Snow in the High Country

Snow in the High Country

While the low country has mostly melted out, the high country in the Olympic National Park is still carrying a lot of snow. The snowpack is above average, so hiking in the high country is not going to be accessible early in the summer (many areas probably not until mid-July).

Spring Hiking Views

Dosewallips River in Spring

Spring covers a wide range of changes to the forests and lowlands of the Olympic National Park. The high country doesn’t start being snow-free until summer … spring in the high country means snow travel. Lower down, the rivers can be running quite low … if the snow isn’t melting higher in the valleys and it’s not raining. The image above is at under 1000 feet elevation and shows the river running fairly low after a couple days of cool dry weather.

The image below shows a group of backpackers that had been up to Big Timber Camp on the West Fork of the Dosewallips. Big Timber is at 2300 feet and they reported 5 feet of hard packed snow at that point. You need good insulation between you and the ground to sleep on snow …

The image at the bottom shows the view up to the high country and the remaining snow in the trees. The area shown has melted out more, since it is open to the south and the sun is starting to do its thawing out trick.

Late Winter Backpacking
Dosewallips Road/Trail with a View to High Country Snow

Snow On Cedar

Snow on Cedar

Western Red Cedar to be specific. It is the native cedar along the Pacific Coast, until you get into Alaska where it tends to be replaced with some Yellow Cedar. Yellow cedar is a favorite of carvers. The name Incense Cedar is apt and the smell of the wood is wonderful. You can find it in Washington in the high country right on the edge of tree line.

Winter Madrone

Winter Madrone I
Winter Madrone II

I like Pacific Madrone a lot for their colors. (they aren’t so much a favorite if they are growing in my yard: they are quite messy all year round) But with a dusting of snow, the color really stands out.

The Lillian River Trail

The Lillian River Trail
Madrone on the Lillian River Trail

The Lillian River trail is one of the most seldom hiked trails in the Olympic National Park. Starting about the 4 mile point on the Elwha River Trail, the route follows the Lillian River for several miles until it just peters in the brush along the bank. It was originally used for fishing and might be again some day, now that the dams have been removed from the Elwha River.

It was quite brushy … and I expect the route is increasingly difficult to find, given the light usage. The lower photo of the madrone is difficult to scale appropriately to show the size of this specimen. It was a beautiful tree. I would like to go back and visit to see how it has weathered the years.

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