Some spots in the high country are easier to get to than others. The ones that are easy to get to tend to be crowded. The ones that are harder to get to are … well, harder to get to. The result is that there typically are a lot fewer folks and the impact is less. That also means the trails tend to be rougher … or sometimes look nothing like a trail so much as a track through the meadows. Martin’s Park is one of those … it sits in a remote portion of the Olympic National Park with a minimum of a 16 mile hike to get there (and that’s the short route). There are quite a few folks that hike close to it … it sits near the Low Divide, on one of the main routes for those wishing to traverse the Olympic Park. The crossing now runs just about 50 miles … so those doing the hike tend to not have a lot of extra time for side trips. It’s beautiful country, though.
If you read my last post, you likely already guessed that this is only a day hike after you have backpacked for a considerable distance into the Olympic National Park. Anderson Pass is located between the West Fork Dosewallips (AKA West Fork Dose … pronounced “Doh’-see”). Jeff and I were camped at Honeymoon Meadows and hiked up to the pass and slightly beyond as a day hike. Since this was taken, the Dose road has washed out and the distance to the trailhead increased by over 6 miles. The Enchanted Valley is over 13 miles up the East Fork Quinault trail.
Well, it’s a day hike if you are already in the upper Duckabush or upper West Fork Dosewallips. It’s a couple days of hiking in the Olympic National Park to get to that point. LaCrosse Pass is the high point on the trail that runs south from the West Fork Dose to the Duckabush. At 5566 ft, it typically is mid-July before it is snow free. One August, Jeff and I hiked up to the pass from our camp at Honeymoon Meadows. There are good views of the upper Duckabush from the pass (image immediately below) and of the upper West Fork Dosewallips, including the ridge running between the Dose and the Duckabush (second image below). The trail was in good condition, except for grasses growing over the tread. It wasn’t an issue for us, but on a rainy day it would have meant a good chance for wet feet.
These images are lower resolution compared to many of my posts. On this trip (back in 2003) I carried a Nikonos … a rugged camera designed for underwater … and that shoots film. These images are the scans were done during processing and were much lower resolution that what we are used to these days. Since the image files are JPG’s, there is also much less latitude for color correction.
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.
LaCrosse Basin is in the headwaters of the Duckabush River in Olympic National Park. It is one of the most scenic areas, next to the High Divide (and a couple others that shall remain nameless to protect their pristine nature), but due to the multiple day hike necessary to access the area, it is not as crowded as other areas of the park. Depending on your route, it’s typically a 3 day hike in. (Doing it in 2 days is possible if you are very fit and like long days) That said, all the remote areas of the park are seeing increasing pressure from backcountry hikers. I expect that there will come a time where the whole park is subject to a reservation system to keep the fragile high country from being loved to death.