Sep 022009

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August 26, 2009
Day 3 of backpacking trip

Today was a beautiful day with breathtaking views. We hiked mostly along the ridgeline of several mountains on the High Divide Trail. We saw 2 marmots, two dancing bears, and more bees than I could count.

The morning started off chilly. We both woke up sometime before dawn to wrap our heads up in our mummy hoods to our sleeping bags. When we got up it was up to 40 degrees out, so I can only imagine it was in the 30s at night.

We were pretty quick packing up, eating, and heading out of camp today. The same bear was still across the lake. Yay for not getting eaten overnight! I can say now that I was a little concerned and had to push some scary images from my head before falling asleep last night. =) In the morning, though, all is safe. You can’t let the quiet nights of the backcountry get to your head.

The hike up from Hoh Lake was just as hard as we thought it would be. Once out of the Hoh Lake area, we were back on the High Divide hike and were hiking up and down over various peaks. We found a great view of Mount Olympus and throughout the day managed to get many more pictures from all sorts of points of view.

Mount Olympus is still covered in either snow or a glacier. We learned later that it blocks precipitation from other parts of the park and all the snow dumps on it instead of other mountains. Most of the rest of the Olympic mountains that we see are of the “purple mountains majesty” variety. It is really quite beautiful and we just can’t get enough of looking at the mountains.

The day was (I can’t believe I’m saying this) warm at 75 and only partly cloudy. It was a gorgeous day for views of the whole park. We spent the entire morning only seeing 2 people, but then after lunch, bumped into a traffic jam of 8 hikers in a row. Everyone out here is now a backpacker rather than a day hiker. I find myself comparing our gear with theirs and seeing how we all attach it.

Soon after lunch we came to a spot where we could see two bears way down below either fighting or playing with each other. We were glad to be far away, though it made it hard to get good pictures of them. Mostly we watched them for a bit.

We hiked through many high meadows full of bees and mosquitoes. I thought I was hiking a bee across the divide as all I could hear all day was buzz buzz as the bees circled my head thinking I was a flower. The mosquitoes here are nothing like Texas mosquitoes and the sting from the bites goes away in just 2 days or so. Also, though there are bugs, they are nothing like the bugs in Texas. The bugs here seem to leave us alone for the most part. The ground is not full of ants, and we can pretty much sit down wherever we want without worrying.

When we neared an area called Heart Lake (lake was actually shaped like a heart), we put down our big packs and took a small day hike along a trail towards Cat’s Basin. I read that it was a good hike, but really the views were not that different from the High Divide and we turned around after a mile. We didn’t need extra miles.

The Heart Lake campsite area was full when I tried to reserve, and we could see that they were trying to keep the amount of visitors down. The area was more barren than any other part of our hike with many many paths crisscrossing the area. The rangers blocked off several former paths to allow the plants to regrow.

We were very tired and took a long break at Heart Lake while pumping water for our bags as we weren’t sure how much water would be at our campsite. Finally, though, we had to move on. Our campsite was only about half a mile down the trail, but that half mile was all rock stairs down, down, down into the Sol Duc River valley. This was hard going on my feet with a heavy pack and short legs. We made it though. The campsite wasn’t all that great as we ended up took close to others I think. It was rather buggy, but we did get to camp near a small waterfall.

Sol Duc Park (our campsite) had a ranger staying in the area for the night. This was the first night with a ranger close by. He came around to check our wilderness permits. We are only permitted to camp at the campsites we reserved. Any time we pass a ranger on the trail, they ask to see our permit and make sure that we have the required bear cans.

Dinner was quick and sleep came easily. We are getting into the groove of hiking and sleeping in the tent. We can pretty much sleep through the night on the ground now.

Today we hiked 7.1 miles total including 1.8 miles without the heavy packs along Cat’s Basin. We averaged 1.7 mph (not including stopping time).

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