A Hot Hike and A Goat

This past Wednesday my wife, son, and I hiked up Mount Ellinor in the Mount Skokomish Wilderness. We started at the upper trailhead (saving ourselves almost two miles of hiking versus starting at the lower trailhead) and ascended roughly 2,000 feet over a little more than a mile and a half. It was HOT – especially since we started at noon. My wife did this hike a year ago at this time and saw snow along the trail. This year, no snow – just lots of dust.

Mount Ellinor is a very popular hike on the Olympic Peninsula. Even on a Wednesday, the upper parking area was almost completely filled. The mountain is best known for its amazing views, steep ascent, and plentiful goat population. The views on Ellinor are spectacular – both along the trail and at the summit. The goats are pretty neat too. I did this hike last September for the first time and didn’t see a single goat. On that day I couldn’t see much of a view either because of the cloud cover, so I was happy to experience Mount Ellinor in all its splendor. I had almost given up on seeing any goats last Wednesday but halfway down we saw one hanging out on the side of a cliff trying to stay cool in the shade. Smart goat!

Mount Ellinor is a great hike and its views are well worth the climb. It’s pretty cool seeing wild mountain goats up there too. If you do plan on hiking Ellinor in the summer, I suggest starting in the morning. I also heard several people say that more goats were out earlier in the day. Here’s a neat video from the Forest Service about hiking Ellinor. Check out some of my photos below. I’ve also heard Ellinor is a popular place to watch fireworks displays go off throughout the South Sound. Have a Happy July 4th and enjoy the hiking!

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From the Trail: Wynoochee Lake Shore Trail – Bring your pith helmet for this one!

This weekend, my family and I checked out Wynoochee Lake Shore Trail in Olympic National Forest. Beginning at Coho campground near Wynoochee Dam, we hiked around the entire lake (~16 miles) and saw Maidenhair Falls on the northern end. It was an interesting, sometimes fun, and sometimes really difficult hike given the poor condition of the trail. In some sections, the bushes were so overgrown that I felt like a jungle explorer (sans pith helmet and machete). Wynoochee Lake Shore Trail is a National Recreation Trail and probably was at one time a really great trail. However, I don’t think it’s received a whole lot of TLC since it was designated an NRT in 1979. All in all a decent hike and a fun experience. Maidenhair Falls were a beautiful find, however, if I ever do this trail again I will ford Wynoochee River just above the lake and save myself the trouble of trekking through the many campsites directly along the river. Check out my photos from the trip below and stay tuned (hopefully) next week for my review.

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From the Trail: Snowy Day at Panorama Point

Hiked up to Panorama Point from Paradise in Rainier National Park on Sunday. Weather held and it was only partly cloudy near the Point. An excellent trip, though it’s really hard to follow the trails that you want to follow up there during the winter. Seems like the best way is to make your own trail. We ended up starting on Golden Gate Trail before cutting across to Skyline Trail and heading up to and past the Point. Saw lots of people hiking back from Camp Muir and the Summit. Hope to do the same someday. Best part: glissading down from Panorama Point. Stay tuned next week for my review and this week as I catch up on past-due trail reviews :).

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From the Trail: Putvin Trail (almost) to Lake of the Angels

 

It was a rough hike in the Olympics today. The hike up the Putvin Trail towards the Lake of the Angels started off great with beautiful weather and clear skies. However, right before climbing up the headwall, it started to snow. We got within a half mile of the Lake of the Angels before we were forced to turn back as the snow and sleet came down heavier. Made it to the aptly named Pond of the False Prophet before we lost the trail in the snow. It was pretty among the alpine streams and meadows near the top (I think it’s called the Valley of Heaven). But, as the pond’s name suggests, it doesn’t beat the real thing, the alpine lake we hiked so far to (almost) reach. Oh well, this just gives us an excuse to return this summer! The photo collage shows the Pond of the False Prophet and some of the Skokomish Wilderness peaks you can see from the Putvin Trail. Stayed tuned next week for my review of the Putvin Trail.

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From the Trail: Mount Rose Trail

Some images from my hike up Mt. Rose in the Olympic NF. The weather was fantastic this weekend, but this trail was brutally hard and steep – it rises 3,500 feet over 2.9 miles. It was one of the most difficult hikes I’ve done recently. The views were pleasant at the top. The summit was mostly barren because of a 2005 forest fire. If you need to get in shape for some mountaineering or uphill footraces, I recommend this hike. Otherwise, I might just do it once to say you did and then stick to hiking up Mt. Ellinor. Ellinor offers some much better views. Also, no goats (from what I saw) on Mt. Rose. Stayed tuned at the end of this week for my trail review!

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From the Trail: Ozette Triangle, Cape Alava

This weekend I hiked the Ozette Triangle (aka Ozette Loop) at Olympic National Park. The weather wasn’t really participatory. My family and I camped at the National Park’s campground on Lake Ozette. It was raining when we arrived and partially raining while we broke camp the next morning. Then it continued raining as we hiked the 3-mile Cape Alava Trail to the coast. Once at the coast though, the sun came out and the clouds disappeared for a few hours as we hiked south along the coast to the Sand Point Trail. There, we were hit with rain, and some hail, as we headed inland towards the ranger station at Lake Ozette. The hike was beautiful though. The approx. 9-mile hike traverses lots of boardwalks in the woods and follows beautiful ocean coastline (and the Pacific Northwest Trail) for about 3 miles. I can not wait to return later this year to this spectacular hiking area. All-in-all an excellent trip. Stayed tuned for my review later in the week.

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From the Trail: Lower South Fork Skokomish River Trail

Today I hiked part of the trail along the Lower South Fork Skokomish River in Olympic National Forest. Starting at the trailhead near Le Bar Creek Horse Camp, I hiked in to the former site of Camp Comfort (about 4.5 miles one way) alongside the river. The first section was a difficult uphill then downhill climb, but the rest of the hike was amazing as the trail passed through old-growth forest almost the entire way. A beautiful area tucked away in the South Fork Skokomish River watershed. Stayed next week for my review.

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