Saturday, July 9, 2011

A stroll through the Olympics

Distance: 14 miles

Elevation gain: 2,300 feet

Location: The Olympics

Getting up to the Olympic Peninsula is tough because it’s at least a two hour drive and most of the worthwhile hikes are near the top of the peninsula, tacking another few hours on. Exploring Duckabush River, however, seemed more than feasible.

The first two miles were a breeze, keeping us close to the churning water as it tumbled over boulders and crashed through clefts. The path jutted through second-growth fir and led us into the Brothers Wilderness area that looked like a mossy wonderland.

The elevation all seemed to happen at once in a series of tight switchbacks that took us under giant cedars and firs and brought us, at 3.5 miles, to a ledge with the first broad view of the valley. We could see clear over to the Cascades and spotted St. Peters Dome.

We continued on to Big Hump, which was far more fun in name than in reality. Still feeling energetic, my hiking partners and I continued on to Five Mile Camp for lunch and a refreshing rest beside the rapids. Then we kept pushing on through old growth until we hit the boundary for the Olympic National Park, which had to be quitting time for us because dogs are not allowed and we had a four-legged friend in the pack.

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