Sunday, October 7, 2012

Olympic National Park - Dosewallips River

This was supposed to be hike #3 in the Falcon Guide titled Best Easy Day Hikes - Olympic National Park.  Unbeknownst to me, at some point between when the book was published in 2008 and now, the road was washed out about 5 miles short of the entrance to the National Park.

At the point where the road is washed out, we found about a dozen cars parked (see the victory pose photo below), so we figured people were just beginning their hikes from that point onward.  We encountered a few hikers coming out and asked what it was like.  They told us after the initial switchback trail up over the hill above the washout that it was pretty flat and easy.

This is what the switchback part of the trail looked like.

The trail over the hill was well-defined hard pack dirt and easy to follow.  When we got over the hill, the trail dropped us back down onto Dosewallips Road on the other side of the washout.

Blunoz Self Portrait by the Dosewallips River

From the point we rejoined the Dosewallips Road to the Elkhorn campsite, we enjoyed the deafening roar of the river at our side.  Still photos don't capture the essence of walking along the roaring river, so I had to post a short video clip instead.  The section of road from the washout to the Elkhorn campground was a nice flat road and would have been nice for a bike ride.  We saw a family riding their bicycles near the campground.  You'd just have to push your bikes up over that first hill.

The Elkhorn campground was a nice place and clearly still gets used.  There was no privy or any sort of facilities available though.  We spent some time by the river skipping rocks and marveling at how crystal clear the water was.  Considering how little rain we've had in the last couple of months, it was odd to see so much water in the river, but it was frigidly cold glacier runoff. 

From this sign by the Elkhorn campground onward, the road starts a steady uphill climb and diverges away from the river.  If you look at the altitude profile in my Garmin track below, you'll see that the trail was fairly flat - about 100 feet of elevation gain over the first 1.4 miles, then it gained a little over 300 feet in the next 0.6 miles as we climbed up the road away from the Eklhorn campground.  There really wasn't much to see here.  When we got 2 miles away from where we parked the car, we decided to head back down again.

There were lots of these little white and black butterflies flittering about all around us along the trail. 

We also spotted a couple of different catepillars, lots of pearly everlasting and some other common flowers along the way.

Long shadows at the end of the day.

On the hill over the washout.

Victory Pose

This was a first.  When we arrived back at the car, the boys declared "victory pose!" and ordered me to take a photo of them.  Goofballs.

Hike Stats:  When I'm searching for places to hike with my kids, I appreciate having some basic facts and figures about the hike for me to judge if it's doable with my kids.  With that in mind, I hope other parents considering this hike find the following information useful.
  • Date: 6 October 2012
  • Time of Departure:  Left the house about 10 a.m.  Stopped at the Quilcene Ranger Station to stamp my book, then had lunch at Logger's Landing (great food and excellent service).  By the time we got up to the end of the Dosewallips Road and started our hike, it was 1:41 p.m.
  • Time of Return:    Around 4:30 p.m back at the car.  Held up by the Hood Canal Bridge opening on our way back.  Stopped and picked up Mike's Four Star Barbecue in Port Gamble on our way home.  Got home around 6:30 p.m.
  • Elapsed:  2 hours 52 minutes
  • Moving Time (GPS):  1 hours 48 minutes 
  • Stopped Time (GPS):  1 hour 4 minutes 
  • Mileage (GPS): 5.0 miles
  • Avg Speed (GPS):  1.8 mph
  • Elevation Gain:  725 feet
  • Max Elevation:  1,004 feet
  • Weather:   Clear and sunny.
  • Winds:  None.
  • Air Temp: 61F climbing to 66F by the car thermometer.  It felt a little chilly at spots along the river.
  • Trail:  Well-defined hard-pack dirt or gravel trail.  
  • Crowds?  Not crowded, but not alone.  There were about a dozen cars parked at the washout.  We passed about a dozen people along the way going in both directions.
  • Hazards?  Some short but steep dropoffs into roaring rapids below.
  • Geocaches?   Didn't bother looking - assumed there were none because it's a National Park.
  • Kit: Long sleeve T-shirt, shorts, new Merrell Moab Gortex hiking boots, ballcap, walking stick.
  • Route:  Intended to follow the route of #3 in my ONP day hikes book, but never made it to the Dosewallips Park Ranger station due to the road washout.  Note to self:  Check road conditions on national park website.  Instead just hiked along the road.  If I didn't have my kids with me, I would have kept going all the way up to the Park Ranger Station. 
  • Facilities:  None.

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