Trail Conditions

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Trail Conditions

We spent four more days hiking 50 km (31 mi.) on the Hoh River Trail in Olympic National Park. (see my previous Hoh River Trail report dated June 5)

Grid references: WGS84. Units: metric (imperial).

Weather: Mainly sunny with some early morning fog. High 25ºC (77ºF). Low 13ºC (55ºF). Winds calm to light northwest. Pressure rising 1017 to 1023 hPa.

Route: Started at Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center, 182 m (597 ft) GR 301012. Day 1, hiked 17.9 km (11.1 mi.) to Lewis Meadow Camp, 309 m (1014 ft) GR 447031. Day 2, hiked 7.3 km (4.5 mi.) to Elk Lake Camp, 788 m (2585 ft) GR482006. Day 3, hiked 14.7 km (9.1 mi.) to Happy Four Camp, 243 m (797 ft) GR380018. Day 4, hiked 9 km (5.6 mi.) to Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center, 182 m (597 ft) GR 301012.

Wildlife: Continued reports and signage of an aggressive elk with calf at the trailhead, 182 m (597 ft) GR 301012. There were new reports and signage at the trailhead indicating a black bear frequenting the area, coming within 45 m (150 ft.) of hikers on the trail. We didn’t see any mega-fauna. We saw a few deer, a rabbit, several squirrels, and lots of elk and coyote sign. There were two large piles of bear scat at the two best spots to enter Elk Lake for our swim. The wildlife highlight of the trip was definitely the millions of tadpoles we floated around with in Elk Lake!

Notes: This was our second reconnaissance mission into the Hoh drainage this season. Our objective was to hike up the northern slopes of Mount Olympus and camp at Elk Lake. Mission accomplished. We had an optional side trip planned up to Glacier Meadows, 1337 m (4387 ft) GR 484976. There were several reports of isothermal snow, postholing, and challenging route-finding on the way up to, and above the meadows from other hikers. There is apparently a ladder and fixed line in a gully that requires special care ascending and descending. I imagine the alpine climbers would have less of an issue than casual hikers. We opted to play it safe. The next mission is aiming for the lateral moraine NE of the Blue Glacier, 1560 m (5120 ft) GR 488970, when hiking conditions improve.

This was a very busy weekend in Olympic National Park. All the camps and food hanging wires were at capacity. Bring a backup food storage solution! We were lucky to beat the July 4 crowds by getting a head start on the weekend, arriving in Port Angeles from Victoria on Thursday afternoon. We got even luckier at the Wilderness Information Center with a walk-up quota area permit for Elk Lake. Reservations are available for Elk Lake (including Martin Creek) and Glacier Meadows. 50% advanced reservations available. Reservations are accepted starting March 15 for trips occurring between May 1 and September 30 by mail or fax only (no emails or phone). 50% of permits are available for walk-ups, first-come first-served, during business hours up to 24 hours in advance of entering the trail. Luck struck us yet again at the Hoh Rainforest Campground when we found the last open car camping site on Thursday night. There are options to car bivy nearby, however, we were happy to pay the $20 and have a legit site. When we exited the trail Monday at noon, the parking lots were overflowing, and cars were lined up all the way down the access road trying to enter the park. Reminded us of Yosemite on any given summer day. We recommend always aiming to beat the weekend crowds by at least a day in Olympic National Park!

Mike Blake, HG

On The Map

These observations and opinions are those of the person who submitted them. The ACMG and its members take no responsibility for errors, omissions, or lapses in continuity. Conditions differ greatly over time and space due to the variable nature of mountain weather and terrain. Application of this information provides no guarantee of increased safety. Do not use the Mountain Conditions Report as the sole factor in planning trips or making decisions in the field.