Outdoors Q and A - March 2001
Seabury Blair Jr. - Mr. Outdoors

March 23, 2001:
Q - Mr. Outdoors:
We have been hiking a little this year. Last Friday and Saturday we went to Lake Ozette. We camped overnight and in the morning took a walk on the boardwalk out to the beach. It was spectacular.

Pulling in late on Friday was interesting. We lost the rain fly in the dark and used tarps to cover our tent. The weather cooperated and was cold and clear with the stars shining brightly. That night was a chilly one. In the morning everything was coated with frost. We had a great time on the beach and enjoyed the beauty of the ocean front. It was cool.

In Mid January we climbed Mt Ellinor. That was a good trip too. My car broke down so I missed the big event, but the group continued on without me. There was not much snow up there according to my son. We still had fun anyway.

With these recent experience our kids are motivated and want more. The question is, "Can you recommend a place to go for three days and two nights this next month?" Our kids have a head of steam and we are planning to go somewhere the weekend of spring break (April 2 - 6). It would be for Thursday through Saturday. Our main purpose is to prep them for a 50-miler somewhere this summer.

We need some hiking experiences. Preferably a place to hike into and bring our gear with us instead of car camping. The weather seems to be cooperating this year so it might be easier to do a little climbing somewhere.

If you have a suggestion or two, let us know. You steered us in the bike trip of a lifetime last time.This one does not need to be as earth shaking (no pun intended) just point us in a direction and say go.

It might interest you to know, that Phillip just earned his Life scout award. His family is thrilled. They are really proud of him and so are we.

Who knows how the experience and memories of our 150-mile Olympic Peninsula cycling epic will shape the lives of these kids. To you, we will always be indebted. One of these days I am going to send you the picture with you, Sterling and Skiberry Bear. I have a scanner to get the picture in, I need to borrow it from Don. It looks pretty cool.

Anyway, if you can give us an idea, great. If you are in the Klondike or Yukon or Yellowstone, Jackson Hole or wherever, and do not have the time or inclination, that is OK. You are still our hero and are engraved in our hearts and minds as a man of great ability, fun and of course, "The Outdoors ." Sincerely, representing your Hurricane Ridge Biking Buddies,
- Blake Hill

Blake:

I've been thinking about your overnighter and have a couple of suggestions - but I'm a little nervous about recommending something at this time of year for fear of sending you into snowbound mountains or trails covered by deadfall.

Please call the ONP Wilderness Information Center, 360-565-3101, before heading out on any of these proposed trips. If you can, talk to Larry Lang, the supervisor at the WIC, and tell him I said hello. You can also order Backcountry Permits at the WIC, call 360-565-3100.

A convenient hike might be up the North Fork of the Skokomish from Staircase Ranger Station. That's just past the western end of Lake Cushman in Olympic National Park. Instead of turning right at the T intersection as if you were headed to Mt. Ellinor, hang a left on FS 24 and drive to Staircase Ranger Station.

Depending upon the strength of your party, you could hike 3.5 miles, one way, to Spike Camp, or with a strong party, another 2.1 miles to Big Log Camp. Spike camp is the old trailhead to Flapjack Lakes.

There's an outhouse there and numerous places to camp, so might be a good spot for a group camp. It is about 1,500 feet above sea level, so I doubt whether you'd find snow. A creek just before you get to Spike Camp is a good water source, or you can filter it from the river. I've never stayed at Big Log Camp, but I can tell you it would not be as accommodating as Spike Camp.

If you chose to go there, you could have the option of day-hiking upriver to Big Log camp or beyond, to the junction with the Six Ridge Trail or Camp pleasant, about another 0.8 miles. You could also take the Flapjack Lakes Trail from Spike Camp up to snowline, perhaps 2.5 miles. You may find in this low snow year that the trail is marked well enough to climb all the way to Flapjack Lakes, which is 4.1 miles from Spike Camp and UP 2,400 feet.

On the return, you could cross the river on a bridge about 2.5 miles down the abandoned road and follow the trail on the other side of the river back to Staircase. You could also hike up that trail on the outset and cross to the abandoned road, if you prefer. There are good alternate campsites along the river on the road, or north side of the river, after about 1.5 miles.

Another hike that could be a real adventure would be to Lower Lena Lake. Take the Hamma Hamma River Road (FS 25) from Highway 101 just north of the Eldon Store and follow it 7.7 miles to the Lena Lake Trailhead. There's a Forest Service campground across the road; I doubt it will be open.

The lake is 2.5 miles and a moderate 1,100 foot climb from the river. The Forest Service has established a number of campsites at the lake, complete with fire rings and, if I recall, picnic tables. As you may know, this is a site of an old Boy Scout camp; you'll find a plaque on a big rock above the lakeshore recounting the history of the camp.

From camp at the lake, you could day hike up the Upper Lena Lake to snowline, perhaps another 2.5 miles; or follow the climber's trail at the north end of the lake up through the Valley of the Silent Men to snowline, perhaps 3 miles.

Finally, if you're looking for something a bit farther, I'd suggest Lillian River campsite on the Elwha River Trail. Drive to the Whiskey Bend Trailhead on the Elwha River (check to make sure the last 5 miles of road past the ranger station are open; snow of two weeks ago had it temporarily closed).

You could hike 4.7 miles up the Elwha Trail to Lillian River, which has a number of campsites and an outhouse. The last 0.6 miles are steeply down, but most of the trail climbs moderately, with the toughest hill about the 1.8-mile stretch from Michael's Cabin to the Lillian Trail junction.

For a day hike, you could follow the abandoned Lillian River Trail (0.6 miles back from Lillian River campsite) as far as you could, perhaps 2 miles. Or you could climb up and over the 800-foot hump on the Elwha Trail, dropping back to the Elwha River in 4.1 miles to Mary's Falls on the Elwha. Another day hike possibility would be to explore the lower Elwha River. Hike back to Michael's cabin and follow the trail downstream to Humes Ranch (also another great backpacking destination), then climb back to the Michael's Cabin to return. That would make a day hike of about 10 miles.

As I mentioned, a shorter overnight destination on the same trail would be the Humes Ranch area or the big meadows along the river just below Humes Ranch. Depending upon how you got there, Humes Ranch would be about 3 miles, one-way. You could explore the Elwha trail and valley around Humes Ranch for a day hike, or cross the Elwha Bridge at the junction with the Long Ridge Trail and hike the Long Ridge Trail UP to snowline. There's also a trail called the SEEK Way Trail across the Elwha Bridge that goes downstream to the old Anderson Ranch. Another way to get there is to drop off the Elwha Trail at the west end of the bridge and follow river flats downstream, where you are likely to find elk or elk sign. The biggest meadow is visible from the Elk Overlook, about 0.5 miles up the Elwha Trail.

Let me know where you went and how you enjoyed the trip. Give my best to all my favorite Scouts!

- Mr. Outdoors


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