The Dungeness River runs north out of the Olympic Mountains into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. There are no dams and the water is clear (no glaciers in this section of the Olympics). The Upper Dungeness trail runs along the river for the first couple miles before climbing to higher elevation. It is a very pleasant hike, the river cools the air even on warm days.
The removal of the Elwha Dams drained Lake Mills. One of the concerns was with the huge amount of sediment that had been trapped behind the dams and the impact that would have on the ecology downstream. A lot of careful planning has resulted in a rapid recovery … salmon and steelhead trout have already returned to the river. Not in the huge numbers that once were present … but quicker than many thought likely.
From the photos below (less than a mile below the upper dam), you can see that the river is now running clean and clear.
My friend Gary and I rode our bikes up the Olympic Hot Springs Road (also known as the Elwha River Road) … these days this entails a .7 mile bypass trail around a washed out section of the road. After the bypass, there is about 6 miles of road to get to the trailhead … the hot springs are another 2.2 miles of hiking … which we didn’t hike that day.
I have hiked through this area numbers of times over the last 40 years … but this was the first visit up the road since the washout happened several years ago. It brought back memories. The additional distance has had a dramatic impact on the number of people using the area.
The next post will concentrate on the river.
Recently my friend Gary and I rode our eBikes up the Dosewallips Road past the washouts and up to the Dosewallips Campground … a distance of about 6.5 miles (each way). We had great weather and were just doing a day trip … although regular readers may note that another friend and I have made several trips up the road backpacking.
I carried my camera and the day was a great success, based on how much fun we had. During the bouncy ride, I lost my lens cap, but that’s why they sell extras, isn’t it?
The Dosewallips River in early July is running high with snow melt in the high country. With our early hot weather, it is melting out quicker than expected … This image was shot from the Dosewallips Campground. There was a bend in the river that gave me a view up the valley some … I’m not out wading in the cold water.