Hikes From the Past

Archived from:
http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2006/Sep/05/hikes-from-the-past/

Every September, I think back to one of my very first backpacks in the Olympic Mountains. It was back in September 1970.

I planned a nine-day outing, with three days at Cedar Lake, where I'd heard the fishing was good. My single reason for shouldering a backpack in those days was to catch fish.

I had a wonderful time, even when my tent was lifted off the ground by an incredible wind and storm at Cedar Lake. Like everyone who backpacks, I suppose I've forgotten the truly miserable parts.

Anyway, the trek turned out to be a good deal farther and more difficult than I thought. I have since learned that it is much easier to hike on the map than it is once you're on the trail. I'll bet that's a lesson you've learned, too.

The hike started at Obstruction Point and dropped steeply down to the Grand and Moose Lake valleys. From Moose Lake, I climbed again past little Gladys Lake toward Grand Pass.

Grand Pass is 6,450 feet above sea level and 6 miles from Obstruction Point. I found snowfields at the top of Grand Pass, lingering leftovers from a winter long past.

From Grand Pass, the trail drops again in steep switchbacks to a junction with the Upper Cameron Trail. From there, you again begin to climb more gently toward Cameron Pass, 6,450 feet.

At Cameron Pass, I dropped into beautiful Lost Creek Basin, one of the most splendid and beautiful alpine valleys in Olympic National Park. The trail crosses the Lost Creek headwaters and climbs to Lost Pass.

From there, the trail "if it can be called that" drops to Dose Meadows and is one of the steepest trails in the Olympics. Dose Meadows is another great camp, though likely more crowded than the high country of Lost Basin.

From Dose Meadows, I hiked past Bear Camp to the Graywolf Pass Trail junction. Then I began climbing again to 6,150-foot Graywolf Pass. From Graywolf Pass, I hiked down to Falls Shelter, a great spot and the start of the 3-mile way trail that climbs to Cedar Lake.

As with most of my backpacks, the weather was fine until I got to Cedar Lake. There, a storm rolled in and the tent got blown around like an autumn leaf.

Once back on the Graywolf Trail, I headed downriver past Camp Ellis to the Three Forks Trail Junction. It was all uphill from there, and I do mean UP. After crossing Cameron Creek and the Graywolf River, you start a 4.5-mile climb up to Deer Park. Once at Deer Park, you've only got about 7.6 miles to hike back to Obstruction Point.

The total backpack was 43.6 miles on my map, or just a little more than 7 miles a day with three days at Cedar Lake. I was tired, I'm sure, but young and foolish enough to think it would be fun to do again the following year.

Today, remembering that hike more than 30 Septembers ago, I'm exhausted just writing about it.

You can reach Seabury Blair Jr. via e-mail at skiberry@wavecable.com.

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