one of a few "training" hikes we will do in preparation for the 220 mile hike along the John Muir Trail.  Our plan is to do two more training hikes, one in Glacier National Park (next destination) and one in Yellowstone National Park.

To access information about the Olympic national park or view a map of the area visit the following websites:
John Muir Trail:

To access information about Lightweight and Long distance hiking:

Thru-hiking:  The act of hiking from one end of the trail to the other
in one continuous trek in a single season.  We will Thru-hike the John
Muir Trail

The Kitchen:  We eat a variety of items high in carbs
and protein.  We cook a dehydrated dinner each day so we always get at
least one hot meal.  For lunch we eat proteins like peanut butter or
tuna along with crackers, sometimes hummus and lots of nuts and dry
fruit.  We cook on small pepsi can stoves that weigh next to nothing
and burn denatured alcohol as fuel.  We eat lots of bars and granola
during the day and often have cookies and hard candy for treats.  This
hike was only one section so we carried all the food for the entire
trip from the beginning.  In future hikes we will hike multiple
sections that will require us to resupply our food multiple times along
the way.

Lightweight Backpacking:  We are trying to hike as lightweight as
possible.  our pack weights are under twenty pounds and that allows the
option of wearing trail running shoes instead of hiking boots.  Allows
us to travel greater distances when we need to and takes some pressure
off our bodies each day.  Life is always more enjoyable when you travel

For those of you who do not know me.  I am coming to this backpacking part of our trip with a wealth of experience in the backpacking world.  I have hike the 2160 course of the Appalachian trail in one "Thru-hike" in 1999.  I spent six incredible months hiking from Georgia to Maine.  I've also hiked the California and Oregon section of the Pacific Crest Trail (2150 miles) in four months in 2002. This hike included hiking through the Sierra Nevada Mountains where the John Muir Trail travels and where Misty and I will be in Aug-Sept.

Well, I've been backpacking before on week long trips, worked constructing hiking trails and have been exploring the outdoors all my life from Alaska to Arizona.

What follows is a daily description/journal.  You can also find some other entries with other photos an images organized by subject.  Check out all the entries to get a fuller story of our hike in Olympic National Park.

Daily Entries:

July 15, 2009
    The day has arrived.  Final packing everything up and escaped Olympia and our lifestyle of the last two weeks packing and moving and cleaning and storing.  We both have to admit it was entertaining watching the items we put out on the curb for free, wander off with passers-by.  But alas, we have arrived at a beautiful sunset over lake Quinault and we'll stay in the Falls Creek Campground tonight.  Forest Service campgrounds are nice and easy, definitely in our budget although this is a pretty expensive site at $17.00.  We camped at the last remaining campsite, which was actually really nice.  It was a ways from the car and 50 feet from the shore of the lake. After a dinner of fish from a local restaurant and one last look at the lake we were off to bed. Neither of us slept great.  The anticipation of taking the first steps on our adventure was definitely the key factor since we were pretty tired from the last push in Oly. 

July 16, 2009

After taking down the camp and watching the ground sheet dry, we loaded up the car and started on our quest to get the car up to the Elwha entrance.  We decided to get our permit from the trailhead ranger station at Northfork.  We drove about 15 miles up the dirt road to find that Misty was right and the permit desk was 1000 feet from where we slept.  So after a 1 hour morning drive through the Quinault area, we finally got our permit, deciding to start from the Quinault Northfork trailhead and figure out how to get back to our car later.  This would give us the opportunity to get on the trail today, which sounds much better than tomorrow.  For to many days it seemed we would start the trip tomorrow.  We are starting out today.

We left the trailhead with packs strapped on around noon.  Smiling and skipping along the trail, we intended to hike to the Trapper Shelter that night about 8 miles away. Mark: It felt a bit surreal to me, finally going on a hike, finally not working 6:30 - 5:00, finally not packing and moving, finally getting to do this thing I've been waiting for, finally walking down this curvy path with no white and yellow lines dividing it, finally no desk not even a chair to sit on, finally pushing off, finally no alarm to get up (other than my bladder), finally no on switch, it feels good to be me.  We walked a trail next to a wide Northfork of the Quinault river, gaining elevation slowly and enjoying the breeze that blew from the river channel.  The channel was wide and the trail easy to walk.  Misty: I was slowed down on the trail by all the ripe blue huckleberries!! I woud see a bush full of berries and stop eat 4 or 5 berries then grab a hand full for the trail but then the stop again for the next set of yummy berries. what a treat!  We had a great time chatting and eating lifesavers on the uphills. We stopped for lunch at the Elip creek confluence with the Northfork.  There was a small campsite there and we looked way too clean to be in the forest.  We had been buying new clothes and were now sporting them for the first time.  Mark: I can imagine the laughter of the trail crew as they passed us by.  We looked I'm sure like a couple people that just came from REI to try out this backpacking thing.  At least that's what I like to think they were thinking.  We arrived at Trapper camp to find herds of mosquitoes, something we had not observed earlier.  A quick decision was made that there was no way we were staying here.  The shelter was scary looking, the water source was a breeding pond for mosquitoes, and that was enough.  We walked on, figuring we would find a nice creek side campsite at one of the camping areas ahead.  We finally stopped by a steep creek for dinner before it was too dark.  Mark: Dinner was great, it pumped some life back into us and it was a carefree stroll, just like I remember on the PCT, down to the campsite. We carried on and ended up walking about 12 miles to Twelve Mile Camp arriving just at dusk, time to set camp and and hang our food.  We camped in an area with two other guys, we only saw about six people all day since we started the trail.  Our campsite was on a sandbar, sure to have been river bottom only a couple of months ago, but now stable enough for a nights rest, with a breeze and very little mosquito activity.

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