Story by Doxey Kemp
I've been hearing the call of the Olympics and finally I couldn't take it anymore. Inspired by the Mountaineers, I created a Leader Surprise outing - the team didn't know where we were going until we were miles down the trail! Over time the team figured out that our destination was the high point of Long Ridge - a summit called Dodger Point.
On Saturday April 27 we drove to Whiskey Bend, then hiked Elwha River trail. At Humes Ranch we turned onto Long Ridge trail and soon crossed bridge over the Elwha River chasm. We hiked for hours looking forward to reaching snow, which we finally did at 3,900 feet. Rob and Seth kicked steps on up through the forest and we made our snow camp at 5,000' - hey, 4,000 feet of gain and ten miles from the car - good job, team!
Fine step-kicking snow Sunday morning - used trekking poles most of the way but ice axes on a couple of firm slopes didn't use the snowshoes. Soon we were on the summit of Dodger Point.
Spent a couple hours gazing in awe at the Bailey Range and the summit of Mt Olympus. Whew! - just look at them mountains! Found the shelter at the summit almost completely buried in snow - only the very apex of the roof was exposed. Carla and I just had to try to dig our way in. We dug down five feet, maybe six, then realized it was locked - Drat! Thwarted! After waking Jackie from her nap, we reluctantly left the summit, boot-skiing and post-holing down to camp.
Due to trees, our snowcamp afforded only peekaboo views of the Baileys, but offered nice views north and east to Hurricane Ridge and Mt Angeles. After dinner we retired to the 'South Veranda' overlooking the Elwha River Valley. Stayed up late sipping from Mario's flask, laughing and talking and telling stories.
The hike out on Monday was long and our feet were on fire, so we rested in the meadow at Humes. I consider the Elwha River to be a national treasure, and to sit there in the sunshine with my friends watching the aerial mating dance of bald eagles - no kidding - is something I'll never forget.