High Dose Bridge
Outdoors Q and A
Seabury Blair Jr.
Mr. Outdoors
July 21, 2000:

July 14, 2000:

Q - Have a question and thought you might be able to help me find the answer.

We are planning a hike starting the 26th of August up over the Dosewallips Trail up over the top (of Anderson Pass) past Honeymoon Meadows and down through the Enchanted Valley. A friend said that the Big Bridge (High Dose) was still out and there was no "safe" crossing. Do you know if the bridge will be passable by the 26th of August or do you know someone that can answer this question?

Sure would appreciate finding out about it before we make many more plans.

We took your Edith Creek hike - or I should say part of it yesterday. There is still too much snow up there - we took pictures of the wildflowers down by the visitors center. Then we dropped down to Cougar Rock Campground and took the hike to Carter Falls. Very nice 1.1 mile walk.

- Billie

A - Thanks for the infromation on the Edith Creek Trail. I guess I was a little eager to get up there. The meadows should be clear of snow soon.

I just got off the line with the park's wilderness information center, (360) 452-0300. They told me that the High Dose bridge was NOT yet repaired and that the trail is still closed.

Apparently they did straighten the old bridge, as planned, last summer. But there were some parts which needed replacement which had to be flown to the site by helicopter and they decided not to fly them in until after mating season this spring. Now I am told they will not have the parts in place until fall and that the trail is still closed at Dose Forks.

So I wouldn't figure on going up the West Fork of the Dosewallips.

If you've not hiked the other fork of the Dosewallips - up to Dose Meadows, I'd suggest that as an alternative hike. You could still make a trans-Olympic hike out of it by hiking up the Dose and out the Elwha, over Hayden Pass. That's about the same distance as the West Fork-Anderson Pass-Quinualt hike; about 44 miles.

It's a great trail, too, which climbs steadily and gently, for the most part, all the way to Dose Meadows. I've been to Hayden Pass and to Hayes River G.S. on the Elwha side, but never dropped down from Hayden Pass to the Elwha, about 8 miles.

The Elwha Valley from Hayes River to Elkhorn is a beautiful walk and the only real tough part would be hiking over the hump between Mary's Falls on the Elwha and the Lillian River camp. There's also a big caution about bears on the lower Elwha and they make you store all your food in canisters where bear wires don't exist. Last year, they loaned you food canisters at Elkhorn.

Let me know what you decide to do, and send me a trail report when you get back.

I thought you'd be interested to know that one of the things I got in the mail yesterday afternoon was a news release from ONP saying the camping restrictions along the Elwha brought on by bear problems had been lifted. They still want you to use the bear wires, though.

Now, "bear" with me a minute while I editorialize. One of the problems with the National Park Service, it seems to me, is that they have become overprotective - both of park visitors and of resources. As a result, one of the best trails in the park to Honeymoon Meadows and over Anderson Pass has been closed because one bridge got bent out of shape by heavy snows.

The High Dose Bridge is less than 100 feet long, yet its closure effectively closes more than 6 miles of trails and a 25-mile connection to one of the finest cross-Olympic hikes there is, from the Dosewallips to Graves Creek on the Quinault. I think the park's first order of business, as directed by Congress, is to provide for the enjoyment of its users and future users.

Surely the park could construct a temporary bridge at the High Dose that would accommodate foot traffic. The old log bridge lasted more than 30 years, and the last few, hikers were asked to cross it one at a time.

The new steel bridge lasted less than a year - I have been told that it was improperly designed - and had the benefit of a helicopter fly-in and modern engineering. Yet it collapsed.

For many years, cable suspension bridges have been used to get hikers from one side of steep and deep canyons like the High Dose crossing. They are inexpensive, portable and easy to install, especially if you can use a steel structure already in place for support.

In the Olympic National Park backcountry, I think the fewer structures that require annual maintenance and period replacement, the better. While the Dose canyon may be one of the places where a bridge is essential, certainly the kind of bridge that is there today is massive overkill.

Olympic Park officials need to pay better attention to their paying customers. I'd like to encourage them to get the bridge fixed, or get a temporary crossing there immediately.

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