2020 August 25th to 29th — North Fork Dosewallips

Day 1 — Tuesday, August 25th, Trailhead to Dosewallips Campground. 6.5 miles

The Dosewallips Road is washed out 6.5 miles from the Dosewallips Campground … the old car camp. Our plan was to hike in a set up camp at the car camp and the next day hike up the North Fork of the Dosewallips (aka The Dose: pronounced “Doe’-See”) to Deception Creek. We planned just a day hike Thursday, hoping to get up to Graywolf Pass at 6100′. Then hike back out to the car camp on Friday and out to the trailhead on Saturday.

Jeff drove over to Port Townsend in the morning, arriving around 10:30. We loaded up the truck and visited for a little while, then headed over to the Dose, arriving a little after noon. When we arrived, there were three horse trailers unloading in the road … with horses and mules just starting to be packed up. Realizing that we would be in for a significant wait if we wanted to park closer to the trailhead, we just parked where we could and loaded up our packs and started hiking around 12:30.

Temporary Road Block

My pack weighed about 31 lbs … Jeff was a little over that. I had my Nikon D850 with the 24-85mm lens around my neck. We had hiked the trail a few weeks earlier and knew about how long it would take us: 4 hours at a fairly leisurely pace. There isn’t much elevation gain … with the campground at 1600’. Elevation gain of a couple hundred feet of up and down.

I was carrying my old Kelty external frame pack that I bought in Spring of ’73. First time using it since the ‘90s. It worked pretty good. It was more comfortable than carrying 37 lbs the previous trip using my McHale internal frame pack.

My Old Kelty D4 Backpack (circa 1973)

It took us the expected 4 hours to hike in… just a nice easy pace. When we got to the one steep spot, by Dosewallips Falls, we knew we were almost there. Always something to lift the spirits and make the pack seem lighter.

The Steep Grade next to Dosewallips Falls

We arrived at the campground at 4:15, so made our estimated hike time.It was a pretty breezy day with a lot of clouds, but plenty of blue sky in between. They were the kind of clouds that usually disappear when the sun goes down, so we were hopeful. And the breeze provided a nice cooling effect.

Arriving at Dosewallips Campground

We didn’t have the same campsite as we did the last visit, just one spot over. Someone had dragged the extra picnic table to a new location and we didn’t feel like dragging it back. Dinner was Heather’s Choice: Mom’s Spaghetti with Beef and Marinara Sauce. First time I tried this brand and it was worth waiting the 20 minutes it took for soaking. It was very beefy with minimal noodles. Good flavor. Was finished with dinner and packed up for the evening by 6:30.

We didn’t make a fire … it was still a little breezy and we didn’t carry the saw. We went for a walk around the campground and ran into the guys who had been loading up the horses.

Backcountry Horsemen

I had thought they were packing in for a trip through the park, but they were from the Backcountry Horsemen group and doing volunteer work: packing in the equipment for the WTA work party that was going to be cutting trees off the Graywolf Pass trail and brushing the N Fork Dose trail. Nice guys … about our age, from Port Angeles and Sequim.
Went to bed about dark … a little after 8 PM.

Day 2 — Wednesday, August 26th, Dosewallips Campground to Deception Creek Camp. 7.8 miles with 1556’ of elevation gain to 3156’

Got up at about 7 AM. Fixed breakfast and got our packs loaded up. Departed at 9:10. The weather was sunny and the temperature was quite pleasant. The trail much nicer than hiking the old roadbed, and while the trail climbed during the day, it was never steep.

North Fork Dosewallips Trail just before Dose Forks

We were at the Dose Forks trail junction at 10:10, where we took a short break. The fork is where you choose between hiking up the North or West forks of the Dose. The West Fork is used more heavily … as part of a cross Olympic hike: from the East Fork Quinault trail and the Enchanted Valley and out the West Fork Dosewallips. We took a break every hour or so, with an extra stop sometimes when we got to a creek crossing the trail to fill our water bottles. Several of the creeks were quite picturesque.

It was pretty slow going, and we decided that attempting Graywolf Pass was out of the question. The day hike would be just hiking up the North Fork Dose … maybe as far as Bear Camp… but really just as far as we felt like at the time. But at least up into the meadow area where you get some views
The huckleberries were ripe, both red and blue. Fairly plentiful in spots.

Blue Huckleberries

We arrived at Deception Creek at ~4:30 and found just one other party at staying for the evening. A young couple that was going to be hiking down the valley and then up to Constance Pass, down to Boulder Shelter and up to Marmot Pass and out. They had come across Cameron Pass. That’s a pretty good piece of hiking.

There was a new privy. Very luxurious (a comparative rating). But not nearly as smelly as some of the older units.

The bear wires were down and had been at all the camps we had passed on the way in. We strung our food up between two trees in accordance with the alternative to carrying a bear canister (at just over 2 lbs.).

Used my new Garmin inReach Mini to send a text message home to Claudette, saying where we were and that we were doing okay. Didn’t get a message back before shutting off for the night, so didn’t get her response until the next morning. We went to bed about 8:15. The moon came up over the ridge and shone into my tent at 9:15 or so. Jeff’s tent was behind a tree and he missed that.

Day 3 — Thursday, August 27. Day Hike from Deception Creek Camp

Got up at 7AM … I had another night of cold sleep, and needed my long johns on and had the bag fully zipped. Next time I figure I need to bring my down blanket or switch to my North Face One Bag. I was carrying my lightweight down bag. Just not enough insulation for maximum comfort.

Leisurely breakfast, a quick talk confirmed that we were just hiking up the valley. Maybe some berry picking. Started hiking at ~10:00.

On the way up the valley, we ran into two guys about our ages. One guy turned out to be from Lake City (he had lived at 143rd Pl and 30th … less than a mile from where I lived). He was Nathan Hale High Class of ’65 (I’m Class of ’66). When he told me his name, I didn’t recognize it. (My class had 600 students in it) He and his hiking partner were hiking down to Dose Forks, then up the West Fork and across LaCrosse Pass to the Duckabush… then up across First Divide and down the North Fork Skokomish and out at Staircase. Their car was parked at Staircase. Since they started their hike, the road access to the Staircase Area had been closed. They had learned of the closure on the hike and were glad to hear that residents have access up the road. They figured they would be able to get their car out without too much trouble. He was also carrying a Kelty external frame pack. He had bought his in ’70, so had seniority on me.

Lower meadows on the North Fork Dose

We broke out into meadow areas about 11:30 or so.
We didn’t quite make it to Bear Camp. Got to a nice big meadow area where it was just changing into subalpine with incense cedar (aka yellow cedar, or Alaska cedar).

View up the valley towards Hayden Pass

We had hiked this trail several times before. Once as a short trip, similar to what we were hiking this trip … except that in those years, the road was open all the way to the car camp. Another trip, we had followed the North Fork Dosewallips up to the valley head, then across Lost Pass and Cameron Pass and down the Cameron Creek Trail, then up to Deer Park from Three Folks Camp. The other trip was when we started by hiking up the North Fork Quinault, then down the Elwha Trail (after a side trip up to Elwha Basin). We camped at Hayes River and then hiked up Hayden Pass and down the North Fork Dosewallips. It was nice to revisit an old friend.

View down the valley towards Mt Deception

The meadow was pretty dried out and getting ready for autumn. The Devil’s Club berries were some of the only color.

Devil’s Club

On entering the woods, we passed a huge log that had once fallen across the trail. While not particularly large by Olympic National Park old growth standards, it was notable for being so large this high up and on the ‘dry side’ of the Olympics.

Big Downed Log

We got back to in camp at about 3:30. Plenty of time for a leisurely afternoon and dinner. One solo hiker joined us in the camp later that afternoon. He was going to day hike up to Dose Meadows the next day. Dose Meadows is subalpine … about 4 miles past where Jeff and I had turned around.

Arriving back in camp

Day 4 — August 28 Hike from Deception Creek Camp to Dosewallips Campground — 7.8 miles with 1556’ of elevation loss to 1600’

Slept better, with my long johns plus my down vest with sleeves and hood. The hood seemed to keep my head warmer, even though the hood isn’t insulated. At the beginning of the hike out, we were setting a good pace and moving well. There was even talk about the possibility of hiking all the way out to the truck. We decided to put that decision off until we got to the campground.

Falls on Upper Twin Creek

It was quite an enjoyable hike. We had the woods to ourselves, the sky was blue and the temperature extremely pleasant. We were still making good time, but the pace was slowing a little.

Lower Twin Creek

When we got to the campground, it was late enough that a 4 hour hike out would put us at the truck at about dark. That and the fact that we were both pretty tired convinced us not to try to hike all the way out.

Day 5 — August 29Hike from Dosewallips Campground to trailhead
Got up and moving before 7 with a laid back breakfast.
We were just heading down the hill by the falls (1/4 mile from the campground), when clouds started to blow in up the valley.

They were coming over the ridge up the valley, just as the sun was clearing the ridge line. Got some really good photos of the clouds with the sun just barely visible.

The clouds brought some mist and even some very little sprinkles.

Enough that I put my camera into my pack, but not enough to dig out the raincoat.

Last image before putting the camera in the backpack

On the way out we bumped into a young couple with their kid, all on bikes. They had camped at Elk Horn Campground, closer to the trailhead. The dad was pulling a trailer behind his bike, which they said was difficult to get across the washout bypass trail. Also talked to another young couple that was hiking in to the campground. They were just packing in supplies for some friends that were doing a 100 mile hike around the Olympics. Didn’t talk to them about their friends’ route, but it seemed like a great way to hike … wish Jeff and I had thought about doing that “back in the day”. 
Got back to the truck about 12:30. On the way back to PT, had the windshield wipers on most of the way until we got to Chimacum.

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